Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Patternmaker's Update: It's Been A Crazy Week

Okay,  so on our holiday weekend I'd planned to get my first portfolio piece completed,  I was raring to go and then I sat at the sewing machine to figure out stitch length and thread tension that would work for this beautiful but thin and slippery fabric I want to sew the lemon tulip lingerie pattern out of and...

The little rubber wheel that creates the traction necessary for new bobbin thread to be wound around a bobbin had melted into a gross black goo around the wheel it was supposed to be on.  And that wasn't all,  there was a piece of broken plastic from the socket that held the top thread spool,  so there was only one thing left to do. Open her up and see if I could fix the problem(s).  I'd found a crayon in the machine as well as the clip of marker top,  my daughter's doing for sure.

I've fixed a sewing machine I had before,  several times,  with success.   And I also repaired a scroll saw,  on my own,  again with success.  I took time and patients and all but I did it so I had no inhibitions about opening up this Brother sewing machine and seeing if I could get it up and running again.   Well after all was said and done, with an attempt to fit the wheel with a quintupled rubberband and then when I decided it wouldn't work because it was getting shredded,  I headed for the toy box in search of a little car.    Have you ever seen them? Little hard black rubber wheels,  they might have been just the thing I needed,  I did find one,  and I did fit 2 of the cars wheels on the bobbin mechanism,  but when I tried to run the machine, they too began to melt.  Yuck,  you know?   Okay,  so maybe the Brother company has the right wheel...I'll just have to email them,  I thought.

Then,  the needle bar somehow got misaligned too,  so that the needle completely missed the bobbin case.  No luck at all trying to figure that one out.  I did what I always do, compare adjacent pieces,  look for what looks like it's fitted wrong,  was there something sitting in the plastic case the wrong way?  Nothing made any sense.  Why did this time have to be a problem I couldn't fix?

WELL,  my husband came to my rescue and told me he'd get a new on for me on Monday,  which he did along with a new computer to replace this beat up HP laptop that's been giving me a hard time.   He's been watching me work on these computer patterns and get article projects done and realized I'm dead serious about what I'm into so he's offered his loving support and got me a beautiful new Singer sewing machine and a cool new Acer computer.

So I've been setting up the computer with all the programs and things I use to work and getting a new client's pattern completed (I actually just sent it off a few minutes ago).  It was my very first corset pattern for a designer in Saudi Arabia.  I hope they keep me on as a client.   It takes me a little longer to do work for a new client because I usually need to first prepare a brand new sloper for them from scratch,  they don't give me one.  I'm not sure why,  I guess they don't know about it.  I did hear that companies and designers are supposed to provide the patternmaker with the sloper in the size they want though.

Any while doing a bit of research this week also had me discover the reason behind the necessity of perfection in a patternmaker's work.   Thought it was just a pickiness thing?   Think again.  A person familiar with home sewing could easily make this mistake (I did for a while and I am a perfectionist) but the thing about homesewers,  as Kathleen Fasanella puts it, " homesewers expect too much from themselves"  they're highly skilled,  where as the people working in a factory are not and don't need to be.   This is why the pattern has to be perfect,  flawless without so much as a 1/32 of an inch mistake,  yes I'm not kidding you,  don't even allow yourself a 1/32 of an inch mistake.

Because,  the people working the factory sewing machines only have a small part of the garment to sew and they may not be aware how everything else is supposed to fit together they also won't know if something is a little off.  And the mistake will go from one person to the next,  no one knowing how to fix the problem, with chances being that the one mistake will cause additional mistakes and you'll end up with imperfect garments.   The horror.   And everyone will know it was your fault,  you are the one who made a mistake!

Any way,  how do you solve/prevent this problem all together, simple,  when you're working on the computer,  (God bless these things) set your nudge distance to 0.031 (this is the 1/32" I was talking about)  and work under a microscope,  in CorelDraw 9 for example,  this means zooming in till 1" is about 5" or 6" on the screen.  Make sure all your points,  lines and curves match up everywhere under this "microscope" and remind yourself that this attention to detail is what will set you apart from the rest.

And just for the sake of reference,  should any of you be using CorelDraw 9 to draft patterns,  like myself,  when you've powerclipped something into a 'container' to be able to cut it up into separate,  perfect panels,  make sure your cutting path ( this can be a straight or shaped line) isn't closed.  If it is a closed path for some reason the interior of this path gets rid of the pattern piece you're trying to slice through.

Okay,  so now I've got another dress pattern to do for my client in New York and I have to watch the dvd that came with the Singer sewing machine so I can start sewing with it fairly quick.  Maybe this weekend,  I'm hoping,  unless something else comes up.   But my deadline is either by the end of this month of April,  or at the very least the first week or two of May.

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