Sunday, August 25, 2019

Alteration August: Cheery Cherry Edition

You know me. every month is Alteration Month.

This dress belongs to my niece, and while I  might take issue with it's content and presentation, she loves it and needs it to be bigger.
And there's virtually nowhere on it to harvest sufficient fabric to widen the bodice 9".

Well, it's a full circle skirt.
She doesn't care if it's less than full.

Kids, we have a plan.

The twist on this is that I could really use an expansion suit for the dress form.
Because this job isn't complicated enough.

The return of the JJ Sloper
(link over on the right, in the tutorials and projects, at the end)

Four very important words
 Extension and dart marking

Yes, it got a side zip.

There's a long week of hand stitching fleece into it to give it some heft that I am leaving out here.
All of this so I could get to this side view and ponder the bodice getting wider and the skirt getting narrower.
Behold! My very technical manner of taking measurements and notes.
Her measurements vs what I saw when she tried on the dress.....

from these numbers, I made a pattern for the insert.

And I cut it out of the side seam of the skirt
Center line of the pattern on the seam line. I was expecting to have a seam in my side piece, so that the fabric I harvested would leave a balanced skirt side seam.
Fun alteration fact: I had to pull the thread from the front to pick out the stitching, stitch by stitch, as digging in with the ripper was just snagging the satin. Yes, it is very slow work, but it has it's own rhythm and charm.

The slowest part of this job is always unpicking, and it gives me the time and opportunity to get a sense of how the project needs to go. How shaky is the original stitching, how sturdy or flimsy is the fabric (does it unravel when you look at it) how weak/strong is the thread, how much or how little I can leave as a seam allowance. I learn a lot in this space and sometimes it gives me enough information to make me totally rethink my plans.

For a satin poly, it was pretty sturdy and loved fraying. So all the seams were overlocked 

I pinned it together on the ironing board
It was so slippery I had to pin the dress TO the ironing board to keep it from sliding off.

The material I'm filling the lining out with is from a previous alteration for another dress for my niece.   Stash for the win. Yes, that's blue nylon tricot in the bodice lining.
This is not my prettiest alteration. It is under the arms, so not as obvious, but finding new fabric to add would have been very time consuming, and time was not a luxury.

I should mention that this is one moment where scanning the fabric and printing a fat quarter of Spoonflower satin to match would have been preferable, but time wasn't an available option.
Sometimes you just run with what you have available.
I did need to lengthen the shoulder straps
So I borrowed from the ends of the ties.
They are cut on the bias. This is not a good option, but it's what I have. (there is that longer term Spoonflower option if that's necessary)

I undid the straps at the back bodice top edge, and added the extra 'straplet' there.
I top stitched the end of the tie closed

And I safety pinned the new strap and the old strap together.

Later this week I will mark it on her and sew a cherry shaped button over the join, but as I understand it she's already wearing it, safety pins and all.
It's not a sturdy piece, but a cheerful one. And sometimes that is really all you need, especially if the person who bought you the dress is visiting this week. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Bias Theory With Flaming Skulls

I'm putting these illustrations at the front so I will see them right away.
Because this is also my sewing information storage bin.
And this is the summary of our Bias time.

Click on 'em to enbiggen.

Vogue Pattern Magazine's last issue is the source for the image on the lower left, with notations

This is worth a minute of your time.

The warp is set on the loom and has to be straight and strong.
The weft is looped and threaded in different patterns inbetween the warp threads. It can be lighter, looser. Think of a jacquard weave, or a twill.
The thread/yarn/fiber is almost never the same weight and density as the warp.
If it's a crepe fabric, the weft is longer and curlier than the warp.
Your square grain won't stay square forever. 

Don't take my word for it? Marcy Tilton, from Threads

"Center seam or not?
Depending on the fabric you select, you may want to add a seam at center front and center back so the garment will hang evenly. On modern wovens, lengthwise threads are stronger and more numerous than crosswise threads. When a full pattern piece is placed on the bias, the lengthwise grain will dominate one side of the garment, and the crossgrain, the other. Unless your fabric is stable, the two sides of the garment may hang differently, with one stretching more than the other, and you may get twisting, rippling, and an uncomfortable tug-of-war."

