January – May 2015
This is my 1920s-inspired mini-collection, “Garden Party” for the College of Alameda’s Apparel Design program. The slip-on dresses were all drafted to fit a size 8 dress form, and made in natural fibers.
The one semester class included the following: select fabrics, design a collection, draw fashion illustration, draw technical flats, draft or drape pattern, sew muslin, make pattern corrections, sew another muslin, get professor approval on patterns, write assembly sequence, cut fabric, sew everything, find models, fit garments, accessorize outfits, pick music, set and rehearse routine, and deliver short speech. Apparently, this is pretty standard for a final course in fashion school. I don’t believe I’ve ever made so many decisions in such a short period of time.
My patterns are all flat-patterned. The reason for this was three-fold. First, there is never enough lab time and I don’t own a size 8 professional dress form, so pattern-making could still be done from home. Second, I didn’t have to transfer my patterns to paper in order to cut fabric, which saved loads of time. And finally, I took Draping over 10 years ago and am just a wee bit rusty.
The announcement came mid-way through the semester that the fashion show was a GO. Although there is normally a runway presentation for this class, a formal show isn’t held every year. I was very fortunate that these lovely models volunteered to participate. We’re all dancers at the same studio, which was extremely convenient for fittings and run-throughs. They are graceful and pretty, and made my simple dresses look great. It was hectic to accessorize them given the time-frame but I already had some jewelry, kid gloves and a hat. The cloche, from Goorin Bros, was the most significant expense, but the model and I wear the same hat size so it was easily justifiable as an addition to my costume closet. One model, thankfully, wore my shoe size. I completely lucked out and found 2 nice pairs of shoes at the Goodwill. The black shoes were originally red leather, perfectly 1920s in style, and possibly the world’s cutest shoes. It was a crime to paint them. But this fabulous leather paint has opened up a world of future thrift-store shoe options.
These “one size 8 fits all” dresses really worked in my favor. It turned out my models’ measurements vary by as much as 3″. This would be enough to require alterations for a fitted garment. Yet they all fit just fine. What you see here, is exactly as they were patterned. The dresses are drafted to have the same skirt length, and the same drop waist level, which is pretty low: a couple of inches above the block’s hip. These girls range from about 5’4″ to 5’10”. So the variations in length and hip level is directly correlated to the height of the model. The fabrics are all natural fibers: a rayon floral print, rust-colored cotton chambray with green cotton bias bindings, and some yellow 5.3 oz linen from Gray Line Linen, with a fine linen collar. The linen was obviously problematic for a fashion show, but I guarded our clothes rack closely in the crowded dressing room. Anyone leaning, pawing or otherwise threatening to crumple the fabric was shooed away. So she made it down the runway wrinkle-free.