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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Designer details and new lessons

One afternoon when I was in San Francisco it started to rain. I ducked into Neiman Marcus and headed up to the floor with designer clothes to have a look.

Being very Nova Scotian I went up to the sales folks and said listen I am not buying, but I am a sewer.  I would like to look at the clothes and take a few pictures if you don't mind.

They didn't mind at all and in fact took me to clothes with particularly interesting design details that we talked about. 

What a nice afternoon. 

Sometimes you know when folks think you are from the middle of nowhere they cut you a lot of slack to be honest. In the middle of nowhere you figure out that pleasant goes a long way and most people are really nice.

I had a huge take away from this day that I want to share.

Sometimes when we think of designer details or sewing designer style as in Chanel jacket projects or LBD we tend to work from classic interpretations of technique and forget to look at what designers are doing now.

In my little foray I learned this.

Designers are keeping up and changing. Like every other area they are embracing technology. Sergers are being used actively for new techniques. 

For the home sewer learning from designers can mean as much about learning how to do new things as learning how to do it the old way.

So here are some of the details I found most interesting. All with ideas we can all use. Note too that there still is much handwork but it is strategic not pervasive. I found this interesting.

First a hanging pocket. 

This was in unlined Armani double knit wool jacket with serger together seams bound with Wooly Nylon. Because the outside of the jacket was simple and clean the pocket bag was suspended by four long sturdy serged thread chains from the seam allowance, inside the jacket. From the outside there was no indication of a pocket- on the inside there was a place to put your phone:

Sorry about the fuzzy picture I only had two hands to work with, hopefully you can get the idea

I was also quite take with another unlined Armani coat - in wool where the seams were made by lapping one layer over the other and the raw edges of each layer turned under and hand stitched to make seams without stitching lines. At the edges the layers were turned to the right side on the buttonhole side to make a binding look and under on the button side:

The same jacket also had a knit collar I thought was both beautiful and would be very comfortable:

I saw a lot of serged seams. In this knit dress the serger seams are made with close set stitches with wooly nylon in the loopers so it looks almost like binding:

I was also interested to see some novel bindings. This dress by Dior has the neck and armhole edges covered with grosgrain ribbon, laid on and stitched versus folded. I thought this looked nice and crisp with the seersucker stripe:

The use of ribbing as opposed to classic binding was interesting in this jacket by Chanel - I thought it looked nice and modern and will be borrowing this idea myself. I thought it was beautiful, and without the old lady, Rose Kennedy look, I feel in some of these jackets;

Finally my favourite. 

A simple navy silk duping shirt dress lengthened to floor length. What I particularly liked about this dress was that the concealed button placket actually gets wider as it goes down the dress, keeping the proportions of the flared skirt perfect. 

We could make a dress like this, couldn't we?


Gwen Van Kleef said...

Some great ideas here. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love getting the chance to see how high end clothes are put together. A friend and I were having a good look at some clothes in Liberty but unfortunately the staff weren't quite as accommodating !!Strange women looking at the inside of dresses. I also find that some very expensive clothes aren't necessarily well made - no surprise there I guess. Victoria Beckhams clothes as seen in Selfridges were shocking.


Anonymous said...

Great post. I'd love to see more next time you're snooping! I've done this too. I'm curious about the shirt dress. Did you notice if it was underlined or lined?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for 'snoop shopping' for us! I really liked several of your finds, especially the hanging pocket. I will definitely experiment with that for my next unlined jacket. I would love to see more too.


Kathleen Meadows said...

This was a lot of fun! I had to get up very close to my screen to make out the details but it was worth it. I was fascinated with that grosgrain ribbon just laid on top and stitched. A love clean finish and that shirt dress! WOW I've been on a shirt/blouse/tunic making binge over the past few months (I'm now working on the Kalle by Closet Case) so I was especially excited by that full length dupioni shirt dress. Gorgeous!

Laurinda said...

What a great idea! I wish I understood how the pocket was attached in the first photo, because it sounds like one could be added to a current piece

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your spying!! I love doing that in NYC Department Stores, and being a New Yorker I of course don't tell anyone about what I'm doing ;-) Unfortunately I haven't been able to do it since the baby was born. Maybe I can use her cuteness as a distraction and snap away!!

Anonymous said...

I've been adding internal pockets to all kinds of things lately but have never examined a hanging one in the wild......there was a discussion of one in pants (!!!) on some blog I can't now recall that really confused me, perhaps because of being more convex in that area myself I can't imagine a pocket.....

ANYWAY much to think of, thank you. And the long shirt dress with the wider at the bottom button band....how to apply that to a shirt length???? Should be do-able, yes?


Barbara said...

Q and A. Yes the blue dress is lined and I believe the concealed button placket was made by drafting a front extension to CF, adding an inch or an inch and a half to the centre front and then just stitching the separate button placket behind it. Does that make sense?

Esther said...

Hello Barbara! First of all congrats about your blog, which I love to read, it is so inspirational in sewing and in life!
I am a European sewist and I will be on holiday in San Francisco next august. Do you think I could do the same and go to Nerman Marcus (where is it, btw?) and check the designers' clothes?
Is there a fabric shop you can recommend to me?

Thank you very much!

Rabina said...

Your all pics is good. Sewing style is good and your blog is good .Keep sharing and posting