Saturday, June 11, 2016

So Unruly

Recently, I went to visit a wonderful exhibit of American fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi's work, An Unruly History, at the Jewish Museum in New York City which is on view until August 7, 2016. This exhibit most certainly made me appreciate him as a designer as the depth of his work was quite impressive.

When you first enter the exhibit, you see a wall that looks like tiles or some type of mosaic but when you get closer, it is actually hundreds (thousands?) of swatches!

You then enter this room where you see beautiful colorful garments.  It is Isaac's mastery of color that I love the most.  The work in the exhibit is from the 1980's through current day.

--Isaac Mizrahi
How exciting it was to see hundreds of his sketches with his notes written on them!

You can see in Isaac's work how he absorbed all of the diverse cultures and religions one is inevitably exposed to living in New York City.  His design aesthetic was also influenced by nature, politics, music...basically, everything around him.

The peony is Isaac's favorite flower

Totem pole dress

Wooden bead jacket

Poppy flower.  The fabric of the dress in the background is hand painted.

Something I did not know about Isaac was his work designing puppets for children's plays.  It was so much fun to see the accompanying footage of the puppets in the productions.

Ostrich puppet

Owl puppet

Toward the end of the exhibit, there are also some short films of his early fashion shows where you see the great supermodels Linda Evangelista and Christy Burlington walking the catwalk in his designs.

If you are in New York City anytime between now and August 7, do try to visit this fabulous exhibit.   You will enjoy it!  The museum is located on 5th Avenue at 92nd Street.  Call them at 212-423-3337 for hours and entrance fees.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pants Fit - Part II

For me, by far the most perplexing garment to fit are pants.  They must fit up and down and around as all other garments but they must also have the correct crotch curve shape and length and fit around 3 "cylinders" (the torso and 2 legs).  The fit adjustments are oftentimes counterintuitive.

Over the years, I have taken online classes and attended every pant fitting class offered in the sewing expos I have attended.  Each class offered new insights as to why pants fit and don't fit.  The most beneficial class I have taken was a 3 day workshop offered by the NJ Chapter of the ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) taught by Karen Bengtson (member of the Colorado chapter).  You can read more about the process in my previous post.

The pants pattern was based on the methods and techniques developed by Joyce Murphy who also wrote an article in the December/January 2006 Issue 122 of Threads magazine entitled, "Adjusting Pants from Waist to Seat."  It was a fascinating article where she explained the concept of body spaces and how they relate to the crotch length and more importantly, how there are an infinite number of shapes of body spaces.  She also explained why the commonly recommended adjustments often don't work.

I am very happy with the result but I want to understand why they fit.  Below is my analysis.

Here are the Joyce Murphy pants, front view:

And most importantly for me, the back view.  There is a little bit of a wrinkling below my derriere on the left side due to my left hip being lower but it doesn't bother me:

Below are photos of a muslin based on a standard Big 4 pant pattern:
Big 4 pant pattern muslin - Front
I don't like how the front crotch fits.  There is too much fabric there and the fabric seems to hang from the bottom of the zipper opening.  I do need to take in the sides but most of the bagginess you see on the sides is actually coming from the back:

Big 4 pant pattern muslin - Back
I have a flat derriere and thin thighs.  It looks like I need less fabric around the thighs so you would think what I need is to take in some fabric along the inseams.  One instructor suggested I take in the inseams and scoop out the crotch but that didn't work.  I still had bagginess.  Here's the counterintuitive part:  I needed more fabric there!

In the photo below, I placed the Big 4 pant pattern back (the tissue) on top of the Joyce Murphy pant pattern (white paper) and you can see how the Joyce Murphy pant pattern has a longer back crotch length!

In the photo below,  the Joyce Murphy front crotch is 3/4 inch shorter than the Big 4 pant pattern front.  This smaller measurement takes away the excess fabric at the front:

Another very important factor is the crotch curve.  At the risk of over sharing, here is mine.  I obtained it using a flexible ruler.  I placed a red rubber band where my  inseam is located.  Given that I have a flat derriere, I was absolutely astonished that my shape was so round, almost a perfect circle - ha!  I did this repeatedly to make sure I got the shape right, because I just couldn't believe it, but I kept coming up with this.  The space inside the flexible ruler is what Joyce Murphy calls "body space." Everyone has their own unique body space:

So when I took the above photo and drew in "legs", the flat derriere (as well as tummy - boohoo) becomes evident.  Funny how the eye can distort reality (or is it wishful thinking)!

When I abut the front and back Joyce Murphy pattern pieces together and place the flexible ruler along the crotch, the shape matches the flexible ruler quite nicely:

Another factor at play here is the angle of the center back seam.  The more angled the seam, the more it can accommodate a curvier derriere and the opposite is true for a flat derriere.  You don't need much of an angle for a flat derriere.  Why?

A DART!!!!
In the above photo, I traced the pattern so that I have both the left and right sides of the back pattern and had them meet at the back notch since this is what you would do when you sew.  And what do you see - A DART!  If you think about men's shirts, there are no bust darts because they are flat.  Women's fitted and semi-fitted blouses have darts, because they are needed for shaping over the bust. As those of us who must make full bust adjustments know, the bigger the bust, the larger the dart.  Those who are small in this area must make a small bust adjustment, a smaller dart.

