Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another Good Class

Fitting: the European Method - Virginia Marti-Veith
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this class. First, recently I have heard some, well not-so-great comments about the fashion design department at Virginia Marti CAD primarily about the lack of sewing knowledge in some of the graduates. Second, I’m realizing that my age is directly limiting the amount of new ideas and techniques out there (i.e. I'm so old and have taken so many classes that not too much seems "new" to me). This doesn’t mean I know everything. It just means that I’m familiar with a lot of techniques and when I take a new class, there’s a pretty good chance I’m already familiar with the information. Note: that doesn’t stop me from enrolling in more classes ;)

So, I’m happy to report that this class was about 90% new info, or info I knew before but forgot, or info that put a new perspective on things I already knew. (That means I thought I was good!) And, I couldn’t wait to get home and share all the good stuff with you.

The class was led by Mrs. Veith (Virginia Marti Veith, school founder) and primarily focused on measuring and evaluating a figure to complete a sloper and then using the sloper to adjust your patterns. It’s a lot to cover and we never really got to the actual "how to use the sloper to adjust a pattern" part. That’s ok with me. Even though I seriously struggle with that step there was so much other information that energized me I didn’t really care.

A live model (a fashion student who volunteered because she has a hard time with fitting) was on hand for Mrs. Veith to demonstrate how to take measurements and how to evaluate the figure. This was especially helpful as even though the student was young and had great figure, it wasn’t perfect there was much discuss about the problems and solutions for fitting. One thing that really impressed me was that she (the instructor) knew the correct terms for all of the bones and body parts. In fact, one of her main props was a model skeleton!

So here it is, the highlights from my notes. Remember, I didn’t say everything was new, they may not all be “aha” moments to everyone. But they were to me so I’m gonna share! I’ve starred what I think are the “must-reads”

She emphasized two things that I usually overlook
  1. Use your eye first to identify problem spots. Don’t just rely on the tape measure to tell you everything about your body shape.
  2. Weight! As in weigh yourself or your customer when you measure. Your body decides on it’s own where it’s going to add or subtract those extra 5lbs., it won’t just be evenly distributed. If your weight changes, you need to go back and take new measurements. And girls, don’t take your measurements PreM because you will be retaining water and the measurements won’t be accurate!
Shoulder measuring tips:
  • Look for an invisible line from the side that starts at the back of the ear (the actual ear, not where it connects to the head), goes down the neck and ends at the shoulder point.
  • Move your arm forward to about bust level to be able to feel the dip that will form at the shoulder point.
  • Once you have found the shoulder point, look to see if the upper arm stands out a lot (sorry I didn’t catch a more detailed term here than “a lot”) compared to the shoulder point. If so, you will probably need to make adjustments to the upper arm sleeve width.
Standing in front of a mirror check to see if your chin lines up with the jugular dip (dip is my word, can’t remember what she called it). We didn’t go over what this means, only that it will be an indication that there are probably other areas of the body that are out of alignment. This was repeated for other areas. For instance, if one shoulder is higher than the other then the hips will also be out of alignment because the body is compensating for the shoulder imbalance.

To find the waist, I know this is a very common one, tie a piece of elastic around the waist. The new-to-me part was to tie it tight so it doesn’t move. For all except the waist measurement, you just need to know where the waist is so keeping it tight is okay.

Measure the body in quarters. I always think about this one now because my body has changed so much in the last 10 years and I know one waist measurement divided into equal quarters does NOT reflect my actual body. But since I’m kind of lazy and usually in a hurry, I’ve just been guessing at the difference ;)
I won’t list all the measurements here because they are pretty standard and available in most books about fitting. She did say that the students must have these measurements memorized in order. I think that’s a good thing for me to put on my to do list.

** When taking the hip measurement watch for other areas, like the tummy, that protrude. When she took the models hip measurement, she held out the measuring tape to allow for a protruding tummy. Because for most garments, in this case a skirt or pant, you will not want the garment to be body hugging at that point.

