Last week I drafted the patterns for Kate’s design, made up the first toile, and on Saturday she came over for our first fitting. I was super excited to work on it with her! But to be honest I’d gotten into my own head a bit on this one and was worried it wouldn’t match her expectations. As it turned out, Kate was happy as a clam and felt like I was well on the right track…
This outfit breaks down into 3 main elements: the boned bodice, the sleeved top, and the skirt. I started with the bodice, using the Helen Joseph-Armstrong book, Pattern Making for Fashion Design, to make a fitted top from my basic block. This part won’t really be on show, but it’s job is to provide a strong structure sitting on the hips and holding the top edge of the sleeveless top exactly where we want it to be.
I was worried that the fit on this might not be nice because the curve over the bust is a bit exaggerated and fembot-esque, but I can smooth that out on the pattern and then there are just a few tweaks needed to get that top edge completely perfect. The diagonal boning in the front panels had the desired effect and will the give sleeves a good, solid base to sit on top of.
For the sleeved top layer I draped the body panels straight on the stand. We want this to stand away from the body a bit, so the easiest method for me is to just be hands-on! And then I based the sleeve on a top of Kates’ which she likes the dimensions of, so a nice, quick starting point 🙂
For this toile I didn’t attach the sleeved top to the bodice, because I didn’t want that in the way when I was fitting the underneath layer, but ultimately I will make them into one garment… Except for the sleeves which will be detachable! A brilliant addition to the design which I couldn’t have been more pleased to have Kate suggest.
Also, this toile has sleeves in 2 different fabrics, which is not a permanent design feature! The white sleeve on the left is in a structured silk fabric from Silk Society in Soho which we’d both really liked in the store – it has great body in one direction but drape in the other so we felt we could do a lot with it. But I’m glad we did this trial, because it soon became evident that it just wasn’t working for us! It gives a cowl effect which just doesn’t look as nice as the calico side, so we’re going back to the drawing board. We also like a much simpler cotton silk mix from Whaleys which could be very versatile and give us a lot more options in combination with fusings, so we’ll have a play with that one next.
We hadn’t wanted an opening in the back originally, but this turned out to be the best fastening solution. We can make the corset body with a zip at centre back and then the top part will have a split here. It was actually a feature on one of the tear sheet images Kate brought to me, so it doesn’t feel like a compromise design-wise. Initially my toile had an asymmetric hem, but that just didn’t work, so during the fitting we have levelled it up.
For the skirt, I draped on the stand to make a very simple block version of our skirt design, which I then altered for Kate’s measurements in the flat pattern. We’d left this part of the design pretty open ended, so I just wanted to keep the toile as basic as possible for us to project our ideas onto in the fitting.
Kate liked the wide slit which is necessary if we cut the front in only one panel. We’ll make the top shape rounded to make a nicer finish here, and I think it’ll be a cute feature. And ultimately this split feature has one very important job to do: to flash Kate’s fairly mental shoes.
The size of the train I’d put on here was a total guess, but it suited Kate well and we’re going to stick with it as it is. The skirt will have a centre back panel at the next stage though, which goes to a point towards the top of the thigh.
So my next stage for Kate is to make a new pattern with all the changes and make new garments ready for a second fitting. As we’ve now decided to try out a cotton silk from Whaleys, which isn’t too pricey, I think it’d be great to go ahead and start to make up the next stage in the real fabric! If there are some elements we don’t like and want to remake we can do that quite inexpensively, and if some parts are perfect already then we can save Kate some money by using that for the real thing. I’ll use a 1.5cm wide seam allowance and treat it like a couture garment, altering the garment itself rather than doing a lot of pattern stages.