First off, I wanted to thank you guys for your comments on my last post. It's really cool to hear all of your opinions, and I appreciate your taking the time to share them! I posted a comment in response, which you're welcome to read if you're interested.
But moving on! What have I been up to in fashion school lately, besides beating my head against my storyboards and black dress patternwork?
Actually, some pretty awesome stuff. These past three weeks, I've been taking a garment duplication class. And although the slang term for garment duplication is "knocking off", I've found that there's a lot more to the process than simply copying a design.
I have this jacket that I bought at a little shop in Santa Cruz almost six year ago, and it's my go-to cool weather jacket. I wear it by itself in the fall and spring, and layered over cardigans in the winter. I love the crap out of this jacket, and I'm fairly sure that I could never find one exactly like it again. So when I heard about the garment duplication class, I was pretty excited to make a copy of my jacket, because the original is literally falling apart at the seams.
So I brought it in to class, and we started looking at the construction of the jacket. There are a few interesting things about it: the princess line that shapes the front of the jacket is actually a curved dart; the sleeves are two-piece sleeves, which gives an excellent fit; the seams inside the pockets are unfinished; there's much more shaping on the back than there is on the front.
I think perhaps the coolest thing that I learned about it, however, is the way that the pattern pieces were cut on the back. See, usually center back is cut straight on the lengthwise grain, but in this jacket, it's not:
Apparently this is a pretty common technique used in men's jackets, and it would help explain why I love the fit of this jacket: I have prominent shoulderblades, and the shoulder on the bias allows for easier movement. I also really appreciated the fact that the fabric is a herringbone, which gives a really clear picture of what the grain is doing.
My eventual plan is to finish patternmaking the jacket as it is, and then grade it up a size. Although I love the shape, I've often found myself wishing that there was a touch more ease to allow me to wear thicker sweaters underneath, and I think a straight size larger would probably allow for that.
Although there are ethical issues involved in straight-up copying a design, I think there's a lot to be said for duplicating vintage and favorite clothing that can't be replaced - it can provide insight into the kind of fit that works for your body type, the tricks that manufacturers use to put garments together in an efficient way, and the sheer amount of thought and work that goes into producing ready-to-wear clothing.