Two-Piece Felted Jacket with Garment Designer Software: Tribute to Kath Taylor

I recently finished a jacket that had been in the works for a long time, the idea started in 2013 at a Cochenille Workshop here in southern California. It took seven years to complete this project and, in the end, it is a dedication to the person who inspired it, Kath Taylor. Kath was recently taken by cancer, and thus, the completion of the garment was a way to work through sorrow and honor a friend.

The Kath Coat
Kath, shopping for fabric in Verona, Italy with our Retreat Group

Meet Kath Taylor. 

Kath was completely lovely. She was from New Zealand, and lived here in the U.S. working as a nurse. She was a giver; always wanting to help and care for others. Kath joined us on an Italian retreat and had also taken several other workshops here in southern California.

Inspiration Garment

The Inspiration
At one of the So Cal workshops, Kath worn a great jacket-coat, made with a felted fabric. I loved it. It had this wonderful neck treatment and design details.

The Design
With permission, I took a sketch of the garment, and then rebuilt it in my size in Garment Designer. I used Top Mode and a princess line to make the top, and then added the skirt in Bottom mode. The garment has a slightly raised waistline.

Jacket Bodice of pattern using Princess Style
Jacket Skirt

Often at our workshops we take a day to go up to Los Angeles to the Garment District, often followed by a trip to Mood Fabrics. It was at Mood that I found my fabric which was an orange bouclé single knit. It had a hole in it, so Mood offered to give me extra fabric, and all was good

I prepped the fabric by washing and drying it in the laundry, with the goal of felting it lightly.  This took two attempts.

Wool Bouclé Knit Fabric, slightly felted

… time passed

Then, came the cutting out and construction. I had no problem with getting the bodice base sewn and the fit cross-checked, but I soon realized that it would be very helpful to see how Kath’s garment was put together, so a quick email resulted in a variety of images being sent. As you can see from the image above, the neckline required some additional treatment.

… time passed

I attempted my first round of the neckline treatment by pleating a long strip of the wool. Once sewn on, I realized that the neckline has stretched. And now, we have discovered my weak spot. I hate undoing, and so..

… time passed. This time a lot of time, as live got busy, work increased, and other ‘quick’ garments were made when I did have the time.

At one point, I was searching for the right trim (a good excuse to delay)… and indeed found it, once again at Mood Fabrics in New York, where I had gone to attend Vogue Knitting.

Zoom ahead to 2020,
and the garment is still not quite done.

Then two major tragedies hit at about the same time. First was the pandemic. And second was a phone call with news that my friend Kath had passed away, taken by cancer.

So, this was it. I wanted to complete the garment in tribute to my friend Kath who was always the happy, up person in any group. She was a nurse, a giver, and a lovely soul.

So, I dug into the task and completed this Jacket.  The neck trim took some ‘twiddling’ but I finally got it. I believe that my fabric is not as stiff as the original jacket so it took some extra hand-stitching in places to get those pleats to hold. 

Here are some images of the jacket, from the wrong side. You can see the construction a little better from this view.

Wrong side of the garment for a better view of the construction

The last two steps were the buttons and adding the trim. I must have tried up to 10 options for buttons. And the trim sorted itself out because only one of the three pieces was actually long enough to go all the way around.

I could not make up my mind….

And so… I present here, the Kath Coat. It always had that name, but now, it is even more special.

The Kath Coat

Adinkra Cloth Inspired Fashion with Garment Designer

One of my most recent projects was to design both fabric and garment with an Adinkra influence. The Adinkra is a hand-printed cloth created by the Ashanti in Ghana, Africa. The Adinkra cloths were traditionally made for royalty and religious purposes. The motifs in the cloth communicate meaning. Most of the cloth is white with a black print, but red cloth can also be used.

I have a lot of images of Adinkra textiles on my Pinterest page which can be found here on my African Textile page.

I decided to design an original print in the Adinkra style using black motifs from their alphabet.

Examples of Adinkra symbols

 I created the design in Illustrator and tried two options, black/red on white and brown on gold.

Experiments in color

Then, an upload to Spoonflower.. and wait for the fabric to arrive.

Meanwhile, on to Garment Designer to create the sewing pattern. I am a fan of asymmetry, and thus chose to create a two-piece dress with a slightly raised waistline that runs on an angle.

I added a pocket as you can see below.

Garment Designer Pattern

And, the final dress.

Finished Dress

Here are a few references should you want to learn more about Adinkra cloth.

Pocket Design

Here are a few resources

https://www.pbs.org/wonders/Kids/cloth/cloth.htm

https://www.thoughtco.com/origin-and-meaning-of-adinkra-symbols-4058700

https://africa.si.edu/exhibits/inscribing/adinkra.html

Garment Designer Face Mask

Garment Designer Face Mask

Designed by Lisbeth Wahl

Lisbeth used her past training to develop a face mask pattern and sewing instructions. This pattern is unique in that the front panel is made of two layers which provides the opportunity to insert a barrier fabric or insert. In addition, the front panel is pleated on to the sides which allows for more fullness across the face.

Click on this link to download the pattern and instructions.

Garment Designer Pattern
ToDo/NewDo Downloadable List for Creative Projects

ToDo/NewDo Downloadable List for Creative Projects

A ToDo/NewDo list one can use to create a listing of items to complete.

Creativity vs. Corona Virus Creative Challenge
Included below are two forms which you can download to make lists of your creative projects that you plan to tackle during this time of uncertainty with the Corona Virus. We might be confined to our homes, but we are not without creative juices that need to be exercised.