Same goes for pants!  The curvier the derriere, the larger the "dart" needs to be so a greater angle would help.  Someone with a flat derriere, like myself, needs a smaller "dart" or an angle that is at less of an angle.  I first heard of this center back "dart" in a Lorraine Henry class at an expo.

So for me, in order to get pants that fit nicely, I needed to add to the back crotch length, reduce the front crotch length, make sure the crotch curve mirrored mine and reduce the angle of the center back seam.  Whew!

There is a wealth of information out there on fitting pants and many different methods.  Finding the method that works for you requires much experimentation but most of all perseverance and patience.

Now I want to use this pant block to create pants with different leg shapes and in different fabrics.  I am sure these changes will present their own challenges, especially different types of fabric.  Hmmmm...

Happy sewing!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pants Fit: Part I

Throughout the years, I have tried many different methods of pant fitting in an attempt to make pants that fit me nicely.  I have taken many online classes.  I have gone to seminars.  I have taken every pant fitting class offered at the sewing expos I have attended.  Each class deepened my understanding of pant fitting and why pants don't fit me well.  Despite all my efforts, I could not make pants that fit me properly.  My problem is that I have too much fabric below the derriere.  There have been times where I got so exasperated that I just put the whole thing aside and picked it up much later.

By far the method that worked best for me was a pant fitting class offered some time ago by the NJ Chapter of the ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) taught by Karen Bengtson (member of the Colorado Chapter).  Karen based her techniques on the Joyce Murphy method of pants fitting using Joyce Murphy's pant block.

Karen had a "test pant" of each size of the pant block.  She had us try on the test pant that came closest to our size and then "draped" them on us.  She took it in here and there until she was satisfied with the resulting fit.  She measured the adjustments and had us record them.

We then traced Joyce Murphy's pant block and transferred the recorded adjustments to the pattern we had traced.  We then cut the pants out in fabric and sewed them.  It was a 3 day class well worth the time and effort.

Goodness - they had a nice fit!  Just a little bit of wrinkling below the derriere on the left (my left hip is lower) but it doesn't bother me at all.  Woo hoo!

And now I am a happy camper!

Karen Bengtson still does pant fitting sessions so if you are interested, do contact her by emailing her at Karenssewunique at gmail dot com.  If you want to try the method on your own, you can certainly do so.  Check out Joyce Murphy's website where you can purchase the pant block.  Joyce wrote 3 articles for Threads magazine which will assist you with fitting the pants:  Issues 119, 122 and 139.  By studying these articles, you can try her techniques and methods and see if they work for you.  (By the way, I have no affiliate relationships with either Karen or Joyce.)

Joyce Murphy's pant block uses a European cut.  I notice that the pattern has a different crotch shape and different crotch lengths for the front and back pattern pieces than do the Big 4.  For my next post, I am going to explore why I think her pant block worked for me.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I am Honored

I feel so honored and flattered that Faye from Faye's Sewing Adventure has featured me on her wonderful blog.  Faye currently has a fun interview series going on and I am so excited to have been selected.  You can check out the interview here.

While you are there, be sure to check out the interviews she has done of some fun and inspiring bloggers.  It is so gracious of her to do this for her fellow bloggers.

Thank you so much Faye!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Inspired by a Commuter

On my way to work, I saw a woman on the bus with a grey and black raglan animal print top and I just loved it.  I decided I would make one for me.  I purchased the grey and black animal print novelty fabric and the black ponte fabric at NY Elegant in NYC.

This self-drafted top was made about a month ago when the weather was much colder here in the Northeastern U.S.  Temperatures are milder now although there is still enough coolness in the air for me to wear it.

I ran into a little bit of trouble with the sleeves since I did not purchase enough fabric.  When I purchased the fabric, for whatever reason, I purchased enough for a set-in sleeve but I wanted to make a raglan sleeve and a raglan sleeve has extra length to accommodate the shoulder.  I completely forgot about this little fact when purchasing the fabric!

Pondering how to resolve this problem, I was thinking of making it a 3/4 sleeve or perhaps adding a band at the bottom of the sleeve.  I realized that the raw edge of the fabric was right in line with where I had planned to have the folded edge of the hem.  Looking at what a nice clean cut edge the ponte had, I decided to just leave the edge of the sleeve with a raw edge hem.  I have seen this treatment often in ready to wear so it will just have to work for me!

Once I realized what a clean raw edge the ponte provided, I decided to use this characteristic to bind the neckline.  I cut off the seam allowance along the neckline.  I then cut strips 1 1/4" wide and simply folded it so that the raw edge of the animal print fabric abutted the folded edge of the strip.  I made sure the strip was wider on the wrong side of the animal print fabric so that I could catch the strip while topstitching.  I positioned it by basting it in place and then I topstitched it.

