Monday, August 8, 2011

Couture Classes: Sit & Sew Day 1

This was another class with Susan Khalje, and with – new for me – Kenneth D. King. I did take online classes with Kenneth and was very impressed how resourceful he is, and how innovative are his techniques (all the relevant links are at the end of this post).

I joined this four-day class, which took place in New York’s garment district studio, hoping to start a tweed suit inspired by Burberry’s suit from his AW 2011 collection. The idea was to have one well-fitted pant muslin, as well as to learn more about custom tailoring techniques for ladies’ jackets.

Guipure skirt

Susan showed us her guipure skirt and explained us some construction techniques.

The skirt that she showed us was surprisingly soft. It was constructed in several layers: guipure lace on top, charmeuse under it to give it a color background and some shine. Charmeuse was underlined with lightweight cotton; the guipure lace was tucked in regular intervals to this underlined charmeuse. Silk lining was the last layer. Despite these four layers, the skirt was surprisingly light and soft.

Those who have Thread Archives DVD can read more about the construction of this skirt “Amazing Lace” by Susan Khalje (Issue #124)


Kenneth showed us a demo for one of his signature embellishments

The projects

For the whole day we were busy fitting and re-fitting muslins for projects we wanted to fit.  The group was great, and the projects were exciting: a lace jacket, moulage, coat, dress, pants, my tailored suit, corset, leather pouch and more.

For the traditional Show & Tell session we brought in projects we accomplished with Susan before: Ann (yes, The Ann from Gorgeous Fabrics) brough her Chanel(-inspired) jacket and her lace corset; I had my Chanel(-inspired) jacket and the LBD from the online class on Pattern Review; and Debra showed us her retro-inspired Pucci coat. We all Ohh-ed and Ahh-ed and got on our work again.

Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics (see link below) showed us her Chanel (-inspired) Jacket

Cloning a garment

In between, Kenneth showed Debra how to clone a blouse, using a piece of silk organza. He offers an online garment cloning course on Pattern Review, so check it out – it’s really good.

I love these courses because it’s so much fun to sew in a group. Both, Kenenth and Susan are so great, helpful, always smiling, always willing to explain…

Kenneth even modeled his jeans for me, here:

… and we had time to stitch and bitch, of course:

The only annoying thing was the space: sewing machines were placed too close to each other and there were only four cutting tables. The space was somewhat cluttered and we could not work beyond the studio opening hours (from 9:30 to 5:30). With lunch breaks and some shopping, that gave us only around 25 hours to sew. This is one of the reason’s why I loved the Baltimore class more! The latter was truly a couture boot camp and I could focus entirely on my project.

My suit

Readers, I spent the whole first day transferring muslin markings to paper. Since tailoring is Kenneth’s specialty and he does it this way, he insisted I do it.  And, even though I complained a lot at the beginning, at the end, it was a good idea, because it was much easier to draft lining and interfacing pieces from paper pattern and also to make alterations by cutting, slashing, pasting etc… However, I haven’t touched my fabric for the whole day, I hope it will be cut by the end of the class.

I was also much slower than usual. The day before, on Wednesday, I went to Alexander McQueen exhibition and the choice was: McQueen or muslin making. I chose McQueen, naturally, an spend whole night before the course making the jacket muslin, and another half a day making a pants muslin… phew

Check out these links:
Susan Khalje website:
Kenneth D. King website
Kenneth D. King book: Cool Couture
Pattern Review online classes
Gorgeous Fabrics store website


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