So, I went ahead and tried the collar and lapels. I didn’t like the computer generated ones at all (no “stand” in the collar, plus I couldn’t figure out why on earth they would split the standard lapel collar into four pieces), so I set out to design my own. (No one has ever accused me of doing things the easy way!) Spent about two hours drafting the first collar, using the technique in Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s book Patternmaking for Fashion Design, only to find that the aspect ratio was off. Badly.
So I went back and revisited the sloper (taken from the computer generated one) and realized that it was very badly off. So I rechecked a few of the measurements (the few I could take on myself) and realized that the measurements were wrong! I’m not sure if I took them wrong the first time (likely) or whether my measurements have changed over the last two years. At any rate, they are wrong, which explains why I had to do so much custom fitting for something that really should have been designed to my measurements. Which means I have had to wait for Mike to have time to retake the measurements on me. This will happen this weekend (today if I can manage it). Meanwhile, of course, I’m stalled.
I have, however, been learning a lot about flat pattern drafting in the process of creating this lapel. As I get increasingly confident about walking through the directions to create a pattern, I’m less and less inclined to do it using a computer program. I have the feeling that making and using my own sloper, a physical piece of paper, and manipulating it physically according to the directions is going to produce much more accurate results much faster than trying to edit a design on the computer (laborious), then piece together a pattern printed on 15 printer pages that do not quite align. And the instructions in this book are clear, accurate, and quite encyclopedic about how to create a broad range of designs.
I had been thinking that to benefit from this book, I would have to work through the exercises one by one, in order, a daunting prospect for someone who has always learned best from the “swoop in and figure it out as you go” approach. Now that I’ve gotten over the hump and realize that I can learn the basics, then start work on my own designs using her excellent instructions as a guide, I’m more inclined to “head out into the wilderness” and design my own. I love getting down into the nuts and bolts of a craft.
All this is, of course, distracting me from what I swore earlier would be my main focus, weaving, but it’s an interesting diversion. And I am reluctant to start a new weaving project now, as CNCH (the Conference of Northern California Handweavers) is just over a month away, and I will need the loom free for that. I am taking a workshop from Sharon Alderman on designing your own fabric, and we are bringing our looms to warp up for samples. I was going to take a smaller, 4 or 8 shaft table loom, but decided to bring the full loom because the fabric I want to design will likely require all 24 shafts. (I want to use some of Alice Schlein/Bhakti Ziek’s Photoshop techniques to create something interesting.) I could bring a smaller loom and just do a theoretical exercise, but since what I have in mind is fairly complex, I’d like to get Sharon’s input on it.
What do I want to weave? A wedding dress.
Lest you jump to conclusions, I hastily add that Mike and I are not engaged, and have no immediate wedding plans (though we are agreed that we want to get married at some point, this has always been pretty vague). However, I have a bunch of beautiful hand-reeled silk from Laos, and a bunch of white 60/2 silk, and some fine gold metallic yarns – and an interest in creating complex pieces. A wedding dress is about as complex as it gets without heading into the headiness of couture (which I am not ready to tackle…yet).
It’s also something I might have a chance of wearing someday, which is more than I can say for a fabulous ball gown. This particular Cinderella already has a gorgeous $5,000 ball gown in her closet (given to me by a relative who had never worn it, for reasons too varied to go into here), which I have only worn twice, both times to company Christmas parties where I was quite overdressed for the occasion, and knew it – but I wanted to wear the dress. 🙂 Since no one ever dresses up in California…a wedding dress it is. Oddly, it is more practical than the alternatives, even though I’m not engaged. I don’t know about altering it – maybe I’ll just leave it as yardage until I have a real use for it – but it’s what I want to weave.
Which is reason enough.
But I’m still mulling it over – perhaps I’ll find something else interesting to weave, or get interested in another weave structure. This is just the most complex and interesting project I’ve thought up so far, and the one I would most like expert help on. I would really like to bring to the workshop something I would have trouble designing on my own.