Dressmaking and Presentation – Edith Kramer

My grandmother is a seamstress. Since I was little, I have watched her sew my clothes and have always wanted to learn. I was so happy to get this opportunity in this project, for which I will be making a half-scale outfit for Edith Kramer.

I have chosen the above image as reference for the outfit I will be making. It is composed of three components – a white shirt, a blue and white plaid, and on the very top, a corduroy jacket. This outfit stood out to me because of the layers, the loose fit, the muted colours, and finally, the materials themselves. Combined, these properties insinuate a character who prefers comfort in their everyday wear, and practicality. The corduroy specifically, is ‘one of those sturdy, reliable fabrics that sewers tend to take for granted.’ Altogether, I believe this outfit is a good indicator of the warmth, kindness and authenticity of Edith Kramer that I came to understand through my research, and for which I would like the viewer to recognise her for.

The corduroy fabric is also kind to the beginner sewer – it can be found in quite a few style variations and doesn’t present with much stretch. It is advised that when looking for corduroy, one should ‘look for one that has a generous, lush pile and a superior sheen and drape, which will produce a beautiful, cushy, rumpled look after many washings.’

Additionally, I also chose my corduroy fabric based on the scale. I had to recreate Edith Kramer’s jacket on half-scale, therefore it was important to imitate the size of the thread and patterns. The corduroy is made in distinctive ribs, which are called wales. These range in size, with the higher number of wales resulting in a tighter pattern. As Edith Kramer is wearing a large wale style, I looked to Needlecord 21 wales/in. Below shows the difference between a smaller and a larger wale.

After attending a pattern-making workshop, I learned I also needed a pattern. Edith Kramer’s jacket includes a Peter Pan variation of a collar. See below for my test jacket in the fabric calico. The final pattern will be adjusted to be a little larger and used for the corduroy jacket. Interfacing will be used in the collar for stiffness.

Practicing before-hand showed me some errors I made. I must remember for the final jacket:

  1. Do not sew the area under the sleeves before sewing on the collar! More flexibility and accuracy this way.
  2. Cut little triangles into curved areas.
  3. Sew the collar in between the front facing and the upper parts. This way edges won’t show.
  4. Prewash the fabric.
  5. Use the ‘low impact’ pressing technique to not lose the wale shape.

 The rest of the clothing components present in the image will be outsourced – I will look at the smallest sizes of children clothing.

Presentation – additional details

True to my benchmarks, I have also paid attention to small idiosyncratic accessories of Edith Kramer and will include them in my model. From the small hair pins that she wears, which I have outsourced at half-scale (from Wilkos!) to the major details, which are of course, the eyes. The latter I outsourced from Eyedentity, through which process I have experienced the (occasional) frustration of outsourcing.

I first ordered the eyes early April. I wanted to give myself leeway in case they were not good enough quality. Unfortunately, a week after purchase the sale representative informed me that they did not have this pair available at their locations in the UK, and they would have to be shipped from their workshops in Germany. However, due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, he was unsure when I would receive them. The best he could give me after I prompted him, was an ETA of early June.

At this point I considered my options – the size of the eyes I was seeking was infuriatingly hard to find online, and apart from Eyedentity, all other options would be out of the budget of the project by a significant amount. The best option for my project was to take the risk and order from Eyedentity. Thankfully, the eyes did arrive early June, although I was glad I kept bi-weekly contact with the company to ensure their arrival.