THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

January 13, 2009

Vogue 1073 – Chado Ralph Rucci, Parsing the Pattern Pieces

Filed under: Couture Techniques,sewing couture — phyllisc @ 11:17 pm

Here is a photo of the center front piece pinned to my dressform; as you can see, the darts wrap around the body and they are hidden in the tucks.

Last night I cut out my pattern and began to study it in more detail, but first let me share with you some interesting information I received today about how this dress is constructed.  Gail (who is certainly in a position to know) has confirmed that the construction method I’m investigating for the pin tucks is correct.  She also offers more insights into the tucks that I’ll excerpt for you:

“…. I thought I’d offer some comments to let you know that you are on the right track. I have not seen the commercial pattern that you are working with, but I can tell you how the samples are made in the (Rucci) workroom. The pattern allows 3/16″ for a 1/8″ pin tuck. You are constructing the pin tucks correctly, and you are right, there is no stabilizer or cording in the pin tuck. The knit that was used for this dress is not jersey, it is actually interlock, which is a different knit construction. If you are a knitter, you will recognize jersey as having a flat side and a bumpy side, like stockinette stitch. Interlock is a double knit construction, it makes a beefier, more stable cloth, it is flat on both sides…. “

Needless to say I panicked and immediately inspected my sample to determine the type of fabric I have, and this wool knit is indeed interlock, albeit one that is very lightweight, but it does have the stability that Gail references.  Whew. 

So now we know that Vogue’s fabric recommendation is wrong: you need wool interlock, not wool jersey.  It also must be 60 inches wide because the front needs to cut single layer (and I suspect this is also why Vogue does not offer this pattern graded higher than Size 16.)

Now that I know the exact fabric this design requires, I need to hit Jo-Ann’s to find an inexpensive interlock to use for muslins, which brings me to my pattern observations.

After giving it some thought, I cut off the seam allowances because I’ve decided to thread trace the pattern seam allowances onto blocks of fabric in a single layer layout. Why? Because that’s how it’s done in haute couture, and also because basting the pin tucks by hand onto flat laid fabric will require a single layer layout anyway. The seam allowances also just made it too difficult see the finished lines of this dress

A quick observation on petite and FBA adjustments in general:

  • I’ve decided to go down one size to a 12 for the 1stmuslin. Vogue slopers have linebacker shoulders, and I have narrow shoulders.
  • This dress really hangs from the shoulders and bust. Fortunately, the shoulders and sleeves are simple, there is no set in sleeve, just a kimono-like shoulder with a single seam that runs runs down the top of the arm from the side neck to the wrist. Ease is supplied by the knit fabric and under arm gussets. To determine your own size match the pattern as closely to your bust size as possible because the skirt portion is a very simple A-Line shape that skims the body and will be easy to alter; the fit through the bust however is crucial.

Next post I’ll pin the upper bodice front and back to my dressform so you can see how those pattern pieces relate to the body.

 Thank you Gail!  To say I was a little verklempt when I read her comment is putting it midly.  You can read all of Gail’s comment here (scroll to comment 16.)

 Next post: How I’ll tackle the muslin and more photos of the pattern pieces.

January 4, 2009

Vogue 1073 – Chado Ralph Rucci pintuck samples

Filed under: couture sewing,Couture Techniques,Designer,sewing,sewing couture — phyllisc @ 7:47 pm

Today I spent the afternoon with Ann at the Gorgeous Fabrics Studio; we had wonderful time together.   Ann worked on a muslin for Burda 3477  (a pattern with a really great draft BTW that is obvious even in a flat pattern stage) that I helped her fit, and she helped me figure out how to make the pintucks for my Ralph Rucci dress.

Mentally I’ve been going back and forth between two techniques to figure out how Rucci does these.  The obvious choice is a pintuck foot, and another idea would be pintucks basted from the right side and stitched with a walking foot.  I made a sample for each technique, and one came out a clear winner over the other.  Both samples were marked on the right side with a water soluble marker in a zip-zag shape much tighter than the tucks on the Rucci pattern.

Pintuck Foot Tucks

This sample started off well, however as soon as I started to turn my wool jersey into the curves disaster struck:  the fabric got sucked into the feed dogs, which ripped a hole in the  jersey.

What a mess

What a mess



This idea was clearly problematic and while  it occured to me that I might be able to avoid this problem with a light stabilizer; I had to ask myself, “What would Rucci do?”.   Based on what I know about his construction methods, I have a hard time believing he would use something as mundane as a pintuck foot and stabilizer, so this idea was scrapped.

Hand Basted and Sewn with a Walking Foot

This method, along with a consult with Ann, gave me the result I was looking for.  Here the tucks are hand basted from the right side, and then carefully sewn with a walking foot.  

Laid Flat and Hand Basted From the Right Side, Not Yet Stitched

Laid Flat and Hand Basted From the Right Side, Not Yet Stitched

Not bad, but not quite the right effect.  As I looked at it on Ann’s ironing board I noticed her new gravity feed iron quietly heating up next to me.   Eureka!  Steam shrink it!

I removed the basting and  steam shrunk to remove the ripples.  Ann agreed this must be what Rucci does and she added a final steam blast on her ham to set the ridge of the tuck.  I think we got it!

Stitched, Basting Removed and Steam Shrunk - the Winnah!

Stitched, Basting Removed and Steam Shrunk - the Winnah!

14Stream shrinking is used quite a bit in bespoke and haute couture , and the fact that the pattern envelope recommends wool jersey offers an additional clue that steam shrinking is part of making the tucks; this process can only be done with wool fabrics or silk/wool blends.  One last clue in the pattern itself   covinced me that this is what Rucci does;  the shaping bust darts are hidden in the edges of the bust pintucks, and I believe it would be impossible to sew those shaping darts if the tuck was stitched with a pintuck foot.

