From Reviews

Review: Drape Drape 2 and a give away!

Late to the party, I finally secured copies of a book called Drape Drape along with the second in the series, Drape Drape 2. I know the Japanese versions (of which there are three now) have been making the circuit but these titles are now available in English and are published by Laurence King. Or rather, I see Amazon lists Drape Drape 2 as not having been released yet but it will be very soon. If you're interested in the book, I would go ahead and pre-order it. Part of the reason I didn't get it before is because these were on back order any time I checked. These books have been very popular and I was fortunate to get them from the publisher. I was sent an additional copy to give away to one lucky winner so read on to win.

Since there are many reviews and samples to be viewed across the web, I decided to do something a little different for mine. Namely to digitize one of the styles and assess the pattern's quality. I couldn't do the one I really wanted (#2) because I didn't have enough fabric or, I didn't have enough of the right kind of fabric -most of these styles are best suited for knits- so I did pattern #4.

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Review: Garment Construction Guide (industrial sewing instructions)

corset_sample_sewing_instructionToday I want to tell you about a great resource I have for industrial sewing. First I have to back up to explain that unbeknownst to me, the schematics and illustrations I used in Industrial sewing instructions came from the book I'm going to tell you about now. That's not where I got them from for that post, it was an isolated reference I found on the web -without attribution. That is so annoying. If you recall, I'd mentioned that industrial sewing instructions are brief if not sometimes enigmatic but they are out there if you look hard enough.Today's book is called Garment Construction Guide which is published by Union Special. This title is only available via mail order from their technical training center. I'll give you purchasing information at close.

At right is one sample garment from the 400-500 page manual. I don't know how many pages it has, they're not all numbered. Provided at right is a sample garment (called a corset but closer to a girdle); the following pages provide a list of sewing operation, the sequences and descriptions, along with the machine and seam types needed to sew the item. The manual is described as having documentation for over 200 garments -and I believe it.

Perhaps a better example is this men's overcoat (right). First a sketch is provided with the seam schematics. Following the illustration are 3 pages of sewing instructions, amounting to a total of 95 separate sewing steps.

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Trip report: January 2012 WESA market pt.1

denver_mart_WESA_2012_smToday we have part one of a two part guest entry from Jessica Hanebutt Snell of Rockin' B Design, LLC who writes of her experiences at the recent WESA market show. Jess is an F-I member as well as a DE specializing in vintage-inspired ladies western apparel with a keen interest in all aspects of the western lifestyle industry as well as the vintage fashion community.

Even if you're not interested in the western or equestrian related products, this is a very educational snapshot on niche markets. As I've said repeatedly, the western market is much more sophisticated and upscale (very pricey!) than people realize. Lastly, many thanks to Jess for putting this together for us!

I had the pleasure of attending the January 2012 WESA market in Denver, Colorado last month. Held at the beginning of each year (somewhat obviously given the name), the January market is the larger of two annual WESA tradeshow events held at the Denver Merchandise Mart; the other WESA show is held in September in the same location. WESA stands for Western and English Sales Association, which consists of sales reps and manufacturers who specialize in western and equestrian lifestyle products. Anyone wanting to exhibit at a WESA market needs to be a member – this can be done by visiting their website and registering as a new user, then filling out the appropriate application. There are annual membership dues as well as applicable booth and show fees depending on your needs for the show (booth space vs. a permanent showroom, etc.) Exhibition space is allotted based on seniority points, which are earned via event attendance.

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Form, fit & function that won’t break the bank

alvaform_features_smI'm pleased to announce that Alvanon has launched a new line of dress forms called AlvaForm Studio. The price of these forms are gentle on your pocketbook but certain to please anyone who has coveted one of their elite quality forms. And, this is the first official announcement -we got the exclusive on it. Yay us! In keeping with the exclusivity of this advance notice (it won't be announced to the public for another three weeks), the forms are 30% off. I don't know how long that deal will last but I'll amend this entry when I know. Okay, now for features.

Gee, I'm not sure where to start, this being such a radical departure from anything else available in the market. I'll start by itemizing the anatomically correct shape features that are unique to this product, refer to image at right (larger image).

  1. First we have a clavicle bump. Yay.
  2. The bust is a more rounded normal shape (I'll provide a comparison further down so you can appreciate the difference). The underside of the bust is fuller instead of coming to an abrupt 50's style bullet bra apex as is typical of other forms.
  3. The sternum between the breasts is taped for clear delineation, aiding in customary underwire placement.
  4. The bust is shaped with a princess line down the center and a dart off to either side.
  5. As with other forms, the cover is hand sewn along the side seam -but this one is much flatter. No more unsightly ridges. Can't speak for you but I find those ridges somewhat annoying.
  6. The form has a belly button; invaluable for aligning lower slung waistbands or crop tops. She also has a pronounced belly like real people do with a noticeable depression below just before the normal bifurcation.
  7. The outer front thighs are curved outward, again, just like real people. At the same time, the back side of the thigh is curved inward.

If you haven't guessed by now, this form was sculpted -based on real humans.

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Review: Theory of Garment Pattern Making

Forgive me for forgetting and not looking it up, but last week someone suggested I should create a top ten list of pattern books. And the indirect result -sorry no top ten list yet- is this review. All because I went looking for this book to see if by chance, there might be a reserve of them available and sure enough! Some enterprising individual has republished it. Lucky you.

