Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hello From Soggy Chicago!

soggy chicago

Oh, beautiful city! Look at this. Just look at the skyline! Last night there was some sort of firework show, and I could see them off in the distance, sparkling above the buildings.


And despite packing for warm weather, here I am, in jeans and boots and sweaters and jackets. It's honestly been the same weather in every single state I've been in this month besides Wisconsin. Wisconsin hasn't failed me--warm and summery, right on cue.

But just how many states have I been in this May? Six! But only four really count. It's been quite the month! I finished my semester up on May 14th, packed up my dorm, and flew to Alaska on the 16th to be in a dear friend's wedding. On the way, I had layovers in Chicago and Seattle, so by the time I got to Anchorage, I was exhausted! I finally--finally!--got to bed at 4am my time, only 1am in Alaska. The wedding was wonderful, and we had so much fun putting together the last minute details, like flower arrangements and decorations. I was there for only a handful of days, and after visiting relatives briefly, I made my return flight on Sunday night with a stop in Dallas. There you go, six states!


Alaska, at 11:00 PM! Isn't it beautiful?


It's so easy to fall in love with the mountains.


The bride had gotten this pretty little handgun as a birthday present (so cool), and all of us girls just had to pose with it. Obviously!

After a brief, 6-day break at home in Northern Minnesota, I'm in Chicago for three and a half weeks, feeling excited and optimistic. There is so much to do and see! Already I feel like I've been on the go, nonstop, and it's wonderful. It's just one of those times in my life where I can barely stop to look around, and I kind of love it. Summer is shaping up so well already! How's yours looking??


Thursday, May 24, 2012



Here it is, the finished coat in all its glory!


Shot of the hand painted lining... You'll see another post on the blouse and the trousers!


The hand-distressed leather hinges, with snaps--and the curved welt pockets!


Leather flying yoke... If I could change anything, I would move the yoke to fit the back neck better! Alas, once snaps are set, they are set forever.


And I don't think I could possibly have anything more to say about this coat, except: runway photos from our fashion show!


(Above two photos taken by Hannah Riordan.)

I'm never modeling again. I was so nervous! But I think I did okay--I didn't fall, at least! I think the best part of looking at runway pictures is seeing people's reactions. Too funny.

(Photo taken by my parents.)

And this was me, after the shows were all done, with my model & wonderful friend, Cassie! Perhaps you remember her from last year? This is a preview of things to come--I'll do another post on her outfit! It's a goodie.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tailor Made


Making a coat is really, really time consuming. And hard. And fussy. But it's also a kind of magic--seeing the soft wool transform, molding it with the help of supportive devices and materials. It is incredible that all the ugly innards come together to create something so crisp and fitted. I certainly have a new kind of respect for all fine tailoring after this winter!

Let's start from the beginning. We were to make coats or blazers in my Advanced Pattern Development class this semester. The requirements were that it had to be wool, and had to have bound button holes, welt pockets, and a collar and lapel. I was heavily inspired by the burgundy coat I designed for my women's line in my class last semester, but I had to translate the design from embossed leather to wool, so some heavy-handed changes ensued. I eventually discarded the front panel and the zipper, but kept the essence of the design by keeping the leather and the snaps.

We started by draping a basic long-torso sloper on mannequins. From here, we transferred the drape to paper, mocked up a muslin of the pattern, made necessary fit alterations, fixed the pattern, and then altered the pattern to the size necessary for a coat, adding a collar, lapel, and sleeves. I settled on a double breasted design with a curved collar and lapel, and a two-piece sleeve. We mocked these up, fitting them to ourselves instead of to the dress forms. And then we mocked them up again. And again. And again. I think I made 4 1/2 muslins in total, perfecting the fit as I went.


Here is one of my final muslins. It's a hideous thing, isn't it? All of those bound buttonholes were just for practice--yuck.

Just look at that sleeve! Terrible, I tell you.The shaded part of the pattern there is the alteration made to the sleeve to fix the fit.

