Silk Camisole Set

The set was a gift for a newlywed. Their wedding colour theme was lavender and their favourite colour is purple so I thought it apt to go for lavender silk and cream lace. Her now-husband was an excellent spy who sent me her underwear size covertly (sorry!).Silk camisole 2

I used the Jane knickers pattern from Measure Twice Cut Once. Its a low rise bias cut knicker set. For the camisole I used a basic bias cut slip pattern that came as part of a pattern set with a dress, I’m pretty sure it was a camisole 4

I machined stitched the knickers and camisole. French seamed the sides and finished with a narrow hem.
silk camisole 3The lace was bought on a role from a bridal store in town that was having a moving sale. I cut it into the lace to be able to create a suitable applique for the set. Eyeballing the pieces on the garment, pinning in place and then hand basted with silk thread, before the final whip stitches were put in place.

after cutoutThe silk was cut out around the stitching under the lace. A few minute drops of fray-check were applied to the narrow hem stitch areas, just to be on the safe side.knickers 1It wrinkled like a bitch. But here are the knickers folded at CF and CB to show the side seam applique.
lace placementI stood back from my lace placement for the front and realised what I was creating… so I made sure those flowers were going to be above nipple level, You can just see the rouleau straps – silk is much easier to turn out that cotton, so if that’s ever put you off making a camisole, do it in silk and it’ll be a breeze!knickersFront view of the knickers. did have a photo of the final camisole but they seem to have all disappeared from my phone :( I keep losing photos. The back of the camisole also included lace along the top edge.
elasticI bought 2 choices of elastic for the knickers, the top one is bra strap elastic that matched exactly and the bottom was a sightly pink shade of stretch piping elastic. I was torn between the two, but decided on the bottom elastic as I liked it being more hidden. I bought those at Pacific Trimming, though the stretch piping as since disappeared. Sad camisole 5

Cat helper.

Model wears the Marlene Dietrich fashion of tailored man's suit on rooftop above Regent Street, 1933

Review: PM237 Patternmaking: Coats and Suits II

Described very loosely as “Continuation of PM 236, with special emphasis on a variety of coats.” With PM 236 being just as vaguely described as “Students learn patternmaking for all types of coats and suits.”

This one I was a little unsure of the actual course content, and being silly I didn’t use any initiative in contacting the department for further clarification prior to registering for the course. As I’ve worked on coats and suits before I didn’t fancy being stuck in a very basic class so skipped PM236 and went straight to the 2nd course to see what advanced techniques I could pick up.

Straight up, these descriptions are misleading and really could do with an extra sentence to flesh out the courses. These classes sound somewhat lack-lustre in description when they are both different in their own right and a wealth of information. It’s only through chatting with the professor who teaches the two courses that we found out what they really cover.
Both courses are exclusively RTW womenswear, though the principals can obviously be translated to menswear [cue tailors and menswear specialists to shoot arrows my way]. Neither cover ‘traditional’ tailoring, this is for mass-production patternmaking; it’s all about the fusible interfacing and no hand-stitching. For reference: PM236 covers patternmaking for women’s basic tailoring; a skirt [maybe trousers, I can’t remember], waistcoat and jacket. PM237 continues on from this by covering more complex designs for jackets and coats only.

The course format is as follows: First class is the usual admin, we were each give a [very detailed] course syllabus. Each week a new jacket style is drafted more complex than the last building on the knowledge one learns, including a mid-term exam and a final project. This amounted to a total of 9 garments drafted; 8 half muslins, 1 full muslin, 1 finished sample, 2 production patterns. Each class started with a demonstration then we were given the rest of the time to work on our classwork whilst the professor went round to mark each student’s previous homework.

