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Topic: For someone who's never sewn before...  (Read 892 times)
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onewhoturns
« on: September 05, 2009 11:08:32 AM »

Okay! So, I'm new (first post here!) and fairly new to the MAKING aspect. I've designed stuff for a long time, and like to think that I have a dynamic mind for figuring out how something WOULD be made. I've thought up tutorials for things that I've never actually even attempted making. I have sewn a LITTLE (I made my friend a simple purse about 4 years ago, I can embroider a bit with simple embroidery floss), but I've never attempted to follow a pattern or tutorial.

I decided to start my year as a new fashion design student, I would design a fairly easy and yet (hopefully) wearable vest.
original photoshop sketch

I have a huge old flannel sheet in a red plaid, and own loads of buttons, so that won't be hard. I know how to sew on buttons, as well (thank you 7th grade "family and consumer sciences" - aka teen living). My mom is a quilter, so she has a nice sewing machine and all the thread and cutting/marking/sewing materials I may need.

Thinking of my design, I began trying to figure out the appx. size of my pattern the same day I did the sketch on photoshop (I didn't have a notebook handy, and was in the car). SO! After my very very approximate hand-measuring of my body, I labeled out some measurements on my colored flat:
colored & "measured" photoshop sketch

So, the question is: Does this look feasible and/or accurate? I know I COULD just follow a tutorial, but it means more to me to be able to walk into Fashion Design on day 1 wearing something I made completely of my own design. I didn't go into a bunch of details on construction, though I have it all planned out in my head (attach at side seams, drop-back and collar hem, sleeve hems, button area & buttons, bottom hem). Just give me your opinions!
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Ludi
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2009 12:00:11 PM »

My advice is to always test your pattern with some cheap fabric (muslin or an old sheet)!  Then you can make adjustments and refinements without danger of ruining your good fabric.  The times I have ignored my own advice have produced very sad results. Undecided

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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2009 12:27:42 PM »

You are asking a lot. Making something isn't just that easy and if you dissect your question there are really three skills in there, each skill takes time to master on its own.

Designing, pattern making, and construction.

Designing--fine you got that you have an idea and now you are trying to figure out how to bring your design into the real world which leads us to pattern making.

Pattern making--is a skill most people don't think about when they say they want to make something. The body is a three dimensional shape and boobs and armscyes (armholes) make three dimensional shapes on top of shapes. Sometimes and maybe for your vest this would work you can just draw the pattern out the size you want it to be and BOOM. But as Ludi said you want to do a mock up first. Making a pattern is like a hypothesis. With your vest you go "I hypothesize that this is what I want the pattern to look like". Then you sew it together and test. But for most things you need to start somewhere that is not just you drawing random lines on a paper. You need a dress form to drape what you want. Or a book that is for pattern drafting. Where you have measurements then you follow some instructions and use those measurements to come up with a body block (a two dimensional representation of the body) and draw your design off of that. Along with pattern drafting comes fitting, so then you need to have the skill to look at your mock up and see where it doesn't fit right, figure out what you need to do to make it fit right and figure out how to adjust your paper pattern so it fits right.


Construction--vest are very simple, but there are other things than just the seams, buttons and hems that you need to think about. How are you going to finish the edges? Is it lined? Is there a facing? A binding? Once you have figured that out then the order of how you do them comes in.

Even designers and pattern makers will use patterns if it is easier to get the job done that way. Let me say that of course this depends on what you are designing/making a pattern for. There are legal and ethical issues if you are designing a clothing line and are using someone elses patterns, but as that kind of a designer you probably would have a set of slopers or body blocks, so at least you have a starting place without having to draft the body every single time. Now in theater I have used commercial patterns and altered them to fit my needs. Like a pair of pants, I didn't want to spend the time to draft the pants from scratch, so I used a pattern and made the legs skinnier, raised the waist etc. so the pattern fit my needs.

Everybody has to start somewhere and if you want to run a marathon you don't start out by running a marathon.

I can tell you that the one thing I see is that your shoulder lines are completely horizontal and that is not how shoulder seams look. They tip down like /  \ (but not that angular). That is what you need to learn so you have a whole complete understanding of the process. That way you can just look at a pattern piece and go "that doesn't look right...." and the way to do this is to practice, practice by learning pattern making from a teacher or a book AND by sewing things from patterns.