The author of The Theory of Garment-Pattern Making, W.H.Hulme, has been very influential in my development. I have two of his four books with another on the way. I was lucky enough to buy the third with diligent searching. I doubt it would have been available for me to buy if the seller had spelled the title correctly. Which is by way of explanation that Hulme was (presumably deceased, I don't know) one of those seminal thinkers few authorities will tell you about, or know to tell you about (so how authoritative are they?). Hulme has affected the thinking of -surely- Aldrich, Bray, maybe Cooklin but no one that I know of on this side of the pond. At the same time, I'm not certain how much of what Hulme wrote really is new but undoubtedly, one truly great contribution was curating. He separated wheat from chaff to organize an archaic and arcane body of knowledge into an accessible format for study and analysis. And study you will if you get this slim volume.

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Review: Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman Lo

patternmaking_dennic_coverToday's review is another recently published book called Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman Lo ($26). Be sure to read through to the end because I'm giving away a free copy of this book to one lucky visitor! Also, the publisher is promoting a significant holiday discount on all titles in their catalog for UK buyers. US buyers already get the discount courtesy of Amazon.

This introductory text is an excellent tool for designers, and oddly enough, particularly for those who don't intend to make their own patterns. I think there is a big hole in the market for a book that fills that gap. The reason being, many designers want a better understanding of the relationship of shapes and how these are incorporated into the body of a garment. See this example that shows the outline of pattern pieces on the body so one can understand construction relationships.

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Review: Leather Fashion Design

leather_fashion_design_coverLeather Fashion Design is the newest book written by Francesca Sterlacci, former fashion chair at FIT. Accordingly, some of you probably know her; I've never had the pleasure although I knew of her through an earlier book she wrote called Leather Apparel Design. Speaking of, this new book is very similar to the earlier one so if you have that you may not need this one. The new book amounts to a revised and expanded edition of the previous title which is now out of print. Lastly a caveat on my suitability for reviewing this book; much of my experience is in leather production.

Strengths: Overall, it's a solid focus on design and production constraints. In my professional opinion, this is required reading and careful study for anyone who is considering a career in leather production either as a manufacturer or designer. The text contains a nice survey of leather garment history (also nice photos), a comprehensive discussion of hide tanning and processing, as well as much needed explanation of hand, weights and finishes. Subsequent chapters include advice on line planning, costing, cutting, seam finishing and sewing.

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The silly sweatshop game

sweatshop_game_logoThere's a new game making the rounds, it's called Sweatshop (hat tip). I thought to mention it before a bunch of people start sending me the link and asking me what I thought about it.

The game scenario: you're a newly hired supervisor at a "sweatshop", in charge of hiring workers and meeting quotas. You have the choice of hiring various kinds of workers from children to more highly skilled (hat vs garment makers etc) and you even have the option to invest in worker improvements so they perform better.

I played thinking it might be a useful exercise in load balancing and the cost benefits of investing in employee education and well being -which wasn't exactly what the game's creator had in mind. It was difficult to attempt to do a sincere job of it because the rhetoric and examples were so over the top as to be offensive to anyone's intelligence and credulity. If you want to affect change, you can't use the same rhetoric on the opposing camp that you use when preaching to your choir. Which is not to say the game won't be popular (not to be confused with generating effective change). The game would have been far more effective at generating positive change by showing cost and profit benefits were led by investing in workers in meaningful ways.

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Reviews: New pattern making books

patternmaking_in_practiceLucia Mors has published a new pattern book, Patternmaking in Practice: A Step by Step Guide (my review of her previous book). A departure from US textbooks, this title isn't as overwhelming with competing style options. The basic pattern is developed via draping and copiously illustrated step by step with large clear photos. Further along in the text, drafting a block from measures is also shown. Plenty of instruction is provided for the sleeve drafting process. I'm partial to this style of sleeve development which seems to be common in all drafting books, save those published in the US. ~sigh~

There are only a few styles in the book (two skirts and two dresses) but these are covered in great depth. Specifically, developing a complete pattern from the block -to include facings and linings-, cutting, fitting and sewing the whole garment start to finish. It's refreshing to follow style development from the beginning through finished product. And of course, that few pattern books show any sewing at all, this book provides comprehensive grounding and context.

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Review of the Yield Exhibition (Zero Waste)

zandra_rhodesToday we have a guest entry from Jasmin Wilkins who lives in Wellington New Zealand -which is fortuitous for us as you'll see. Jasmin is a long time enthusiast member of our forum who works as a project manager. Like many F-I regulars, she's no intellectual slouch (a background in physics and math) rounded with a broad appreciation of artistry. I really enjoyed Jasmin's review and hope you will too.

I’ve been very interested in the conversations around zero or minimum waste, and thought other readers might be interested in my impressions of the Making Fashion Without Making Waste Yield Exhibition I attended at the Dowse Museum in New Zealand. The exhibition consists of thirteen works, displayed in four groups. Each work has a description of the design ethos, an image of the pattern used, and (luckily for you!), linked online content. All the patterns for these garments can be viewed on site. The Dowse kindly provide WiFi and smartphone readable 2D scannable links with each work to enable access to the online content – you can get to the homepage to join in the journey. There is also a facebook page.

As a whole, one of the first things that struck me about the exhibition is the variety of thoughts behind the designs, and how many questions were posed by the way works were juxtaposed.

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