As PM236 is not a compulsory pre-requisite the first few classes cover his drafting method for creating a basic women’s tailored jacket from draft to production pattern, to ensure everyone is at the same ‘starting line’. The method for drafting taught in this class is not based on manipulating pre-made slopers as many other classes are taught and how i’ve approached my tailoring work in the past. It’s much more akin to menswear tailoring in which for each new pattern you start by drafting a frame and after creating the basic horizontal and vertical guidelines, you then play with suppression/addition of creating lines to shape pattern draft. It was a refreshing change to how I usually work with patterns (manipulating slopers) and once the concept clicked into place it wasn’t difficult to see how you can apply the concept to create any style you want.

We were also shown the professors preferred approach to drafting sleeves, which, once I used this preferred ruler for drafting, created a beautiful shaped 2 piece sleeve that fit into an armscye perfectly every time. Now, I’d like to point out I was very stubborn and didn’t buy said ruler until 3/4 of the way through the class – because what’s so wrong with all the lovely ones I already own?! – but I ate humble pie once I caved in and my last 2 patterns & final project thanked me for it.

Ms White kindly preparing my pie.

There is homework every week and I will say this, it was the most intensive class to date due to the sheer volume of homework [when one also has a full-time job/commitments] and the mid-term was on top of the regular weekly homework. I was damn bloody grateful for the end of the semester, I can tell you!

The garments we covered: Basic tailored jackets of 6 and 8 pieces, with set in 2 piece sleeves with seam variations [darts, princess, peacoat etc…] kimono styles and raglan styles. All drafted to an industry size 8. The first piece builds up slowly; draft a basic jacket & lining, the half muslin, followed by a full production pattern (of which they range from 60-80 pieces). After the first jacket the weekly work consisted of 1st draft, paper pattern (shell only, not lining or production) and a half muslin for each garment. The professor also recommended that once we got half-way through the semester to get started on our final project to ensure we weren’t rammed in the last week trying to get it complete.jacketMid-term exam: We were provided with a designers line drawing of a jacket (front only) & that it was to be made in a size 10. The exam was to create just a paper draft of the pattern with annotations to explain addition drafting changes for the further steps (e.g. dart manipulation etc) when the pattern would be pulled off of the draft. If I remember correctly this accounts for 25% of the final course grade.

Essentially the task is to draft 1 size up from the standard measurements we draft to during the semester & to translate the designers line drawing into a 1st draft.
The mid-term made me grateful that I can discuss with my clients and get more information from them about their intended designs when I work with them rather than just going from a drawing – though I know that is not the norm.kimono jacjet

The Final Project to hand in was: drafts of the jacket, production pattern [including cutter’s must], and a sample of the jacket. We had complete freedom in the design of the jacket [as long as it was a jacket or a coat, obviously] and make it in whatever size we wanted, be it an industry sample size or to our own size. This accounts for 50% of the final course grade.

After taking a few classes at FIT I was glad we given the option make the final project in any size, as I it gave me a chance to wear the final garment, instead of it sitting in a box in the basement [I am not sample sized]. It was also a nice opportunity to apply the professors method of drafting against a fresh set of measurements and see what the result would be. Pretty damn good result too! I just only had 2 tweaks to do – a sway back adjustment and additional suppression on the front underarm area [that was due to me drafting in too much of a curve]. With time constraints being what they were I had to go straight into the final sample from one fitting, and didn’t even give myself time to create a 2nd muslin to check my adjustments (eep!).

raglan coat

This is where I should insert a photo of my final project…. only that involves digging it out of the closet, pressing it and poncing about in front of a camera, and I frankly don’t want to do that right now… so maybe later i’ll update this spot. Just imagine a pink herringbone wool blazer.

The professor is hands down really bloody good. He’s been doing this pretty much his whole life and is from what we gleaned off of him, at least a 2nd generation in the profession. There is so much knowledge in his brain, I would be happy if they offered a 3rd class to learn more from him [I’ve been informed that unfortunately eating someones brains doesn’t provide knowledge transfer]. His teaching style is a healthy mixture of taking the class content seriously but with a relaxed attitude. He provides very constructive criticism of the work, he won’t hold back if he thinks something looks ugly [I earned some displeasure a few times from my choice of style lines!] or needs finessing, which is fine, because finesse will come with practice.

