Pop Quiz: fix this dress pt.2

pop_quiz_button_stand_corrected“An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions.” – Robert A. Humphrey

Very gratifying to see the interest in the first entry. Truth is, there are many unknowns with this style. One interesting proposed idea, was that the item was sewn with the CB and shoulder reversed. I can see how that could happen based on the piece’s shaping but even if it were true, the underlying problem -that of the CB neckline length being too short- would not have had such a dramatic effect.

Some also mentioned the issue of a right and left back yoke (or whatever we’re calling the shoulder thingy), with the implication these were separate pieces. This piece is a two per, the same on each side. The only time you have a right and left one per for a button close is if there is some sort of unusual button closure acting as a design feature. That’s not the case here, it’s a functional closure.

Some mentioned the problem lay primarily with the left shoulder due to the larger gap between the yoke and the shoulder tip. Maybe, maybe not. We can’t know. I suspect not (I would eliminate the most obvious first) and for several reasons. No one mentioned that the degree of slope of each shoulder differed. This is true of all humans. That the right shoulder is higher means the child is right handed or she may be standing with her weight on her left foot. It is still pulling on the right shoulder, just not as dramatically as on the left. More importantly, deciding the scope of appropriate correction matters depending on whether you’re making a custom item for one person -then you would adjust the shoulder of each side differently- or if you’re making RTW (as most of us do), you don’t have this luxury. Sure, you could do it since the majority of consumers are right handed but someone left handed could not wear this dress at all. Being left handed means having a higher left shoulder and if the left yoke is cut at a more extreme angle than the right, it would be impossible to wear.

Several people mentioned making two corrections at once. You’re free to disagree but I avoid doing that at all costs if the two have the same underlying cause or there is enough of a correlation between the two that one could reasonably suspect they are related or are one and the same (it is a narrow span piece). The problem here is that the back neckline edge is too small, the line needs to be longer to travel the distance. That seam line is so small it is causing the shoulder edge to flare as the garment seeks the path of least resistance. You can’t know how too-small something is if it is too small. It is impossible. You can only adjust what is too large. So, you must first make the too-small area larger in order to know how to correct it and then if the other area (the shoulder tip) is too large, you can then pull that in. I know it saves time making a two step correction but I’ve learned the hard way that it often creates more work later (a further correction is needed) rather than less, again, if you suspect the cause of each needed correction shares a root cause (as I believe this one does).

In summary, this is not to suggest that others suggestions would not have bearing as a later course correction but the first step is to open that shoulder seam closest to the neckline to gauge the spread (how too small the back neckline is). One could pin a strip of muslin underneath, pinning the dress shoulder seam to it until the button stand relaxed. Once a problem has been properly defined, the simplest solution is usually the correct one. Do that first and then worry about anything else that remains amiss.

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  1. Sandy says:

    So easy.
    I love it, I’ve learned something already, the simplest solution is usually the correct one.
    I also like the suggestion to pin muslin under the too small area to help gauge how much too small it is.

  2. Brina says:

    This is a wonderful example of where draping is a more efficient to get to a final pattern than drafting.
    The best way to make the correction is the fit the dress on either your fit model or the individual–if it’s a custom job. That’s draping on the model.

    One could, if they had a dress form that matched their fit model measurements, throw the dress on the form and make the corrections there. In fact, on such a form one could make all the corrections–assuming others are necessary–ie drape the new yoke/collar/what-have-you incorporating all the needed corrections at one time.

    Making these corrections via drafting would be quite time consuming because the guesswork and/or measuring involved would lead to more iterations unless one was really lucky or had a really good eye–which usually comes from a wealth of experience fitting and patternmaking.


  3. Kathleen says:

    If you want to call fitting and correcting a prototype on a model or a form, draping, then so be it. I don’t know anyone who does it any other way.

    Speaking of, that’s the other thing we didn’t talk about but since you bring it up, another reason draping is less efficient is because few humans can withstand the length of time it would take to do a full drape on them, meaning you’re stuck with draping on a form -which are notoriously not shaped like people- entailing corrections (on a live model) which never needed to have been made had one started with a draft using a stock proven block pattern. In the one-off that you do, the live model (an actor) has to endure standing there for however long it takes. A manufacturer is not going to pay $150 an hour for a fit model day in, day out, for draping purposes for a pattern maker who cannot make patterns any other way. It’s not rocket science to figure out who is more efficient. A draper who can render patterns only one way or a drafter who can do both? Perhaps I am dense but I do not understand how someone with a more limited skill repertoire (draping only) could ever be comparatively more efficient than someone with a broader range of skills and abilities.

