Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Couture Sewing is about Control

I have been re-taking Susan Khalje's The Couture Class to improve my sewing skills and learn some couture techniques. I skipped school last week, so  you can see how I ended up being a Couture School drop-out last time I took the class. I am not currently sewing the pattern that is included in the class along with the class. 

Picking up where I left off I started on Lesson 3: Muslin Assembly.
Susan recommends marking your muslin with large 26" X 39" sheets of waxed paper which I purchased from Richard the Thread and a tracing wheel. I have 4 rolls of yellow, red and blue sheets, enough to last me for many years of tracing. I like tracing this way and have used it many times after watching this the first time. There are two things to watch out for. One, the sheets can rub off on your hands or your clothes and will not wash out of the fabric.
The other thing, is to be sure to use a press cloth when ironing the muslin the wax lines can mess up the bottom of your iron. I have learned the second one by experience. Mark the stitching lines, notches, hem, and long grain lines. Below is a screen shot of the large tracing paper that Susan recommends.

Next you carefully remove the pins from the tissue and reinsert them back into the muslin. Turn the muslin pattern piece and flip it over to trace the lines onto the other side. Susan recommends you mark the pattern piece with a sharpie. All of these steps increases the accuracy. After all the pattern pieces have been marked Susan recommends you thread trace the lines using a dark thread. and wide stitches.

There are more tips and techniques that Susan reveals about pinning together the muslin and assembly. She has some great tips on getting a nice smooth, curved, princess seam. Susan mentions several times about control in couture sewing and shows you ways to achieve this along the way.
 Susan doesn't stitch the bodice to the skirt put assembles it with pins so she can adjust it if needed during the fitting. She even discusses different methods of pining the fabric and placement, she prefers to use the pin as a stitch.
In the next session she shows you how to adjust the fit on your model. Susan talks about not only adjusting for the fit but it is equally important to evaluate the proportion also. She has two sleeve options to try and shows you how to fit a sleeve and adjust the dart near the elbow. She finishes this section discussing fit and suggesting dress forms or professional dressmakers who can make a few pattern for you. If you remember this summer I took a class on Fit form Craftsy and we paired up with a group to fit on each other. I finished with the last topic on the muslin, modifying the muslin, dead darts and adjusting the armhole with a french curve. 
Next week I will watch the section on underlining. I used this technique on my sultry sheath dress after doing a quick watch of the lesson, I am sure there are some tips that I missed.
Many of these tips I had forgotten, I am glad I am re-watching the lessons. Susan is a kind and patient teacher I would love to take one of her live classes or better yet her Paris Tour. Ooh la la!


  1. I also really like using white wax tracing paper. It actually disappears when you iron over top of it, so you can use it directly on many colored fashion fabrics without fear of permanent marring.

  2. Thansk Amy that is a great tip.