Mistakes in Design and How to Fix Them

Mistakes in Design and How to Fix Them

One of my favorite things to do, is to recreate a favorite garment that I’ve purchased and worn to the point it is showing its age. I’m generally pretty good at doing it, but every now and then, I have an ‘oops’. Of course, I recently did this

Here is a dress that I purchased in Italy several years ago. It is a bit funky, and super comfortable to wear. It is a great travel dress, because it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are with your eating, it hides everything.

Inspiration Garment
This is the inspiration garment from Siena, Italy

So, several months ago, I decided it was time to recreate it, and thus I measured it, created a schematic, and then began to build the pattern in Garment Designer.

Here is the pattern.

Garment Designer Pattern. The front skirt was cut once and the back was cut X3. Note the slight difference in cut. The extra back panels straddle the side seam of the body.

Now… here is where my mistake came in.

The original dress was made out of a cotton jersey knit. I decided to use a spandex/synthetic blend for the new garment, and it was a heavier weight. It was a woven fabric, but definitely had stretch in it. 

The mistake? The amount of stretch in the new garment should match the amount of stretch in the old garment if you want it to fit the same. I KNOW this, and yet, I walked down that path.

I sewed up the bodice and decided to self-line it. So, there were lots of seams, etc., and it looked great. Then, I tried it on… OOPS… the sleeves were too tight… could barely get my arm into them.

And so, my weak spot has been identified. I don’t like fixing mistakes. It is too much like alterations. I had enough of alterations many years ago, when I took in all kinds of alterations so I could save up enough money to go to Australia and New Zealand.  I managed that for my husband and I, and even though I learned a tremendous amount about how clothing is put together, I really was ‘over’ the alteration phase.

So, I set the garment aside… for months… figuring it would come to me.  And, yes, finally, I got tired of looking at the dress sitting in a bag waiting for my attention.  The solution was really quite simple. I found a piece of stretch knit (with lots of spandex) and I inserted a wedge into the underarm area. Of course, I needed to find a way to tie that new fabric into the rest of the garment so I added a trim to the neckline.

Inserting a piece of super-stretch knit in the underarm and then adding a trim of the same fabric to the neckline to make it look like it was intentional all along. Whewww…No one need ever know.

Now my dress is done, and of course, I have not wear to wear it, given that we are still in lock-down. But I’m happy with the result.

I am a big believer that our mistakes force us down more creative paths, and so I generally embrace them. I still can’t believe I didn’t actually do a comparative stretch of the two fabrics. I should know better. But sometimes we need to remind ourselves of something that should be so basic. I’ll just call this my ‘couture touch’ to a basic dress. See the final dress below.

The final dress with its ‘couture touch’.
Webinar: Project Blouse: Start to Finish. *** New

Webinar: Project Blouse: Start to Finish. *** New

Saturday, November 21st 2 pm PT

Let’s Make a Blouse will feature the development of a woven fabric blouse. It will cover design considerations, fabric choice, appropriate styles in Garment Designer, the sequence of steps in building the bodice and sleeve pattern and the option of darts. You will also learn how to add the additional ‘blouse’ pattern parts such as a collar, front extension, facings, sleeve cuff treatment, and pocket. Design and construction tips will be included as well as inspirational ideas. The goal is that you will understand the process so you can create your own blouse pattern with success.

BUY WEBINAR
Price: $25.00 

Webinar: Creative Facing Alternatives

Webinar: Creative Facing Alternatives

Are you tired of using the standard facing? Why not explore some alternatives to facings as gleaned by paying attention to designer clothing. Susan will share multiple images of garments that she has collected in her travels and discuss not only how to approach the designs of these in Garment Designer, but also the sewing techniques involved as well. Learn to give your work a signature look and say bye-bye to the facing of past.

For those who have not yet attended, a webinar is a 60 to 70 minute online class to include Lecture, Question & Answer and PDF Handouts for personal use. This is a live class and cannot be viewed later if purchased.

Webinars need a minimum of three participants to host. If we do not meet this minimum the webinar will be cancelled two days prior, so be sure to register early.

After registration, we will contact you with the meeting information.

The Pinch Test: Understanding Ease in Clothing

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.

STITCHES SoCal 2019

STITCHES SoCal 2019

SAVE THE DATE!

Cochenille Design Studio will be vending and hosting classes at STITCHES November 14-17, 2019, Pasadena, CA.

Cochenille will be hosting live demonstrations in the booth and we will have an array of show specials. Come visit and try the software out for yourself!

Susan Lazear will be hosting two of her popular classes, please view the tentative schedule below. We will have more details, such as times, in the near future.

Sewing Techniques for Combining YarnCrafts with Fabric
Thursday, November 14th 2019 9 a.m – 12 p.m

Why not add mixed-media techniques to your creative repertoire? Learn to combine knit or crochet with commercial fabrics. Using sewing machines, sergers, and hand-techniques, students will make samples that can be used along with your knit and crochet swatches in a garment or accessory.

We will sample joining techniques, cut-and-sew our knits, add edgings, finishings, etc. and discuss knitting and crochet techniques for finishing your designs beautifully. Mixed Media is simple when you have the right techniques!

Note: Basic sewing skills and comfort with a sewing machine required. Machines will be provided for use in class.

Moving into the Electronic Age: Designing Knits or SewnClothing on your Computer
Sunday, November 17th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

This hands-on class is designed for people who want a refresher on the use of Garment Designer and Stitch Painter software or for those who want to test drive to determine if computer design may work for them.

In the morning we will walk through the use of Garment Designer to show you how to create patterns for sweaters — bottom-up, sideways, top-down — in any gauge or stitch pattern. Sewists will add hems, facings, and seams to their designs. Learn how to tweak patterns for fashion, style or fit.

In the afternoon, we will move to Stitch Painter, a grid-based software program (perfect for knitting, crochet, beading, etc), where you will learn how to design colored charts on a grid, using repeat modes, pre-determined palettes, etc. We will explore some of the more advanced features such as designing with symbols, importing a photograph, building motif libraries, etc.

You will be able to use the software for the day; Windows or Macintosh compatible. If you are test driving the software, you can email stephanie@cochenille.com to pre-arrange a digital download which she will send out two weeks prior to the scheduled class.

Please email us at info@cochenille.com if you have any questions.

We are thrilled to be able to attend other great STITCHES events in 2019. You can also find us at STITCHES Midwest 2019 and STITCHES Salt Lake 2019.

 

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