Monday, 22 October 2012

Chic Expectations - Girl Meets Dress Pattern

Sometimes when I look at my finished garments, I wonder whether it's worth showing off the logic and deliberation that goes in to producing something that looks simple from the outside. Surely that justifies making those choices deliberately, rather than simply picking stuff up and throwing it under the foot of a machine? Lately I've been looking for a project that will banish these thoughts, force me to be analytical and exercise some sort of restraint or maturity in what I make. I reckon I've found the right pattern: it's a pretty dress.
So here is is: Burdastyle 9/12 #134

Image source

 It's a close fitting sheath dress with panels instead of darts, a waist seam, wide neckline and deep V in the back. It is completely lined. It's much more structured and complex than the fit/flare dresses I normally would be tempted to make. This project will force me to me to be slow, deliberate, and considered in how I work. I'm planning to document the process here, to help illustrate and justify some decisions and to ultimately stop me from saying "ah sod it, that'll do".

You may have noticed that it's basically directly lifted from the designer's AW12 collection. I want to keep this in mind and basically rip it off as well as possible. One of the reasons I chose to learn to sew was to learn how to rip off much more expensive garments, and seeing the RRP of the actual dress has spurred me to want to make a good job of it.

So here's what needs to be done:

- Fitting: This mainly applies to the bodice, as the skirt only has one real fitting point to be wary of. The pattern's smallest size is an EU36 which is likely to be too big. I'll have to reduce the overall size while keeping panels and design aspects in proportion. I know straight away there will be issues in the shoulders, upper chest and back. So that'll be fun.

- Applying pattern alterations: I'm still getting used to taking 3D alterations and applying them to the flat pattern. Applying the alterations will also mean making at least 2 muslins (mockups in cheap fabric) and a lot of paper patterns.

- Fabric choices: The dress is loud, the fabric needs to be loud. It needs to be a light drapey fabric with some sort of stripe/linear pattern, and a lot of colour. Some of my research on the original dress shows the fabric to have a very high sheen, and it almost looks like a silky oilcloth. This is something I am not prepared to copy, as I don't know enough about sourcing fabrics to even approximate something like that.

And then at some point there will be the stitching of the actual thing.

Stay tuned for the first fitting post!

And if you live in London, it turns out the designer is selling his sample wares in Mayfair at the end of the week...yaknow, if you've got that kind of money to drop on prototypes.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Feeling the Effects of Fringe Thinking

Fringe Thinking: (noun) The effect on memory, perception of time, and ability to distinguish separate events as experienced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

I just got back from my first real theatre show since Edinburgh; and as the lights went down, I found myself wondring "how long can a physical theatre contemporary adaptation of Uncle Vanya really last?". Luckily, it was just about the length of a Fringe show, I'm still not sure if my attention span is back to normal. Meanwhile, it could be fun to quickly mention a few shows which had a particular memorable effect while at the Fringe.

Leaving, Limbo, Landing
This was an outdoor physical theatre show by Caroline Bowditch and East London Dance. The show explores the reasons and motivations behind why people choose to leave their home towns, or countries, to move elsewhere. I found it interesting because I'm sure one of the performers was deaf, and some of the choreography integrated sign language. The costumes, designed by Anny Grewcock, were also very striking. Made out of uncommon materials including bubble wrap, hessian sacks and postage tags, the costumes also involved a lot of interesting shapes that were well fitted and morphed as the performers moved. I'd definitely like to take creative inspiration from Grewcock and translate some of them into my own future projects.

Finnish electronic acapella. Sixteen quid. This show was a good reminder that you get what you pay for. The show struck a particular technical cord because of some mad wizzardy in getting singers to sound like the actual instruments. Now, although this is seriously impressive, does it undermine the whole idea of an acapella group? In a full length show, would they strip down the effects so we can understand the processes behind the performance? And surely the sound engineer deserves a little more recognition?

Departure Lounge
This show was completely unexpected. It's about four British lads stuck in an airport departure lounge, waiting for a flight home from Spain. Everything from the stripped down set, the costumes to the style of the songs and the subject matter, is completely alien to my concept of "musical". Perhaps that's why it's so easy to remember.

What do you think? Are there any shows which have had lasting effect on you?