Fabric movement is exaggerated in cutting pieces on the bias. It starts moving from the second you put a blade to it.
To get the article to hang straight enough in the long run, you should have the fabric running in the same direction on all pieces. When you cut "with nap", that's what you're doing. 

Yes, I know: when you are using a fabric without a print or a directional weave, you can flip it around to get it to fit if you keep it ongrain. And given the lifespan of an article of memade clothing, it's entirely likely that it will hang straight and true. Crossgrain will be less stretchy than with grain, but generally, for most purposes, given enough exceptions to the 99% success rate you'll have......

it will eventually fail. Shrink to not fit. Not feel comfortable. If you're making a one use costume, this doesn't matter one bit. Honestly, I do have pieces that have lasted longer than I thought they would, that have ended up being binned because of this issue.
Maybe I should always sew for the long run.

This issue is exaggerated with bias cuts.
Charles Kleibacker slides this idea right by when he's cutting the red fabric for the pants on a double layer. We don't want a crossgrain fold in the fabric when we're cutting on the bias, because then the back pants piece 1 will be heading up and back pants piece 2 will be heading down. This is easier to imagine with a directional print.

 You want the flaming skulls to be going in the same direction on the garment.

We either need a single layer cut or we need to cut the fabric to turn it to head the same direction to cut double layer.
I really should illustrate this with a flaming skull print.
Everything is better with flaming skulls

 I screwed up on this, and both front and back lean to the left. This is why I put the drawing at the top. I think about this stuff, I make notes about this stuff, and I forget. It is a novelty print of superhero valentines, so it's not going to last for years BUT it would be nicer to make sure it's entire lifetime was a superior one.

 I lay them out single layer. It's just easier and they are simple shapes.
I'm not crazy. Look at this photo from IthacaMaven's IG stories:
Two separate pattern pieces, yes, one grain up left, one up right.

This doesn't stop things from moving though.
This linen tank is growing at the lower right. Only a year old and probably twenty washes, hung to dry.

However, this split piece, center (and side) seam tank (novelty cotton, two years old, never put in the dryer either) is pretty stable.

It's something to consider when you're laying out your pattern.  Both of these tanks are extremely comfortable (unlike their straight grain pals of the same pattern). Not all prints will work as well with this layout.  Some will work better than you think (a bias plaid top is just as swell as it's bias plaid skirt sister). 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A (Mc)Queen Adorned - MoPop

Brief detour from bias stuff: this show ends Sept 2nd.
Yes, i could have seen it sooner.

"A Queen Within"

from the website: "Explore how contemporary fashion designers engage with feminine archetypes through more than 100 pieces of fashion, contemporary photography, and video.

Using the six personality types of a queen — Sage, Enchantress, Explorer, Mother Earth, Heroine, and Thespian — designers like Alexander McQueen, Selam Fessahaye , Ashish, Chromat, Gypsy Sport, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Iris van Herpen use their work to create a space for contemplating the relationship between dress, society, and our shared history.

A Queen Within highlights a broad range of designers—from the internationally famous to the currently emerging—resulting in a deep inquiry into the diverse nature of the feminine. Gowns, wigs, shoes, and photographs are presented in immersive environments rich in symbolism, inviting visitors to peer into the private worlds of deeply powerful figures. "
It's produced by Barrett Barrera Projects

"We organize exhibitions for travel that assert non-traditional media as historically and artistically vital. We also produce an array of artist-centered cultural programs in collaboration with public and private organizations.
We offer art consulting to individuals as well as public and private organizations. Additionally, we represent our clients at auctions and private negotiations, when requested.
We provide collections management services to individuals and institutions requiring ongoing support beyond traditional consulting services. Currently, we manage one of the world's largest private collections of Alexander McQueen's work."

Is it worth $30 (adult in person ticket, $28 if you buy online)?

Well, the whole museum is.

The Fantasy section has Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, LOTR, Princess Bride and Highlander costumes. So it is a long afternoon of stuff if you've not been before.

This exhibit is up some stairs (there's an elevator, but you miss the display at the turn of the stairs).

wall for posing for selfies cause #selfies

It's worth the $30 if you want to see some McQueens.
Right in the very front.

