Monday, December 25, 2017

66: Belly dancing attire

A belly dancer's costume.

Belly dancer's costumes are very beautiful. Here is a costume worn by a belly dancer in Baltimore, Maryland.

Bracelets and bra front

Back skirt yoke
Back view

If you subscribe to Threads Magazine, look for my ad in the marketing section of the Feb/Mar issue of the magazine, due on the market this January, 2018.

Bye for now - thanks for reading - Laurel


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2017. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

65: Scanning for fit

It seems that Amazon just bought a startup that makes 3D scans of your body.

I'm not so sure about scanning the body to determine fit. It seems to me that this is a very expensive way to do something when there is a much easier way to determine which manufactured clothing will fit your body.

A tape measure is the drafting tool of choice to use when determining if clothing will fit.
Compare your measurements with the measurements given for the sizes that are offered by the manufacturer.
Since manufacturers draft their patterns to grade rules, once you find a manufacturer whose clothing fits you,
buy clothing from that manufacturer in the size that you have found fits. 

There is a very inexpensive drafting tool that really helps with getting the fit right. It's called a tape measure.

Use that to compare your measurements with the measurements given for the garment(s) you are purchasing and you have a fairly good chance that the garment(s) will fit you.

Men do this all the time. Go into any men's department in any store and you will find that the men's clothing is labeled with actual measurements, listed in inches!

But with women's clothing the size on a garment may be a 10, or a 14, etc. so what on earth do those sizes mean? Too many women try on garment after garment, hoping something will fit. What a frustrating waste of time! So now the big solution is scanning one's body. The world's gone crazy!

Women's sizing, such as 10 or 12, is actually a company's industrial jargon for a complete set of measurements for that size. Check the manufacturing company's sizing chart and you will learn the measurements that are indicated by each size on the clothings' tags.

For mass-production of clothing to be successful, manufactures must cut a 1000 garments at a time. Using a grade-rule (a measuring system that establishes the measurements for each of the sizes in a style line) based on an averaging of measurements from a selected group of people is the only way mass-production is possible. Years ago there was talk of scanning to produce custom fitted mass-produced clothing. Custom fitted mass-produced clothing is an oxymoron. There is no such thing because it is impossible.

If your measurements are the same or close to the measurements of one of the sizes in that grade rule, buying clothing from that manufacturer in that size will enable you to enjoy a good, or many even an excellent fit.

Note: Stay posted. Hoping to have Grading to Fit and its companion book, Grading and Sewing a Blouse on the market by January 1, 2018. Will post when the books are finished. Together they show how to draft slopers (basic patterns - front and back bodice, front and back skirt, sleeve from which pattern styles are drafted) that fit an individual, and then how to use those slopers to determine the grading coordinates needed to grade grade-rule patterns, such as home sewing patterns, to a custom fit.

I'm working day and night on those two books, the reason I rarely post on my blog.

Bye for now - thanks for reading - Laurel


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2017. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

64: NYC Fashion Schools

A visit to the Fashion Institute of Technology and to Parsons School of Design

Shira, now 17, is interested in becoming a fashion designer. So off she, her mother, and I went on Saturday, August 12, to NYC to visit the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and Parsons School of Design.
Shira, now 17, is interested
in becoming a fashion designer.
About to board the train for NYC.
We are up early as the entire day is planned down almost to the minute. The goal is for Shira to evaluate two fashion schools, FIT and Parsons.

Shira's mother drives us to Princeton where we take the NJ Transit into Penn Station in NYC.

Designers need to understand how knit
fabrics are made. So while riding on the
train, Shira learns how to knit. To make it
easy, she is using large needles and knitting
with string. 
We've made it to NYC! Now on to FIT.
Now in NYC it's only four blocks south to FIT at 227 West 27th Street.

Fashion Institute of Technology 

Waiting for the moderator at FIT to begin the presentation.

FIT Museum

At FIT we learned from the presenter, who is a FIT guidance councilor that FIT offers 29 majors.

Students complete an associate degree in their freshman and sophomore years, then go on to complete a bachelor degree in their junior and senior years.

There are no more than 25 students per class, including in the sewing classes. Fifteen was the limit when I taught the sewing class at Philadelphia University. Fifteen is a full class.

From day one students are taking classes in their major.

The faculty must have 7 years experience in their field.

FIT has a campus in florence, Italy and now also has a campus in Seoul, Korea. Portfolio Days are held at FIT on October 28 and December 3. Faculty will be at the even and can critique the portfolio before it is submitted to FIT.

                       Fashion & Textile History Gallery
                    showing from May 30 – November 18, 2017  
Dress  at the FIT Museum.

Shoes on display at the FIT Museum.

 Parsons School of Design 

The New School provides academic classes for the students.
Arriving at Parsons' University Center
 at 63 Fifth Avenue for an afternoon tour.

We then traveled uptown to Parsons' University Center to an afternoon tour conducted by Babs.

Babs and Shira 

Bab is, a fifth year dual degree student at Eugene Lang College and Parsons School of Design. Originally from Hartford, CT, she has worked for the Welcome Center since July 2015. - Posted in the Welcome Center. 

Knitting examples on display at Parsons.

Babs told us that Parsons is a four-year program. the first year students take foundation courses that consist of basic and medium skills, and that give an overview of various majors. 

She showed us three-D printing used to make shoes' soles, combined with knitting to make the tops of shoes. 

Classes average 15 students to one teacher. Students must speak to an adviser before selecting courses. 85 percent of the students get into their fields. 

