More Piles

A job that leaves one brain dead after work, how lucky am I! Then pick a project that calls for non-standard seam and hem decisions, how smart is that! Not very obviously. So to console myself for lack of progress on the sewing front I went on a sewing related book shopping spree – I can always dream about sewing even if I don’t actually manage to do it!

The first two were prompted by sleeve pattern alteration I was doing on the Burda Moto jacket. I decided to try tips from Jeffery Diduch’s article on tailored sleeve alterations in Threads July 2013 (he of Made by Hand blog, a professional tailor & patternmaker).

But there are a lot more reference points in his armscye diagram than on the Burda pattern, even more than the Big Four (which is just one more than Burda). (E is missing from this web illustration.)  So I thought I’d check The Cutter and Tailor for recommendation on pattern books that might illuminate how to locate these reference points. I settled on these supposedly oldies but goodies:

The Modern Tailor Outfitter And Clothier – Vol I
The Modern Tailor Outfitter And Clothier – Vol II

Maybe they’re not so aptly titled anymore as they are ‘1928 Modern’ rather than ‘2014 Modern’. But then menswear tailoring probably hasn’t changed as much as womenswear. The whole emphasis on fit as measure of quality over ostentation sounds promising. Volume I & II both have 3-4 chapters on womenswear tailoring including pattern drafting instruction. I haven’t read these in depth yet, but quick glance shows the instruction is the old fashion procedural type with little explanation of how to adapt to different measurements. Oh boy. Hopefully there’ll be gems buried in the other paragraphs.

And so far no references to these armscye reference points that set me on this wild goose chase yet. The hunt continues. Maybe a thorough troll through Mr Diduch’s blog is in order. (Actually, Nancy K had already asked Mr Diduch the very same question. His answer is on Threads website. Doh!)

Next up is another book on principles of pattern drafting.

How Patterns Work: The Fundamental Principles of Pattern Making and Sewing in Fashion Design

I briefly considered this book when I was looking for books on principles of how anatomy & human motions impact fit & pattern design. But the table of content didn’t seem promising. So I got Theory of Garment-Pattern Making instead on recommendation by Kathleen Fasanella. (That was another old fashion anemic book and sadly didn’t quite answer the enormity of my questions.) So when someone mentions this book again in response to Marina von Koenig‘s tutorials on pencil skirt drafting, I gave it a second chance. I’m still on the fence with this one, but that’s just from flipping through the book and reading the author / publisher ‘bio’: Too many illustrations of dress forms and too little evidence of credentials. Manifesto is all fine, but I feel more reassured if Assembil Books had listed where they got their experience and insights from. I will reassess when I’ve finally read the book cover to cover.

But not now. Because I have three more fun & inspirational books in my box!

I wanted to get some books on McQueen ever since I saw the Isabella Blow exhibit at Somerset House. (Wouldn’t have minded one on John Galliano either, but seems like now that he has fallen from grace there’s no book to be had. Not unless you fork out a fortune for rare second hand ones.)

Savage Beauty is as close as I’m going to get to examining McQueen garments without getting told off by museum guards. Lots of great pieces modeled by neutral mannequins if the theatrical fashion show presentations weren’t quite your cup of tea.

Vogue one has mostly editorial photos, many quite beautiful and not as aggressive as the runway presentations.

But at the moment I’m savoring the Life and Legacy bio. There are less inspiring photos here – mostly runway photos and only used to illustrate the collection summaries. Instead, the inspiration comes from the words. I love the details about McQueen’s Savile Row apprenticeship, the stints with various 80s designers as a cutter afterward (didn’t know he worked for Romeo Gigli – a 80s/90s Italian designer I also like), the Central St Martin training, the early struggles (so glamorous yet so impoverished). I’m inspired by how he turned out cutting edge collections on shoe-string budget while living off state benefits. (Galliano supposedly did the same when he first showed in Paris, having to resort to cheapo lining fabric for his geishaish collection.) I love that iconic garments can be created from seemingly uninspiring materials (where as sometimes the most expensive and exquisite fabrics get turned into frump).

Yes, some of his designs are a bit offish even to me – really not sure about the bumster trousers. No one’s perfect. But I love his mix of tailoring and gothic romantic cutting edge.

Here’s a quote from Savage Beauty worth considering:

“[I design from the side,] that way I get the worst angle of the body. You’ve got all the lumps and bumps, the S-bend of the back, the bum. That way I get a cut and proportion and silhouette that works all the way round the body.”

It really resonate with me because I find a few of my makes less than flattering from the side view. Love the front and back. But not the side.

While I have no ambition to be a designer (nor a professional tailor), sewing for myself (and styling the outfits) are about the only creative outlet I allowed myself. So these little gems of insights from the professionals are real threats. If only they all design for non-model bodies!

0 comments on “More Piles

  1. I have quite a few pattern making books. My favourite is Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. Actually I’m tempted to add How Patterns Work to my collection.

    • I’m beginning to differentiate pattern-making for the fashion industry vs pattern-making for the individual. I think too many books are geared towards design for the ideal body. Even when measurement based, there doesn’t seem to be much distinction between different body types and where to distribute the shaping for example.

      Are you interested in designing for yourself (and friends) or going into the industry?

  2. LOVE your review of the McQueen books. I’m going to have to hunt them down to read myself! His creations leave me breathless sometimes, and Sarah Burton is doing an amazing job of continuing his legacy.

    Good luck with the sleeve alterations…. :

    • Thanks! I hope Sarah will find her own unique aesthetic too! Someone else’s legacy can be a burden too 🙂

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