Overall this course was great. Intense workload if you have other full-time commitments but enjoyable never the less. The principals and method that we’re taught for drafting jackets are certainly drummed into you – For the first time I can now draft [with confidence] a tailored 2 piece sleeve without needing to reference anything & know it will fit like a glove into my drafted pattern. That feels pretty good.

P.s. As this is my spot on the internet I can vent: I hate production patterns, mostly because my hands can’t cope with hours of cutting multiple layers of card into tens of pattern pieces, even with pattern shears. I avoid it at all costs in my work as I end up with swollen hands and angry joint [anyone else thinking i’ll have arthritis later in life?].

Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire

mourning crape Met exhibitThe current fashion exhibition at the Met Museum in NYC covers the mourning clothes for (ostensibly rich) women between 1815-1915. It even includes mourning outfits from Queen Victoria [she never did quite got over the death of old Bertie…].


I’m going with some friends to check it out, and it should be rather lovely. From the looks of it the space is all high fashion stark white with the intention of adding drama to the mourning crapes and silks.

There’s nothing like saying to the world “Look at me, filled with all the respectable tristesse, and don’t I look fabulous whilst doing it” [insert veil swish]

A bit of history on the old Victorian mourning traditions [as I have come to understand it]:

  • It’s spelt ‘crape’ with a ‘a’ to infer clothes for mourning, though any other time you’d be correct in spelling it ‘crepe’.
  • You want your clothes and accessories BLACK, crimped and you want them DULL. No shiny show-off, stuff thank you very much.
  • You’re going to stay like that for 2.5 years… if you’re a widow, well for the 1st year at least, then over the period of the final 1.5yrs you were expected to s-l-o-w-l-y transition back into colourful society. BRING ON THE SHINY JET BUTTONS. However, feel free to stick to it for life…

I’ve searched around to see why crepe became the go-to option, but came up empty beyond the Georgian era using crape. If you know write in the comments to let me know! I’m imagining some marketing racket from jobbers who needed to get rid of a boatload and made it fashionable to sell.

As for the fabric itself, crepe gets it’s distinctive texture from how it’s woven. Traditionally made from tightly spun weft yarns wound alternately in an ‘S’ and ‘Z’ formation, when it’s released from the loom the fabric springs back as the yarns attempt to relax. It is this high-tensile structure that creates the spongy texture that is found in crepe. It can also be created by playing around with the warp/weft tension during looming, when released the fabric relaxes and the yarns are pushed out in a bubbled texture (think seersucker). The third style of crepe I know of is using chemical processes, which creates the rippled fabric that reminds me of crepe paper: they take a gauze, cover it in setting liquid, pop it in a cylinder or some kind of embossed template and bake it with a super high heat – much like permanent pleated is still done today.

There is a fourth method I found whilst fact checking the above, but personally it sounds more like boucle, and as I’m the author of this post I’m going to be a nay-sayer and discount it [FYI it’s created with uneven slubbed yarns that are loosely woven to create the texture].

I’m quite partial to a traditional wool crepe, myself. I like the way the texture gives depth to the colour. Unfortunately due to it’s texture I also look like a yeti made of cat hair.

The exhibition runs through the Winter until February 1st 2015.

Update! Christine of Thread Cult podcasts has interviewed co-curator, Jessica Regan, & it’s a fabulous interview that gives context behind the exhibit.mourners

Petit Theatre Dior

I have a soft spot for Dior. More precisely mostly what came out of the house prior to the latest designer… still trying to warm to his style and take on the label. Whilst I try and find a place in my heart for Raf Simons, you should check out their site which released two gorgeous ‘making of’ videos on their latest exhibition in China (back in June, I’m so late to the party that everyone has already gone home…).



All Haute Couture replicas of classic Dior gowns from throughout the century that were crafted at 1/3 size of their original counterparts. Doll collectors, hold yourselves steady!

All hand crafted, down to the itty bitty little flowers. It comes across as a very meditative process, however I’m sure the atelier see’s it’s fair share of nightmarish hours during collection time.

