[Module 8] Creating a Garment | 3. Introduction

'Ability is what you’re capable of doing.

Motivation determines what you do.

Attitude determines how well you do it’

Lou Holtz

I know the quote above is not a fashion statement but if you have made it this far and are still with me then I would like to say, thank you, well done and good for you! What you have achieved so far is the foundation for designing and making clothes for yourself and others including creating your own design and patterns. I hope you will continue on this journey with me and all of us and I will continue to add more inspiration, ideas, tips and instructions for you to keep you busy and invigorated and hopefully inspire others too.

If you are anything like me you are now looking at people in a different light, looking at their style, the image they portray, what works, shapes you like, looking in shop windows at clothes like they are a piece of art. Take it all in……. as you learn and see more your skills will evolve and your choices will change as you grow. Try not to stare too much it can be weird!

You may also now be very aware of the time it takes to put a garment together and hopefully this will make you choosier about the clothing you allow into your life or spend the time making.

I do think that with this knowledge you are part of a growing community that is clothing aware and with this knowledge and the garments you make next you can wear with pride and inspire others to come down this same route with you. As the Threadelicious community grows we have the ability to grow the system and content and make it an even better place. With your help I think we can become something quite unique in this world of ours, we can value these skills and teach others to do the same.

Where to go to now

After coming this far you will have had experience with drafting, and making multiple Test Garments, experienced the challenges and joys of fitting and alteration and out of this you have the bones to make your designs come to reality.

With this in mind and being honest it would be an impossible task for me to even attempt to show you how to make every single thing that is possible to make.

In order to help resolve this I have added Auxiliary Reference documents that detail drafting and sewing various ideas and I will continue to grow this library for the basic of information and also as we move onto more complex designs and concepts.

You will need to make use of this library and continually reference it when drafting and sewing your own garments.

I believe I have switched on the system with enough in place for you to make good quality basic garments and the toolset will grow over time.

Therefore before you do start to draft your designs ensure that the designs you have visualised are possible at the current knowledge for the system. A very simple way to do this is to refer to the Style Sheets, all Styles that have been currently documented in drafting form, or if you should be able to draft them with the knowledge provided and a little reflection these have been marked with a green circle in the corner.

If you are in any doubt then don’t be afraid to ask or indeed make a request.

If after working through Units in Module 6 you are still unsure regarding your own designs or where to start or you would just like to practice some skills on a garment then go to the next Unit in this Module and pick a garment that you would like to have a go at. As you can appreciate for me to create a Sew – a- Long for a design with concept, instructions and photographs is extremely time consuming so initially the number of garments will be limited but this will change over time as I add more into the system.

Whether you are creating your own design or taking inspiration from a sample in the system you will need to make choices in drafting regarding Darts, Necklines, Hems, Seams, Silhouette etc. so referring back to these Units to refresh should help you make your drafting decisions.

I find that what does help at this stage is to be very firm with yourself and make some definite decisions about what you are going to make, filling in the Pattern Record Card will help you commit yourself to fabric samples, number of pattern pieces, finishing’s, closures, construction order etc. It really is an essential part of the process I think because I can spend far too long being indecisive about the minutest details.

Each of the Sample garments will have a sample Pattern Record Card for you to review for some ideas of how to fill it in and the choices or thoughts that you can record onto it. I fill mine out continuously as I work through construction. Once complete it is your roadmap for the next garment you are going to make from the same pattern which could be weeks, months or indeed years down the line and having this document to hand is worth its weight in gold. It is also a necessary document if someone else is going to construct the garment other than yourself.

Required Elements

As with any drafting you will need your full drafting kit which you can review in previous modules.

You will also need to be open to stepping back into previous modules or Auxiliary Reference Information for a little revision if you need it.

If you have not yet drafted and tested the Base Template or Working Templates then you will struggle to continue on from this point, in this case you will need to go back to Module 4 and Module 5 respectively.

If you are using your own Sloper that you have made elsewhere then please be aware that if you continue your Sloper may not have all the elements required so please review Modules 3, 4 and 5.

It is recommended to collect the following list of documents to use prior to starting creating your garment.

  • Pattern Record Card. As detailed above this is your master guide for your design and pattern. It is also a good idea to get the client to sign off on the design prior to starting to ensure that every detail has been agreed. This could be done on the Pattern Record Card.

  • Completed Master Client Sheet. With all notes collected so far, you should have completed this during measurement of the Client.

  • Completed Measurements Sheets. With all measurements collected so far, you should have completed this during measurement of the Client.

  • Your Drafted Base Template for the Client. The preserved Card copy which is useful to have on hand for reflection in comparison with the design.

  • A Working Template for the same Client that can be used for the design. It may help to check what you have previously drafted for Working Templates for this client and to reflect on how Test Garments have worked out.

  • Your Capsule Wardrobe Designs for the Client. This will help work out what kind of Working Templates you will need to draft.

  • Your Sewing List Table for the Client. This will help you prioritise the Working Templates that you are going to create first.

  • Mini Working Template. To practice any design features before drafting if you need to (optional).

