Thursday, 25 October 2012

All about corners

This dress by Matthew Williamson has altogether eight corners. As you can see from the technical drawing, the two front corners are the most prominent and require a lot of attention

Please ignore the wrinkles as this dress is still not sewn together!

I had a hard time sewing, ripping and sewing again the two main corners. Here's the corner technique which Susan Khalje showed me.

Step 1:
Especially if you do it for the first time, mark the corners (symbolically) as pieces X and V due to the shapes they create.

Step 2:
Fold both pieces in half to determine the center. Also decide the seam allowance for both pieces: it should be equal! Then staystitch piece X along the seam allowance pivoting at the top center. See, it creates an "X" :)

Do the same with the piece V.  Be very careful at the top to make the needle pivot at the very center.

Step 3:
After you have staystitched piece V, cut into the fabric as close to the stitching as possible. Don't worry, it won't unravel!

Step 4:
Pin both pieces right sides together starting from the corner.

Because you will pivot at the corner, pin your fabric so that it will be easy for you to remove the pins as you sew. See how the pin heads are placed? I start from the bottom left towards the corner, then pivot and go down all the way along the right seam.

Step 5:
Here you go, your corner looks perfect (almost)!

Step 6:
Never underestimate the importance of pressing!

Muslin is an easy-to-handle fabric. Cotton or linen would behave nicely as well. During the couture sewing class, I had my share of trying to handle the corners on two layers of silks: silk satin and crepe-de-chine. It did not go smoothly in the beginning and it took me a while before I could sew some corners of my dress with a bit of confidence.

Have you ever come across difficulties in sewing? What helped you overcome them? 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Report on Couture Sewing School

Two broken nails and a bad back could only be fixed with a manicure and a one-hour massage. So that’s what I had on Sunday, after one week at the Couture Sewing School!

Where shall I start? How about with the conclusion: the couture sewing course has changed the way I see and want my sewing to be. What I really want now is to dedicate my time to sewing a high-quality wardrobe, regardless of how long it takes. To me, it's like cooking; I can take a $1.50 packet of pasta and add some canned sauce for another $1.50, or I can make the dough and sauce from scratch and elevate my pasta to the level of art. Here's what I am saying: I don't want $1.50 pasta anymore! (Well, maybe only when I am starving hungry!)

If you want to know, my dress is probably only 30% done but the learning experience and the amount of information acquired during one week with Susan Khalje is worth more than a finished dress. What is more, I met the most incredible crowd of couturières: from beginners like me to sewing stalwarts like Marina. We were such a multicultural and multilingual group coming from four corners of the world: the US, Canada,  the Netherlands and me from Japan. Within our group, we spoke four foreign languages and shared our experiences both of sewing and life. We drank wine and ate not-very-healthy food from the hotel's restaurant, we sang, we danced, we went to bed after midnight and were back in the sewing room for 7am (some people even earlier)... All in all, I had an unforgettable week and plan to return to see Susan in March for the French Jacket class.

I overestimated my capabilities for this project; it was not that easy as I thought. By Wednesday, I was still working  on the muslin: after two fittings, I had to make muslin #3. The trickiest part with my dress was its construction. The designer replaced darts with side panels which shape the waistline. Once I’d tweaked one of the sides during the fitting, I needed to change at least two other sides in order to match all of the seams exactly. After the first fitting when Susan said there were not that many fitting issues, I was extremely happy because I wanted to start working with the fabric! But only on Wednesday night did I cut into the fashion fabric.

The biggest area of progress for me was in working with silks and sewing corners. You can see from the design how many bl**dy corners shape the dress! I have to tell you that some of them I ripped and sewed in more than three times. Susan helped me to sew the main bust corners, but she also had a hard time with them. She was kind enough to reassure me that the corners on slippery fabric are tough even for the pros.

I plan to write more detailed posts on the silks and corners and Couture Sewing School soon, but at the moment I have one more week ahead of me in New York city! Hope you understand!

See you next week!