Once I was done, I felt like the top still needed a little something.  It just seemed boring to me and a little frumpy on me.  I tried different necklaces but I was just not happy with the look.  Looking at the various strips of fabric on my cutting table, I decided to play around with the strips and realized I could place them strategically along the neckline.  Much like the sunburst design you see with pleats on many tops, I decided to do something similar with the strips.  Since the neckline binding on the fashion side of the fabric is 1/2" wide, I decided the strips would be 1/2" wide as well.

I positioned them in place with 1/2" Steam-a-Seam fusible tape.  I used a light setting on my iron and a pressing cloth on top so as to not damage the fabric or create shine on the black strips.  Once they were bonded in place, I topstitched them down.  I figured even though they were bonded in place, I wanted to make sure they stayed that way when laundered a few times.

I like the top much better now that it has these strips in place.  They look like piano keys to me.

For the hem of the body, I simply folded it and topstitched it in place.  Even though the animal print fabric is a knit, I still must use darts in order to get a good fit for my figure.  I used my usual technique for sewing darts on knits.  Happily, the darts get lost in this busy print.

Here is the back view:

Well, I want to move on to pants.  I have lots of fit issues with pants so I hope to tackle this next...or maybe the pants will tackle me.  Ha!  

Happy sewing!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

MPB Winter Frolic Day

Saturday, March 5, 2016 was MPB Winter Frolic Day where sewists, bloggers and like-minded folks got together to enjoy a fun day full of friendship, fashion and sewing-related pursuits.  The beginning of March oftentimes brings with it bad weather but luckily the day was cool, not terribly cold, and sunny.

We met at 11 am at the Museum at FIT where there is currently on view 3 exhibits: Denim: Fashion's Frontier; The Women of Harper's Bazaar; and Fairy Tale Fashion.  All 3 exhibits were wonderful but Fairy Tale Fashion was spectacular.  The garments in combination with the backdrops and music made you feel like you were stepping into a fairy tale.

The first garment you see as you enter the exhibit of Fairy Tale Fashion is a striking Red Riding Hood cape:

Storytailors by Joao Branco and Luis Sanchez, 2015

The Snow Queen section - based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen:

Alexander McQueen, 2008

Alice in Wonderland section - I found this unusual garment quite amusing:

The Queen of Hearts by Hideki Seo, 2014

The motifs on this gorgeous dress seem to refer to the scene where Alice finds a gold key that opens the door to a beautiful garden.  The embroidery is exquisite:
Key to the Garden by Dolce and Gabbana, 2014

The fairies section - The print matching and placement is superb:
What Does a Fairy Look Like? by Prada, 2008

 In the Furrypelts section (based on a tale by the Brothers Grimm) - I just loved this dress with all those little stars:
Dress Like the Stars by Mary Liotta, 1930
Close-up of the stars made from tiny beads and sequins

I had some fun at The Women of Harper's Bazaar exhibit:

Here's Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn modeling the beautiful backpack she just finished made out of neoprene:

You can find out more about these exhibits and upcoming exhibits by visiting the FIT website.

We then headed off to Panera Bread for lunch where we took over the 2nd floor

Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness and myself

and where we had a pattern swap:

After lunch we broke into separate groups.  Kyle and I headed a group to Mood Fabrics where Kyle was on a mission to find the perfect denim (which she did):

Around 4 pm, we all met up at International Gourmet Kitchen, 505 8th Avenue, to rest our weary feet, chat and show off our purchases:

Many thanks to Peter for organizing this wonderful day!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Four Tops - "I Can't Help Myself"

It's been a while since my last post but I have indeed been sewing.  After sewing the olive green jacket, I felt the need to make some quick and simple knit tops.  I made four tops...but I cannot say "Four Tops" without thinking of the title of the wonderful Motown song by the Four Tops, "I Can't Help Myself" which is how I felt making these tops.  They came together quickly and provided me with some instant gratification.

The first top I made was a long sleeve brown turtleneck top made out of a bamboo knit jersey I purchased at NY Elegant Fabrics in NYC.  I made it to go with the sweater knit cardigan I made a few months back.  I love the cardigan but the fabric feels itchy to me so I decided to make a long sleeve turtleneck to shield me from the itchy fabric:

Which then led me to make another turtleneck in a wonderful navy blue fabric a dear friend convinced me I just had to have (and she was right).  It was purchased in one of those little stores on 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues that always has a "Going Out of Business" sign but never does.  I got the end of the bolt:

Since I had plenty of the navy blue fabric left over, I made a 3/4 length sleeve scoop neck top for the warmer months:

Finally, I just had to make one more turtleneck in a heather grey interlock fabric I had in my stash:

All of the above tops are self-drafted patterns.  They are sewn 100% on the serger.  For the turtlenecks, I made sure to use the 3 thread overlock stitch on my machine.  I believe this stitch has a good amount of give to it which allows the neckline to stretch enough to fit my big head (ha!).  I used the coverstitch for all of the hems.  I also sewed darts into all of the tops using the technique I wrote about in a previous post:

They are all very comfortable and great to wear by themselves or under jackets.  I am not done making knit tops yet!  I will post again soon...

Happy Sewing!