Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Shingo Sato Workshop

As promised, here is my report on me and seventeen other excited sewing enthusiasts attending Shingo Sato's very first course ever held in Austria. I was lucky to even find out about this course since it had not been very heavily publicised and was primarily geared towards fashion students, graduates and teachers. I was a little nervous at the thought of being surrounded by so many professionals in the business but quickly realized that I was well able to keep up and even complete the assignments at a more than average pace. This garnered a lot of compliments, which feels good to the autodidactic sewing soul.

Shingo Sato was a brilliant teacher. We finished about three to four samples every day, each aimed at teaching us a new skill and concept. Shingo Sato introduced each new project with a whole range of exciting samples and then a demonstration of each technique.

Shingo Sato in Action /Photo: Akademie Sitam

We then went off on our own to our work stations to complete the pattern making and sewing process.

His method is similar to a magic trick. When you don't understand how it is done you are bewildered but once you are shown the technique behind each design you almost feel a little cheated. It is so simple! And I don't mean this in a derogatory sense at all. His designs are very unique and creative but they nevertheless rely on the immovable basic principles of pattern cutting. In the same way a magician still has to contend with the basic principles of physics.

Basic is, of course, a little bit of an understatement. You have to have a fundamental understanding of pattern cutting, including dart manipulation and added fullness, to grasp the techniques. You also need to be able to work quickly and precisely and sew corners and even the deepest of curves with precision. But once you have that sorted nothing keeps you from trying out some of Shingo Sato's techniques. He has a youtube channel, so you can get started right away.

We started off with a simple enough project: Drawing a creative style line on a bodice sloper which eliminates the need for the the traditional back and front darts.

Shingo Sato starts all his projects with a basic sloper sewn in muslin instead of drawing directly onto a flat pattern. His argument is that it is easier to visualize the final outcome and I couldn't agree more - especially when projects and style lines become more intricate. It is certainly not impossible to start out with a flat pattern but I believe it requires more abstract 3D visualisation and may require more samples before a satisfactory design can be achieved.

We then elaborated on this technique in a skirt design and also added some extra fullness to the skirt sloper before drawing our own style lines.

My "Donut" Skirt

Our last project of Day 1 was a design that incorporated both designing new style lines and, what Shingo Sato calls, draping on the flat.

My Flat Draping Exercise

Day 2 was filled with several flat draping projects including two heart designs. One was simply draped, the other one included a sash integration.

My Draped Heart

Draping in Progress

My Sash Heart

Co-students' great Sash Hearts/ Photo: Akademie Sitam
I have done a similar, although less dramatic, sash integration in a blouse before with the help of Pattern Magic 1.

My Sash Blouse

We also experimented with an Origami pocket.....

Me folding the Origami pocket

My Origami pocket

.....before moving on to the perhaps weirdest design of the workshop: the Balloon technique. It looks very odd and again somewhat physically impossible but is actually not that hard to achieve.

Preparing the pattern for the balloon technique

Finished Draped Balloon
My favourite exercise was on Day 3 when we integrated a sleeve into our design. All the samples he showed us were very inspiring and I have already come up with a host of design ideas in which his method of sleeve integration could really help to make the design process easier.

One of Shingo Sato's great designs
In the class I settled for a style that I called the Icelandic jumper, because the ring design really reminded me of traditional Icelandic knitwear. So I stuck to the colors of the Icelandic flag.

The 10-piece Icelandic jumper pattern
Our last project was the much awaited box integration. Again, what a fantastic magic trick! So simple and yet so elusive. Unfortunately, the design didn't turn out so well for many of us since we didn't bring fabric stiff enough to give the boxes their necessary structure and rigidity.

The finished box with top box inverted
Preparing the box pattern
Well, and that was it. If you'd like to see more photos of some of the other participants' projects, you can find many on Shingo Sato's Facebook page. And if you are interested in trying his designs out for yourself, there are two books available through the Center for Pattern Design. He also has above mentioned Facebook page with lots of inspiring pictures and a youtube channel, where you can watch a lot of his techniques for free.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Back in Vienna

As many of you might know I have recently moved from England back to Vienna. This has left my blog bare. Moving country drains your energy. I have lived in Vienna for most of my life but I still feel as though I need to acclimatize. Why is everyone so rude here? Why is it so diffiuclt to get my national insurance sorted? What are all my friends up to? How many cups of delicious coffee can I get into me each day? Why does Conchita do ads for a bank? And most importantly, how can I best set up a decent sewing space in my new dwellings?

