Fashion Atelier is the study of traditional couture techniques along with drawing and illustration as means of innovative design. I had the opportunity to see the work of a second year atelier student on a tailoring exhibition. The work was exquisite and fascinating to see each step from concept & development to an actual garment. Most all sewn by hand, with some sections re-sewn many time until they were perfect.
The process begins over a sketch or design idea. The dress stand is prepared with black cotton tape to indicate where some of the main features of the garment will be placed. decisions like size of shoulder pads and buttons sizes are made at this stage.The body is drafted in paper as a draft. The process included correcting lines and armholes. Each sleeve is drafted based on the measurement of the armhole. Every armhole is unique therefore every new garment must have a unique sleeve drafted. Prototyping in calico is the next stage.
Once the fit is adjusted ,the garment is cut in the desired fabric. To avoid shrinkage the fabric is steamed before cut. Darts and pockets placements are market by thread.
Pockets are usually the first part of the garment to be sewn. Once they are done, the lengthy process of preparing the the front starts by cutting a layer of canvas to give structure. This is basted on the front cloth and hand sewn using a a cotton tape to attach it to the front edge of the garment.
A ‘floating chest piece’ (horsehair canvas) is sometimes attached, stitched to a melton or domette.
Next, a linen tape is sewn to the hair canvas to the point where the revere of the jacket will tool. The collar is then rolled by hand and small pad stitches are hand sewn, attaching the canvas to the both with invisible stitches so that the revere will have a memory and it’s roll will be shaped into the garment.
Once the preparing and holding the front has ben completed, the jacket can be assembled. The process in which a variety of materials can be used in order to give structure to certain parts of the garment.
Melton is commonly used for jacket top collar and is strong specialized woollen cloth. Under-collar is vital to give crisp body and sharp edges to a jacket. Melton, said to be named after the town of Melton Mowbray, is a heavily milled cloth in which the fibres are made to stand straight up. It is hand pad-stitched to a piece of canvas which ends up between the under-collar and the top collar, a combination used to maintain good shape. The tips of the collar are hand pad-stitched while being held in a rolled position; this technique ensures that the collar tip of the finished jacket will point downwards, not curl up. Different postures require the under-collar to be cut in different shapes, so each piece is hand cut and shaped bespoke. It is the skill employed in this process of cutting and shaping that is significant to ensure an easy natural “hug” to the back of the neck.
Garments were made by Jennifer Nelson ( Fashion atelier year two. UCA)
Photographs:all rights reserved to House of Pinheiro. Text partially extracted from exhibition.