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I spent all day yesterday out in Richmond at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in a master class with designer Julian Roberts. He was doing the class on Subtraction Cutting, something that he invented and has spent his life perfecting. He is very abstract in his thinking and as a result, I think everyone came away feeling inspired.

Subtraction Cutting forces you to look at the garment from a different perspective… the inner, or negative space, as opposed to the front and back view only. You start with the full cloth and take away parts. Instead of deciding what to keep, you decide what to get rid of. It’s quite a leap for someone who has always been dependant on rulers and calculations!

All we used was a sleeveless bodice block and a paper circle…. and two 3 yrd lengths of fabric. The two fabrics are sewn together to resemble an extremely long pillow case… one end open.

Julian demonstrates one idea with paper

Bodice block is positioned where Julian wanted it.

Julian demonstrates, using black fabric on one side and white on the other.  This makes it easy to see what he’s doing.

Negative space is removed

Julian joined the front SS to the back SS with a line that he eyeballed, then cut the negative space away. The piece that is removed is called the “Subtraction Pattern”. Just in case you like the final outcome so much that you would like to duplicate it. Otherwise, these creations are very much “one of a kind”.

Now he just pulls the two shoulder seams together and joins them at the machine. Then, starting at the armhole, he joined each SS. Then he let the rest of the fabric just fall.  Because of the way he laid his bodice on the fabric, the white portion of the “tube” ends up curving around to the front in a natural swirl.

Now the fun begins… Julian starts to decide where to incorporate the negative spaces where the body will pass through. Each space that is created is joined to a second space to form a hole on the inside of the garment, while the outside begins to transform in a truly organic way…. billows, folds, pleats, twists…. each one different and determined by the designers choices of fabrics and placement of the holes.This is the dress that Julian created in about an hour by removing 7 holes in total.These are the two fabrics that I chose… (what I had in my closet that didn’t clash too much)  It’s a cotton spandex, so it’s pretty heavy compared to what some of the others chose to use. I started by putting curved corners on my “pillow case”, and placing my bodice so that it wrapped around to the other side, and so it would have that curve across the front. I think I used  7 holes for mine as well….That’s me lurching forward in the centre of this shot. Probably a good thing, that way you can’t really see that I’m squeezed into a dress that’s 2 sizes too small!

Leslie and Julian

Here I am with Julian, and below is the dress I made on the proper size form.

A Tight Squeeze

Ok… so, you can see me squeezed into it after all….

The possibilities for this technique are virtually endless from what I can see. I’m looking forward to finding new ways to use this new knowledge! Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with some new avant-garde Buggy Bag®!

Anyone who lives in a large-ish city probably has a version of what we, here in Vancouver call the “Science Ball”, otherwise known as “Science World” or even the “Giant Golf Ball”.  It’s real name is the “Telus World of Science“… whatever the name, the knicknames are for obvious reasons.

Science Ball

All adults who have gone to visit a science centre with or without the kids, know the torture of really wanting to try the cool things out, but, feeling that they should let the kids go first… usually it’s all experienced through watching the kids.

Friday night I went with 3 friends to “Science World After Dark“, an evening set up for adults only. They had comedians and even served beer and wine. It was such a fun evening that I will for sure make a point of going next time.

Leslie the "Zen Master"

Here I am pairing off against one of my friends… whoever can push the ball toward the other person, is the more relaxed of the two.  Evidently, I’m the most stressed out of the 4 of us… or just not able to shut off the stuff that’s bouncing around in my brain, because the ball came to my end every time!  The groovy headwear makes this one worth it all though…

This was cool…. it works with two different weighted pendulums that you move with your feet… let them continue to swing with their own momentum, to create the drawing..

Leslie Flying

I know this isn’t the best shot, but, at least it clearly proves that I can fly…

Here, Rina demonstrates her superb powers of attraction….

Apple Hologram

Here I am showing the difficulties involved with Hologram Fruit… it’s impossible to grasp…

seeing double

I also crashed on a virtual slalom ski course at least 6 times and raced in wheelchairs with my friend…(I lost)

I’ve been so busy with costume work lately, but, not able to really talk about it too much. I’m making a leather coat at the moment, and as I was starting the sewing, I realized that, because it’s already been seen on TV, I can safely talk about what it is and what show it’s for.  It’s to replace one of the existing coats that was burned by the SPFX guys (thanks Darren!) in one of the episodes. The leather is proving to be a little more difficult than usual, in that I can’t seem to get the seams to flatten out. Usually I glue the seams down with transfer tape, but this particular leather is treated with something that is making it resist the glue. It’s also making my eyes burn something fierce! Quite strange I usually like to work with leather, but this one is not at all like most…. indeed it’s down right disagreeable!

Cutting out anything is always a challenge when the young Toopi feels that she should be involved. Usually, she’s diving under the patterns or fabric… this time she’s just acting as an extra weight.

Toopi "helps"

Here is a shot of the double jetted flap pocket during construction. The close up shows how spongey this particular leather is.

constructing the double-jetted flap pocket

topstitching underneath lower jet

you can see how thick it gets to sew through when there are many layers

The shoulder pad gives support and structure to this coat that has no canvas or fusing in it, while the lambswool in the crown of the sleeve helps to soften the head of the sleeve.

This is the collar and lapel and also shows the inner welt pocket and lining.

I just gave this back to the Assistant Designer, who will now take it to someone to do some really great heavy duty Keyhole Button Holes…  This coat weighs at least 15lbs….just a guess, based on how hard it was to wrestle it around the sewing machine! Luckily, the actor that wears it is a strapping tall fellow!

The show is Sanctuary, and the character is John Druitt, played by Christopher Heyerdahl.  The costume designer on the show is the very talented Christina McQuarrie, who has a long history in Vancouver-based Episodic TV.

Also, just wanted to add that all of the pics on this post were taken with my iPhone!

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