If you want to make your vest go for it! But I would suggest that you go out and buy a pattern, and follow those instructions completely either as a side project or as a base to get you started.
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onewhoturns
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2009 01:19:42 PM »

I can tell you that the one thing I see is that your shoulder lines are completely horizontal and that is not how shoulder seams look. They tip down like /  \ (but not that angular). That is what you need to learn so you have a whole complete understanding of the process. That way you can just look at a pattern piece and go "that doesn't look right...." and the way to do this is to practice, practice by learning pattern making from a teacher or a book AND by sewing things from patterns.

Like I said before, I'll be starting a class next week, where we will work with slopers and muslin draping, etc. I still refuse to use a pattern (nothing against you, because I know I would totally agree with you in your position), but I may instead do the "pattern" in butchers paper (the flannel is a rag sheet, so I'm not gonna buy muslin to make a pattern) adjusting the measurements based on your points (bust and arms, mostly, I already knew the bit about the shoulders but didn't want to take the extra time to make a really nice-looking sketch, so instead used the good ol' rectangle tool) and then pinning back and sides together on the body to get the fit I want.
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2009 01:31:20 PM »

Well, you have a plan so go for it.

Refuse is just such an strong word and there is stuff to be learned from what other people have already done, even if it isn't for your design, but for a better understanding of patterning/what patterns look like and following instructions. (Although sometimes they do tell you do do them in the not most logical way). But it does show you want you need to think about so you don't sew yourself into a corner, and yes that can happen.

If you want it to be really fitted you will need to do more than just pining in the sides. I don't know what you want, your design looks more boxy to me, but you mentioned pining it in on the sides.
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Thesingingllamas
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2009 01:57:07 PM »

If you knew it all, why would you be taking a class? Smiley
I'm a fashion design student, getting ready to make a senior collection. I used a lot of patterns before I started drafting my own patterns and they helped me understand how things are put together, including the order and construction techniques. I had been sewing for like 10 years on and off before I went into drafting patterns.
Part of designing when just in the using commercial patterns stages is being able to envision something in a different fabric/color/print than is shown in the picture.

In my program, they have 2 classes that use commercial patterns, even if we don't use the instructions included with the pattern. I skipped the first class because I had been sewing for so long, but it gets you used to sewing, using the machine, different seam classes, how to do button holes, etc. In the second class we put in zippers in different ways, and sewed a few different things. One of the things we learned was how to properly line and construct a vest. Yes, in the second class.

How long is the class that you are taking? How do you know that they will cover draping and flat pattern in just this one class?
My program has 2 separate classes for flat pattern and draping, each a semester long.

I say start with a skirt. They are much easier. And don't be afraid to follow a tutorial that shows how something goes together, even if you don't use their exact measurements, no need to reinvent the wheel.

I notice in your sketch you have a range of inches. You need to be more specific. In my flat pattern class we are specific down to a 16th of an inch or more.
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onewhoturns
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2009 02:35:13 PM »

How long is the class that you are taking? How do you know that they will cover draping and flat pattern in just this one class?
This is a full-year every day class (Fairfax High School Academy for Communication and the Arts) which I was super excited to get into because anyone who wanted to get in had to do an audition (still life & fashion sketch), interview, and portfolio review. I know that the class will cover these topics because I attended the information session on the class prior to the audition. And I forgot to mention that I have done handsewing, in a 3.5-week (appx. 1.75 hr a day) fashion design class, where we did cover some other basics in terms of sketching, flats, and textiles, but nothing on patterns or draping (though we had to construct sans-form with recycled materials, which was fun, if messy, and I ended up putting in another few hours handsewing the hem of a shortened vest and working on other construction pieces).
Also, I've seen many how-to tutorial videos on a multitude of different items (through Threadbanger, youtube, etc.) many of which involved patterns (I know this isn't the same as making them, but I'm not completely clueless as to how they work).

I notice in your sketch you have a range of inches. You need to be more specific. In my flat pattern class we are specific down to a 16th of an inch or more.
That would be because I don't have a tape measure handy =] I only had my hands, so I had major approximations, plus even more depending on how low I decide I want the front and back. I plan to change all the measurements based on my ACTUAL measurements with a tape measure. X]

If you want it to be really fitted you will need to do more than just pining in the sides. I don't know what you want, your design looks more boxy to me, but you mentioned pining it in on the sides.
The pinning is more for shape than fit, cause I DO want it to be loose and/or boxy. But I'm trying to take to heart your point about the actual form of the body, so because I don't know how all of that works, I'll learn myself through experience, and the pinning will be to trace the cut I want (I don't know if there will be a bunch of extra fabric, is what I was thinking of).

