Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

Hi again!

I really want to thank you for your wonderfully supportive comments and emails!

I had been planning to take today off of work to go to Stone Mountain to purchase supplies for challenge #7, as I didn't have the right materials in stash. After learning that I was out of the competition, I decided to take the day off, anyway!

For one thing, I really needed a day off! I have been in this competition for nearly two months and it's been grueling, especially since I also work full time. Not only was I flagging, but it feels like everyone is starting to flag a bit, including the judges, and my blog readers!

So I decided to go ahead with my plans. Though I hadn't started the next challenge, I had figured out what I wanted to make. This challenge is much more up my alley than the last one. Margy kindly overnight'ed me the pattern I wanted to use - all I needed was the fabric.

I rarely purchase fabric for a specific project, so this was fun! It was also fun to be in Stone Mountain on Halloween, when all of the employees are dressed up and in high spirits.

I just returned from my outing. (It was my first time driving over the new Bay Bridge and it is beautiful!) My fabrics are in the wash. I do plan to make the garment for challenge #7, but it will be on my time!

I am positively vibrating with happiness and mojo.

I feel like I've been pardoned from prison! :D

Halloween 2013

Now, you may remember that my friend Sue helps with the costumes for her three adorable grandchildren. I blogged about them last year. Well, she and her daughter made two costumes again this year and I received permission to share the pics.

Eldest grandson is a piece of sushi!

Specifically, he is a piece of salmon, avocado, and tamago (grilled egg) sushi. (His favorite kind.) I know that duct tape and Styrofoam packing peanuts featured prominently in the construction of his costume, which is truly clever. (Sue's daughter, the mother of said children, is a school teacher, and she is clever indeed when it comes to this sort of thing):

Youngest grandson is the Man in the Yellow Hat. My friend Sue made the hat! (But, then, she is Hatmaker Extraordinaire!) His polka dots were also achieved with duct tape!

And, not to be left out, granddaughter was a cheerleader. Sue and I think that she has acting potential!

If you celebrate Halloween, I hope it's a fun one!

I'm out!

I just saw the post on the FM blog and I'm out!

It's actually a relief. :) I hadn't started this week's challenge yet, as I figured there was a good chance I would be out.

Congrats to Audrey - this week's winner!

And thanks to each of you for your (often enthusiastic) support!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Draping, The Complete Course

I've been wanting to post this review since September! Life has been crazy with work and the FM competition. (Please VOTE if you haven't yet!)

On September 19th, I attended an event sponsored by Britex and held at Apparel Arts in San Francisco. Karolyn Kiisel was speaking, the author of the just-released book, Draping: The Complete Course.

This sold-out event gave us an opportunity to watch Karolyn drape one of the dresses that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I have long been interested in draping, so I looked forward to watching Ms Kiisel at her craft. She started off by showing examples of how fabric behaves on grain, on cross grain, and on the bias. In short order, she was draping the Audrey Hepburn dress on a dress form. Ms. Kiisel has taught fashion design for over 20 years and she clearly knows her stuff. Once the Hepburn dress was completed, she answered questions, and then showed draping of a more free-form design.

Fascinating stuff!

After the talk, photos were taken!

Mary (a blog reader), JillyBe, me, Laura Mae
with Karolyn Kiisel

My copy of the book arrived a few weeks later, during the height of the FM sewing craziness, so I didn't have time to look at it right away.

I have finally been able to sit down and examine this massive tome.

I am quite impressed!

This book has what so many drafting and draping textbooks lack - loads and loads of color pictures! For example, here is an early page that discusses types of muslin that you might use for draping and their relative qualities:

She also discusses other types of fabrics you might want to drape with:

This page shows the difference (in the same fabric) on grain, cross grain, and on the bias:

Another strength of this book is the variety of projects shown. It runs the gamut from historical garments, to dresses from classic movies, to Jacqueline Kennedy, to modern pop stars, to garments straight off the runway.

There is something to appeal to everyone!

There is an entire section on draping bustiers, another on skirts, another on blouses, another on pants, and so on.

(And, yes, you need a dress form for draping. To drape pants, you need a bifurcated dress form.)

Here is a sampling of some of the projects from the book:

Isadora Duncan Grecian-style Dance costume

A cut-on sleeve

A bustier

Hakama - Japanese samurai pants

Katherine Hepburn wide legged pants

She shows how to drape these Nanette Lepore pants

In the Knits section, she shows how to drape the Nanette Lepore halter top

Draping a Trench coat

Kate Middleton's Wedding Gown

An Adrian design worn by Jean Harlowe in the 1933 film, Dinner at Eight

Vivienne Westwood gown

Chanel-style jacket

The book also contains drafting advice. This section, part of the Chanel-style jacket, shows how to draft a 2-pc sleeve

Dolce and Gabbana Tuxedo jacket worn by Rihanna

Red carpet dress worn by Reese Witherspoon

And this is not an exhaustive list! There is much more included in this book.

On the back cover of the book, there is a DVD with 32 video tutorials:

I watched most of these tutorials. Some are brief, but all are very professionally done. You can very clearly watch Karolyn demonstrate various techniques. I particularly enjoyed watching her perfect the fit of the Nanette Lepore pants on a live model in one video and how to put darts into a bias garment in another. You can see some sample videos here.

I highly recommend this book! The current price on Amazon is less than $50.

