Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pattern Development

Well, I'm just about done with my current project, and I decided a pseudo-tutorial was in order before I got too far...

I've been hired by Shirley Pierson, the Costume Designer for Cygnet Theatre's production of Private Lives, to construct some of her designs for the show.  Out of several costumes, this one is proving to be the biggest challenge.

Simply put, Shirley and the directors (there are two) responded highly to a piece of research that Shirley had discovered.  It was an illustration of a dress on the cover of a pattern envelope by Butterick.  It was decided to reproduce the dress for the character of Sybil.  The image is on the left.  There was only one problem: no pattern (she found the image online)!

What do you do in that case?  Well, I ended up draping it.  Shirley purchased some cheap "mockup" material that was similar to what she was hoping to find for the final dress, and I pinned/draped/scribbled on/gathered/sliced/snipped/tucked the fabric onto a dress form.  I marked all the seam lines in marker onto the fabric itself.  I ended up with what was essentially a "soft sculpture" piece that I then unpinned and placed flat onto brown kraft paper.  I traced through the lines and around the shapes, making sure to go through the points where I had safety pinned all the different pieces together on the form.

Then I "trued up" all the pieces by comparing their edges to one another--making sure the pieces all fit together like a puzzle and preventing mismatched seams where one side is longer than the side it's supposed to be sewn to...

At that point, I used more of the fabric to actually cut out a complete version of the newly made preliminary pattern so we could try it on the actress herself.  This was called a "mockup fitting", and we made notes for pattern adjusting and modifications that I took back to my studio so I could alter the pattern.  This is a really great opportunity for a designer to get exactly the look she wants.

This resulted in a pattern that's pretty sure to work as it was fit specifically to the actress.  This will mean fewer notes later on, and less time spent on finessing the final product.

At this point, I've cut out the pattern out of the real fabric that Shirley selected, and now I'm assembling it.  The photo on the right is a partial layout showing how some of the back pieces and the sleeve fit together.  It's chiffon--a fabric I rarely work with and am a bit trepidatious about...  I bought a new roll hem foot for my Bernina machine today so I could finish the edges of the ruffles.  I will be overlocking all the edges together so I don't have to deal with pinking edges or making French seams...  (ugh)...  Underneath it, she will wear a beautiful antique gold satin slip that will really make the color pop.  The cuffs and collar of the dress are of the same satin, so it should look quite like an ensemble.

So my goal is to get it all assembled for a final fitting Sunday afternoon.  And then, we'll see how it goes...  "Sew, Corey!  Sew like the wind!!"

Live Life with Relish!


  1. It's so fascinating reading how you came up with the final product. I can't believe how much work went into it. Sew like the wind Corey!

  2. Thanks, Jane! : ) the fitting went well--I'll have pictured soon! : )


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...