Friday, 27 September 2013

Thoughts on Scanning Vintage Patterns, Starting a Personal Digital Fitting Library & Advance 4786

Let me introduce you to Advance 4786, an evening dress pattern with the option for a sheer or lace upper bodice and a draped skirt.  I can't get over how modern this dress looks-  the shaped drop waist (as in, not just a v-shaped) is something I've never seen on any other vintage dress pattern that I can think of.

Shorten it up, add some straps and you have a summer dress.  Or even just make the skirt on it's own.  The back isn't quite succumbing to "coffin clothes" syndrome, but it does look like it could use some more drama to match the front.  I'm not sure a matching drape in the back would be welcome (...let's avoid gathers at the fullest part of the behind, thanks...), but a shaped back bodice/yoke would be a nice touch.

Anyhow, onto scanning vintage patterns.  This summer, I had the great good fortune to be working somewhere which a) had a plotter and b) had plotter with a built in scanner.  Because of this  a) I was able to print some patterns for free without cutting and pasting (YAY!) and b) I was able to scan a bunch of my oldest and most likely to be used patterns.  Many of these are 90-60 years old, and are so delicate I can't stand using them- both because they rip and that's a pain to work with, and because they rip and they're a piece of history.  The best way to scan the pattern pieces would have been to use a large format flat bed scanner, however those are few and far between, not to mention scarily expensive.  The work scanner was one like these below, only oler.  The scanner feeds in a u-shape.


I ended up using a clear plastic protective sleeve (which came with), meant for scanning drawings which have trace paper taped on top.  I put a blank page in first so the pieces could be seen more easily as the scanner was pretty grungy from transferred ink inside.  This gave me a scanning area of 2x3 feet, which isn't anywhere near large enough for many skirt pieces as you know.  Happily, the pieces can be folded once and still be easily seen, markings and all.

What I plan to do after this, is to use AutoCAD to trace these and do preliminary adjustments digitally according to my body block.  I should mention that a step I would like to do before that is to scan a traced copy of my plastic wrap-and-tape body pattern (post on this to come later, and idea courtesy of Kathleen from Fashion Incubator- awesome site!), and overlay to two to get a good idea of what changes need to be made.  The idea is to eventually get a few patterns of various styles that fit well scanned and CADed to make a "library" of sorts.  Once I have that I will be able to find a similar pattern in the library, and overlay on the new scanned pattern for an even better idea of what I need to do to get a better fit.

Any thoughts?

Monday, 9 September 2013

T.A.R.D.I.S. + Time Vortex Lino Printed Fabric

This is a project that I had been wanting to do for sooooooo long!  For those of you who aren't up on your sci-fi British television, and more specifically the show Doctor Who, the T.A.R.D.I.S. is the time traveling spaceship belonging to a human looking alien with two hearts who has a particular soft spot for Earth.  It looks like an emergency police call box, is partially sentient (and has named herself Sexy), and is a magnitude larger on the inside than on the outside.  The Doctor, a companion and potentially a variety of friends (Oh Jack, why do you never show up anymore!) go on various scary/heartwarming/mysterious adventures though space and time.

Anyhow, this all started when on a whim I searched Doctor Who on Spoonflower, not expecting to find much of anything.  Instead I found pages and pages of results. Now, I would love some mildly tacky TV theme fabric, but at $17.50/yard (yard! not even a proper meter!) plus shipping it was all a bit too rich for my tastes.  I have to say though, the 10th Doctor apron fabric and the tesselated TARDIS are pretty hard to resist.

The two lino stamps on the left for the TARDIS and light rays, and a foam stamp for the vortex on the right.

Instead, I headed to the art store and bought all the pieces needed to carve some lino stamps and some water based screen printing ink in silver and gold.  A few evenings were spent carving the stamps, and now I can print as many TARDIS-es as I could ever want.  MWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!  HAHA!!!!  HAHAH!!!!!  *cough, cough*  (I may have gone an bought some metallic blue paint.  You know, for cards, and white fabric, and, well, everything and anything else that may ever need a TARDIS on it.)

The next stop was the fabric store to look for some appropriately blue all natural fiber fabric.  I was wandering everywhere from the upholstery to the quilting sections muttering to myself and making the sewing store ladies scratch their head.  I had never really looked at the content of broadcloth before and had just assumed that it was just cotton so that was where I headed first.  It was only 60% cotton and the rest was polyester.  I was lucky enough to find exactly what I was looking for in the end.  It's not heavy enough to be quilting weight, but it is heavier than broadcloth.  Is there a name for that?

As previously mentioned, it was the end of the bolt, and it ended up being in three pieces.  I printed the two larger pieces in the pattern in the first photo, and then printed the ends of the short piece in two different types of border prints as seen the right photo above, and the photo below.  When I had started out, the plan was for a fluffy maybe layered, maybe not, gathered skirt, however I'm not happy enough with the print to wear it out in public.  I really want to, but I think these are slated to be epic pjs worn around others only when I know they are aware of, or share my obsession so when I inevitably start scampering around singing the theme song, or make the dematerialization noise they won't be too, too startled.

So in the end, was it any cheaper?  Extremely.  Admittedly, the printing process from fabric purchase, to washing, drying, ironing, stamp carving, stamping, to ironing again took several days and was more labour intensive than expected, and the print is nowhere near perfect.  However, it is definitely unique, an actual random pattern, and quite pretty if I do say so myself.  I tried to cheap out and made homemade felt stamp pads, and while they worked, I had to either stand on, or kneel on the stamps to get enough pressure to have decent transfer.  Also, because I was standing, and would occasionally lose balance while on the stamp, it would tip and leave a mark from the wood block as well.  I have since purchased a brayer and will hopefully be printing a "good" version of this fabric for a dress or skirt in the future.

For about 4m of fully printed fabric:
$15.00        -lino handle and blades
$7.00          -30x15cm sheet of lino
free             -blocks of scrap wood and gorilla glue
$4.00          -on sale100% cotton fabric (reg. ~ $8)
$2.75 x 2    -on sale Speedball water based screenprinting ink in 75cc tubes in gold and silver (reg. ~ $6)

And to conclude, I leave you with a song I unexpectedly found while searching the work server, The Timelords with their song "Doctorin' The Tardis".