Eventually, I got the pattern perfected enough to move on to the wool. I purchased two and a half yards of this beautiful burgundy 70% Wool 30% Cashmere Italian coating. It was $50 a yard--which is so, so not in my budget, but I was weak and it was all I had ever wanted in a fabric. It is luscious and soft and drapes beautifully and is just as perfect as can be. So I went for it, and I got white silk twill from Dharma Trading Co. to dye for the lining.

Before I could sew anything, we were told we had to thread trace the seam allowance and notches on all of the pieces. This took, oh, about twelve hours, and--can I be honest?--was the biggest waste of time, because after I did sew the thing together, I couldn't follow my original seam lines anyway! The pattern behaved differently in wool than in muslin, so it didn't matter where my seam line was in the end. Haha, I guess this is how you learn!

But then, after thread tracing, doing a baste-fit, and making necessary alterations, we could begin the real tailoring. Everything had to be interfaced, so I took apart my hand-basted garment. Instead of padstitching the entire garment, we were able to use fusible hair canvas interfacing. I still did my share of padstitching on the under collar with a bit of sew-in hair canvas, and let me tell you, that was enough for me! I am deluding myself into thinking that next time, I'll make a coat with a totally padstitched front and lapel. I'm sure I'll hate myself for it about six stitches in!

So, the body of the garment was interfaced with hair canvas, and the sleeves and facings with tricot. Then, I handstitched 1/8" twill tape along the edge of the lapels and front opening edge. I also stitched twill tape along the roll line, stretching the tape as I went, so that it had a natural roll that would last forever.


See those itty-bitty stitches? See how they all match up on either side? What, obsessive? Me? No way.

Many hours of handstitching later...


I sewed it for real!



And then took it out again. Besides fixing that back princess seam--who knows what went wrong there?--I had to take it in a tad, because the seams didn't look good unless I caught 1/16" of the interfacing in the seam allowance. Trial and error, I tell you.

Also, I had some leather work to do! I made a flying yoke, as you can see by the pattern development there, and cut it out of two layers of brown leather. I also cut out six hinge pieces for the front closure. These all had to be rubber-cemented, suede-sides together, and distressed with sand paper.

I went on a mad hunt to find a place to set my snaps for me, but I couldn't find any shop that would do it in the time frame I needed--and I really, really didn't want to leave my precious work with someone else for an extended period of time. I don't think anyone would have wanted me nervously hovering while they cut holes to set the snaps, which is surely what I would have insisted on! So, I bought a kit and did it myself, and probably angered a few people in my dorm with my hammering. Anyway, the snaps look great and seem like they'll hold forever, which was what I was worried about. However, I don't have any photos without showing the whole garment, so you'll just have to wait!

Other things I had to do for the garment were making shoulder pads and sleeve headers, and painting the lining an obnoxiously bright yellow. It turned out awesome!

Ah, but here I've spent way too long writing this post and not enough time working on my project! These photos are pretty lackluster, but I'll post some of the finished thing next time. Maybe I'll even include some runway photos! If you've made it this far in this novel of a post--thanks for reading, even when I'm so long-winded!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Little Gems


I am a terrible blogger. Let's just face it, shall we? I think, after four years of this, we all know I will post only sporadically, and in brief spurts at best. I probably won't reply to comments regularly, even though I ought. I won't take consistently good photos and I will change up my content all the time. I wish I were better at this, but to be honest, it just isn't the right time in my life. I've been getting better at prioritizing my time, and by doing so, school goes to the top and internet goes to the bottom.

And that school... Let me tell you, I've been learning so much in my two years in the program. It's harder than I ever imagined, but it's also the kind of thing you learn to deal with as time goes on, and you get better at managing how you work the more you practice. And the people help. Having made best friends out of the girls in my major has, quite truly, made this whole Apparel thing survivable.

Anyway, it's finals week. I'm in the middle of making portfolio pages for the garments I made in my Advanced Pattern class. This past week was our fashion show. But more on all of that later! Here's my Children's line from last semester!


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More projects to come!