Thursday, August 31, 2017

An Ode To Pattern Makers

Normally my finished outfit posts are about which pattern I used, and how long it took, and what (if anything) gave me issues. This is not a normal post. This is a post, and a project, that made me appreciate the pattern makers of the world all the more.

I've always preferred having a pattern to drafting. A good pattern is always worth the $20+ I'm usually charged. I have no real sewing training. I've never attended school for it. I was taught how to sew a straight line on a machine. Everything after that has been trial and error, youtube videos and glorious instructions written by those who know there are people like me in the world.

My latest project really reminded me of all of that.

I decided to attempt making an "inspired by" outfit based off a dress Miss Fisher wears in Season 1 Episode 1. It's not one of her more famous looks, but there's something about it I just really liked. Plus, it looked ideal for outside in July.

Finding any straight on shots of this dress was impossible.
I had to compile photos to see the whole look.

I knew I wouldn't find a pattern for it. It has a lot of design elements that I wager would drive a pattern maker insane if they tried to do a multi size pattern with directions to please the masses. I thought to myself "I've done some 1920s. I'm confident I've got a good grasp of it. I've got a dress form. I've got muslin." What else did I need?

Sanity. I needed sanity to step in and say "this dress has way more going on that it first looks. Step away, have a strong drink and talk to more experienced people about this."

Did I do that? Eventually. I also repeated some of the steps (mostly the strong drink one). I tried draping and drafting on my own. I walk in to my sewing room thinking I had some idea of how a flat piece of paper is transferred to fabric and suddenly made to be worn on a 3D person. I left questioning what dark sorcery had ever possessed the human soul who invented clothing that was more than a rectangle with a hole cut out for a head to pop through.

Before time became critical, before it became an all night sewing spree right before the event, I stopped. I confessed to the project, my cat, my liquor cabinet, myself and the world that I just did not have a damn clue as to what I was doing. NOT A DAMN CLUE. I was pretty sure I had never touched fabric before this. I had obviously purchased fabric solely for Spud to sit on because after what I had experienced, I certainly wasn't someone who knew how to sew with it.

The only proper use for fabric.
I still really wanted to make this dress, but I knew I could not figure it out. Not in the time I had. Maybe not ever on my own. I meekly made it to the internet and asked for help. I knew I needed it.

Luckily a friend was able to step in and help. Lara of Lara Corsets was kind enough to invite me over to show me a thing or two or a billion. Making the journey to her house, she patiently showed me how to lay the fabric on a dress form, where to snip, how the fabric wants to move, and a lot of the other basics of draping a pattern. We gabbed for a bit, but eventually got down to serious work. Due to time restrictions, we were only able to work together long enough to get the top potion of the dress done.
They look simple, but left to my own machinations I would not have developed these shapes.
Figuring out most everything from the waist up took us around 4 hours. 4 HOURS. Minimum wage varies, but it's between $8-10 an hour. Just a portion of the dress and I've already went well beyond my normal price point for a pattern.

With the top portion figured out I was able to work the rest out on my own. I'm not entirely thrilled with the skirt that I did and I plan to go back and redo it (although I'm not sure how yet). I'm most likely going to find a pattern for a skirt I like and attach it.

So I say to the pattern makers: THANK YOU. I cannot express how much I appreciate your hard work. I hope my purchasing allows you to stay in business and continue to make my sewing life easy. I love that you give me the basics I need to put together something personalized. I love that you've worked out the bust darts, the waist seams, and the shoulders and everything else that goes into a pattern. I know every body is different, and you've somehow found a way to make a product that any human can take and tweak to make it fit themselves. You are worth that $20+ and more.

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