Posts filed under finished garments

Dali At The Disco - 3rd semester & project

This past semester was the most intense but also the best so far for me. My first year there were a few traumatising events outside of school that definitely upped my stress levels. Plus, as I found out a few months ago, I'd been suffering from "severe vitamin D deficiency" (whatever that means, doctor), and after drinking two bottles of vitamin D around Christmas, I felt like a new person in January! I've never worked as hard as I did on this semesters project, for which we only had 3.5 weeks, and even though I worked an average of 14 hours for 14 days straight, I never had this moment where I felt like everything was going to fall apart, or that I couldn't keep going (which happened alot last year). Even when I couldn't rationally imagine that I would be able to finish everything on time, or when I serged into the bodice of a jacket, I was able to stay calm and just keep working (alright, I did freak out for about a minute after the serger incident, it was around midnight, but then I calmed down and dealt with it).

I definitely think my suddenly much greater capacity to deal with stress has to do with the vitamin D, so if you feel fatigued and depressed (during the winter months especially), get your blood checked for vitamin D deficiency! *end of PSA*

The second year focuses on variation: his semester there were two garments that we focused on, because now it's no longer just about elaborate prototypes - we get to make actual clothes! Yay! We learned to correctly sew a pair of pants and a shirt or blouse, and we each had to take an existing pair of pants / shirt, and cut it up, add stuff to it, basically use it to drape a prototype (a variation of a pair of pants / blouse), that we would then cut apart and copy onto pattern paper. Then we'd sew a muslin, fit it, adjust the pattern as needed and sew the final garment. We also did shoes! Learning to sew leather was pretty exciting, I certainly learned a lot of new skills this semester. The projects were quite stressful, because we didn't have a lot of time, but it was so good to finally make real clothes!

We started with pants: I chose to make wrap-pants, meaning the side seams are open, the back pant ties at the front (or in my case it closes with a hook and bar fastening, the hook attached to elastic for extra comfort), and the front pant ties at the back. I also wanted to make pockets, inspired by this image i found on pinterest:

For my pants, the pockets are part of the back pant leg, and the front pant leg has a cut out that lays over the pocket. I also wanted to experiment with pintucks similar to the ones in the image below, except with a rounded shape:

Below is the sketch for the pants (middle), along with two looks to compliment the pants.

And these are the finished pants (and boots, but more on those later). I'm happy with them, except for those wrinkles!! Ughh, I wish I had better pictures, with freshly ironed pants.... man, that fabric loooves to wrinkle! It was a kind of thin moirée fabric intended for interior design, and I love the moirée, but it has to be fused to something to work properly for fashion (which I did for my project). The construction of the pants was really complicated, so many facings!! So many curved edges! And weird cut-outs! And even though I adjusted the crotch after making the muslin, it still isn't right (hence the wrinkles...). But I'm happy I tried something new! I like the wrap pants, but I'm not sure about the fabric choice. The pockets kind of disappear, I should've used a contrasting fabric or something to highlight that detail. And the wrinkles! Gaah!

On to the shoes:

Again, excuse my German, it's just a lot less work to use excerpts from my documentation, it's just a lot of in-depth rambling about the process. The pictures show a bit of that: we basically buy shoes and cut them up, glue stuff over them (in my case). We make a pattern by sticking painters tape over the entire shoe (I added paper for the shaft of the boot), removing it (cutting it where we want seams), and smoothing the big pieces of layered tape onto cardboard. It really isn't as hard as I thought, but it takes time.

They turned out well! The only problem was my placing of the holes for the laces to go through, since they're not places symmetrically, the laces pull the leather in a different direction from where they were supposed to go. Live and learn.

After those two small projects we had a photography workshop, where we worked in groups. Below my favorite images from that:

Next up: the blouse!

I wanted to have a sort of dropped shoulder seam, with the sleeve gathered into it in folds. After sewing the muslin, I realised I needed to make the folds much, much bigger for them to stand out.

