Monday, 31 January 2011

Body Duplicate vs Mannequin

I’ve been asked why a commercial mannequin is not ‘good enough’ when making clothes for yourself – or anybody else for that matter.
The quick and simple answer is that every body is different in shape and proportions. Having well fitting clothes means they need to fit your actual body. Clothes that fit badly are not stylish either!

I think these two photos will help you to see why I regard a body duplicate as essential. My commercial mannequin is a top of the range model; it adjusts at the bust, waist and hip in four places (and cost serious money).

I have adjusted the bust, waist and hips of the commercial mannequin to be the same measurement as on my body duplicate. However, as you can see if I fit clothes to the commercial mannequin they will not fit me! Whereas making clothes using the body duplicate is a dream.
Contact me if you'd like to have your own body duplicate model made.

The Coat Stage 9 – Coat Hem

The coat skirt is attached to the bodice- taking lots of care at the front where 2 horizontal and vertical seams meet at each front. Careful trimming and grading is needed here.
Pressing and hand finishing at the waist now complete. It’s looking and feeling very good. Wearing suitable shoes and a suitable length skirt my helpful husband has pinned up the hem measuring from the ground. Careful check made that it is at a flattering length for my legs too! Now to tack the hem up carefully and adjust the lining and tack that.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Coat Stage 8 – the coat skirt lining

The bodice is completed and fitted on the duplicate body and then me , the real body- it’s looking good.

However, I realise that I prefer to line the skirt in a different way from the pattern! Oops, how have I overlooked this when I read through the pattern? Answer, I would never expect a coat pattern to have lining going right to the edge of a coat. Lesson learnt here – don’t take anything for granted!
I judge that as the finer lining goes to front edge of skirt front, it will not hang well. Hence I have decided to cut wool facings for the front skirt - fortunately I have spare material. The wool facings are attached to the lining- doing this seemed to involve a lot of calculation! The skirt lining is attached to wool coat skirt inserting the additional button loops, checking that they all protrude the same distance from the coat edge.

I’ve been asked what the duplicate body looks like without the toile on it – here it is!

Soon (tomorrow?!) I'll upload my commercial body model adjusted to my size so you can see the difference!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Coat Stage 6 – Inserting the sleeves

Poorly inserted sleeves can let down the finish of a garment, so I always take a lot of trouble with them!

I decided to shrink the top of the sleeves before inserting them into the coat bodice.
This is what the top of the sleeve looked like before shrinking

..and this is the top of the sleeve after shrinking

Sleeves inserted, The next stage is to make the sleeve heads and insert these. I used wadding sandwiched between silk as the lining.

I am very pleased with professional finish achieved.

I find it is always worth this effort this when inserting sleeves.

The sleeve lining is bound to the coat by hand at the armholes.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Coat - Stage 5: Beginning the Construction

Bodice front & back completed - pressing time approximately as long as machining time.
Loops hand made in black wool with a lucet - a personal touch.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Coat- Stage 4 Cutting Out

The material needs preparing.
A sample of wool is steamed to check if it will shrink - answer no. Wool steamed to remove centre fold mark.
Interfacing checked for shrinking properties and sample fused to wool. Interfacing does not shrink, fuses well and gives the wool more structure and a good 'feel'.
Silk lining is pressed, it's going to be tricky to cut out, it slips so easily.

All pieces cut out using a cutting board and rotary cutter.
Markings transferred to material pieces using tailor tacks.
Interfacing fused to material.
Getting excited, construction can now start

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The coat - stage 3 toile to pattern marking

This pattern has potential. Hence transferring the changes from the toile to the paper pattern will be useful. I have taken the toile to pieces, now the paper pattern is thus fully personalised. Cutting out is coming soon!

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Coat Stage 2 – the toile

Make calico toile and place on my duplicate body. (This counts as one of my top dressmaking tools as it is my exact shape and size (even down toy neck circumference), has my proportions and is my height.

At this stage I realise much needs be done.

