Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sewing Class, Part I

In my last post, I mentioned that I have signed up for a sewing class at the community college. It meets once a week for about 3.75 hours (I think that length is just right, actually) and my classmates are a mixture of design majors and ladies from "the community." We have one student that is studying to be a tailor! How cool is she?! This promises to be a great learning experience because the instructor is going to try to incorporate lessons for her as well, which will include classic tailoring techniques starting with jacket construction. Total cost for 3 credits was $210.

The professor is an interesting man. He's told us that he learned to sew in a couture house and then went on to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. Prof. S- (not to be revealed unless he says it's ok) is very hands on and is well versed in industrial sewing techniques.

In the class, we will be making a skirt, pants, and jacket, starting with the skirt. Because of our tailoring student, Prof S- has allowed us the option of drafting our own pattern or use of a commercial pattern. The skirt will be straight, lined with no waistband, approx knee length, have a vent, and invisible zipper. The first lesson described how to create a lining pattern from the skirt pattern. (I'll post about this method if folks are interested.)

Other topics covered included a review of the following:
  • to find the proper WAIST, have your client bend slightly to either side and the little fold that appears is the natural waist. This could be above or below the bellybutton. Wearing ease at the waist should be 1/2 inch.
  • to find the HIP, find the widest part of your client's bottom. RTW usually has the hipline 7-9" below the waist, but many people vary from this. You should look at your client's profile head on and also in profile and find the widest part and take this measurement. Wearing ease is 2 inches at the hip, even in slim fitting garments.
  • HEM lines are measured from the floor up. This ensures level hems that are perpendicular to the floor. You would find the point where the garment will end and then measure from this mark to the floor. If it's 30" for example, measure 30" from the floor all the way around.
  • 1" seam allowances in side seams for custom garments, 3/8 - 5/8" for other seams. For custom gowns (think wedding), many designers will leave 4-5" inches, since it's easier to cut out a seam allowance than it is to recut an entire garment.
The recommended text is Connie Crawford's text Guide to Fashion Sewing, 4th ed. Prof. S- says it the best book of its kind available. After perusing his copy, it looks more comprehensive than Reader's Digest or Vogue's guide. The drawings (no photos) are illustrative and clear. I'm not certain if I'm going to buy it, however. I'll probably bring in my book and do a more thorough comparison.

The following tools are required:
  • 2x18" gridded, transparent ruler
  • drafting square (triangle with 45 &90 degrees)
  • measuring tape
  • #2 pencil
  • 2 pairs of scissors (for fabric and paper)
  • tracing paper
  • thimble (I guess this means we'll be doing some hand sewing!)
  • bobbins for the chosen machine
We can bring our own machine or use one of the schools. There are a number of machines available for use; I noticed Viking, Bernina, Pfaff, a few industrial Jukis, and a handful of sergers including an industrial.

Next class we will be learning how to insert an invisible zipper the "hard" way and the "easy" way. The hard way promises to look more couture and the easy more dept store RTW. All in all, I'm glad I signed up :) I expect to learn a lot.


Tamara said...

Wow! Thank you so much for the synopsis of your sewing class. It looks fantastic. I would love to read about some of the things you learn during the class.

Ariane said...

That sounds like a very interesting class. Good Luck I bet you will enjoy it.

Chicago Sarah said...

Dude. I am so so so jealous. I'm retaking a class for my certification (care of the pregnant woman), bored out of my skull- you're learning all this cool stuff. PLEASE keep posting tips and especially the invisible zipper info. I really want to learn how to do that.

Reethi said...

Ooh - that tip on finding the waistline - pure gold! I'd love to learn more on the lining, please! (Off to search for a class in Toronto.)

Faye Lewis said...

Would really like to know about the invisible zipper info, the easy method. As this is one of the challenges I'm biting of this year.