In the Sketchbook – April 2018

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

I spent the first week of this month in Baltimore, most of the time in Sarah Veblen’s class, “Exploring Fashion Design – Design II.” So I thought I’d show you some of the sketches I made in class.

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This collar is from an inspiration picture from the ’50s. I’ve decided to use it for another version of my two-piece dress and I think this lightweight wool from A Fabric Place would be perfect for it.

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Even though I’m not really in the mood to think about winter coats right now, I think I’ve finally found a collar that works.

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This neckline detail was based on something I saw in one of Sarah’s designer books – of course it was Dior! I’m thinking about what direction to take this in, but I really like it.

I decided I’d like to experiment with some detail in my sheath dress. I like the idea of channel stitching, inset pieces, maybe pin tucks. Sarah got me started when I told her what I had in mind but felt stuck and I took it from there. Now I need to sew up some samples.

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And this is a dress I sketched after I got home. I want to use this fabulous fabric combination. The sage green wool crepe is a gift from my dear friend Steph King and the charmeuse is from A Fabric Place. I was sure it would be no problem to have this dress ready in time for the Haute Couture Club of Chicago fashion show luncheon, but then the days on the calendar disappeared and now that luncheon is only a week away. Yikes!

Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Stephanie King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

In the Sketchbook – March 2018

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

It has been almost two years since I attended Sarah Veblen’s Class Exploring Fashion Design: Design 1. That was what inspired our In the Sketchbook series. We are getting ready to participate in Sarah’s Design 2 class next week and I’m excited to see what new ideas come out of that experience.

This month, I’ve been thinking about skirts. Mostly because I’m once again mired in a seemingly endless series of pants mock-ups and skirts are something I consider to be manageable. The other reason is that our ASG Neighborhood Group, Sew Chicago, is doing a skirt challenge for the October 2018 ASG Chicago Fashion Show. The rule is that the skirt has to incorporate two elements we covered in meeting presentations in 2017 and 2018. Not all of the skirts I want to try meet those criteria, but there are some that have possibilities.

One of the elements we can use in the challenge is bias. Some of you may remember that my attempt at an all-bias skirt did not work out. I saw a picture of a Vogue skirt pattern a few months back that got me to thinking that something like this might work if the fitted part on the top is on the straight of grain and the bottom part is on the bias.

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That might also work if the bottom part were a sheer fabric, which would qualify for the two elements for the challenge.

Edge trim is another element that would qualify for the challenged I could add that to the diagonal seam between the two parts of the skirt.

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Another possibility would be to make the entire skirt out of a sheer fabric. A technique we looked at in a meeting involved finishing a hem with ribbon or trim. The ribbon is attached to the wrong side of the garment, then folded to the right side and attached at the top, encasing the cut edge in between. It’s a nice finish and it also adds some weight to a sheer garment, which would help it hang nicely.

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With the pants conundrum fresh in my mind, I’ve been thinking about casual skirts that don’t have anything to do with the skirt challenge. Here is my take on a skirt with a single pleat on either side of the center front panel. The variation on the right has reinforcement for the pleat in a decorative stitch. (I’m sure there’s a name for that, but I didn’t look it up.) I see this in a khaki twill that’s easy to wear in the spring and summer.

 

From there, I thought about this variation. It has two little pleated godets and buttons at the the juncture that are both decorative and functional for reinforcing that critical area.

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I think I could have some fun with this one.

And I can’t think about skirts without going back to the trumpet skirt that has been in my head forever but only has the beginnings of the pattern drafted.

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And I’d like to try a skirt with pleats just at the hem, either from the fashion fabric or  pleated ribbon.

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Another use for ribbon peeking out of seams is to use them all the way up each princess seam to embellish a pencil skirt.

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This last pair of sketches aren’t skirts, but the idea struck me as I was looking for something in my fabric collection and my eyes landed on the fabulous black ostrich feather boa I bought at Haberman’s Fabrics. It occurred to me that I could use those feathers to trim a Little Black Dress for next year’s opera season and whatever other occasions I might have. I could either use the feathers just at the hem or at both the hem and the neckline. Here are a front and back view.

Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Stephanie King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

In The Sketchbook – December 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

This month, I’ve been trying to work out a plan for some stunning guipure lace I found last winter. My dear friend Steph and I have challenged ourselves to making guipure lace dresses for the final opera in our season subscription in February. The first task, finding just the right color of silk charmeuse to use as a foundation for the dress, took over 8 months. I did manage to find the winning combination at the end of an action-packed business trip to New York in the fall.

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When I bought the lace, I had in mind a simple sheath dress, or maybe a sheath with cap sleeves. But earlier this month when I was on the El, I saw a young woman wearing a pretty embroidered lace dress with a full skirt and it made me reconsider the silhouette.

My sketching skills absolutely do not do these fabrics any justice, but here goes.

