From scratch

Those Delpozo trousers

…otherwise known as my final project for the “Pattern Cutting for Beginners: Trousers” course at Morley College.

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You would normally make a toille for a standard pattern size in class, but I braved drafting a block in my own size and modifying it into this pair (without testing the block first #foreverlazy). After getting some help from Linda, our fab teacher, it was a fairly straightforward process to end up with something that resembles the original Delpozo number below.

Image sources: 1, 2

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After careful inspection, now I can see that the ruffles are inserted into a cut on the front of the trousers, while I drafted the front of the trousers as two separate pattern pieces. Where the center front runs I drew a curve, connecting the two legs, almost reaching the top edge of the trousers.

The ruffles are made of a straight piece of fabric that has been folded in half and turned inside out. Matching the two pieces at the top was a total nightmare, as after about 6 tries they were still off by a millimeter or two.

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My fabric choice was not the best, as for some reason I thought the trousers were supposed to be really fitted and I went with a very crisp, presumably some kind of a cotton blend fabric, with zero stretch. Because I drafted a fitted pair of trousers and made it up in a non-stretchy fabric, AND I made sure to keep the ease to a minimum (since it was gonna be fitted, you know!), this is the least comfortable pair I own, to put it lightly… 🙂

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They are pretty hard to be worn casually too, and I’ve kind of given up on that idea already, yet I was pleasantly surprised by being able to cycle to Frank’s in Peckham to take these photos, when my original idea (to photograph le pants at the Chanel x i-D x Es Devlin’s exhibition a few steps away) fell through, due to the 2 hour queuing time…

So. I don’t hate it as much as I did at first, when I wasn’t even sure whether I should finish it or not, and I may make a looser version of it, but I suspect it will not be on regular rotation… Oh well, moving on to the next one! 🙂

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From scratch

Pattern cutting: Beginners I.- Skirts

Last year I decided to get started with learning pattern cutting. I love Morley, I’ve done a few other courses there before, and although I know how to use commercial patterns and have an understanding of what makes them fit, I wanted to get the basics right. I have finally met like-minded people in person, and all in all I have to say I couldn’t recommend the course enough…. although I really shouldn’t as I did not get a place for the second module because of the high number of applicants 😦 .

The teacher, Linda, is really supportive and open to whatever ideas you may come up with. I loved how, even though it was a beginners course, at our final project, we did not have to limit ourselves while coming up with the design of the skirt.

TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt4

I obviously wanted to include absolutely everything we practiced during the 11 classes from pleating, to pockets, to yokes and the different flares. But then I also wanted to make something I could take to New York with me (I have developed this habit of making something special for an upcoming trip – in the very last-minute). Since I missed the class where the others designed their final project, I had to come up with mine in under 10 minutes, so I scrolled through my secret ‘To sew’ Pinterest board and selected two skirts (skirt on left, skirt on right), then merged them into one.

TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt2

TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt3

TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt

There are only 4 pattern pieces in this skirt: the front, the center back, the side back (cut 2x) and the frill (cut 2x). I drafted a basic skirt block according to my measurements and by following Winifred Aldrich’s instructions. I should have then tested the block before modifying it, but you know…ain’t nobody got time for that! I had a night to start and finish the whole thing (and I was going to line a tailored coat that same evening too…), and I luckily it came along rather quickly. I did a sort of ill-fitting impromptu lining from some leftover fabric too, and while it is not that pretty, it does get the job done.

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TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt10

TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt8

I absolutely love the wool fabric I picked up for this, I think it’s what’s called a boiled wool, so it doesn’t fray and is relatively easy to iron. What I’m not totally happy with is how it is NOT hemmed. Sure, I was lacking time to finish it properly, but because of the round hem, I was going to add a facing to the hem, which would have made it pretty bulky and even shorter. I still have some fabric left over, so I might hem it one day, but if anyone has a suggestion on how to go about it, please do let me know, as I’m still pretty undecided on how much I love/hate this unfinished (or clean?) look…

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TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt13

TheSecretCostumier - The Wool Skirt12

By the way, most photos were taken by my lovely sister at the Alberto Burri exhibition at the Guggenheim. 🙂

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TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers
From scratch, Stash diet/ Scrap revival

No patterns required

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    I have nothing against patterns, I swear. It’s just that I’m extremely lazy and I forget easily that it’s more hassle than fun to experiment and hope for the best when it comes to dressmaking. Yet it has become a habit I am not likely to break in the future.