Thanks to everyone for the advice, I know it's hard to advise someone like me, who refuses (I know it's a strong word, I'm just pretty darn stubborn =] ) to do it the conventional/easy/logical way. I'm a pain, I know, but your advice is very helpful!

EDIT!: http://www.fcps.edu/FairfaxAcademy
You can see all of the information on the course by going to the courses tab and clicking on fashion design. It was a huge honor for me to get in, because I didn't actually have the prerequisites. It made me feel special  Grin
« Last Edit: September 05, 2009 02:39:02 PM by onewhoturns » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Thesingingllamas
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2009 07:44:12 PM »

Ah ok, so you'll pretty much be doing this all day, everyday. I, on the other hand, only have class 2 days a week for about 2 hours each, so it takes longer to cover everything. The joys of a public university.

Make the pattern on scrap paper first. The problem you might have with such a scooped out back is that the back neckline might want to rise, causing the whole garment to rotate around the arm.


The pieces underneath are the facing pieces. See how I changed the arm hole? I also widened the whole piece. The arm hole should make a 90 degree angle with the side seam. Also, there is a 90 degree angle with the shoulder and the arm hole.

The button band should extend 1/2 the width of the button past the button. When you mark where the buttons should go, mark the width of the button from the edge of the pattern.

To match up the plaids, draw a line straight across the back at the arm holes and straight across the front at the armholes. Matched plaids show a sign of quality. Also, top stitch the armholes and neckline. And don't forget to add seam allowances and interface your facing pieces.


Also, as far as construction goes, stitch the shoulders together first. Front to back, right sides together. Do for both the outer pieces and the facing. Press the seams  and pieces open. Lay the facing pieces on top of the outer pieces, again right sides together. Stitch the arm holes. Stitch the front and neckline. Then stitch the side seams. Turn and press. Topstitch. Add button holes and buttons. Ta Da!
« Last Edit: September 05, 2009 07:55:23 PM by Thesingingllamas » THIS ROCKS   Logged
shoeless sailor
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2009 08:35:00 PM »

As one teenager who goes to a special arts high school to another, i just wanted to say that i think it'll come out well. The first garment I ever made i made was a lark, without a pattern and with little planning, using supplies i got from the dollar store and an ancient machine. And i still wear it today. It may not have the best construction but it really doesn't have to be quite as complicated as some people make it out. It sounds as though you've done more preparation than I did, and I think your vest will come out well. The best compliments you can get are on clothing you have made yourself. I wish you luck.
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soorawn
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2009 03:06:39 AM »

It sounds like you're clever and work hard!  Good for you!  And the choice of garment looks good to me; a vest is the simplest thing after a skirt.  You are going to learn a lot from making it.
 
Now, from a stubborn person to another:  As long as you bear in mind all the tiny details that you can't see when you look at a finished garment, it'll be ok.  Will you be able to discover all of them?  You will, and it'll cost you time and effort.  Classes are meant to save you a lot of effort by passing down to you all that stuff that you are trying to make out by yourself and that so many professionals have made out previously and explained to others in classes and books.  The aim is to save time and improve the outcome, like in natural selection.

I'm not telling you not to do this project.  Do it.  It is important to you, I can see that.  Just mind the ease and the armscyes shape, because we are talking not just 3-D stuff here, but stuff that has to let you move comfortably when you're inside it and still look good in every position.  And that implies a lot of little things.

But when you finish, and I'm sure you'll make a cool job, take the time to consider everything you have learnt.  And then... may I suggest you take some more time to study what others have prepared to make your learning easier and smoother and compare it with your own notes.  Like measures.  Check a drawing showing how and where you take the measures for garments and stop to consider why.  That's a pretty basic one, but thinking stuff over makes you realise a lot of things, understand what you are doing and remember better.

And so forth.  There isn't a single way of doing things and that includes pattern drafting and construction.  I like your approach because I know you only really learn pattern drafting if you understand what you are doing.  You just don't need to start from scratch to learn everything about it.  There is no point to waste years on something when a way of learning it more efficiently has already been devised, allowing you to use that time and effort to take the skill further.  And I want to see your innovations soon!  Take advantage of what you have on offer.
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Gemcraft
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2009 12:23:41 PM »

DO you have a t shirt or something that fits like you want the vest to? You could use this as a guide for your pattern, especially if its an old t-shirt and you can even cut it up into a vest like shape and see how it fits?
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Gemcraft
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