Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fitting a skirt

My apparel design class began work on our skirts last week. We are not doing this to learn how to make skirts, although that is a nice skill to have. We are making skirts in order to learn how to adjust a pattern to fit a real person. Anyone who has worked with a commercial pattern knows that pattern sizes and ready-to-wear sizes have little in common, and that without some alteration the finished garment will not fit perfectly. But how do we make these alterations?

I am going to school to become a designer; my goal is to design garments instead of using someone else’s designs. I will take a pattern drafting class next semester, but I must first learn how to construct garments and how to ensure that they fit properly.

The first step was for everyone in class to be accurately measured. The purpose of that day’s class was for us to learn how to take measurements, but it also proved to be a camaraderie building experience. Convenient as it might be to take these measurements in our skivvies, modesty won out and we wore t-shirts and shorts.

Step two was purchasing a pattern. The women in class will make skirts for themselves, and the men will make them for a mannequin. My pattern size was determined by the mannequin’s hip and waist measurements. Fortunately the mannequin’s shape is similar to that of the ideal woman for whom patterns are designed, so I did not have too many alterations to make. Some of the women in class who are curvier than mannequins need to make some large alterations. I may have those issues with the pants and shirt. I chose the simplest skirt pattern I could find. I do not want complicated construction details to distract me from the alteration details which are difficult enough.

We used our body measurements to determine what adjustments to make to the pattern, but before we started altering the patterns we had to learn how to do so. We used half scale paper skirt patterns to see how various adjustments are made.

After a long and often confusing lesson, I now have a basic understanding of how to alter skirt patterns to fit different hip and waist sizes. I do not yet feel comfortable doing it without consulting my textbook at every step, but it is a good start. I make alterations to similar paper patterns at the start of my pants and shirt projects too, but this is just an intro to fit and alterations. I will learn a lot more about it next semester in the pattern development class.

I made a few small changes to my pattern, then used it to make a muslin. I put the muslin on the mannequin and discovered I needed to make a few more alterations. I took in the side seams ¼” at the waist and 1/8” at the hips. I let out and shortened the darts. I put the altered muslin on the mannequin before cutting my fashion fabric. The new side seams were good, but I decided to go back to the original darts.

I pressed the muslin before I used it to evaluate fit, but I did not have a camera with me at the time. Today I had a camera but neither the time nor inclination to press the muslin. My time was better spent attaching the zipper to my fashion fabric. I will write something about that in a day or two.

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