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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TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction
Refash.

#usedtobeatablecloth: The construction

After about two weeks of an intense search for inspiration, I finally came up with a plan that I was happy enough with to start work on my third item that #usedtobeatablecloth.

I already knew that the tablecloth itself will be turned into a circle skirt, and I had an idea about the silhouette too, so I was just looking for a bodice with some nice seam lines. I went with the same design as the one on the swimsuit below, but looking at the final result now, I am pretty sure that subconsciously I was going for a Dior look after watching the Dior and I documentary a few days before finalizing the plan…

Image sources clockwise from left: 123, 4

I decided to draft my own pattern, because I have recently experimented with a design using my brand new bodice block (drafted to my size), and I was really happy with the results.

First I measured where I would like the top of the bodice to finish, and where the dart should finish, by wearing the toille for the original block. Then I took these measurements and transferred them onto my copied bodice pattern.

After this, I just marked where I would like the seam lines to be, and decided how wide the opening on the back should be for a lace up closure. Once I had all these lines, I copied the new pattern pieces to plain paper, one by one, and closed/opened the darts where it was necessary. After adding the seam allowances, I was ready to make a toille.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

I was trying to buy some calico in my local fabric shop, but it was way too expensive, so I bought some polycotton instead. After making up the toille from it, laziness triumphed and I decided it will also serve as the lining. I actually didn’t even think about lining it at first, not because I didn’t want to, but simply because I totally forgot about it.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The size of the circle that was cut out (to turn the tablecloth into a circle skirt) was based on my waist measurement plus seam allowance, and I deducted the gap I needed to leave for the lace up back opening.

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The bodice’s pattern pieces were cut out from 3 napkins, out of the 8 that came with the tablecloth, and were arranged more sensibly than on the photo, of course. 🙂 Two napkins probably would have been enough though, was I not an idiot who used a pen to mark the dart points, and ironed the interfacing onto the right side of the fabric…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

I was really unsure about what kind of interfacing to use. Out of the two on hand, one was soft and drapey, but quite thick, as I bought it to use on a winter coat for a little added warmth. The other one was a piece I bought to use on a pair of structured trousers. I decided to go for the latter one, as I thought that as much as I would like to keep the qualities of the fabric, the bodice is very fitted and does actually require some structure.

The piece of fabric I used for the lining of the skirt turned out to be too small to cover more than my bum, so I decided I should try to add some tulle (yay to no hemming!) to make it long enough, and just see what happens… The-accidental-making-of-a-50s-cocktail dress, that’s what happens! 😀

As soon as I tried it on, I knew I didn’t want to turn it back into a simple summer dress anymore. All I wanted was a friend or relative to get married, or be knighted (like that’s gonna happen) immediately so that I can wear it with my incredibly uncomfortable silver heels, sipping cocktails in a beautiful garden. You get the idea…

TheSecretCostumier - #usedtobeatablecloth -The construction

The last step, that took approximately 7 hours, was making rouleau loops for the lace up back, sewing them on and sewing the back of the skirt shut. I have just read Marijana’s post on how she wrestled to make them for her version of the tablecloth dress, and I must say I totally understand her struggle.

I managed to turn mine inside out, and for the second try I even succeeded to line them up (close-enough to) perfectly. As for the “lace”…well, that I mucked up totally. It took me about 45 minutes to turn it inside out, just to find out that I sewed the wrong sides together and now the seam allowances where the bits were joined together are on the right side. Oh well… Once I figure out what I’m gonna do with it, I will show you how it all turned out!

In the meantime you can already check out Marijana’s beautiful indigo dyed #usedtobeatablecloth dress. She used a similar tablecloth to the one I made my first dress out of, and she managed to transform it stunningly!

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From scratch

This is how it all begun

    I’ve read somewhere that you shouldn’t set the bar too high for yourself in sewing, as the failure can be so discouraging, that you might end up giving up on dressmaking altogether. Well, I guess this does not apply to me, as that’s actually how I got into this in the first place.

    Two years ago I quit my job in a coffee shop and returned to Hungary to graduate. When I came back to London I realized that having a degree would not necessarily be any help in getting a job where you don’t have to stand all day, and my relationship ended that time too, so I got myself busy by planning a secret birthday party for my sister and moving back to Hungary to start a job. I wanted a big entrée, so I needed a special dress.

    During the last moth before the move, I was working temporarily, and was sketching the ideal dress between completing coffee orders . There was a red Lanvin dress, that really caught my eye, and since I didn’t own anything red, I decided to go with the colour. I also wanted something classic and sexy, something I could dress up and wear casually too, something like the little black cocktail dress I bought on a Zara sale a few years ago, and I wear all the time.

    I knew so little about sewing, that I fearlessly put together a fully lined backless dress with princess seams (copied the Zara dress’ pattern for the bodice), added cap sleeves, and a zipper opening at the back. I bought my sewing machine around Christmas the previous year, went for a 4 hour course (at the Thrifty Stitcher) to learn how to thread the machine, how to make basic stitches and made a pillow case the following spring, and made that dress at the end of that summer. Did I mention that all the pattern drafting, cutting and sewing was done in about 10 hours, right before I was heading to the airport to fly to Budapest. I can still remember that feeling of listening to jazz and fitting the toille (unbelievable, but I made one!) to my DIY dressmaker’s dummy, with puffy, tired eyes and a smile on my face as I was showing the results to my mum, and thinking that this is how I always wanted to feel. It did not get as much attention as I expected, as it wasn’t my birthday party you see…, but I felt like a million dollars wearing it!

TheSecretCostumier - Red backless dress front

TheSecretCostumier - Red backless dress back

TheSecretCostumier - Red backless dress lining

That’s how not to line a dress

TheSecretCostumier - Red backless dress inside

Seam allowance? What seam allowance?

    It is now resting disassembled in my scrap fabric box, as after taking 2 proper dressmaking courses last year, I just couldn’t bear to look at the inside of it. Apparently the one thing I didn’t care/know about was the seam allowance and the importance of seam finishes at the time. I guess this is why I’m obsessed with how my garments look from the both sides now.

    Having finished the kimono dress (which I can’t wait to show you!) that was built in a similarly instinctive method, without a real pattern, but to a much better quality, I think my advice is to feel free to set the bar high, and aim to do the best work you can with your current abilities. In return you will not only learn tons by making mistakes (because you will make mistakes, I can promise that), but will also find out what techniques you don’t know of. What’s the worst that  can happen anyway? If you screw up something big time, you can always make a patchwork of that amazing fabric, no? 🙂

(Sorry about the image quality, they were taken before I learned that Photoshop won’t make a nice picture out of a rubbish photo.)

Image source: Red Lanvin dress, all other images are mine

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