** For all fitting issues you must keep the CF vertical and centered, and the hipline and waistline parallel to the floor. If they are out of alignment, fix them first and then go to the area where there is a problem. At the problem area either pin out the extra or cut open to release stress until the garment fits correctly. (I know this is vague but this is just a summary and many books can explain the fix-it better than me.)

** To add fitting ease to a garment (her method) she counts how many seams will be inside the garment (including darts). For example, at the waist of a straight skirt with 2 back darts and a CB zipper there will be 3 seams and 2 darts, double that for each layer of fabric in the seam. Then take the fabric to be used for the garment and fold it into that many (10) layers. Squish it down and measure the thickness. That is the minimum amount of ease you will need for your garment. Note how this will be different for each type of fabric.

So that’s the bulk of the sewing information – hope you didn’t fall asleep reading it. I really prefer picture-posts to text-posts but this one can’t be helped! Now for the fun facts from the other attendees:
One woman was an American who lives in Italy and is taking a sloper class from an old-school sewing instructor and most of the fun facts came from her like,
  • A woman in her class visited China and bought some fabric. Before she was given the fabric they asked her if she wanted “Made in Italy” printed on the selvedge!! Yes, you read that right.
  • When her Italian instructor was questioned about a garment not being comfortable her response was something like, “If you want to look beautiful you cannot be comfortable.”
Mrs. Veith indicated that they will soon be opening a couture sewing department in a newly acquired building. Not sure how soon, or if any community ed. classes will be offered but the possibilities sound exciting.

So, how will this change my sewing habits? I’m not sure that I want to spend the time or energy making an updated sloper. I will, however, be spending some quality time with the tape measure to update my measurements. From there I will be able to make more accurate adjustments to my patterns.

I’m trying to figure out how to either join or start a sewing group that focuses on garments instead of crafts. There are a couple of options but none of them seems to fit what I’m looking for. Stitch Cleveland is a really nice place and seems like it would be ideal, but most of the classes and projects are for craft or “learn to sew” items. Apparently there isn’t a Cleveland chapter of ASG (so the possibility of starting is there) as I went to the website, sent an email, and after a week I still haven’t heard anything. There is an active group in another community that is close but 1.) I don’t think there are many garment sewists, and 2.) I’ve heard they’re clique-y and I definitely don’t want to deal with that. So there are people out there…and apparently NONE of them are in the online sewing community! Then there’s the whole thing about scheduling. When my kids have to be in bed by 8 during the week it doesn’t open up much time for evening activities. So, what do you think?

Whew! My fingers are tired! Happy sewing to you all!

P.S. – I wore my Beautiful Fabric dress to the class 


Mary Beth said...

Well, I read every word and learned a few things so I really appreciate this post, Dana :)

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Interesting information on fitting! My shoulders and hips are crooked and I have been ignoring it hoping it will go away, LOL. Eventually I'll probably need to tackle that and I'll need to look for this kind of class.

Robin said...

What a great post! Since I've taken up Pilates, I have been learning a lot from my instructors about alignment of the body and how various body imbalances are interrelated (by overcompensating elsewhere, as you mentioned.) I find that really interesting. I also couldn't agree more with the idea of measuring the body in quarters - when I set up my dress form measurements, I did this (with the help of my husband) and discovered (not a big surprise) that much more of my measurements, both in the upper and lower body, are in the back and sides as compared to the front. This was eye-opening for me.

stitchymeg said...

Hi Dana! This is Megan from Stitch Cleveland... First off, thanks for linking to our page... I wanted to stop over and let you know that we also do private lessons - our group classes are geared toward more crafty items and beginner-ish sewers...

Honestly, we've been wanting to start a more serious garment construction group for quite a while... that happens to be my area of interest. I am a graduate of Kent State University's fashion design program. I feel like it is really hard to find people who are interested in getting together to sew garments or learn more about advanced construction technique. Maybe we can get something started! Perhaps a monthly group where we can do a draping or patternmaking skill at the beginning and then open sew or fitting each other's garments. hmm... i guess this needs some more thought!

Anyway... thanks for the post! Xo.. Megan