   I can assure you that sewing without patterns will make the fitting process longer, the sewing part more difficult and it will be frustrating. But it’s gonna worth it. If you are ready to challenge yourself, I suggest you grab and roughly copy your favourite RTW garment, cut out and change a pattern randomly (and drastically) or just play around with some fabric.

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

   That’s pretty much what I did with these two pieces. The trousers started out as some palazzo-leg/ paperbag-top pants with pleating on the top. I know it sounds unnecessarily complicated, but it was supposed to be the most comfortable, most flattering pair I could ever imagine. I altered a plain, straight leg trousers pattern from Burdastyle and added a few centimeters on top. I cut and slashed the pattern to make pleats and it kind of worked with the toille, which was made of some pretty stiff cotton. Then I found this black silky fabric in the remnants box at the shop, and that’s obviously where things started to go all wrong… This was my first time cutting “silk” and I cut one leg way smaller, as I lifted the fabric off the table while cutting. Lesson no.1 learned. Even though I adjusted the other leg too, it turned out to be very tight, so it all ended up in the scrap bag (and what remained became the asymmetric dress).

   Then I lost a little weight, summer was approaching, I needed new trousers, so I gave it another go. I decided to ditch the pleats and inserted an elastic band to the waistband at the back. Now I just needed to find find out what to do with the excess fabric in the front. I figured if I pull it to one side, then I’ll have more room at the crotch and it looked pretty modern too, so I was happy with the outcome. Then I made the legs tapered and turned the hems up to make it look more casual, so that I can wear them with le trainers.

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

   Hemming was a nightmare, and I ended up handsewing an elastic band into the turned up hem. This did not turn out to be a permanent solution, but hey, I did it the first time, and I can do it again. And again.

  So the pair of trousers was ready, Me-Made-May rolled in, and I was up for wearing the hell out of it. The only time this happened though, was when I popped down to the shop to test run it… just to realize it was way too tight to do anything else but stand prettily in it. The solution was easy, all I needed was to make it sit on my hip instead of my waist by sewing a second buttonhole on it. This makes it 2-in-1, as I can cycle in it when it sits lower and could just pull it higher up for going out, as it looks more flattering that way. In reality I mostly go with option 1, of course…;)

   The bodysuit was inspired by the plethora of Netties out there, plus I realized I wear bodysuits quite often already. I had some leftover fabric from the piece I used to cover my DIY dressform. You probably know by now that I love wearing anything backless, so when I realized that I don’t have enough fabric, I just lowered the back on the pattern that I roughly copied from a bodysuit that I own. Since the scraps were not big enough, I had to cut up the pattern. I used the largest piece for the front, so that I have no seams there, and  I played around with the scraps at the back. Since this was intended to be a quick scrap-busting project I used some yellow thread that was available instead of a matching one. It’s contrasting, but the difference is not quite visible, so It looks more like a design detail than a distraction (to me).

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

   Since I used a stretch fabric that’s most likely a ponte knit, it was almost like sewing with a woven. The regular straight seams just didn’t look flexible and strong enough, so I decided to sew it with the smallest zig-zag stitch on my machine, which worked really well, but it was a pain to unpick while eliminating fitting issues. And there were a few. The armholes still don’t feel tight enough, and it took a while to get everything flat and snug with the back panels. I could go on about how ugly the homemade snap fastener bit looks, but it does the job very well, this is one of my most comfortable makes and it makes me feel pretty good about myself! I mean dreaming up and making something super flattering for yourself is one little victory. But coming up with resolutions to problems you never knew existed all by yourself, is what will put that smile on your face every time you wear it.

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

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