There are two forms:

This first form is an editable PDF so you can fill out your ToDo and ReDo items on your computer and save them.

https://www.cochenille.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ToDoNewDo_editable.pdf

This form is a two-up printable PDF so you can print out form.

https://www.cochenille.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ToDoNewDo_2up-1.pdf

The Pinch Test: Understanding Ease in Clothing

The Pinch Test: The Key to Understanding Fit in Clothing

By Susan Lazear

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the ones we don’t easily see. I would say this is true with sewers and knitters, and crocheters when it comes to understanding how much ease they like in their clothing. When I’m teaching patternmaking or fitting, and helping people create or edit patterns for themselves, I’ll often ask individuals how much ease they want in the style. And.. I’m often met with a questioning stare. There are some simple tactic, which I term “Understanding your Fit Preferences” and one of these involves an understanding of the ease you like in your garments.

What is Ease?

There are two types of ease: wearing and style. Wearing ease is what you need in a garment to breathe, sit, and move. On average, based on a size 10/12, one needs 2 inches at the bust and hips and 1 inch at the waist. This increases/decreases slightly if your body size is larger or smaller, respectively. Of course, if there is spandex in the fabric or you are working with a knit, you don’t need as much. Style ease is the added ease that helps define the style. An oversized boxy garment could have 32 inches of ease at bust/hip, and a fitted jacket might have simply the wearing ease of 2 inches at bust/hip.

If you are going to design or edit patterns for sewing, or fit commercial patterns prior to cutting them out, you need to develop a sense of how much ease you want in the garment. If you are going to knit or crochet, you need to take the time to understand the schematic of your pattern, and if it is not provided, you should make one based on stitches/rows and your gauge.  The best way to understand your personal ease preferences to make a date with your closet and use what I lovingly call the ‘Pinch Test’.

The Pinch Test

The Pinch Test involves simply putting a garment on, and pinching out the ease at the appropriate places, typically the bust and/or hip. Pay attention to the weight and drape of the fabric as this plays a key role in the amount of ease used. Typically, garments made with soft fluid fabrics may have much more ease than garments made with stiffer fabrics. Measure the pinch and multiply it by four to calculate how much ease is in the garment. For example, if you get a two-inch pinch, you will have eight inches of ease in the garment in total (2” X4, which includes the left and right, front and back). The goal is to learn as much as you can about your favorite garments, and ease preferences is a key item.

So, grab a notebook, a measuring tape, and a handful of your favorite pieces. Begin by measuring your own body measurements to notate your bust, waist. and hip. Now, make a chart and create columns; Garment, Style, Fabric, Ease Pinch: Bust, Ease Pinch: Waist, Ease Pinch: Hip.

Suggested Chart for Documenting Ease

Put a garment on and pinch out the ease. It helps to hold the center of the garment in place, as you pinch at the side. Now, measure the depth of the pinch. Write it down. Continue through your group of garments, completing the chart as you go.

Pinching and Measuring Ease at the Bust
Pinching and Measuring Ease at the Hip

Photos:

If you multiply the pinch depth by four and add it to your body measurement, you will know the circumference of the garment at that point.

Try a couple of different garments that have different fabrics, and levels of fit. My black top is fitted at the bust, but is an A-line, so less fitted at the hips. It has a 5/8” pinch at the bust which equals 2-1/2” total ease. (5/8” X 4). At the hips I get a 3” pinch which equates to 12 total inches of ease. If I add those two measurements to my body measurements (38” bust and 40” hip), then I can see that my pattern would need a total perimeter of 40-1/2” at the bust and 52” at the hip.

My print jacket is a semi-fitted double-knit which has some ‘body’ to the fabric. Both my bust and hip pinches are the same at 1-5/8”. Thus, the total ease at both the bust and hip is 6-1/2”.

Calculating ease in my print jacket.

My orange sweater is made with a firm knit, and it is a boxy style. The bust pinch is 3 inches and the hip pinch is 2-3/4 inches equaling a total of 12 inches ease at the bust and 11 inches of ease at the hip.

Calculating ease in my orange sweater.

Not only is the information you gain from the pinch test handy; it is invaluable. Use it prior to scrutinizing a commercial pattern, prior to cutting your fabric, or to adding ease when you are drafting your own. You have just given yourself the ammunition you need to create or modify patterns so that there is no surprise or disappointment… and what about the elimination of muslin sample? Now, that is cool!

You can seem my notations in the chart I created in Excel. Eventually, this information will become ingrained, as it moves to knowledge as opposed to data.

Recording Information.

Using What You Have Learned

There are many ways to use the knowledge you have just gained:

  • If I were working with commercial sewing patterns, I would lay the pattern flat on the table and measure its width at bust/waist/hip. Then, by subtracting your bust/waist/hip, you can easily calculate how much ease is built into the style and determine if it suits your fit preferences, given the choice of fabric. If it doesn’t modify the pattern.
  • If I were going to knit or crochet a pattern, I’d look at the schematic and compare it to my body + ease measurements to see if the pattern and its ease suit my taste and the hand/drape of the knit/crochet swatch I just made. If it doesn’t modify the pattern.
  • When I design patterns (by hand or on computer), I am beginning with my body and a style, and so I simply ensure that I have the desired ease.
  • Garment Designer software users can look at the ease easily when they create patterns, and if the Sloper is turned on, it is easy to see and measure the ease in any style. So, pinch test information can slide directly over to the pattern.
Viewing the ease in Garment Designer… can it get any simpler?

Over Time….

Keep adding to your chart; in fact, make it become a morning mantra to pinch out the ease on whatever garment you are wearing for the day. Always make a mental note of the style (fitted, semi-fitted, average, over-size, etc.), and the fabric.  Soon you won’t need to refer to the chart, and you will simply ‘know’.

Perk?

The Pinch Test is a great tool to use in the dressing room when you are trying on clothing. I use it all the time to evaluate a style so I can recreate it at home. I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeing the depth of my pinch and determining how many inches it is.

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