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Then I wondered whether a high boat neck in the front and a dip in the back might be appealing.

Then I thought about the weight of the lace and decided it would be better to reign in the fullness of the skirt. Something like this.

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The next thought that popped into my head was managing the zipper. That will require a review of Susan Khaljie’s Craftsy class on the guipure lace skirt. Then it will be time to get to work on the pattern and mock-up!

Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Stephanie King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

In The Sketchbook – September 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

I’ve been remiss in blogging in general and it’s been a few months since I’ve posted what is in my sketchbook, so here I am trying to get back in the swing of things.

I’ve decided it’s time I tried making a coat and a warm raincoat for late fall/early spring is what I’m aiming for in my first attempt. The thing is, I’m having a lot of difficulty figuring out the neckline and collar. I prefer open necklines and with a coat that is supposed to keep you warm or dry or both that just isn’t practical. The thing is, every time I tried to sketch something with a higher neck, it seemed out of proportion to me. I’m still trying to find a good balance on this and it will take some more work before I’ve settled on something I’m happy with. Here is what I have so far.

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If this one were made up, you wouldn’t see the collar stand underneath. I was just playing with an idea. The coat would have a single statement button and hidden placket and maybe French darts and curved welt pockets.

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This may or may not be the back of the first sketch. I thought a Swing pleat with a yoke   might add some interest.

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Here’s an attempt at a wrap-over collar with princess seams, vertical welt pockets in the princess seams and button tab detail on the sleeves. This is a knock-off of a Vogue pattern I’ve seen and I think I’d like it better in a wool melton.

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Another attempt at a wrap collar, princess seams, curved welt pockets. This time with buttons showing.

As I said, I’m still not there on a coat, but at least I have a start.

The very rough sketch of the jacket and skirt below came to me in a flash one day. I’d like to take that 60’s rolled collar that I’ve used in two-piece dresses and my LBD, turn it around so it opens in the front and maybe anchor it with a button on either side.

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Finally, I’ve been noodling about partial rolled collars (this time, the ones that look almost like tailored shirt collars. I’m mocking up some tests, but this is the general idea  of where that’s going.

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That’s what I have for this month.  I think my friend Stephanie King of 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger is taking a break from In the Sketchbook this month. Check back with both of us next month. Meanwhile, we’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

Tucks!

I’ve really missed blogging, but I’ve learned I have to accept that there are just so many things I can stuff into a day and sometimes work and Life simply demand all of my time and energy. It’s not that I haven’t been sewing at all recently, but I have had some misadventures in sewing. More about that in a minute.

For now, I’d like to share my latest completed project.

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It’s the tucked linen top that was inspired by the workshop with Mary Ray that I took through ASG Chicago in January. You may remember this fabric combination from my post about my complicated relationship with color.

This top is almost what I had planned.

The bodice came out just as I had envisioned. I put the top two ¼” tucks in my fabric before cutting out the center front panel. Here is a picture of how this was done when I was using the fabric that I encountered problems with:

I sprayed a bit of Mary Ellen’s Best Press on the linen and pressed in a crease, then stitched at ¼” using my blind hem foot.

It’s had to tell on from these pictures, but the tuck that goes all the way across the front panel just below the neckline is drawn in the pattern and trued at the princess seams.

I was all set to make a neck facing, but Sarah Veblen suggested I line the top in washed China silk, which I did. I also made faced hems for the bodice and sleeves, because I’ve had a problem with linen blouses “cracking” at the hem. It’s this curling thing that happens and no matter how many times you press the darn thing it rolls up again like a window shade. Very annoying! Faced hems are the way to avoid that problem.

For the sleeves, I wanted to convert my usual two-piece sleeve to a one-piece sleeve so I could have a tuck that is not interrupted by a seam (and the problem of getting it to match). Here is the sketch of the design, which I posted several months ago.

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On me, a one-piece sleeve that’s not a knit requires the tucks you see in the picture because of all the excess fabric in the sleeve cap.

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I was in a tizzy when I got to the sleeves and didn’t pay attention to lining up the sleeve tucks with the blouse tucks, even though that’s the way Sarah draped the sleeve muslin on me. As you can see, I got one side right. Dumb luck!

In the course of this project, I tried to avoid this whole tucks in the sleeve cap issue by developing a sleeve with a crescent-shaped inset at the top, using Sarah’s instructions in Threads Magazine (Vo.192, Sep. 2017 pp.44-45). The mock-up showed me this is a design that does not work on me. Sigh.

But that’s not the only reason I was in a tizzy when I set in the sleeves. The other reason is that I completely forgot to put the tuck in the fabric before I cut out the sleeve.  That’s why there is no tuck across the sleeve in the pictures. Another sigh. And a head shake.

After I finished the blouse, I got another idea for a sleeve that might work. Actually, two ideas. They’re variations on the second inset sleeve design in Sarah’s Threads article:

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One of these just might work.

