I was working on the coat muslin yesterday – designing the collar as I recall – and had to make a decision on how to draw part of the pattern. Immediately, I said to myself, “Oh, do it this way – that’s just common sense.” Then I realized that, six months ago, the same question would have sent me into conniptions of “Help, I don’t know what to do!”
Which just points up that common sense is hardly “common”: it’s wisdom that comes from experience and study. That which is common sense to an expert may mean hours of pondering and experimentation for the novice. I am pleased to note that I am starting to develop “common sense” for pattern drafting. Hooray!
In muslin news:
I was still mulling over the jacket fabrics as I drove up to see Sharon. I really loved the diamond pattern, but wasn’t convinced it would work. Sharon thought it would work just fine, and after seeing myself pinned into the jacket muslin, with the diamond pattern draped over the jacket front, I agreed. In fact it may work better than the Celtic braid, so that’s what we’re going to do. I will resley the loom and start weaving the yardage for the jacket – 8 yards ought to be more than plenty. The pattern still needs one more set of tweaks (and Sharon says I really need to learn how to set in sleeves; apparently my sleeve-setting is horrendous), so I will do one more muslin as well.
Coat: the coat pattern, as it turns out, is just about fine the way it is! As with the jacket, there are still a few tweaks that need to be made, so another muslin is in order. But it’s almost ready for prime time.
The one catch, though, is that it really won’t work well with the black and red Celtic braid fabric, because the braid produces a straight line that clashes with the diagonal of the front:
It really needs to be used with a subtler allover pattern, something that will be interesting but which will not clash with the collar for attention. So, oddly, developing the pattern to a good design has eliminated its suitability for its original purpose, which was finding a use for the Celtic braid fabric!
All of which reminds me of a lovely quote from Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, on the writer’s way of working:
Courage utterly opposes the bold hope that this is such fine work the work needs it, or the world. Courage, exhausted, stands on bare reality: this writing weakens the work. You must demolish the work and start over…
The part you must jettison is not only the best-written part; it is also, oddly, that part which was to have been the very point. It is the original key passage, the passage on which the rest was to hang, and from which you yourself drew the courage to begin.
The unfortunate truth is that the stripes clash with the flow of the coat. So it’s time to let them part ways, and find something else to do with the Celtic braid fabric, while developing a fabric to suit the design of the coat.
I am eyeing this pattern from a previous post, one which I had discarded as “blurring into static” from a distance:
I will probably rework this draft a couple of times before declaring it suitable, but it will be a good base for the coat pattern: subtle enough to be interesting close up, but not so bold as to draw attention to itself. I want the clear focal point on the coat to be the dramatic collar (which also draws attention to the neck and face), and a strong fabric pattern will muddle that.
I have not thought about colors yet. I’d like to have strong colors in the collar at least – Sharon is suggesting blues and greens or blues and purples, but I’m more attracted to red. (Hey, you knew I was a drama queen!) Because I can’t dye leather dependably (and I do want a leather collar), I think I may approach the problem by buying the leather for the collar first, then designing a fabric around the collar, rather than trying to find leather after the fact. This is a great occasion for a trip to Leatherwise, a shop in Santa Cruz that specializes in fantastic leather. I will probably go down two weekends from now – I’m booked next Saturday and they aren’t open on Sundays.
Meanwhile, I have not forgotten the Celtic braid fabric. Sharon suggested making a cape or a cloak from it – the long lines would go well with simple rectangular shapes, and I have (more than) enough to make a very nice cape. I borrowed one from Sharon that I think would work well, and will take the pattern off the garment and make myself a mockup in fleece before proceeding with the Celtic braid.
I won’t be seeing Sharon until late September, though, due to conflicts in both our schedules. So that gives me plenty of time to adjust the patterns, redesign drafts, and finish that article for Handwoven. I will weave up the samples for it today and tomorrow, and hope to get back to my own weaving this week.
So it looks like I have my work “cut out” for me!