Friday, April 27, 2012

A New Dress - Aurora

I've had this dress finished for a week waiting to be hemmed - I am very good at not finishing!  But I'm glad I did because I think I really like this dress, it is just a shame winter is round the corner and I won't get to wear it for a few months. Probably a good thing because I don't have any suitable shoes to wear with it - what colour shoes do you wear with a summer dress like this - fuschia?!!  

It is reasonably plain as I thought the fabric should do the talking.  The bodice has a scoop neckline and cap sleeves, and the skirt has front tucks and a back vent:

The fabric is a printed silk/linen that is going to be perfect for summer, as it is very lightweight yet still doesn't require lining.  It is too light to wear now autumn is here, but I plan to make a slip to wear underneath so it is more trans-seasonal.  Don't hold your breath though!  

I scored the fabric from Global Fabrics late last year.  When I visit I usually spend half an hour (ok, longer than that!) looking around and then go back and grab the rolls I want to purchase.  But this time I couldn't find the roll because another customer had it at the counter - I hadn't planned on that!  I watched impatiently from a distance hoping she wouldn't buy the rest of the roll, and thankfully I managed to score the last 2.4m!

I piped the waistline as I really like the definition that gives:

Here's my little secret to ensuring inverted tucks meet perfectly in the middle, without those unsightly gaps - from the wrong side tack the fold lines together from the raw edge to just below the stitching line, and leave the tacking in until the garment is assembled.  Here is mine just before the stitches come out:

I tried prickstitching the top of the back vent, rather than topstitching it as I normally do:

It looks really nice and is almost non-detectable on the outside, so is my new favourite method for me-projects!

That's all to report for this week, I think I'll move on to something more seasonal now!  What's on your sewing table, and what shoes would you wear with this dress?


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Exactly is a 'Couture Technique'?

Do you use the term 'couture technique'?  I've never really used it - in fact, I'm not exactly sure what one is!  From blog reading and library books I have a general idea, but I am hesitant to use the term without knowing what the true definition is - and is there one?

These are my random thoughts and questions on the subject - they are not necessarily my opinion.  I'm really interested in your thoughts, and hearing what you understand a 'couture technique' to be.
  • The French word 'couture' translates into English as 'sewing', so is a couture technique simply a sewing technique?  Why then are couture techniques considered in higher regard than 'ordinary' sewing techniques? 
  • In the French Haute Couture system much is sewn by hand - does this mean a couture technique is one that is only sewn by hand?  I'm not sure this is correct, as a quick glance at several couture technique sewing books (like the ones above!)  reveals that a lot is done by machine, and some techniques are very basic.  Is any technique used in Haute Couture a 'couture technique' - including sewing on a button?
  • Is a couture technique used only in custom made or made to measure garments?  When I designed custom bridal, I altered my usual construction order so fittings and adjustments could be more easily made, and due to the nature of the garments I underlined more, used more boning, horsehair and net, and with all that lace and beading there was definitely more hand-sewing! But does that make all these techniques couture, when a ready-to-wear gown could be made in much the same way?
  • Is a couture technique the 'best' method?  I personally think that there are many 'best methods' rather than a single one - and a good designer will have a wide variety of techniques in their arsenal and choose the most appropriate for a particular situation. Sometimes the best method for a hem might be a blind herringbone stitch, sometimes it might be just gluing it!    
  • Is a couture technique an advanced technique?  If so, at what point does a technique become advanced?  Who decides this?
  • Is a couture technique one used when time is no object?  In other words, cost is no object too!   
  • Is it simply a case of sticking a French word in front to appeal to our inner snob.  Sort of like saying 'faux leather', when fake leather will do.  Maybe it is a handy marketing ploy to imply prestige, sell more product, fancy tools, or books on secret sewing methods?
  • I seem to come across the term mostly in an American context - is 'couture technique' an American term, and not really used elsewhere in the world?  
These are all thoughts I've had as I try to come to a definition, and I'm really interested to hear your opinions! What is it that really separates a couture technique from an ordinary sewing technique? What exactly does the term mean to you?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Take My Sewing Classes!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!  We had four fabulous days of sunshine and took the opportunity to paint the east wall of the house, but there was still time to trip to the beach:

Here I am wearing my blue 1969 Burda Dress, standing on 600 year old lava from the volcano in the background - Rangitoto Island!   We walked the coast from Takapuna to Milford and back, one of my favourite walks in Auckland - and not just because of the cherry yoghurt ice creams we always buy from the cafe at the top end of the beach!  The walk includes lots of rocky promontories like this interspersed with beaches, both big and small:

Enough scenery - let me tell you about the sewing and patternmaking classes I'm taking next term!  There are four options:

  • Sewing Machine Basics - for total beginners, to learn how to use your machine (or the machines provided)
  • Level 1 Sewing - for beginners to fashion sewing, to learn how to use a commercial sewing pattern and basic garment assembly
  • Level 2 Sewing - for those who want to learn more techniques and step up to the next level
  • Patternmaking From a Garment you Love - I taught this class last term and it was such a success that we are now running two classes, and there are already very limited spaces so be in quick!  
You can bring your own machine or use the Bernina Activas provided, plus you can sign up with friends for an additional discount - maybe you can motivate your friends-come-future-sewing-buddies to finally learn how to sew!  Just follow the links for all the details and dates.

Have you taken sewing classes before, and do you have any hints to share?  I'm open to tips and suggestions whether you were a student or a teacher.  It's exciting to do more teaching, and introduce more people to the wonderful world of sewing - the more the better, don't you think?!