 These are the variations of our blouse we had to draw (we did our first technical drawings this semester)

These are the variations of our blouse we had to draw (we did our first technical drawings this semester)

I knew from the start of the semester, that I wanted my project to be titled "Dali at the Disco", which is why I tried to let that influence the pants, shoes and blouse. The buttons on the blouse are stacked beads that look like eyes.

Which leads us to my project:

Last summer I listened to a lot of disco music, and I really wanted to design a collection to go dancing in. I never experienced the real disco era, but I love to dance to disco music, and the only reason I ever go out on the weekend, is if there's good music to dance to! But I wanted to add something to make it more modern, and (I don't remember how exactly) I came up with idea of sending Salvador Dali to the Disco and looking at the spectacle through his eyes.

 my mood- and concept-board

my mood- and concept-board

Now for this project we had to design a 15 look collection, and execute two blouse variations and two pant variations. I choose to make a blouse, a pair of pants, a jumpsuit and a light jacket.

I designed the same way I did last project: by drawing the garments seperately, scanning them, and using photoshop to dress the croquis in as many combinations as possible. Then I choose the best options, making sure every garment only appeared once (it's only a 15 look collection after all...), and drew more garments to fill the "holes" in the collection. I arrived at this:

From these 15 Looks I choose the second to last, the green jacket (but switched up the front opening to a split placket), and the 5th look (to wear under the jacket).

Taking the blouse I'd made before as a base, I developed the patterns for the blouse and jacket. The blouse was tricky, because I wanted the white "melted" strips to hang down, and I wanted the purple fabric underneath to extend past the fold (where the white hangs down) and act as a facing on the other side of the white strips. This wouldn't have been a problem if the seam had been straight. I could have just cut the bodice pattern piece apart, and added mirrored, symmetrical melty shapes on both pieces. But the seam is rounded and includes the bust dart. This meant that I had to make the curve of the melted shapes return to the seam at certain intervals, to make sure the seam could still curve across the bust. And it meant that the two pieces (the white upper bodice and the purple lower bodice) are curved slightly diffrently (the bottom I think was more spread out.). This is really hard to explain in words, so if anyones interested let me know, i can post pictures of the pattern pieces.

The melty shapes were a pain to sew, trim and turn, especially since the white fabric is cotton, and the purple a silky lining fabric (couldn't find a nice silk in the exact color). But it was so worth it! The blouse is my favorite! It has eye buttons and for the sleeves I made cufflinks from blue teddy bear eyes! I also really like the belt bag - it attaches to the leg so it stays put while dancing! I made it using leather and a really nice fake fur I got from after ordering swatches. It's the faux fur bobcat beige/brown, and the quality is so much higher than the other swatches I ordered! And the pattern is really beautiful and natural. I ordered 3 yards I think (since shipping is so expensive to Switzerland I ordered a lot, I'll be able to use it again).

The pants are made from the same fabric as my wrap pants, except in pink and I interfaced the entire fabric to make it sturdy enough to hold its shape. After interfacing it with a thick woven interfacing, it was really nice to work with! And no more wrinkles! I used the same fabric for the jumpsuit, but in blue. I used a wrinkled poly fabric for the top of the jumpsuit, which I had to simplify severely because of time constraints... The jacket is made from interfaced silk. The interfacing made it drape beautifully! It looked much thicker.

Here are some photos of the muslins:

To make those wavy shapes I had to sew elliptical pieces between the highest points. <and to make the shapes really stand out I edge stitched around the seams from the outside (you can see in the front view of the muslin, which hasn't been topstitched, that the silhouette isn't as clear as in the back).

