Diving into the Deep End

There’s so much to write about, I don’t know where to begin!

Based on my experience from the summer session at City College of San Francisco, I’ve gone all-in on classes for the upcoming fall semester.

I’m taking four classes, which pretty much makes me a full-time student.  I’m hoping I can meet the workload for all four classes.  I’m pretty certain I won’t be sewing any projects outside classwork.  That’s not so bad, because some class assignments provide opportunities to make projects that have been lingering in my personal queue.

Fashion Illustration 2

This class continues where my summer class in Fashion Illustration leaves off.  I have the same instructor, Paul Gallo, who is a wonderful instructor and coach.

The second semester of Fashion Illustration builds on the first.  We learn additional rendering techniques, more menswear techniques, and the drawing proportions for children and teens. We also learn the details of producing technical flat drawings and spec sheets for production work.

One emphasis of the second semester is on developing everyone’s individual artistic style, and the midterm and final are capsule design projects that focus on original design work. My style so far is fairly photorealistic, and I’m curious to see how I develop as I work through the course.

Here’s some work-in-progress from the second assignment; we’re revisiting the basic figure and learning new coloring techniques.

Apparel Construction 1

This is the introductory class in production sewing.  The instructor is Steve Heard, owner of Clinton Park, a company producing custom-fit jeans and denim wear, as well as custom pattern development work for industry clients.

Though the coursework is somewhat basic compared to my current skill level – the projects include an apron, a skirt, and a short-sleeve shirt – for me the class is valuable for formal training with industrial sewing machines and professional sewing techniques.  The instructor says he won’t look down on us for using a home sewing machine, but for me the objective is to get familiar with the Juki industrials.

The school has bobbins and some accessory feet available for checkout, but the instructor advised us to purchase our own supplies for the machines.  I bought a bobbin case, a supply of bobbins, industrial needles and an industrial narrow foot for zipper insertion.

For the first class, we learned proper threading, operation and safety rules for the Jukis.  Our first assignment is to sew some basic stitch samples on the machines.

For the shirt project near the end of the course, I’m looking forward to making a sixties camp design with this fabric from my stash:

Garment Fitting

Garment Fitting, as long-time readers of the blog will likely guess, is a “grail” class for me.

Lynda Maynard, who taught my Moulage class during the summer, is the instructor and I feel blessed to learn from a nationally recognized fitting expert.  During Moulage, a class session was dedicated to fitting and I wrote here that the experience was like Disneyland. Imagine having that experience expanded to an entire semester course!

The class features four major projects, in increasing difficulty: Skirts (women)/Shorts (men), a vest, a jacket with sleeves, and finally pants.

The class is mostly lab sessions – students fit each other with instructor guidance.  Often the instructor stops to lecture the students about a fit issue that appears on a particular person.

For each project, we trace a commercial pattern, then make a muslin with grainlines and horizontal balance lines on the garment.  We read the muslin and make alterations on the body, producing a corrected muslin.

Here is a pair of shorts – Kwik Sew 3884 – that has been fitted on me.  Out of the box, the back of the shorts ran against my thighs, and stuck out in front. The top wedge at high hip corrects that imbalance and makes the shorts hang vertically.  The inseam also twisted inwards, causing strange folds in back.  This is because my thighs protrude inwards.  The lower wedge at the hip corrects for that makes the inseam hang vertically.  Just one class session has been so illuminating!

Once the muslin is corrected, we make adjustments to the paper pattern and make a new muslin garment.  We hand in a final muslin with proper fit, as well as a clean altered pattern.

One project (we get to choose which) requires us to produce a wearable garment in fashion fabric from the fitted pattern.  I’m currently thinking of a pair of 60’s mod pants, from this vintage polyester I picked up at the recent Sips N Sews Stash Reduction Sale.

Custom Tailoring

Custom Tailoring is my other grail class.  I have been stocking fabrics and notions for a tailoring project for a while, and this class provides the perfect opportunity to take the leap. I wasn’t sure I could get into this class, due to the pre-requisites involved.  But I successfully applied to waive them, and made it out of the waitlist to get enrolled.

The instructor, once again is Lynda Maynard. We will produce one garment, a tailored jacket, built over the course of an entire semester, using traditional hand tailoring techniques.  No fusible interfacings or machine pad-stitching here!  The early part of the course is involved with fitting the jacket muslin, and producing samples for welts, collars and pockets.  Then we get knee-deep into the construction of the jacket.

There is some synergy here with the Fitting class. Since both classes require students to fit a jacket pattern, students in both classes (and there’s substantial overlap) receive Fitting class credit for the jacket pattern they fit in Tailoring. So we can do a fitting project of our own choosing when the jacket project is encountered in the Fitting class.

We can work from a self-drafted or a commercial pattern, subject to the instructor’s approval. I’m choosing to work with Vogue 8890.  I would love to draft my own pattern based off my Moulage sloper, but that’s just too overwhelming for me right now. I’m making View A. It has a notched collar, vented sleeves, side back vents, and welt pockets.

For the tailoring fabrics, I am hoping to use this slate blue windowpane wool, purchased at very great expense during a rare one-day 50% off sale at Britex Fabrics.  Britex owner Sharman Spector personally selected the matching lining.

The only problem is I am not sure if I have enough fabric to match plaids for the windowpane repeat.  I always make this mistake buying plaid fabrics, not purchasing enough to account for matching.  I will have to lay out the entire pattern at once on the cutting table and see if it fits my cut of fabric.  The repeat is about 2 inches, and I have about 13 inches extra (3/8 yard) over the requirement listed on the pattern envelope. But, I have not yet preshrunk the wool. This will be a nail-biter for sure.

Though it’s not my first rodeo when it comes to plaid matching, I’ve never matched a notch collar before.  The instructor recommends strongly against plaids and stripes for the class (mainly because there is not enough time in the course for her to cover the topic) but she has allowed me to work with this fabric. I have a recent article from Threads magazine (“Plaid Ambition”, Threads #177, February/March 2015) covering the topic. Wish me luck!

Next Time

I’m eager to write as much as I can about these classes in the coming months, workload permitting.  Is there something you’d like to hear more about?  Please let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Diving into the Deep End

  1. Testosterone

    W O W ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    Ambition personified – and if you seldom blog Michael, we’ll understand.

    Your stitch samples bode well for the success of your assignments.

    Do I smell a career change in the future? What with that dual citizenship, one can only wonder.

    A man fan with a Besom pocket full of theories, suspicions, and conjecture

  2. Mainelydad

    I’m super excited for you, especially for the tailoring class. What an opportunity! You’ll be forgiven if there aren’t many blog posts. Can’t wait to see your final projects when you come up for air.

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