Monday, August 16, 2010

Custom dressmaking

Well today i thought I'd chart the process that goes into a made to measure dress for a client, at Lissom Yarn.

I start by talking to the client about her hopes and fears (!) about the dress and what it should be like.. if she has some ideas... or is open to interpretation.

This example job was for a client with a very clear idea of what she wanted, so there was little need to go over the design.

Her brief was a simple, elegant black stretch dress she could wear to after-5 events. Her specifications where:
Black stetch jersey "tube" dress, with 3/4 sleeves
A cowl on the back neckline and a gentle scoop/v-neck on the front.
She also specified bra - strap keepers on the shoulder to stop the bra and dress going south at odd occasions.

I began by taking her measurements, bust, waist, hip, arm circumference and length, and drafting a pattern.

When I got to the cowl neck, I had to do a bit of reasearch, as I couldn't remember ever drafting one or even using one from a commmercial pattern: what does a cowl look like flattened out, and how do you get that bias drape when you are cutting on the fold and trying to create a deep scoop??

My answer came in part from The Coracle, where Pat Loughery described re-using an old tee shirt by turning it into a cowl neck tank. Her pattern instructions where simple and (to me) rational. I could elaborate as much as I needed to: the secret is in pivoting the shoulder point out from the under- arm, thereby extending the back neckline as much as necessary to create the bias folds that drop down the back when you right the shoulder line to meet the front shoulder. Ingenious!

So this was my first whole toile, which also had a single sleeve to check the fit on the client. Sleeves are my... love/hate feature. They can be amazing and also so very depressing when they are wrong. The cowl wasn't deep or elegant enough for me or the client, but it was a good start for fitting purposes.

So I toile-d again,

this time creating a really wide swing on the shoulder point and got a nice deep cowl.

Then I had to consider facings or lining, or using a double layer of the jersey over the whole garment, to give it extra weight.

I opted for a front facing, with fusing, and back cowl facing without fusing, to maintain that drape and stop it looking like a hood.

So then I cut out the real garment from the black jersey, (Poly-Spandex from Clegs), and started on the proper dress.

I'm finishing the sleeves with little folded cuffs to give the sleeves some definition and form.

Its not quite finished yet, but im happy with the overall design and shape. Next I will just be finishing the hem, adding the bra keepers and have one last fitting to check all the details are right.

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