A last consideration was whether or not the tucks are corded, and I don’t think they are; the original runway version of this dress is really drapey, and corded tucks would add quite a bit of weight.  I also don’t think Vogue Patterns version uses cord, rather that fabric just happens to be a much heavier wool knit than the one used by Rucci (and I think my fabric actually comes pretty close to the weight he used in the runway version.)

So – I need to practice this technique a bit more, and then proceed to  the question of whether this pattern can be adjusted via a vis an FBA and/or for a petite – I think it can, but not in the usual way we might think. 

Stay tuned! 

October 18, 2008

Vogue 1073: Parsing Out the Pintucks

Filed under: couture sewing,Couture Techniques,Designer,sewing — phyllisc @ 9:11 am

Vogue 1086 Pattern PiecesAs you can see from the pattern pieces; this is a pretty interesting design!  The instructions that come with this pattern basically stink like a monkey and I don’t believe for a minute they actually show how Rucci would make  a dress like this, although I do think he would make it entirely on a regular sewing machine as the instructions imply.  

The pintucks are marked on the pattern pieces, but there is nothing that specifically indicates how wide they are supposed to be.  However, the pattern itself does offer an intriguing clue; the darts are hidden in the seams of the pintucks. 

I measured the difference between the marked dart lines and a pintuck, and its 1/8 of an inch (3 MM).  So I’m convinced these pintucks are supposed to be 1/8 inch (3mm) tall.  Shannon Gifford has suggested on Stitcher’s Guild that  at a twin needle is not really the best choice because there is no twin needle wide enough  for these pintucks. 

I do think the widest Schmetz twin needle might produce something close to 1/8 of an inch but I won’t use a twin needle for other reasons: (1)  The front pattern piece is really large – it spans the entire width of the fabric in layout, selvage-to-selvage.  I believe that trying to maneuver a double needle through my wool jersey and around those curves is asking for trouble and (2) there is no way the darts could be hidden when the pintucks are stitched with a twin needle.  

I really had to rack my brain over this conundrum, and I think I’ve come up with WWRD. Here is my pintuck plan:

  • Cut the front in a single layer layout
  • Use a full size oak tag stencil of the front to mark the tucks
  • Lay the front out flat and hand baste the tucks from the right side
  • Machine stitch 1/8 inch pintucks with a walking foot
  • Remove the basting.
  • No backstiching the ends of the pintucks; I suspect Rucci does the same thing that Chanel does on their quilted jacket linings; the needle side thread tails are threaded onto a hand sewing needle, brought to the wrong side, and tied off with the bobbin thread.

Dress Front Pattern PieceTruthfully, I can’t think of any other way to do these pintucks without losing control.  Of course I’ll have to test this theory before I plunge into the real thing.  The second illustration shows the bodice piece; and this is oriented as in the finished garment.  On the top drawing you can see interfacing at the neckline and two sets of bust darts.  The darts are made first and then the pintucks are stitched, and the stitch line of the pintuck must precisely follow the stitch line of the stiched dart because in the finished garment the darts are invisible (just look closely at the pattrern envelope photo – there are no darts to be seen even though they do exist).  The angled straight edge is the center back seam. This pattern has an additional challenge – there is no provision for above waist adjustments, so that means for someone short-waisted  like me I’ll have to figure out how I can deal with this.  The trick will be to raise the waist with as little distortion to the pintucks as possible.

I think I’ll need to make a full size test garment straight from the pattern, unadjusted, and then work out my figure adjustments, and then transfer those changes onto a new pattern piece.  But this isn’t so bad because I’ll get to practice and perfect those pintucks!

I think I’ll also head over to Amazon to order “The Art of Weightlessness” – there might be some insights to be gleaned from the Rucci garments in that book.

October 12, 2008

Vogue 1073: Chado Ralph Rucci

Filed under: couture sewing,Couture Techniques,Designer,Fabric,sewing — phyllisc @ 2:06 pm

Vogue has just released another Ralph Rucci pattern, and after a summer sewing hiatus I’m in the mood to tackle a challenge.  Rucci is kind of the Frank Lloyd Wright of fashion – his clothes are pretty much meant to be worn as deisgned and styled, without too much deviation from the original. It seems the consensus on this pattern is not quite as universally favorable as the dress he did last summer, but I really like this style and I’ll wear it.  It has a Emma Peel 60’s-ish quality to it that I really like. 

Vogue 1073 - Chado Ralph Rucci

Vogue 1073 - Chado Ralph Rucci


Extra Wide Wool Jersey! Olive Gray - wjs2131

Extra Wide Wool Jersey! Olive Gray - wjs2131

Stretch Silk Charmeuse! - Guava ssc1981

Stretch Silk Charmeuse! - Guava ssc1981

So here’s what this one will be: two Gorgeous Fabrics selections; an extra wide olive grey wool jersey and a bright guava stretch silk charmeuse for a bold lining.  Vogue had a two-day on-line sale this week and pattern was marked down 75%, hopefully everything will arrive soon.   It will be interesting to see how the pin tucks are done on this dress;  I assume a wide double needle and a walking foot would be used, but I’ll just have to see what the instructions say.  I think I’ll make oak tag stencils for the marking the pin tucks with chalk or a sewing marker.  Another thing to think about is whether a stabilizer might be needed under the pin tucks.  And then there is the lining – are those pieces pin tucked as well?  So many questions!

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