    I don’t know of a company in existence who has pattern makers making patterns 8 hours a day, five days a week, who will hire someone who can only drape because their output is so much lower lacking dual skills. It costs more to hire someone like that. Assuming it were possible for a draper to complete a production ready pattern in the same amount of time it would take a drafter, drapers still cost more (meaning: less efficient) because you have to compute their hourly wage plus that of a fit model and the cost of materials (fabric vs paper) to arrive at a cost per pattern. Depending on garment complexity, one is required to produce at least one completed pattern per day. If less complex or a minor styling change, up to three or four per day. And speaking of the latter, if you must drape for styling changes rather than drafting, it will really take a comparatively much longer time because you have to do the whole thing rather than using the parts that already exist; it will be a wholly new pattern. Or if you do use existing parts, you will have to cut those pieces out in fabric (which costs more time and more materials) to lay on the form to then be able to incorporate your changes. But the real deal killer is the likelihood that a draper cannot use an interchangeable pattern piece system, incorporating bodies that have already been proven. With draping, everything is a one-off meaning the costs escalate dramatically.

    Brina, you do one-off costuming on myriad individuals and carry it through to its logical conclusion. That is fine but this is not a one-off theater costuming blog. I would never disrespect the weight of your experience to tell you what is the most efficient way for you to do your job because I don’t know how fast or slow you work but can only imagine it would take me less time. It would be lovely if you would accord me the courtesy I show you instead of endlessly needling me over draping vs drafting.


  4. Brina says:

    Actually, I do and have done a lot of different kinds of sewing, patternmaking and construction–including quite a bit of one-off costuming.

    There are a lot of ways that sewn manufacture and costume manufacture is similar–in as much as sewn manufacture and costume manufacture does not represent a single way of working.

    I’m sorry that you took my comment as needling. My only point here is that there are times in conventional sewn manufacture when draping skills are necessary if one wants to do things quickly. Also others besides myself have brought up draping skills–so if you feel endless needled–it’s not from me alone.

    OTOH, I bow to your superior knowledge and experience that by and large that drafting skills are much more useful, day-to-day and more efficient.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Yes, there are times when draping a collar or a sleeve is the best way to render a result -a point I have made repeatedly. I have also said it is not either or. Drafters can drape, preferring drafting does not mean they cannot drape or even possibly, drape better and faster than drapers-only.

    Yes, I realize others have brought up draping but again, it has been those who do not make patterns beyond the occasional one-off; context is everything. It is only natural to validate their investment in their skills and preferences (that whole cognitive dissonance thing). That said, this recent comment of yours is but one of many over the past five years posted on the blog and in the forum and under various screen names. No one else has been as consistently disputatious as you have been.

  6. Brina says:

    Hum, I do have years of working in various industries with various people doing various jobs and techniques to draw on. Where people called me because my work is good, because I am professional in every sense of the word.


    However I don’t get your indignation. IF I had personally attacked you or said that a technique was something it was not or similar It seems when I make a specific point–that demonstrates something important–(while granted it may be only important to me) that you bristle. If I am really that much of a fool, I would think you could ignore me. However since you feel my contributions are taking your blog down–as you imply–I will stop contributing. Although I have enjoyed many things about Fashion Incubator, I am sure I will be able to find something else to fill that void.

    ‘Nuf said.

  7. Kathleen says:

    No one suggests you aren’t professional so I don’t know where that comes from.

    Rebuttal is necessary considering the volumes of email I get from DEs who have been convinced from public discussions such as this that a draper is the most cost effective candidate for commercial applications -or that draping education is the best solution to derive their own patterns. Being so highly dependent on a given individual’s learning style and skill absorption, no one can say whether the latter is true; I certainly have not. The only thing I will continue to assert is that if you had to pick between two candidates with exclusive skill sets, drafting is more efficient and cost effective. That is all I have ever said.

    If there is no money at stake or the party voicing their opinion is obviously incompetent, I can readily ignore their comments.

  8. Erika says:

    I’m not sure it’s always true that a right handed person has a higher right shoulder. My personal theory had always been that the arm you carry a shoulder bag or backback on had the higher shoulder. Although I only came up with that theory because I am unusual in that I am right handed, carry bags on my left shoulder and have a higher left shoulder. Everybody else I know who is right handed carries bags on their right shoulder.

  9. kathleen says:

    I should have worded that more precisely. I gave it a fast pass as I’ve discussed it at length elsewhere and sometimes feel I’m being redundant.

    Usually the origination point of the shoulder of dominance is lower (see this) but the degree of slope (what I was referring to in this entry) is closer to right angles but again, varies according to weight distribution. No, not everyone fits this pattern, I’ve also said that ad nauseum. It is common to see wild fluctuations particularly through the child bearing years. It is never fixed. Other elements affecting slope are due to injury, lifestyle and occupation -and again, always transitory. Point is, I am forced to make occasional generalizations otherwise I have to launch into soliloquies that detract from the central points of discussion.

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