Class today was about the submission of outfit 3 and when you get all the students and their judys & jimmys and clothes and gear all into the design lab it is incredibly crowded.
My outfit three has been a challenge. I did some things wrong. I either chose the wrong fabric or I created the wrong design for the fabric that I chose. In August I went to New York City and I bought 6 yards of a beautiful silk georgette in black for the skirt of a long dress I was thinking of…I bought a silk charmeuse print for the bodice. I imagined a full flowing skirt that was gathered just under the bust and had an asymmetrical applique of coloured swirly lines. So I produced a sketch as part of the process of creating the design book for my 5 piece collection. Here is the final colour sketch.
I went to the fabric store and found the most inexpensive fabric that I could that was about the same weight as the georgette to use for the muslin. I draped the bodice and made it out of cotton muslin, lined it and finished all the edges. I then drafted a pattern for the skirt, cut it out and sewed it together, gathered the waistline and basted it to the bodice. On Saturday I struggled to lay the appliques on the skirt and decided that I need to do this on the flat before I attached the skirt to the bodice. So I removed the skirt, un-gathered the top edge and made a template of the left side of the skirt out of paper with the appliques sketched out. I placed the sheer skirt over the template (which was draped over my ironing board) and began pinning the appliques in place.
I then went off to Hamilton to watch our men’s soccer team play in the provincial finals. When I got back from Hamilton that evening I finished pinning and started to baste the appliques on to the skirt…this took some time but it is the slow detailed work that I don’t mind and feels kind of zen like in its doing. The worked continued all day Sunday. After hand basting all the appliques in place and sewing the skirt and skirt lining to the bodice permanently, I sewed one of the appliques in place permanently at the sewing machine. I realized at this point that there were a number of problems…a) the gathered lightweight fabric was not creating the volume that I had intended and was falling straight down, b) the appliques were not readily visible as a whole as parts of them were falling away into the folds of the skirt, and c) the applique was very difficult to sew smoothly with no puckering to the sheer skirt fabric especially give the curved shapes. Feeling a little overwhelmed I realized it was now Sunday evening and if I wanted to change my design I needed to seek approval from my instructor by noon the next day.
I made a new sketch that changed the appliques into straight bands around the bottom of the skirt and e-mailed the change request and new sketch (below) to my instructor. I then picked away at the stitches and removed all the appliques from the skirt whether basted or sewn on permanently and went to bed Sunday night having undone most of my weekend’s work. Despite this setback every aspect of the dress muslin was complete except the hem and the appliqued bands on the bottom.
I went to work on Monday with the dress and all my tools in tow, planning to spend the late afternoon and early evening in the design lab marking the hem. I got a response from the instructor who suggested that instead of changing the applique I should consider finding a different weight fabric, redrafting and remaking the skirt in a different shape without gathering at the waist and keep the original intention of my sketch. I became even more overwhelmed…how was I going to do this by Thursday afternoon when I had late meetings/events two nights this week. I told her that I could consider this but not in time for Thursday and was going to forge ahead and try and finish the dress I had made and we could discuss in class. I went to the design lab to work as planned and I marked the hem of the skirt fabric, trimmed it off, rolled the hem and hand basted it in place. When I put it on the judy again to mark the hem for the lining I knew that the instructor was right…I had to start over with the skirt and try to create what I had sketched. I packed up my tools and my troubles and went to an on-campus event.
I got home from the event on Monday evening at about 8:30 pm. and searched my supplies to see if I had enough muslin to draft a new skirt. I decided to make a 3/4 circle skirt which one can draw right out on the fabric and cut without a pattern. Everything I have been doing for the project is piled up, spread out, and covering my dining room table so the only large area available to me so I could cut the new skirt was my kitchen floor. So I did the radius calculations, drew the lines and curves on the muslin and cut it out…pretty straight forward except for living with dogs who want in on the action. I sewed up the seams, pressed them and packed everything up to take to work on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning I spent from 7-8:45 am. in the design lab making sure the shape was right on the judy and laying the skirt flat on the table to pin the appliques on to the skirt. I started to hand baste them in place again and packed everything up and continued on with my work day…I found a few moments in my office to finish the basting and to pick out all the stitches and remove first skirt I made from the bodice. When I got home Tuesday night I went to work attaching the new skirt to the bodice and finishing the closure hooks and snaps. I also sewed one of the swirled lines onto the skirt with the sewing machine as a sample of how I plan to attach the appliques.
Wednesday morning I packed up all my stuff again and brought it to work…at the end of the work day I went to the lab to try the completed dress on the judy and to mark the hem, baste the hem in place and mark the hem for the lining. When I got home on Wednesday night I completed the hems and pressed the dress for presentation in class on Thursday.
Thursday afternoon in class, the instructor said the fit was good and we talked about the lining, final fabric options for the skirt, the back closure and maybe revising the line of the front armhole. Overall the feedback was good and I can carry on. Here is a picture of the back of the muslin dress.
Now I need to go and find the right weight fabric and lining and tulle to create some inner structure that will help the final dress hold the appropriate shape to match the sketch and show off the appliques. But before I do this I will put this one aside and spend this weekend making patterns for and sewing outfit number 4 which is due next week.
Why do I tell this whole story in such detail…because I suspect that this process and experience is indicative of what our design students in all years commonly experience in the quest to come closest to achieving the realization of the idea that they have in their heads. It can be tedious and frustrating and overwhelming and exhausting and maddening and ultimately if the end product is successful…very satisfying. I *now* love that I struggled with this one because my goal with this project was to truly walk in their shoes. I felt like I did that this week.