Whitney Museum

The Whitney has huge windows, allowing for views
that look down on the city. 
 We then decided to tour the Whitney Museum which overlooks the Highline.

The Whitney is filled with modern art. Here in the stairwell
we found some interesting cloth sculptures. 

Checking out NYC fabrics.
Knitting while waiting for the train
that will take us back to Princeton.

Going home 

We ate in the fabric district, giving us time to check out a few fabric stores, which, even though it was Saturday, where open.

After supper we walked down to Penn Station to wait for the NJ Transit to take us back to Princeton. 

This gave Shira time to practice her knitting. During the train ride she completed a perfect swatch of stockinette knitting, proving that she had learned how to knit on the trip, and that she now                                                            knew how to both knit and purl. 


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2017. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

63: Fashions in the Thirties

The Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography, and Sculptural Form

Running through July 9, 2017 at the Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA, this show presents photographs and garments from the 1930s. 

This design seems ageless.
Nowhere have I seen a better example of clothing reflecting the age in which the clothing was worn. Although beautifully cut and sewn, this excellently presented clothing brings to mind the drabness and depression of the era.

Oh my! Something needs to go.
This is a black dress, lightened in PhotoShop
to show the detailed sewing.

High style in the 30s!


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2017. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

62: Pricing

How much should one charge? What is one's time worth?
How does one make sure one's business will make a profit? 

Here in this post is pricing information from Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry. 

Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry is an upgrade of Design Room Techniques, the introductory sewing book for the Continuing Professional Education program offered previously at the two universities in Philadelphia that have fashion programs

Before determining the wholesale price one should charge for one's sewn product one should determine how much one needs to make an hour. Use this chart to do that.
Complete this chart to determine how much you need to make an hour.
If you are manufacturing, this is the amount you must add to the expenses
of running your operation in order to meet your personal expenses.

It is very important to remember to pay yourself. It has been estimated that one needs
at least $90,000 to start a clothing manufacturing business. Knowing just how much one
needs out of that money to meet personal expenses, then subtracting that amount from the
start-up funds may be one of the smartest things an entrepreneur can do when
thinking about starting a business.

Below are two charts that show how to determine both the cost of producing a garment, and a third chart that show how to determining the wholesale price of the garment.
Sewing procedures involved in making the garment need to be timed. This chart shows
how to determine the time needed to make a blouse.

(Chart 3-9, page 34, Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry)
The fabric and notions' cost needs to be determined. Years ago some companies tripled
the total cost of materials used in the making of a garment to give the wholesale price.
Now the price is often whatever the market will bear.

(Chart 3-10, page 35, Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry)
Use this chart to determine the wholesale price for the sewn product.

(Chart 3-12, page 37, Sewing Techniques from the Fashion Industry)

.40x = 28.50
x = 28.5/.4 = $71.20

In the chart above is an example of how to use a company’s percentage markup to determine a garment’s wholesale price. This company’s cost of materials is 40% of the wholesale price.

Determining wholesale prices:
If the company’s mark up (the reciprocal cost) is 60% of the wholesale price, then the cost of materials is 40% of the wholesale price.

For example: let’s say the cost of the materials needed to make a blouse is $28.50, 40 percent of the total wholesale cost. Divide $28.50 by .4 to give the wholesale price of the blouse, $71.20,

To determine the reciprocal price subtract $28.50 from $71.20 to give $42.70, the additional costs involved with manufacturing the blouse and running the business


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2017. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by, and is the exclusive right of
Laurel Hoffmann.

Monday, February 20, 2017

61: Mummers' Costumes

Some had it especially good!
The Mummers’ Parade on New Year’s Day here in Philadelphia is a tradition. Much loved are the string bands who now parade in Manayunk a month or so later, to the great joy of Philadelphians. The Manayunk, located on the banks of the Schuylkill River, is a neighborhood in the northwestern section of the city of Philadelphia.

The weather was unseasonably warm, Saturday, February 20, 2017, and it was the beginning of Presidents’ Weekend, so everyone came out in a festive, holiday mood, many dressed for the occasion. Granted it was a bit early to celebrate madri gras, but nobody cared.

Sixteen string bands participated in the parade.

Pretzels, a Philadelphia tradition, are sold
as we wait for the parade to begin.
Dressed and waiting for the parade to begin.

Here they come!

The bands played old traditions:
Oh Them Golden Slippers, She'll be Coming Around the Mountain,
all to a four-beat march. 

The bands sold beads which help to defray the costs involved with the costumes.
The children loved the beads and all the fun.

Dress and ready!

 One of the banner holders told me that most bands have one person who makes all the band members' costumes. It takes her a full year to do this. Looks to me as though sewing all these costumes would take a year at the very least.
I found this theme unusual. 

This was a very warm day. But New Years was chiller.
What looks like flesh is actually fabric.

The themes are quite versified.

Many families involve younger members of their families,
passing down their participation in the string band of their choice.

Onlookers joined in, often dancing with the leaders of the bands.

Women were well represented
in the bands. Years ago no women
were allowed in the Mummers' parades.

This band has a Chinese dragon theme, 
probably a tribute to Philadelphia's Chinatown.

I thought the band with the best costumes is this one that had a colonial theme, well suited for Philadelphia. 

Rear view of the costumes.

After marching these two members of the
band posed for me. 
That's the end, folks!
Hope you enjoyed this parade as much as I did. 
Bye for now,
published books


Phone: 215 884 7065
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2016. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.