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The Past

In 1993, hence "The Past", for no reason other than to further my learning, I did the Certificate III in Apparel Production. This was the course you did if you wanted to be a fashion designer. I did not want to be a fashion designer, I just wanted to know how things were done. It was a 2 year full time or 4 year part time course. I did it part time at night, twice a week for a couple of years - 3 hours lessons plus the homework, which was considerable. This is one of the reasons I didn't complete the course - the workload was enormous in the 2nd year - it went from the designing, drawing, drafting, toiling, and making a collection. I worked full time 6 days a week back then and there was no way I could fit it all in and as I said I was just doing it vocationally.

Interestingly, I may have completed it except for the stall half way through - the course was changing to a Diploma but as the teachers all went through the course and were only Certificate trained, they couldn't train Diplomas, so they had to get Diploma training and then they could train others. The details are vague though this could have contributed to not finishing, plus the time factor, plus, plus, plus... I can't remember.

While looking for something yesterday, I found my folders and course work and thought I'd share some of what we did.

In the techniques and constructions subject we were given some heavy interfacing that had been printed with some different lines, curves and corners to practice on the industrial machines. I remember doing this still... even though it was so long ago. Accuracy was a must and tricky as industrial machines are super fast but once you get used to them they are great. This was also my first time using an overlocker, which was also an industrial one so also went super fast.

We had a display folder where we had to make samples of techniques. This is my boxed pleats. There was often two ways of doing everything. We had to do the industrial way and the normal way that a pattern might suggest. The industrial techniques were mostly time saving for production work. When clothing is being made it is made in stages... one machinist would do one thing and then pass it on. (My aunt who lived in London used to do piece work at home... a bag of cut pieces and do her bit and someone would pick it up at the end of the day, drop her new stuff off and take her finished work to the next machinist). We had so many (I think 30) different techniques to showcase for our assessment.  There was different pleating, zip insertion, waistbands, frills - straight and frills bias, pin tucking, bigger tucks, you name it we did it.

These are the photos of my inverted pleat with a different fabric insert. On the top photo you'll notice how each side of the hem of the pleat is finished differently. Using different coloured thread was required so the assessor could see the finish quickly. The fabrics were all scraps from clothing I'd made. The yellow was a skirt the coloured one was a dress... I think the black denim looking fabric was from the college.

This is the measurement sheet for our personal blocks. We used a standard industry block closest to our size and then made a toile and then adjusted it for our own. I still have my personal blocks but have a look at the measurements above... e.g. waist 68cm!!! What ... really?? Wow... that was small... sorry you have to see my crotch measurements too.

We also had to work out fitting problems and we used a half size block to show how we'd fix the problem. That above is FBA on the left and SBA on the right.

Moving the darts to fit problem fix.

Remembering this is 1993 so this was the fancy printing! This project book was for design analysis - they had the style and we had to show how to draft the pattern. Notice also the skirt on the bottom left - is that not the Charlotte skirt like By Hand London's pattern, there was also a high/low hem skirt there too just showing how the same designs come in and out.

I loved pattern drafting and making. It really spoke to my accuracy nerdyness. (On a side note, I wanted to do Technical Drawing at high school  (this was in the '70's and it could have led to drafting plans or architecture) and when I did this pattern making, I knew I would have been good at it, but the school refused to let me saying I just wanted to do it to sit with the boys! Imagine saying that now.)

These next pieces were part bodices showing different techniques for assessment. The top one is two different sleeves and different finished on the sleeve hems.

Look at the perfect angle... look at the turn of cloth... not bad if I do say so myself.

What a colourful lot of sample fabrics! Some were supplied by the college and some we supplied ourselves. I really had great fun when I was doing this course and I'd go back but now there is huge cost so there isn't really an option to do it just for personal satisfaction.

I have got a few things sewn up the last couple of weeks and also an experiment in my future that I hope works out - no harm done if it doesn't but I will learns a lot either way. Any experiments in your future?


  1. Those samples are a great idea! It would really save time when trying to remember a specific technique. Thank you for and interesting post!

    For the experiment in my future, I'd like to work part time, but am nervous about quitting my job, even though it exhaust me. Oh well, something will work out ok.

  2. That must have been a huge workload back then (pre-child-time!) But look at all the great techniques you learnt - and you'll never forget any with the fantastic samples to refer to ... no wonder you enjoy sewing so much ... Judith

  3. Wow, this was totally fascinating! Loved reading it! I especially loved how you learned how to take a sketch and turn it into a pattern, and how the worksheet said "Plan of Action" on it. I will be using that phrase again! "What am I doing today? What is my plan of action?" :)

    And that is a lovely angle on the V with great turn of cloth. :)

    How disappointing that your school wouldn't let you take technical drawing!!!

  4. I don't think it matters that you did not finish - you went to learn, and learn you did. What a great investment in your own sewing future.

  5. What a fascinating post! A very interesting read. Thanks for sharing all that stuff.

  6. What a fascinating post! A very interesting read. Thanks for sharing all that stuff.


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