Personal favourite of the videos is the ‘Mexique’ from A/W 1951.

Oh to be at that exhibition in China…. sigh.


P.S Thank you to my cousin Katherine, for sending me the link to these videos!


Duathlon Kittens

I made some Fehr Trade Duathlon leggings and I really like them. Kapow!


The side-panel-pocket is a nifty bit of engineering that reeled me in and you can play around with it using different prints or colours. It took 3 [wearable] muslins to nail the fit to my liking, which is fine as it was a worthwhile exercise [pun intended]. So here’s my mini adventure [in which I only learn my lesson in pair number 3].

Pair number 1:

I did the full capri length and usually go with a straight size on any first attempt to get a gauge of the cut of the pattern, but for some reason I messed about with it straight away. I graded from a small at the waist to a large on the hip and leg, also increased out the back rise length on the inner thigh. I thought I had supplex but I’m pretty sure it’s milliskin matte.

The results: A general loose feeling. The shaping for the knees hit much lower on my legs [mostly because I have stumps for legs]; front rise had excess fabric; too baggy around the outer thighs] fabric pooling under the buttocks; straining on the lower part of my cheeks; centre back waistline pulling down by a couple of inches. I have a full droopy bottom in comparison to my front rise.

It droops quite significantly. You could lose pencils under those cheeks.

red leggings 1

The general loose feeling wasn’t too surprising as the fabric tested with more stretch than the pattern was developed for – I know better but I never take heed. To make them more wearable post muslin, I evened out the waistline, ran them through my serger and lopped off a good 1.5cm’s off the inseam, followed by redoing the crotch line, scooping at my bottom for good measure, which is what you can see in the photos above. Job done. Good enough.

Pair number 2:

I took it down a size to a medium; moved the knee line up by a few inches; added height to both the front and back rise so that they would finish up just below my natural waist as pair #1 sat unevenly on me. For the crotch shape I pulled out a pair of RTW leggings that fit [reasonable] well and compared the shape and messed about with the front, scooping the back crotch to accommodate said buttock droop.

I will admit I was over zealous with the measurements in my changes for #2. I remember feeling rather gung-ho about it all by that point. Out came my kitten print fabric [they were practically neglected by this point and I’m sure the ASPCA we’re about to knock my door down because of it] and went to work.

I even put a little kitten piping on the side and waist for extra jazzyness.

kitten leggingsCreepy kitten eyes staring out at you.

Pair #2 turned out good, but I knew it could be better. I annotated the pattern with further changes, stood back and saw I had frankensteined it beyond recognition. I do like to go all around the houses with some things. So I put it away.

At this point I had done the first few of my Zombies, Run! 5K sessions in the red pair so I already knew the pattern was worth revisiting. Just. One. More. Time. The side pocket feature meant I no longer get my arms tangled in my earphone cables, or get chub rub from wearing an armband! [sad face for the chub rub].

Pair number 3:

A few days ago I picked up my mess of a pattern whilst wearing the kittens and drank some tea. The logic I should have stuck to from the start: the fuller the persons’ bottom the more the back leg pattern needs to slant towards the out-seam to accommodate the body shape the fabric has to cover, rather than just increasing the pattern upwards in a vertical fashion. So I kept the additional length on the crotch rise but took it back to near its original point on the side seam and smoothed it out. Cut down to a size small all over to accommodate the stretchier fabric, and calmed the voice of reason wagging its index finger at me.

Whatever finger wagger. Check theez out.

leggings 3

Making this last pair I still messed about with the pattern, but hear me out! Whilst wearing #1 I noticed is that the width of the pocket is perfect for my phone, but I would get a little nervous about it just slightly poking out of the top of the slot if I was too energetic. Enter the idea of a small overlap!


Whilst cutting out #3 I added an extra 3/4″ to the length of the upper side panel with the idea of folding it back over the opening of the slot pocket. Then I got all silly and decided to use some power-net I have for just the pocket area so my skin can breathe more and not get my phone damp.

The story of the sports bra is for another time.