Fabric Preparation

So far you have used unwashed muslin or cotton to make your Test Garments. This fabric is easy to sew and press. When you start working with other fabrics and fibres they each come with their own nuances and you will probably prefer some fabrics to others. But do experiment and try out different fabrics with your designs because they will drape differently and give you another option for your design, something you thought might be a casual design can be lifted into another spectrum by making it with a different fabric.

Before you buy your fabric check where you are buying it from, what is important to you regarding the manufacturer and the process involved.

Do you like the way it drapes and does it give you the result you are looking for.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample of the fabric, any half decent fabric seller will give you a good sized piece for you to study and test, squeeze it does it come back into shape, push your finger into it if it is a knit fabric does it come back easily, does it fray, does it shrink when you wash it, does it loose its colour when washed, does it have any defects. You should hold the quality of the fabric on a par with the aesthetic appeal because you don’t want all of your effort to be ruined by a sub quality fabric.

Deciding how you are going to launder the finished garment is very important because you can ruin all of your hard work. If you have not prewashed your linen for example and then wash the garment you risk the whole thing shrinking and not fitting anymore. Spending some time working this out up front will save you wasted time and money so please don’t skip this step in your excitement to get started on making the garment. This is a slow process, force yourself to do it the right way.

The type of fabric and fibre, the way it is woven or knitted, the level of quality you want to gain from the finished garment, whether you are using pre-set Seam Allowances these will all have an effect on how you prepare the fabric. Always consider longevity, how are you going to sew it together, how are you going to support the fabric, do you need interfacing or underlining or interlining, are you going to use Stays to create support to seams, do you need to use stronger support such as boning, are you going to do most of the sewing by machine which is faster or by hand which offers you more control and fabulous couture finish.

There is much to think about before you even start and once you start making these decisions for the garment the construction order will start to fit into place. Sometimes you are not even aware that you will need to make a decision until you have cut into the fabric and seen how it will behave. Testing is the key.

Generally I will decide on the following, which may need a little testing for confirmation;

  • How are you going to mark pattern markings onto the fabric are you going to wax trace, thread trace, just use tailor tacks, use a predefined seam allowance, use a marking pen or chalk, which option is going to give you the best result. * Note I use a Japanese cotton thread when thread tracing or sewing by hand onto fashion fabric as it is available in different colours, it stays in place and is easy to remove.

  • Does the fabric need an edge finish by machine or by hand.

  • Will seams need extra support.

  • Are you going to have a predefined Seam Allowance or manipulate seams as you work through construction.

  • How are seams going to be sewn.

Test Garments

You should always create a Test Garment for you Flexible Pattern pieces. You don’t need to create it using every single pattern piece for example you don’t need to add on Facings or Closures. You decide which parts you want to test. If you have changed nothing from the Working Template then you obviously would not need to create a Test Garment but usually you will have changed something even if it is a small thing.

The Test Garment is made in the same way as usual except you may have different Darts and Seams to sew in comparison to the Base Template and the Working Template.

By creating the Test Garment you are also trialling the construction order, sometimes it just makes sense to sew one section before doing another and you get a chance to try it all out with the Test Garment.

Fitting and Alterations are slightly different because not only are you checking the fit but you are also comparing the finished result with your design to see if you have achieved the affect that you are going for so keeping your design to hand will help you to reflect on this. Stand behind the client during these fittings and look in the mirror to get a better perspective of the design features.

General Sewing Tips

After sewing each seam check that the correct pieces have been sewn together on the correct sides and the seam has been stitched with no errors.

If you find errors always unpick and stitch again, don’t leave mistakes in your sewing, this is a good way to raise your own standards.

As each seam is sewn and checked it has been sewn correctly all tailor tacks, basting and Awl point tacks are removed.

You are going to get a better result if you press as you sew, so always press the seam after sewing it.

When sewing start and end with a back stitch to lock off your sewing, the exceptions are Stay Stitching and stitches that will be gathered.

After sewing a line trim your thread ends to keep the garment neat and tidy.

Follow you Construction Order as this is going to test it and stop you making errors by sewing the wrong thing first.

Take your time don’t rush it, enjoy the process.

If you find yourself in a muddle take a break don’t sew angry or upset! Or ask for help.

Order of Construction

The rhythm of construction for all garments is very similar and you can take this structure and alter it change it and make it your own and expand the detail for all garments that you make on your Pattern Record Card.

  • Pre-treat any fabric (launder according to instructions).

  • Assess the fabric and test it.

  • Decide on the level of quality you want to do on the garment, are you going to add any couture touches, which parts will be machine/hand sewn.

  • Decide how pattern pieces are going to be laid out.

  • Decide if any support is needed for seams, Stay Stitching, Stay Tape, Boning, interfacing etc.

  • Define how edges with be finished.

  • Lay out pattern and cut fabric.

  • Prepare fabric including interfacings, stay stitching or overlocking.

  • Sew Main Seams Front.

  • Sew Main Seams Back – consider closures if there are any.

  • Sew Sleeve Seams if there are any.

  • Attach main pieces together.

  • Facing seams sewn.

  • Lining seams sewn.

  • Attach Facing.

  • Attach Lining.

  • Attach Bindings if there are any.

  • Attach Closures if there are any.

  • Attach Waistbands if there are any.

  • Hem.

  • Finishing’s such as closures, stitching down lining or other couture features.

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