Friday, February 19, 2010

General Clothing

For the longest time, I've been stuck on the idea of 'needing a pattern'.  This poor frame of mind has caused me no end of pain and suffering, mostly mentally.  Roadblocks I simply couldn't surpass caused me to drop a lot of my projects, because none of the patterns were quite working out how the patterns said they should.  Part of this issue was in myself, obviously, since putting patterns together shouldn't be that difficult if you give it enough time and patience (unfortunately, patience and I don't always get along very well), but the other side of that coin is that patterns, in the department store variety, are actually unnecessary.  How is this possible?

For centuries, patterns, as we're used to thinking about them, didn't exist.  Clothing was either made at home or you paid someone else to make them for you.  From the time of infancy to the grave, all clothing was made individually.  It wasn't until ready-to-wear clothing started to appear during the Civil War [for men] and the Roaring 20s [for women] that paper patterns reared their ugly heads.  I mention all of this, because most of our modern society has lost the art of tailoring or making their own clothing.  In a way, we've lost a sense of individuality, because we don't make everything ourselves with our own flair or style.  Granted, not everyone has a sense of what is aesthetically pleasing to another individual, but we do know what is comfortable for ourselves to wear.

All this being said, making our own clothing shouldn't be the chore that my brain has always been telling me it is.  The biggest hurdle to leap is where to start.  Some articles of clothing are simply trial and error until we know what we're doing (coifs are generally not worn in regular everyday modern clothing), but thankfully, that is mostly the small stuff (like gloves, which I *still* can't get the hang of, but that's my personal cross *sigh*).

For the larger clothing, I had an epiphany.  If we had been making clothing from the time we were young or from the time our children were young, the process would be simple.  Take what they already had and add a few inches here or there as they grow.  So, with this in mind, take something you already know fits you the way you want it to fit or find some really cheap scrubs or other clothing that doesn't stretch a lot, then find someone else to help pin the clothing on you until you find the fit you want.  Sew the new pinned seams if you have to or want to.  Then use *this* piece of clothing as your pattern (with about an inch extra on each of the seams).  Go figure, you already know it's going to fit correctly, because you've already worn it!

Unfortunately, I haven't put this practice into ...well, practice as of yet, but my brain is also running a mile-a-minute as it cogitates through all this information.  It happens to be a logical solution, an easy one mind you, to my 'pattern' problem.  Yes, you're still using a pattern of sorts, but it's a pattern that is made for you, not for 10 million other *should* fit people.  Obviously, there will be adjustments and such, but it is all part of the process.  The extra things, like collars, ruffles, where to put the seams, and such are part of the trial and error.  Unfortunately, most of us don't have a dear old granny that still knows the wonderful art of tailoring, but perhaps this is an easier way to teach ourselves.


Katy Rose said...

Well said....I learned pattern drafting in the fashion school and it's really easy once you know what you are doing. That said for the average home sewer it does pose a challenge to make your own.

Raveness said...

Have you considered the duct tape pattern method?
It's just like making a duct tape dress form, except instead of going around yourself 3 times, you just do it once, then mark where you want the seams (ok, so you can't do it to yourself, you need a good friend to help), then cut it off at the seam lines. When you take it off, you can straighten it out and make adjustments, but then you have a great, fitted pattern, just for you!
Here's an example I found online: