I first learned to pattern draft pants in wearable forms in my third year, but it wasn't until I went to Sweden that I really learned the process for drafting pants. If you ever feel the need to make some pants I would recommend that you consult Patternmaking by Dennic Chunman-Lo for womens wear and Patternmaking for Menswear by Gareth Kershaw . The books help you determine your measurements and use them to create a draft from scratch.
I made a basic pant draft using Chunman-Lo's instructions and what I remembered from classes. From there I went through about five different patterns before settling on overalls as the final form. In Fig.2 you can see the completed pattern pieces for the overalls.
One of the new skills that I learned while creating this pattern was how to add pockets into the side seam of the pants to make them flow with the lines of the pants. I combined the pattern for pockets from Kershaw's instructions on how to make trousers with the pant draft I based on Chunman-Lo's pant draft.
Now that I had my pattern I began using a serger to sew my seams. Sergers are good for sewing and binding seam allowances at the same time so that you can avoid using a lining. They are quick and strong and can be seen in most commercially constructed clothing.
After serging my seams and seeing the shape of the overalls, I decided that I wanted to add hand made brass buttons for the shoulder straps to clip on to. I made them by using an iron worker (see Fig. 7) to punch holes in a piece of 1/8" brass plate. I then drilled holes in the centres of the punched out pieces and used hammers and heat to create a textured and aged surface (Fig.10).
When I had all of my buttons I began planning how they would be spaced. I used fusible interfacing on the underside of the front of the overalls to hold the fabric stiff to compensate for the weight of the heavy buttons, but as I began testing them, I realized that it needed an extra layer. I felt that it needed some leather to make it fit aesthetically with the mask.
I have been attempting to figure out how to make a moving iris to add into my mask. I figured that some sort of leather, wood and metal mask with a cyclops iris that can actually move would be pretty fun. I spent about a week asking teachers and students if anyone had any information on how a mechanical iris would work and finally was referred to this Iris Calculator. If you ever decide that you would like to make a mechanical iris, it is definitely worth paying the dollar a year fee to be able to download and print your measurements.
Back to the boots. I had become a bit frustrated with the design for my boots. I realized through the first stages that I would need to incorporate some wet leather moulding techniques if I wanted them to look more professionally made. I began by making a shoe last in the wood shop. Shoe lasts, by the way, can be purchased online if you are interested in making your own boots. I used the sole pattern piece from my previous shoes, tracing it onto a piece of scrap plywood and cutting it out on a bandsaw. I wanted the edges to have a smooth curve to avoid cutting into the leather so I sanded off the edges, rounding them.
I first soaked my pieces of veggie tan leather under the tap, on both sides. I used warm water since it made sense that warmth would help it stretch. I used a C-clamp to hold the sole last onto the leather. I then used a pair of pliers to help me stretch it over the edges of the sole last. I then nailed the leather into place. It was easier to do this with a friend helping, though it is possible to do it on your own...awkwardly.
I wanted to speed up the drying process so I used a hair dryer propped up on my notebook to dry the first shoe sole while I stretched my second piece.
I knew that I would need the toe pieces to overlap if I wanted to be able to sew them together, and so I nailed the toe forms onto the sole ones to make a rough shoe last.
I used the same method as I used on the soles to stretch the leather for the toes.
At this stage I realized that you need to clamp your leather on either a flat surface or a clean, flat piece of leather. or else you risk damaging the top of your shoe as I did in Fig. 6.
The next step for the boots will be to create the rest of the pattern, cut the leather and sew!
We all have a choice when it comes to taking care of our planet. I believe it is our responsibility to evaluate our actions in order to reduce our toxic footprints. That being said, life is also hard. It is sometimes just too far out of your price range or out of your way to find the better option. I believe that it is most important in the design stage, rather than then for the consumer, to plan the lifecycle of the things you make. To make the decision as a maker to use only the most efficient and environmentally safe products whenever possible. I believe in the idea of closed business systems that either have no waste or that find ways to recycle or up-cycle any waste they do produce. This model involves the conscious effort to step back from the cradle to grave, new product to landfill, and instead think about the waste that your products will produce. These concepts were introduced to me through the book 'Cradle to Cradle' by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Reading the book really made me think about the whole product cycle from birth to death. In my future career I hope to reflect this idea and come up with incentives for people to bring things back for repair or reuse rather than disposing of them. In my current practice the materials that I choose are the ones that most successfully align with my desire to reduce the impact of my work on the environment.
Leather can be tanned in a variety of ways. But what is tanning? 'Tanning is the process of converting animal skins into leather by utilizing some form of "tannin". Leather produced today is usually chrome tanned, alum tanned or vegetable tanned.' Chromium tanned leathers have actually been shown to cause dermatitis. It is also a process that has a harsher environmental impact than vegetable tanned leather.
Vegetable tanning is the method of converting rawhide into leather with these plant-derived tannins. 'Tannins are yellowish organic compounds found in a wide variety of plants including the bark of oak, hemlock, quebracho, and chestnut trees. Hot water extracts the tannins making a tannic acid solution'. Tannins actually change the composition of skin fibres which makes them pliable, water repellant and resistant to bacteria. Because the process is more time-consuming, vegetable tanning is more often used for high-quality, expensive leathers. It is far less expensive to produce chrome tanned leathers. Vegetable tanning is technically the only natural form of tanning since tannins are from plants. It is usually better for the environment, but the manufacturer must also consider disposal methods about waste water and byproducts.
Original source on tanning: "Vegetable Tanned Leather." Http://www.negmaleather.com/. Negma Leather, 4 Oct. 2011. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.negmaleather.com%2Fwhat-is-vegetable-tanned-leather%2F>.
Based on this research I choose to work exclusively with vegetable tanned leather. However, it has forced me to question my own practices. Is vegetable tanned leather really as eco friendly as it seems? What does the company do with any waste water? The website for Tandy Leather Factory states that 'Tandy suppliers shall commit to reducing the environmental impact of their designs, manufacturing processes, and waste emissions'. While thats a great statement, it is the only mention of environmental issues on the site and I would love to know more. I will follow up this post with more information after I make a few calls to Tandy to ask them for more details.
Quote from: "Tandy Leather Factory Supplier Code of Conduct." Supplier Code. © 2015 Tandy Leather Factory, 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2015. <http://www.tandyleatherfactory.ca/en-cad/home/infoandservices/supplier-code/supplier-code.aspx>.
My Own Two Hands