So alterations to toile are made:
Princess seams over bust taken in
Back bodice seam adjusted to the curve of my back
Side seams taken in of the skirt-this is so wide I look even shorter than I am.
Sleeves are bell shape, they need taking in
Sleeves are too short they need lengthening (I thought I had short arms!)
Coat length is too short
Back seam of coat sticks out like a tail, needs taking in so the coat hangs vertical.
Skirt of coat does not have enough ease - ie too tight, needs letting out at the sides so as not to disrupt the good fit on the front

Wow - no wonder I have struggled to find a coat to fit!
Alterations now made to toile - now a great fit and has style, even though it is calico!

Looking forward to making the actual coat now.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Making a coat

So my current project is making a coat. I have spent 2 years looking for the perfect coat and have failed to find one that ticks all my boxes and cost wasn't one of them!
I was looking for:
Good design
High waisted
Good quality wool
Fits me not swamps me
Length suitable to wear with skirts ie not to be an inch or so too short nor an inch or two above ankle height
Not black
Quality construction

Not unreasonable 'wants' but seemingly impossible to fulfil. I even tried a compromise of buying a coat that fitted most of the criteria & altering it, ie taking out the unflattering hip widening pockets and this has sort of worked to give me a coat with trousers - it's actually too short to wear with a skirt! Lesson to learn here - don't go coat shopping wearing trousers.

So what will follow is the story of my coat project.

Wool and cashmere material bought at Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate (colour camel); lining is divine from a local silk mill, iron on interfacing from my stash, buttons from John Lewis. Loops - I intend to make custom braid, pattern Vogue no V8548

Experience tells me that time spent in preparation pays off!
Stage 1
Select tissue pieces and alter to fit my measurements, re draw lines where I am a size 8 and where I am larger.. add exta tissue, etc
I’ll be adding photos as I go along – more tomorrow….

Thursday, 20 January 2011

My favourite blue dress

Style and fit
Even when you know which styles suit you it can seem impossible
to find clothes that fit your body. This is not surprising as every body is different - we all know that! We all have different shapes, proportions and scales for one thing. One way used by clothing manufacturers is to make clothes loose and how stylish is that? When you're petite like me it's even tougher.

I'm going to devote my next few blog posts to style and fit.

Currently my favourite dress is this blue one.

Why? I love the colour, it fits brilliantly because I made it that way (more about this later), it doesn't crease, I know I will never meet anyone wearing the same as me AND I get lots of great comments every time I wear it.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Sales Shopping- 7 tips for making this successful

Sales shopping – 7 tips for making this successful
Given the current economic climate we all want to make our clothing purchases as cost effective as possible. Naturally we are drawn to anything that says ‘sale’. Peer pressure can play a part when friends tell us of amazing sales bargains, we naturally feel we are missing out but beware – you need to think about YOU in all this.
So here we go, top tips….
1. Quality – a bargain is not a bargain if it looks cheap and is poorly made.
2. Wish list – make a wish list of what you would like/need to increase the versatility of your current wardrobe. Think about items, styles, colours. Think what will go with what you already own- notes about this are useful. Try and carry them with you at all times – you never know when you might stumble on a ‘sale’.
3. Basics – think about basics that will co-ordinate with lots of items, this means thinking carefully about the shape, the colour and the quality. In this category you could think about layers, about underwear and hosiery. Items that don’t date and cross the seasons can be great ‘sales’ successes. Eg. If you need to wear a lot of formal shirts for work, then take time to look for these, or if you need black skirts for work then spend time looking for these.
4. Jewellery – some great pieces can be bought in the sales, again, having a list helps here. What are you really lacking – could it be a medium length necklace to go with a teal top? The greater the detail of your list the better.
5. Do not buy list – make another list of what you definitely do not want – it is so easy to come home from the sales with similar items to what you have in your wardrobe. If you definitely want a duplicate of an item – it should be on your wish list!
6. Just because it is cheap – avoid this as a reason for buying anything. It is not cheap to you (whatever the cost) if you can’t see if being worn when you get home.
7. Just because it is a good price reduction – again don’t use this as a reason form making a purchase unless it is really special and economic for you!

And last but not least keep an open mind- when you find something to buy, run through this list of 7 tips in your mind and if you are still convinced then take the item to the checkout. Remember though that even if it is a sale item, the shop will have a returns policy if there is a problem with the item. But beware ‘I changed my mind’ may not be a good enough reason for a refund.

If you need help with what clothes really suit you, or in sorting out your wardrobe to make it work for you then look at