Here are the links and resources that I found:

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Winter/Holiday 2013/2014 Vogue Patterns

The Fabric Mart poll is up for the 6th challenge. Please Go vote!

I continue to hear good things about changes at the helm of McCalls patterns. This is very heartening to hear.

I hear that they are open to input.

In that spirit, I am going to give some feedback on all of the non-dress patterns that were released today in the Winter/Holiday batch of patterns. I normally only highlight my favorites, but I thought I would expand my comments this time around. There are a lot of dresses and I will leave those to be reviewed by folks who wear dresses, or get excited by dresses.

Vogue 8954
I am very excited about this asymmetric, seamed vest from Marcy Tilton.
Very. excited.
I. want.

Vogue 8966
Marcy Tilton has a new accessories pattern. This has 2 hats, both are incredibly cute, as well as some scarves and fingerless gloves. I am especially in love with both hats.

Vogue 1376
Sandra Betzina has a new tunic top and leggings. I know from experience that these leggings are likely to be too large for my freakishly tiny hips, but the top is cute with draw strings in the shoulder seams. It strikes me as a rather summery design, so it's interesting that it was released in the winter batch.

Vogue 1375
While this is a cute vest made up in the black organza with striped binding, it is very loose and unfitted. This would not flatter me at all. Clothes that lack shaping below the bust are not for me, but it would be cute on the right person. (It would look great on Peggy!)

Vogue 1377
I love Koos van den Akker's design aesthetic but, once again, this coat is too unfitted for my liking. I will buy this pattern anyway because it has interesting details. One of my friends calls patterns like this "reading material".

Vogue 8956 - Very Easy Vogue Options
This is a nice basic wrap skirt with drape options. I like it.

Vogue 8965
Two styles of wrap tops. These are cute and unusual!! I like very much! (Though I would have to muslin the cropped version to see if it works with my bust - it all depends on where it lands.)

Vogue 8952
Another tee that is fitted through the bust, flares at the hem, and has a high-low hem. There is a cowl option. It feels like we have seen this many times before. I wish this top offered more interesting details, more variety. We see the same styles over and over. It's fine if you don't have anything like this in your pattern stash, but it feels like a missed opportunity.

Vogue 8951
Pullover tunic (with optional hood) has side slits, back is slightly longer than the front, kangaroo pocket.... YAWN. Again, we have seen this. Repeatedly. I was at a blogger meetup recently and a woman was wearing a hoodie that had an interesting detail at the wrist. It was fitted at the wrist and there was a shaped inset using a really stretchy power-type fabric. It was very cool. Why can't we have some interesting details like this? Or maybe an unexpected pocket. Please? This feels like another missed opportunity, Vogue.

Vogue 8950 - Pullover tunic with yokes and side slits.
Really?!?!? Haven't we seen this a million times? And, by the way, if you have a large bust, this yoke might be very unflattering indeed. Unless you are a completely new sewist, you already own a version of this pattern. Definitely a missed opportunity. (It also looks like the neckline might be very wide and might need modification.)

Vogue 8962 - Very Easy Vogue, Pullover Tunic, Skirt and Pants
Don't be seduced by the stripes. This top is ok, it isn't really exciting, but it's got some interest to it. The skirt and pants are basic. This pattern is a maybe for me - it's ok, but doesn't have me super excited.

Vogue 8964 - Men's Robe and PJs
Really, Vogue? Only one pattern for men and this is it?! If I sewed for men, I would not be happy. I have been craving (for years now) INTERESTING robe patterns. Something other than the ubiquitous wrap robe. For example, how about a robe like this:

The front looks like a regular wrap robe, but...

...the back has a wonderful inset yoke at the waist. This would help the robe "stay on" better and would be comfortable and flattering. I would love a robe pattern like this!!! How about it?

Vogue 1378 - Donna Karan top and pants
Look at these pants. LOOK AT THESE PANTS!!!
Excuse me while I elbow people out of my way to get at these pants.
And they come in a size 4!!!!!
SWOON. This and Marcy's vest are my two favorite patterns in this batch.
HEY! Did you SEE these PANTS?!?!

Vogue 8957 - Four "shrug" style evening jackets
Wow, if you need something like this, view A, with the seaming is very interesting! (The pic above shows the back of view A.)

Vogue 8953 - "Peasant blouse"
Easily one of the most unflattering patterns I've seen in a long time. I wore this top in the 70s, when I was a teenager. It didn't look good on me then, either. This style is not flattering on most, unless you are very thin and your fabric is very floaty.

Vogue 8963 - suit w/ princess seamed jacket, skirt, pants and top/dress
This is ok. I always look at suit patterns because I hope that I might see a jacket I want. This one seems like one I've seen a million times before. Nothing new or exciting in the details. The bias top/dress has flutter sleeves. It might be worth purchasing the pattern if it excites you, but it doesn't grab me.

Vogue 8958 - Lined vest or jacket with princess seams.
Again, nothing new or exciting here and, in fact, that deep v-neck with the low-slung lapels (view D) can give one a "droopy boob" look. I wouldn't chose this silhouette, but it could look nice on the right figure.

Vogue 8960 - Very Easy Vogue, Unlined coat.
Really, Vogue?!? Really??? As we head into winter, you give us one winter coat and this is it? It's not even lined and it is SO.BORING. A huge missed opportunity.

Well, that's my take on the batch. As always, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). :D