SHOES! I'm still really excited about these shoes, because they turned out perfectly! I was really relieved, because I wasn't sure this technique was going to work. I basically used rope and zigzagged it together at certain points to make it form a sort of squiggly net, with loops at the front to put laces through. I got the original shoes from asos (the dark ones in the first image) and covered it in a sparkly, stretchy fabric. To do this I used painters tape (the pink stuff in the second image) to cover the area of the shoe I needed to cover, made a pattern from that, used a hairdryer to warm up the sole and slowly remove it from the shoe using a screwdriver, glued the fabric onto the shoe around the edges, stretching and folding it over, and then glued the sole back on.

I used a leather sewing machine to attach the first two rows of rope to the shoe, because it needed to be attached really well. I didn't use the pedal though, I used the handwheel all around to have enough controll around the edges... that wasn't very fun for my wrist, but it was worth it. Then for the first few rope ornaments around the edge of the shoe, I sewed by hand, and once I got far enough to somehow lay the rope under the zig zag machine, that's what I used to sew the ropes together in certain places. I always held the shoes together to copy the ornaments, so they'd be as symmetrical as possible. It's not perfect, but it's good enough! And they're actually comfortable to wear and dance in! Here my mom is modeling them:

Above some of my beauty/hair/make-up/styling inspiration. Most of it is wishful thinking because I don't have the skills and/or equiptment to make this work, but even so - dream big!

An these are the two looks! The photos were made the day of the presentation, you can also see the blouse and wrap pants from before the project worn by Prisila in one photo! I'm wearing the pink pants and the blouse, and my friend Jana (who's in her first year) is my other model wearing the jumpsuit and jacket (the color is off in the two pictures of her, it's more green, like in the right-hand pictures)! I couldn't have done this without her, because she helped me sew on zippers and install snaps, cutting out pattern pieces and ironing on the interfacing... She's a lifesaver, because I really couldn't have finished in time without her! So shout-out to Jana: Thank You!!

I know the photos aren't the best, I need to do a proper photoshoot to take pictures for my portfolio, and of course I'll post those once they're done.

Spandex Mermaid Pencil Skirt

This summer I visited New York, and while I was there, I bought LOTS of fabric! The flashiest of them all was a mermaidy Spandex.

Scallops! Blue! Green! Sparkle!

I wasn’t sure what I’d make from it. Maybe a bathing suit? Would that be too literal? Last week I made it into a skirt:


I drafted the pattern, but I didn’t make a muslin, so this is the wearable muslin I guess. The most obvious issue is the waistline: I think I need a sway back adjustment! The waistline dips down at the back and rises in the front, something I didn't do intentionally. Something to remember for all my future pencil skirts. Another issue: you can see that the side seam "leans" to the back from the waist up. This is because I had to make the skirt tighter in the back halfway through sewing it (is this also a sway back issue? With me there's always extra fabric on either side of the zipper with the muslin. Or maybe it has to do with my high waist?).

Even with these issues I really like it! I've worn it with those winter shoes, tights, mohair socks and a white shirt layered under a comfy grey sweater (this one!). The fabric changes color (see the first two images) between two different greens, depending on the light. I made a walking slit at center back, so it's easy to walk in, great for every day!

A friend of mine had the idea that I could cut along the scallops at the hem, and that's something I might do! But I might make a second one anyway and use that for the hem. Also: we have a flatlock machine at school, and someday we'll learn to use it, which would be cool way to sew the side seam in this skirt!

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under Sewing, finished garments.

Red Sequin Tailcoats - Costumes for Verona 3000

I mentioned in the last post that I'd been busy with a musical. It was a project a group of young people started in june 2012 when the ensemble was cast (I was chosen along with around 29 other people between 13 and 30) and ended with 19 performances of the musical "Verona 3000".

It's a dystopian, sci-fi, modern musical version of Romeo & Juliet, that tells not only the story of two young people in love, but of our Generation. (There were many different styles of music (Rap, Hip-Hop, Blues, typical Musical songs, Swing, Funk...) and original Lyrics, all in Swiss-German)

In our version, the government has set up "hypertasers" (towers in puplic places that tase people when it senses a readiness for violence) aimed largely at young people. This leads to youth riots and the government turns to Glove TV (who have a world wide monopoly on television and general media) to distract the teenagers. So they brainstorm and the famous pop-group "Mercutio" leads them to Romeo & Juliet.

