Sorry to keep you waiting on my fashion show debut! Between class projects and getting my teaching venture off the ground, I’ve let the blog fall by the wayside. It occurs to me I owe all of you a recap on how the fashion show went.
Here’s the completed outfit walking the runway at the City College of San Francisco Fashion Show, “Odyssey.” The model is Damon Mahoney; besides his work as a fashion model, he is a fashion entrepreneur who makes an exquisite line of hand-painted scarves and accessories. You can see his creations at his website. He was fantastic to work with and he really sold the outfit on the runway. I was so fortunate to have him model my outfit.
Runway photo credits: James Mace
Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot of my model behind stage, ready to walk the runway.
As mentioned previously, the pants were intended to kill two birds with one stone: complete the outfit for the runway as well as serve as an assignment for my Advanced Garment Construction class. So it had to have the construction techniques, such as a curtain waistband and French fly-front zipper as taught in the class.
I selected Burda 7841 as the pattern to work from. This pattern has a relatively slim silhouette without going into the “skinny pant” zone.
I added some seam and hem allowance for fitting, but other than that and changes for construction I used the pattern as-is.
I drew pen sketches of several design alternatives for the pant. I wanted to keep the design minimal so the pant ties in with the jacket, but does not overpower the jacket, or add up to a look that is too heavy. I also took practical considerations into account: would the design make it difficult to alter the pant for fitting purposes, once I had the pant on a model?
Here’s a gallery of discarded design ideas.
The winning look was based on an idea I had from my instructor Lynda Maynard’s book, The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques.
It is called “Hong Kong Finish on the Outside”, and it is exactly that: the side seams are turned outside, and raw edges of the seam allowances bound with a Hong Kong Finish. The illustration in the book showed it applied to the seams on a women’s skirt, but there’s no reason why this treatment wouldn’t work for men’s trousers as well.
On a men’s pant, the techinique creates a pinstripe effect, something like a tuxedo or military uniform.
I used jacket body fabric for the length of the stripes. And I took the technique one step farther, by adding some short segments of the accent colors to tie the stripes in with the jacket.
Preparing the stripe detail for the Hong Kong binding was intricate work. The accent pieces all had to be measured and cut accurately. The accents are pieced together, quilt-style, to make the continuous strip for binding the pant. Further complicating matters, all stripes and accent pieces were cut on the bias, so seamwork had to be done carefully to prevent the pieces from stretching out of shape.
To attach the binding to the pant, I made alignment marks along each side seam allowance, then carefully pinned the stripes to match the marks. Then I hand-basted all four bindings to the seam allowances to keep them from shifting as they were finished by machine.
The outside seam allowances did nibble into the front pocket opening, but I tested with my hand to make sure it was still possible to insert and remove a hand into the front pockets. Doing this again, I would design the pattern and the pocket openings with the seam treatment in mind. But as a last minute construction change to an already-drafted pattern, this technique worked quite well.
Here’s a shot of the pants front, side seam binding in-progress.
The overall look on the runway calls to mind a tracksuit, but more of a twist on a tracksuit, a “dress tracksuit”, given the nature of the jacket and dress pants. Here’s a shot from the model fitting session showing how the pant detail ties in with the jacket.
The fitting session went extremely well. My guesses on sizing were right on; the pants fit my model perfectly with no adjustments needed at the waist. I simply needed to set the hems to the proper height. The jacket and the T-shirt all fit nicely.
Here’s some detail photos of the pant, including some of the tailored construction that went into it.
The inside edge of the fly shield is finished with a hand overcast stitch.
I improvised the finish on the waistband curtain where it meets up with the waistband extension.
Front Fork Stay
The welt openings on the back pockets are interfaced using silk organza.
Behind The Scenes
I was excited to be in the show not only to display my work, but to see how a fashion show is actually run. As a designer, I was mostly a spectator to all of the advance preparation, which took the entire afternoon before the show. The best way I can describe the behind-the-scenes experience is “controlled chaos”. Another term that comes to mind is “hot mess.”
The staff provided the designers and models with a “green room”, or lounge where we could spend our time when not being called upon. I mostly chatted with the other designers and models. Damon spent his time knitting when he wasn’t called for makeup or wardrobe prep.
But somehow it all comes together and the models line up for their trip down the runway.
I saw the runway action from behind stage. Viewing angles were very, very limited and I saw only portions of the show through an opening onto the jumbotron screen above the runway. Viewers in the audience got a much better look at the actual show!
At the conclusion of the show, the designers took our turn on the runway. Here I am in the racing-stripe black tee I sewed up as a prelude to the grey tee the model wore for the show. Behind me with the blue hair and flowers is Kamille Hitz, the Fashion Department chair.