(Warning - these photos are dark. Lighting for conservation purposes mostly. Also for drama. Probably 80% drama, honestly)
you can see more of the blue velvet jacket behind this (the gold embroidery on blue over a white tulle dress)

It's almost impossible to see the sequined image of Ms Blow, but it's there.
And right opposite: the David Lachapelle, blown waaaay up
photo of Lachapelle photo. Original at National Portrait Gallery, UK
I still love this photo from Vanity Fair, of McQueen and Blow, at her castle. Two crazy kids making history.

But wait, there's more (photos follow captions)

The jacket is barely visible, and I've really hoinked up the contrast here. Midnight blue velvet will do that.

Hand picked zip, of course

sorry it's blurry

Ookay, there are other things in this show. 
There's some themes.

Look, a table of touchy stuff. To get your touchy itch scratched.

And an info sheet.  I'll be honest, i really do like knowing what the argument for the show was. Leaving this page on display took an extra big set of balls (the mission of MoPop has been a bit of a mystery for grants writers and development (IE fundraiser)) to admit that it needed to be argued for.  

MoPop did really well with the Wearable Art Clothing Show two years ago*, and hey! Something for the girlfriends!

Author's message
And there were a lot of women with guys trailing after them.
MoPop is a weird museum. It started out as Paul Allen's place to put his hoped for Jimi Hendrix Experience Museum, but that fell through. It still hosts the Pop Conference for music writers, and has lots of local music related displays. And Paul Allen's collections. It's still looking for a purpose, but in the meantime it's a kick in the pants.
I mean, you have Star Trek uniforms, Wizard of Oz costumes, lots of swords and a six fingered glove, an Imperial Dalek, one of the Jason Voorhees masks (they took out the living typewriter from Naked Lunch but they left in all the Alien and Dune props).
And a ton of rock and roll memorabilia.
Yeah, we'll pull this apart another time.
I'm here for the clothes.

The exhibit was broken up into themes.
I really didn't pay any attention to these.

obligatory videos - this is denim refashioned fashions

Body distortion stuff

This is the best optical illusion I've ever seen. They are real sweaters. This is exactly what it looks like.

A start at adaptive clothing from Hilfiger

and one Iris Van Herpen piece

This Van Herpen has the central place of honor. This photo doesn't entirely do it justice, but have I mentioned that the first thing you see is a set of McQueen?
Was there anything else?
I forget. 
More stuff on the walls

Different materials for clothes were featured

 Mushrooms and roots

 Wait, there's a Comme des Garcons 
more McQueen.

And here is my favorite piece of the show.
This....mobius strip of a vest by McQueen is fully half of the photos and drawings I did.
You will see this again. 
Black velvet is hard to photograph, and the back was very hard to make out.

I am leaving out a fair amount, but I like what I like. One display I liked was a white plastic walled display with peek a boo windows, crammed full of things..
Look for the shoes with teeth.

More Lee! And Sarah Burton!
Many things

Even more many things

The back of the big feather breast rig is a lovely set of straps and hardware.

Shoe with teeth. To go with your shoehorn with teeth.

And then there's your political clothes over there.....


Bea Szenfeld

Burton for McQueen, stuck in a dark corner

I'm hiding. Shhhhhh

HEY! an A-POC/Miyake.
I saw another of these examples of the knit as one dress on a roll, decades ago, at Bellevue Art Museum. This really should have been a bigger presence, but it does look a little stretched and exhausted.

I would have loved to see the back of this.

I'm exhausted just editing this. There was a lot, and it was crammed into a fairly small space. I'm wagering the 'it's not music' argument worked against it.
Just outside the show, there's a kid's participation table set up.
Because grants money has requirements.

That girl on the stool was working it, but her bro was the one checking on what the fabrics did when you draped them on an angle. YO KLEIBACKER JR

And one last item.
Looong sleeved shirt
*I never reviewed the Wearable Art show (the NZ competition greatest hits tour) in 2016, because I started disliking it about the moment I left this building. And then I went to see it again and that was the nail in the blog post for sure.
(this may not open for you. Sorry)

You get a better sense of how far the sleeves have been extended into the rafters.