Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Miniature Pattern Drafting

*Warning - Eccentricity contained within*

As I mentioned in the last post, at the end of last month I took a break from sewing my 'Delphine skirt' to attend a Steampunk Festival. This in itself involved a fair bit of creativity; I hand-sewed buttons and cogs onto our outfits, and made a bracelet out of cogs (which I unfortunately lost on the way up the hill).
But my main achievement was something even more eccentric. One of the events was a Teddy Bear's Picnic, something I haven't been to since I was about 5. We love picnics anyway, and had plenty of food to take along. The teddy bear aspect I decided to greet as a challenge. Last year, when I changed jobs, my colleagues bought me an adorable cuddly donkey.

He is so expressive that I haven't found the right name for him yet, so he's still just called Donkey. I wanted to make an outfit for him, and had a tiny top hat lying around, which I bought for Hallowe'en last year, but never wore. All he needed now, my brain decided, was a waistcoat. So what followed was me, scribbling on baking paper, and drafting a tiny waistcoat pattern.

It took three attempts at the back piece (donkey is slightly...wider than I first thought), and two attempts at one of the front pieces, which I then flipped and copied for the other front piece. I put the usual 1.5cm of seam allowance in, and it was a little bit too much because of the reduction in clothing size; duly noted. I drafted it mostly from studying my boyfriend's waistcoats and my assumption of what a waistcoat should look like.

Now, on to the 'fabric'. I am well known for getting attached to things and not wanting to get rid of them. This handbag was a prime example. So well worn that there were holes in it, it was rather faded and just generally old. But perfect for a tiny Steampunk waistcoat, no? It also had the added bonus of having black polyester lining, which was perfect for the back of the waistcoat.

I used the pocket lining for the back, the front of the pocket for one of the front pieces, and the un-damaged part of the back of the bag for the remaining front piece. Did my usual, cut them out with the rotary cutter and pressed them. I managed to do half a French seam on either side seam...and then my sewing machine decided to jam. Again. The night before the Festival.

So, with all of the pieces cut out, pressed and safety-pinned together, I spent the whole train journey there frantically hand-sewing the remaining seams. I finished it with about thirty seconds to spare and I was so pleased with myself! It needed a hidden safety pin to hold the waistcoat shut and a further one to take in the inevitable excess fabric at the back, but we did it.
I think he fitted in quite well! :)

So, things I learnt from this rather eccentric escapade:

- I need to stop cutting extra fabric when cutting round my pattern pieces. It is not going to be small, it is meant to be the size of the pattern. Adding an extra inch because I'm scared of not cutting enough only means that there is an extra inch on the finished item. In donkey's case, this left it looking about 2 sizes too big.

- Drafting a pattern takes multiple efforts, and a lot of editing. It's harder than I thought to get a 3D shape into a 2D pattern, and then back to a 3D shape. I'm glad that I was able to practice with this before trying to draft something for myself!

- I definitely shouldn't try to make something the day before I need it, especially with my machine. The old thing needs time to be set up properly, and to reset the tension, which I am fast realising has to be done every time I want to use it.

- I need to unpick the side seams, trim off the excess fabric, and redo them. Which I'm glad I can do at least, I would rather it be too much fabric than too little. Then I can add buttons and a proper buckle/cinch on the back.

But before I do that, I really should finish this skirt...