 I was part of the pop band "Mercutio". Photo by  Thomas P. Krähenbühl

I was part of the pop band "Mercutio". Photo by Thomas P. Krähenbühl

They skim the beginning of the piece and decide to start a reality show that focuses on finding the world's best couple (under 25).

This is where the costumes come in: there was one scene where the reality show was announced on Globe TV, with song and dance of course! :) It was a burlesque swing song, with an old hollywood inspired dance routine that my friend Tiffany and I choreographed, and we thought it would be really cool to have flashy, over the top, red sequin tailcoats for the women, so I sewed some. Also: huge velvet heart hats!

 Photos by  Thomas P. Krähenbühl  (that's me walking down the stairs in the first, and in the middle of the second picture ^^)

Photos by Thomas P. Krähenbühl (that's me walking down the stairs in the first, and in the middle of the second picture ^^)

It was a stressful time so I didn't exactly enjoy sewing 5 of these sequin things, but they turned out great! The way they shimmered in the light was really cool, and it really fit the choreography. It was the only scene in the musical with identical costumes. I also made the men's ties, they have velcro on them. This is definitely the most important thing about stage costumes: they have to be easy to put on and remove! We all had about 4 minutes to change into these costumes (tights, leotard, tapshorts, heels, tailcoat and hat) and do our hair, one girl even had to do it in about 60 seconds! She had the tights, leotard and shorts on under her previous costume, so she could throw on the tailcoat, climb down two ladders and up a flight of stairs where we helped her get on her headdress.

The above photos are from rehearsals so not everyone has their heart hat on unfortunately. You can also see the costumes for a few seconds in the video below (at around 0:25):

I drafted the pattern from a bodice and skirt sloper, and made them all the same size because the fabric was stretchy, and we're all about the same size. The front closure is three golden elastics with big gold buttons on the end and loops of elastic on the other side.

I wanted to share these costumes and a bit about the musical, because it's been such a big part of my life for the past two years! It was a huge project, organized independently by young people. We all contributed ideas to the story, lyrics, music, costumes and set, and we rehearsed almost every sunday between 10 am and 5 pm for two years. I'm sad that it's over, but on the other hand I'll have time to really focus on my own projects now.

 a picture taken during rehearsal - the stage was huuuge!! We built it in a really big gym we rented. The white netting could be used to project images onto it, but it could also be lit from the back to make "shadow pictures" and when light sources right behind the net where turned on, you could see actors standing right behind it, kind of like turning on a TV screen, it was really neat!

a picture taken during rehearsal - the stage was huuuge!! We built it in a really big gym we rented. The white netting could be used to project images onto it, but it could also be lit from the back to make "shadow pictures" and when light sources right behind the net where turned on, you could see actors standing right behind it, kind of like turning on a TV screen, it was really neat!

Armor Sweater and Polster Skirt

I finished these back in February, but was busy doing a musical since then (I'll share the costumes I made for it at some point!), so here they are, a little late:

Once again, my dear friend Vicki agreed to be my model :) (I'm so grateful I have friends who will let me put make-up on them and smear their faces with vaseline to make them look like creepy mermaids, then make them climb over / lie on cold rocks in weird positions in the chilly swiss february air IN HEELS! Without getting my precious clothing dirty! - tough girls fo sho!) we used the same location as I did for the Armor Jacket shoot, the shore of lake lucerne near my parents house.

These two pieces are a little more casual than the Armor Jacket, the fabrics are less structured, and the silhouettes are quite common ones: a pencil skirt and a raglan sleeve sweatshirt. It's more about the details with these two.

as the photos are quite dark to set the mood of the collection, you can't see those details too well. In the sketch above you can see that I altered the classic raglan seams at the shoulder to mimic the look of medieval armor. The inspiration for this came from a painting I saw at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich last fall:

 My sketch of part of Albrecht Dürer's "Baumgartner Altar" on the left side, development of the design on the right.

