verbal croquis


Posted in general by verbalcroquis on April 15, 2006

The sun is out and I'm doing a little happy dance from my work corner of the zoloft. ("The zoloft" is the name of our place, since my name is zoë, it's a loftspace, and my friends consider coming over to be a great antidepressant.)

So I'm still scribbling some sketches for coats (nothing to show yet, since they're so far nothing but ink doodles and an excel spreadsheet), but this sun is putting me in a mood to do some sewing.

For people who know me, this a big surprise. I never "feel like sewing, you know, to tinker around". Here's one of big dark fashion secrets: I hate to sew. No, really. I can sew, and I do it pretty well, and I'll do it if I need to, but I generally prefer not to. I prefer draping and patternmaking over sewing. (Okay, I prefer a lot of things over sewing, including scrubbing the bathroom.) That's what samplemakers are for. I do believe, however, that all designers should know garment construction so at the very least, they know what they're looking at. I'm also a firm believer in delegating out your weaknesses. No reason for the product to suffer because you have some demented superwoman complex.

Take this little number for example:

yellow back

The draping, the patterns (nothing from blocks), the corset construction (complete with steel bones, channeling and whatnot), the piping, the lining, the individually handsewn pleated ruffles, the crinoline understructure (consisting of 30+ yards of crinoline and tulle), baby hemming all those frickin' ruffles, all me. The delegation? I had a contractor do all the pleating in one of those huge steam ovens. The only way you're going to get silk to pleat that well. And I got my piping professionally made, put on a spool, which I then sewed into the bodice.

Alright, gotta run.  I have mucho important things to do, like mending that kimono I ripped on my way to a party last night.  (I had to switch kimonos at the last minute.  Gah!) 


4 Responses to 'sewing'

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  1. henri-v said,

    Holy shit, Zoe!!!

    That’s like an explosion of orchids and fruit translated into a dress!! Frickin’ fantastic.

    Silly question, but how do you become a professional sewer? Are there “sewing school” like there are “design schools”? It has always seemed like the people who I’ve read about have either grown up in a family with sewing/tailoring as the business or are laborers in the apparel industry who have received on the job volume machine training.

    Jeez. I’m still getting over the work involved in the above. How many hours went into that?

  2. Thanks! It took about 3 months, about 30 hours a week, more towards the end. That includes the initial muslin, pattern corrections and 3 fittings. It cost an arm and a leg with all the silk and random stuff you wouldn’t even consider like horsehair for the bodice and underskirt hems.

    One of my favorite memories of school is the time when I had all the ruffles pinned into place and I just needed to sew them down. A bunch of juniors heard I was hyperventilating and ran into the senior studio to help me. (I was also doing version 8 on a leather dress I just *had* to perfect at the same time as this dress.) Seven girls sat in a ring around the dress on the mannequin and sewed down the ruffles. Those girls did about half of the skirt before they had to leave.

    There are trade schools were you can learn patternmaking, sewing, and grading. Local community colleges offer some classes too, I think.

    I had a few teachers in college who would take a class here and there at this school to keep themselves updated on procedures, computerized techniques, etc. At design school, I took 3 full years of draping, patternmaking, sewing, etc. along with my design, illustration, illustrator/photoshop classes (and my liberal arts classes).

  3. Susanna said,

    Ditto what Henri-V said: HO-LY SHIT.

    And I though micro pave-ing stones was hard work.

    This, I suspect, (and of course many other reasons), is why haute couture is placed upon such lofty ground? Even with the delelgating… it’s a nutty amount of work.

    Wow. WOW!

  4. That dress is gorgeous. Any chance of more photos/close ups?

    Also, Zoe, when things calm down for you and if you’re still interested in silk pleating, would you get with me? I’ve “invented” a “new” method of pleating and am looking for somebody to kick the tires on it (confidentially tho). It’d help if you were also interested in origami.

    and I love making leather coat patterns but I also love sewing them but I agree your output is *dramatically* amplified with a good sample maker.

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