I have not been lacking sewing inspiration but I do lack focus. There is just too much to do and sort out before life can take on a natural pace again.

That said I have attended a brilliant three-day semniar on Transformational Reconstruction by Shingo Sato last week, and have managed to finish and wear what I refer to as the 100-hour wedding guest outfit to a wedding a couple of weeks back. Not because I wore it for a 100 hours but because I estimate that this is as long as it took me to complete it.

More on both of these events and hopefully even more sewing to come to this blog soon.

Hope you are all well. Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lekala, Thread Tracing and Other Goings On

So what's been going on here at Starcross Sewing HQ?

First up, I wanted to share with you that a couple of my readers have commented that Bootstrap Fashion Patterns is pretty much exactly like Lekala. Now, I had heard Lekala mentioned before but had never paid much attention to it or investigated further. I had a look at the Lekala website today and there are literally thousands of downloadable, cheap patterns available that come customised to your measurements. I also noticed that many of the patterns you get on Bootstrap Fashion Patterns for $10 are exact copies of the patterns available on Lekala for $2.49. What's that all about?

In any case, why aren't more people using one of these services. I know that even with the pattern adapted to your measurements it's not necessarily going to fit your proportions but it's better than most pattern companies can do. So, I was wondering why doesn't everyone use a service like Lekala instead of buying the regular sewing patterns we know?! If you have any experience with Lekala or Bootstrap Fashion Patterns or a similar service, I'd really like to hear what you think.

My weekend was mostly spent making muslins. I'm invited to a wedding in October and want to use this as an opportunity to make something really fancy and carefully crafted, which I ordinarily wouldn't get a chance to wear or have the time to make. To save a bit of money and use what's in my stash, I decided to use this super shiny and fancy mystery fibre fabric a friend brought me from Morocco as a present. It's bold and did I say shiny!

Really difficult to photograph!
I'm loosely following Susan Khalje's Couture Dress Class on Craftsy to try out some new ways of sewing. So I prepared my toiles as suggested by her and thread traced every single piece before machine basting  all the pieces together. And I did all of that three times with three different stages of toiles. It's not so much the fit that needed revising with each new toile but the style and proportions. I guess I just really don't quite know what I want to make. I'd so appreciate a good dress form and some experience in draping right now. I think I could get a good result much quicker.

Thread Tracing
I'm still not happy with version 3 but I think I might just make a quick wearable dress from it to get a better idea on what needs changing rather than work with this rather cumbersome toile I have.

Oh yes and one of my readers pointed out that she couldn't comment on my blog. Is anyone else experiencing this problem? It would be great if you could let me know if you have any problems. In an email I guess :)

Oh, and don't forget to have a look at my Emigration Sale stuff to see if there is anything you'd like. 

Happy sewing everyone!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The BurdaStyle Sew-Along Part 3: Sewing the Bodice

We have all our preparation done and all our pieces are cut and now ready for sewing. Woohoo! If you have missed the previous instalments have a look at the links below so you can catch up if you wish:

Announcing the BurdaStyle Sew-Along

BurdaStyle Sew-Along Part 2: FBA, Preparing All Pattern Pieces & Cutting Out


Today we will sew together our bodice. I am not strictly following the BurdaStyle instructions but am using my own tried-and-tested techniques and sewing sequences. Much of the way I sew is guided by the idea of unit sewing.

This means I will try to finish as much as I can on a small unit before joining it to a bigger piece, or unit. For example, I will finish the bodice completely before joining it to the skirt. It would be silly to sew up the whole dress and then finish the neckline and armholes last. There would be too much bulk and my pieces would no longer lie flat. It's always best to have small and relatively flat pieces as it makes sewing so much easier.

So, first off I'm sewing the bodice back and front together at the shoulder seams. If you have decided to cut your front in two pieces and not on the fold as I have, you can first sew the two fronts together along the centre front.

Before moving on to any pressing or trimming or neatening, I will save time by also sewing both the neck facings and armhole facings together at the shoulder seams.

I like to sew steps like these in a chain. It saves thread and time:

Next we'll press all seams apart and neaten the shoulder seams of the bodice only, as well as the outside edge of the neckline facing. The rest does not need to be neatened.

