A very strange thing is happening in my living room... Pretty Kitty inspects it with great suspicion.
See, I am performing a peculiar act of fabric sculpture: poor old crooked Claudia, my dress form, is being transformed into my sister's headless torso. It's not creepy, because I know what it's about, but it's disconcerting to walk into a room and see the curves of my sister's hips or her familiar stance, realized in muslin and quilting cotton!
MAKING BLOCK #3
Block #3 starts with the fabric from Block #2, now un-sewn and flattened. I transfer it to paper and finally have my final pattern. The really important markings are the natural waistline (higher in back and lower in front) and the outline of the top of the bra and bra straps. I walk the pattern and double-check everything. I then cut a new muslin from the final pattern, and mark the important lines with red thread, basted. In the picture above, Pretty Kitty is sitting on the muslin at this stage.
To make my red lines permanent, I zig-zag stitch over the basting. To prevent too much stretching in the side seams, I fell them. I zig-zag stitch around the neck and armscyes so they don't stretch out and gape.
The skin done, it's time to work on the bones...
It starts with the weird tectonic plates that my dress form is composed of. The plates attach to each other with sliders and wingnuts, so I start by putting the block on Claudia, then loosening wingnuts, sliding the plates to the approximate position, and tightening wingnuts. It's irritating work, because Claudia is old, and some wingnuts are missing, and some plates are stuck, and whenever I get one part of the body right, it messes up another part of the body. Sort of like a Rubix cube.
Then there's the padding...
Then there's the knitted thing that covers the tectonic plates, and I make sure to make one shoulder higher...
At this point its more of an insult to my sister than a simulacrum of her, but I persevere:
Hmm, needs more padding, and the drag lines indicate the form is too big somewhere. Part of the trouble is my sister's anterior pelvic tilt... I can't tilt Claudia's pelvis, so I just have to make Claudia smaller and add padding. I also couldn't make Claudia short-waisted, so my sister's bum looks odd situated so high on the dress form.
Eventually, Claudia is pretty close to my sister's form. I leave her in the living room for a week or so, getting used to her, adding padding and fiddling with wing-nuts, until my instinct says she's close enough to my sister to do the job. (I even try hugging her to see if she feels right, but that is definitely weird and makes me think of those poor monkeys in scientific experiments who got dummy mothers...!)
The most important features for fit--the waist position, size of shoulders, shortness of back, and angle of hips are all present. What's off is the amount of fluff in the front, which is variable anyway. I'm calling it close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades! So now I get to play around with draping a garment!
MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE MY SEWING ROOM...
They say April showers bring May flowers*, but here in Portland Oregon, it's happening a month earlier. After endless weeks of rain in March, cheered only by brave little daffodils, we finally saw a little sun over the weekend, and wow! Suddenly flowers! Trees and shrubs are blooming all over the city. There's a magnolia near my work decked out all in purple, with not a leaf in sight, only fragrant blooms. Forsythia festoon the shopping centers up on 82nd, and camellias drop perfect blooms on it seems like every other lawn. But best of all right now, the cherry blossoms! The Japanese Garden has just re-opened after much construction, and they have a new cultural center. I'll bet the cherry trees up there are gorgeous. Here are some boughs of Mt. Fuji Cherry given to me by a friend. They were buds when they were pruned, but I cut the ends the long way and put them in water, and now look at this beauty on my table!
* And what do Mayflowers bring? Pilgrims!
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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