I’m crazy about the skirt. It’s rayon challis from Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabrics. I took my master pattern for a pencil skirt, which is a six-panel princess and extended each of the seams to make the skirt swishy.

Originally, this skirt was going to be cut on the bias. That was another misadventure I had this summer. The wearable mock-up I made out of another rayon challis was absolutely not wearable. It looked adorable when I tried it on right after I sewed it, but when I left it hanging on my dress form so I could let it relax before hemming, it developed some nasty waves and pouched out in all the wrong places. The lesson from this is that bias does not play well with seams shaped to fit my curves. So, I went back to the drawing board for bias. I have to come up with something for the ASG Chicago Chapter Fashion Show next month, because the Sew Chicago Neighborhood Group Challenge is “Show Your Bias.” I’m working on Plan B this week.

Meanwhile, I have a fun new swishy skirt on the straight of grain and at least another week of warm weather to wear it with my linen top.

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In the Sketchbook – March 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

Another month has flown by and it’s time to see what’s in the Sketchbook. I promise I’m sewing and I’ll have a finished garment ready to show and discuss with you next week. In fact, there should be three in rapid succession. Please bear with me a little longer.

To start off I’d like to show you a sketch I did first thing Monday morning after attending another fabulous hands-on workshop with Sarah Veblen over the weekend.

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Sarah  shared some inspiration pictures with us and when I was going over my class notes to solidify what I’d learned and compile a list of follow-up things I needed to do (a good habit I’m trying to cultivate), I found my copy of those pictures folded into my notebook. Looking at one of the pictures again, I immediately thought about making this casual tunic to wear with black pants.

Also during the workshop I happened to mention to Sarah that I’m struggling with sketching fullness at the hems of garments. She showed me her method step-by-step on a sticky note and I practiced it right away to get the hang of it.

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Apart from sewing my business travel wardrobe this month, I have bias on the brain. Our ASG neighborhood group, Sew Chicago, has adopted “Show Your Bias” as the group challenge for next fall’s fashion show and Stephanie King and I are doing a bias presentation to the group in May.

Ever since I saw the exhibit “Making Mainbocher” at the Chicago History Museum, I’ve been thinking about how skilled Mainbocher was at giving serious work suits and even uniforms a feminine flair. None of his skirts were restrictive pencil skirts and most, if not all of them, were cut on the bias. One tweed suit in particular caught my eye. I noticed that he not only made the skirt on the bias, but he also inserted godets. I’m not convinced I need godets to get the effect I’m after, so I sketched this skirt to make with a lovely gray tweed wool I found last month at Haberman’s Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan.

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Then I started wondering where else I could use bias and whether just part of a garment on the bias would work. So I played around with this skirt and top combination.

I think it looks better with the skirt echoing the hem of the top.

I tried this ensemble with a sheer on top, but the jury is still out on it.

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That’s it for now. Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Stephanie King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

 

In the Sketchbook – February 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

I’m afraid I find myself running short of time and I’m a bit late in getting this posted. But, I reminded myself that this is my tenth post in this series, which is a nice accomplishment, right?

So, this month I’m working on a capsule wardrobe for a week-long business trip to a warm climate. I’m going to need to dress conservatively, so I definitely need to fill in with a few new pieces. In a mentoring session, Sarah Veblen made some suggestions I hadn’t even considered and I think it’s going to work.

The first piece I started making a pattern for is a version of a tucked blouse inspired by the class I took recently with Mary Ray. Here was my original sketch, which I’ve shown you before.

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I chose the fabric and all was good, right? Well, not exactly. it turns out that the scale of this sketch is way off. My armscye princess seams actually come up higher than they are in this sketch and my most flattering square-ish neckline is lower, meaning there’s not enough real estate to fit in the number of tucks I’d planned or their placement. Here is a very rough sketch aimed at correcting those issues.

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I think I’ll like it. The filler color was meant to represent this lovely silk that not only has tiny dots but a subtle houndstooth jacquard weave.

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Fortunately, I have enough fabric to make a swingy skirt for a two-piece dress when I get back.

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As you can see, I’m planning to wear the blouse with a black pencil skirt instead of the yet-to-be-developed trumpet skirt.  This will be made from linen and also worn with this jacket.

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If you think the jacket looks familiar, you’re right. I sketched it in blue last month.

The fabric for the jacket is a fabulous black, taupe and beige checked linen that looks like wool. I’m mulling over button choices at the moment.

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When I spoke with Sarah, I was thinking I needed to make a jacket dress, but then she had me pull my Spoonflower dress out along with some fabric for a possible jacket to go with it. That’s how this idea came about.

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I happened to have two different types of white cotton piqué for past summer projects that were planned but never implemented. And these perfect buttons were also in my collection.

 

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That’s it for this month. Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Steph King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.