My sketch of part of Albrecht Dürer's "Baumgartner Altar" on the left side, development of the design on the right.

I was also inspired by the design of the armor's elbow joint: the sleeve is in two parts (upper- and lower sleeve), connected by leather appliquées that extend over the elbow and fasten to eachother with 2 heavy duty metal snaps - creating a sort of "hinge".

In this photo you can see the "hinge" at the elbow.

The skirt features thigh- and hip-padding! ("polster" is padding in german, I've just gotten so used to referring to the skirt in my notes this way that I'll just keep the anglo-germanic mix-up of a name :))

Lovers of vintage clothing might not find this weird as hip pads were used in New Look suits (and some dresses I believe) to exaggerate the silhouette into wasp-like curves. But to many today it might sound weird to want to accentuate a womans thighs (from the expression "thunder thighs" to the thigh gap fetish).
But I was wearing a knit dress with a sweater over it one day, and the way the fabric clung to my legs and the length of the sweater somehow made my thighs look bigger than they usually looked to me. And I was surprised to notice that it made me feel good. I mean, like most people women I have body-image/acceptance/beauty/whatever issues sometimes, but in that dress my thighs looked big and I felt good about them, they looked beautiful and strong and it made me feel strong.

And that's exactly what this collection is about, that's the kind of everyday Armor I want to make. Of course it's not going to protect you if somebody randomly stabs you in the leg on the street, but it makes you feel strong and good about your body. (/end_rant)

So I guess the "armorous" nature of the skirt is its mix of protection and mimicry.

I created the padding by cutting out poly-batting in the right shape (each pad has two pieces, front and back to fit the line of the skirt), attaching it to the seam allowance of the side seam, then top stitching around the perimeter and finally sewing the rows of quilting. I like how the quilting on the pads reacts to the movement of the legs, forming little rolls when the wearer sits down.

The quilting did take a while, but other than that the skirt was quite easy - no zippers! - and the fabric is from an old thrifted sweatshirt. I reused the hem of the sweatshirt for the waistline and hemmed the skirt by hand.


Armor Jacket -Finished!

Last monday we started a new course in school. It's a 7 week course and you could choose what you wanted to take. I took the "fine art" course, because you can work on your own project for 7 weeks! I've choosen to work on a small collection I designed recently:


The third from the left is the armor jacket I started working on last april, that I've finally finished in the proper fabrics (wool and leather)! I made the pattern and muslin last spring and then put the project aside for a while, and got started on the actual garment in the fall. I put off cutting the leather because I was so scared I'd mess up! I finished the jacket last week and took pictures yesterday. My friend Franziska modeled for me, and I'm really happy with the pictures!


I was a little nervous about the shoot, because I haven't organized/done a photoshoot outside, with a model in a really long time (over two years). I've been mostly photographing myself for the blog with a tripod and self-timer. But I got back into it pretty quickly, and I had so muich fun sorting through the photos (because I don't have to look at myself all the time!! yay!). The weather was also perfect! It was a little cold, but nicely overcast, exactly the way I needed it (diffuses the light, and gives the photos a bit of a creepy feel :)).

I'm really enjoying working on my own project all day every day! We got to set up our workspace in a classroom, I'll share pictures soon. I also continued working on a bustier top, a blazer, draped a skirt and finished a different skirt (first one from the left in the first photo!). I made a schedule for myself, because I want to make 9 garments in these 7 weeks (1 week and 2 garments down!), and so far I'm on schedule! It's nice to feel productive and work on my designs. The foundation course hasn't left much time for that in the last couple months.

Posted on February 9, 2014 and filed under Sewing, finished garments, creating the collection.