I use my overlocker/serger to do this work for me. If you don't own one, you can use an overcasting stitch on your sewing machine.

Next we'll combine bodice and neckline facing units. Lay your facing right side to right side onto the neck opening of the bodice, matching shoulder seams and centre back and centre front. Mark your stitching line for the front neck edge. This will help to create and accurate seam.

Stitch around the neckline edge at 1.5 cm. Then reinforce the front neckline with another line of stitching exactly on top of the first line. Then trim and clip your neckline seam allowance.

Don't be scared of trimming and snipping. Once you have reinforced your stitching in the front, you are fine. Trim and snip with confidence. If you don't, you'll never be able to neatly turn the neckline.

Next, press and understitch the neckline. Don't know what understitching is? Have a read of this great tutorial on the Sewaholic blog! I managed to understitch all the way around the neckline, even into the V at the front. Then I pressed everything.

The next step is entirely optional but I love it, because I hate floppy necklines. I pinned my neckline facing flat, and pinned around the edge of it, so I can see where the edge of the facing runs on the right side of the garment.

Then I drew a line in with a vanishing marker.

I then sewed all around the edge of the neckline facing from the right side slowly, feeling the edge of the facing through to the right side while sewing. This neatly and firmly holds that annoying facing in place and also looks relatively sporty and decorative on the front. For this kind of dress I find this finishing appropriate. What do you think?

Next, we'll finish the armhole facing in much the same way. Pin the armhole facing around the armhole, matching shoulder seams, and stitch at 1.5 cm.

Then understitch. Remember undestitching?

Now we are ready to join up the side seams of the bodice and then press apart.

And last we neaten the edges of both the side seam and outside armhole facing edge. And as with the neckline I have chosen to topstitch the armhole facings in place from the right side.

Tada, our bodice is done and looking neat from both the inside and outside. What do you think?

Our bodice is now finished and ready to be attached to our skirt. I'll show you how to sew and shirr the skirt in the next post. Happy sewing!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Great Big Emigration Sale Continues: More Patterns, Books and Yarn

Here is the last lot for now. More might go up later this month, but not too much more.

Please click HERE to see how you can buy, postage, etc. Everything from the previous two posts is listed under that link too, or when you click the  "Emigration Sale" button in the sidebar.

Today I'm selling two sewing books. They are both pretty heavy and big, so postage within the UK will probably be £3.50, but other stuff can likely be put in the same parcel for the same postage price.

There is also some yarn I'm selling at the end of this post and this won't fit into a large latter either, so will probably come to £3.50 postage within the UK as well.

The rest of the stuff today are more sewing patterns, both new and vintage:

SOLD! CLOTHING FOR  MODERNS: 5th Edition, 1974. Used in OK condition. This is a sewing book that teaches you how to sew from cutting out to fitting to sewing different parts of a garment, etc. £4

SOLD! SEW U: HOME STRETCH: 1st Edition, 2008. This was my first book on learning how to sew with knits. It's a great primer and includes 3 patterns in the back. It's good but I've outgrown it and never use it any more. I've used one of the patterns in the back, but traced it only, so all three patterns are stilll uncut in the back of the book. £7

SOLD! MCCALL'S 9461. from 1968. Complete and uncut pattern for sizes 12 and 14 (Bust 34-36). £2.50

SOLD! SIMPLICITY 6108. from 1974. Size 18 (Waist 32). The straight-legged pair has been made by the previous owner of the pattern. Pins still in pattern. The bell-bottomed version is uncut. Both versions still in usable condition. Envelope a bit tattered. £1.50

SIMPLICITY 7180. Sizes 8-16. Kids' Pattern. Used but uncut, envelope is missing its flap. £2

NEUE MODE - YOUNG COLLECTION 23206. Size 34-46 (8-20). Pattern from the 1980s? Complete and uncut. Plastic cover missing. £1.50

WOMAN'S REALM L101. Size 34. ~ 1960s. Unprinted Pattern (only has holes as markings on pattern). Back facing (pattern piece 3) missing, but easily redraftable. £3


RICO FASHION ROMANCE YARN: 8 balls of 250m (25g) £10

That's all. Thanks everyone for having a look. Have a nice weekend! And contact me with any postage queries or any questions at all.