As I've been writing since the beginning of 2017 with this series, I’ve been working on a special project the last year to develop my Fair Fit Pattern into a teaching tool to help home sewers to learn more about fit, draping, and customizing a garment for their own body. The pattern was originally the base pattern that I have used for my previous fashion collections and runway shows, but over the last year and a half as I have been teaching more advanced fashion design classes, I have seen how the techniques involved in making this dress can be used to help others advance in their knowledge and practice of design and customization. My idea and intent is to launch it as an online course, and that dream is now becoming a reality.
As we get closer to that launch, I wanted to share with you more ideas and methods that I envision the pattern will inspire when it is taught as an online class. Yes, this pattern will teach you a lot about fit, but it also is a gateway to learning more about fashion design and customization, and I hope the students who take the course will be able to approach it from a multitude of perspectives.
The reason for the slow release of this project is that the pattern is a maverick. It’s not designed like patterns that are readily available, rather it was developed to create a new kind pattern and experience with clothing that would allow the person wearing the garment to actually choose how they want it to fit.
That means, the pattern pieces are designed and graded in such a way that you choose how you would like it to fit, and what’s most comfortable and flattering to your body. There's no notches, or traditional methods of determining where the seams are located, rather, you get to choose and assign how you want the pieces to be placed in a way that you like and deem most desirable.
That’s why it’s fair- you get a say in how its made, instead of a designer assigning how your clothes should look and feel. You are working within a specific perspective, with room for adaption and customization, but its also specific enough that you aren't going totally rogue and left to fend for yourself. There are principles in fit and pattern design that are taught in the workshop, and you work with those principles.
By creating choice and the chance to customize, my desire is that the course will teach garment sewists the creative thinking skills of a designer, and get to grow and impact their practice of garment sewing more deeply by incorporating their own design decisions into what they make. This is a pattern and course that teaches not just innovative and artistic sewing techniques, conceptual sewing applications with a high fashion twist, but the process of making it teaches the student how to drape for their own body.
It is adaptable-
It’s a gateway pattern into design and customization and will challenge the sewer to break outside the normal process of construction and into their own independent approach. Each class will have folks at all levels of experience, and the way it works is that the process of the class is all captured on video- so it will be a step by step walk through from cut to sew. The video lessons will cover the process of fitting and draping, as well as offer you alterations and customizations to make it more your own. That's reason why I am opening the course with this intro survey and application is so that I can create groups who are working in similar levels of skill and experience. If you are interested in the course, please check out this brief application- I read each one, and the folks who apply are first to be notified when the course launches this summer.
What I want to be very clear on with this project, is that I don't believe in perfect fit, or perfect sewing. I think and have actually seen, that over perfectionism in sewing and fit is a mental spiral to hell that will make you quit sewing. What I want to achieve with the students, is helping you to see the potential that you have to change and adapt the pattern, to think of new ways of sewing, and approach customization from a place of trial and error, while learning the patience and clarity that garment design and construction happens in iterations.
Can a Beginner Make this Dress?
In our last in person workshop, people who started sewing with me in January 2017 starting with Beginners Sewing made the top. And guess what? They all finished it, and happily sewed it without confusion. It was because they had not built up barriers or thought forms as to how or why they could potentially fail- they just approached it as another learning endeavor and project that they would take one step at a time.
Here's a post of Shells Karle, in her top. I'm so proud of her, because when Shells started with me in January, she was afraid of her machine. But by working through the steps one at a time, Shells was able to drape for the first time, and sew seams in a whole new way, without worrying if it was the right way. Here's her very first version of the top-
Shells was approaching this from a fashion perspective, but also as a way to grow in her sewing. And as I share with my students, its a good idea to make everything twice, and I hope with a second iteration that she will be able to perfect her skills, fit, and draping as she develops the muscle memory and coordination skills that the pattern makes you practice.
If you are a beginner and indicate so in the survey, you will be placed in a beginner group- that way you aren't overwhelmed by too much information.
The Raw Edges
Some folks aren't that into the raw edges that the original dress features. In the class dashboard, you are shown sewing variations so you can achieve a more clean edge finish, or play more with the stitching and surface design. The dress can be sewn with completely clean finishings, you just have to dedicate a little more time to sew it and those instructions are in the dashboard.
However, what I have seen with the students in the original workshop who weren't keen on the raw finishings is that they end up getting into it. My friend Jenny Hall of Seamingly Smitten Patterns was one of the first students to make the dress in our first workshop this February. Jenny says since its so unusual and out of the norm of how she usually dresses, she gets a kick out of wearing the raw finished version because of its edginess- Here's a pic of Jenny's finished dress made of Robert Kaufman Cotton Lawn and sewn with raw finishings:
I wanted to get you some pictures of the dress, so you can see what actual sewists do with it! I hope this was helpful and of course let me know if you have more questions. Don't forget to fill out the application for the online class- this will close soon as we get close to official registration.
I'll be back next week with video excepts from our workshops, so you can get an idea of all the details you are going to learn :) Whoop!