Student work, from the “Why Do I Still Have This” file. 

Here we have a sack coat and a tail coat. I made these patterns, and suits from the patterns, as part of tailoring class in school in 1999. 

The NCSA you see above would now be UNCSA, or the University North Carolina School of the Arts, but it didn’t officially have its U back when I was a student, although it was part of the University of North Carolina system at that time. 


Last century you guys. Why do I still have these? Well, honestly because they’re small. Easier to keep on keeping them than to open them up and make a decision. Plus there was so much effort involved in these damned jackets. I guess it took sixteen years to feel secure that I really truly will never want these again. 

Let’s look inside. 

Ugggggg, all that tape and brown paper, ugggggg. Makes me feel anxious just looking at it. Let’s see what’s going on in here.

Uggg, god, nightmares. 

Wow, ok so October 4, 1999. That would’ve been fall of my senior year of school, which sounds about right, tailoring not being something you throw at the freshmen. Jason M. would’ve been an a opera student who they knew would have a role in the spring opera. His role wouldn’t have been assigned yet, but his teachers would’ve known he would be in it, so a costume tech student (me) could make him a suit, with fabric that the costume design student had bought in New York for the upcoming opera. 

It was all very symbiotic. Later, closer to the production, roles would be assigned, costumes for the ladies would be made, but for the men’s tailoring we had a whole semester of lead time to, you know, learn and then do tailoring. 

And this is the sack coat, for some dude named Andrew, who would’ve been a drama student with an unassigned role in an upcoming play. Looks like I worked on this one in December of 1999. Oh, man, all that business around the welt and the roll line. I want to text my past self some encouraging emojis or something. Kitten dangling from a tree branch, thumbs up, heart heart heart. 

My handwriting has changed. So rounded back then. Also, why did I write “corrected” in such a quiet yellow? Seems like I would’ve been shouting it from the rooftops. 

Look how adorable, I wrote “dart” inside the dart. As if I wouldn’t know. 

Ok so obviously these two patterns are a Throw It. I would never try and work from these now. I mean, for one thing, let’s get real snobby here: I don’t work with brown paper, not since my student days. White pattern-paper, printed with a grid for me please, brown paper is for Crafts and Theater. It’s not that I’m too fancy for brown paper anymore, grid paper is just easier. 

Looking at these patterns though, makes me think of sugar cookies: 

Those were long days at school. Thursday’s in particular. 

Academic classes from 8am-12, then I think I had Costume History, and then a life-drawing lab for three hours, then my work/study job, then crew from 7pm to 11pm. Crew meant building costumes for upcoming productions, but not including class work like tailoring. We had 20 hours of mandatory scheduled crew per week, show up a minute late and you were dropped a full letter grade, and we were in charge of teams of freshman stitchers. 

After all that my friend Tara and I would drive to the 24 hour grocery to stock up for the week. Neither of us lived on campus so we were in charge of feeding ourselves. The bakery section of this particular grocery store had a box with a sign saying Please Enjoy A Cookie, and inside would be these big flat sugar cookies, with rough edges and soft centers and crystals of sugar on top. It sometimes amazed me that there were any left in the box at 11:30 at night. I wonder now if someone had caught on to our schedule and was making sure a few were in there for us. I remember those free cookies as, like, a moment of kindness.


17 thoughts on “Student work, from the “Why Do I Still Have This” file. 

  1. It’s nice to talk a walk down memory lane sometimes isn’t it? I think food and clothes are always emblematic of past eras for me. Scouring the op-shops and eating large quantities of tzatziki, with felafel and coleslaw pita pockets was my final year of my undergrad. I wasn’t sewing much at the time, mainly just upcycling op-shop finds. I had this little jersey in black with red angora lovehearts around the neckline which I cropped and wore with jeans, combat style boots and this really oversized pleather jacket that I bought for $2. Good times.


  2. As a stranger in the blogosphere I enjoyed reading a little about how you developed your impressive skills. Thanks for sharing. BTW where do you get your gridded paper from? Here in Australia the sources I’ve found make it too costly to justify purchasing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the compliment. Gridded paper is probably expensive here too, but luckily I don’t have to buy it, it’s a supply provided on the job. Generally each cutting table has a big roll of pattern paper on a bar at the end of the table, and a basket or a drawer under the table for paper scraps, to be pulled out and used any time we need to add or draft something little.
      If I did a lot of pattern making at home I would look into buying a roll of my own, but so far that hasn’t been necessary, I just plain don’t do a lot of patterning from scratch at home. All my Sew It Or Throw It projects involve commercial patterns, and there is always enough extra tissue paper in the margins around the patterns to do any extra patterning or adding on.
      The main benefit of grided paper is that the grainline is marked by the grid, which is really crucial if you are going to copy a garment, like how on the job I sometimes need to copy an existing vintage garment without taking it apart. Another benefit is that you can see through the paper, which means you can mark the seam line on the paper and add the seam allowance, but still lay one pattern piece on top of another and walk the seam lines along to true them up. It’s not necessary, but it can help you speed up your process if speed is a priority.


      1. Thank you so much for the detailed response. I am a non- professional seeker of fun and knowledge in the world of textiles. I did a pattern making class at an adult education place here in Melbourne. It was brilliant to understand the underlying methods such as the use of basic blocks.


  3. What a lovely and fun post. I really enjoyed reading this. It took me a few years to get rid of all of my optimal control and statistics books after grad school (don’t know why), although I threw away my thesis research without hesitation. :)


    1. I bet that felt amazing, throwing away the thesis research. Glad you enjoyed the post, it was interesting to open that pattern after all this time, in some ways it was smaller and less crazy looking than my feelings and memories of it.


  4. I still have some working drawings from first year fashion studies (80s) and similarily, they seem to somehow get lodged in a portfolio and keeps tagging along – to the point I just have kept them now and again similarly it brings me right back to staying up all night finishing these projects!


  5. Wonderful story, really enjoyed your reminiscences Liza Mae. Its hard to throw anything out that took so much time and poured your heart into. What a pity your phone didn’t take pictures in those days, I would have loved to see the coat/s!


    1. Oh man, I definitely took photos, this was the stuff portfolios are built of!
      School was good about making us take photos for our portfolios, they had lights and a seamless backdrop set up backstage somewhere on the night of each final dress rehearsal, and we could have the stage manager call specific actors to come in full hair and makeup so we could photograph them for our portfolios.
      That portfolio is around here somewhere.
      Of course, once I was out of school and working, stuff flew out the door so fast I never photographed anything again. And more recently so many projects come with a non-disclosure agreement.
      P.S. Lols at the idea of my phone taking pictures. It was wall-mounted and had a long curly cord. It wishes it could take pictures!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I spent the first 5 years of my career with all my university notes in the boot of my car. After 3 years and a career 100% in small animals I felt it was ok to ditch the livestock and horse notes. It took another 2 to realise my shitty small animal notes were unlikely to save me from the panic of the almost daily WTF moments I was still having…. ditching them was oddly liberating!


    1. Yes! It is big to realize that in a crisis, you’re going to rely on what’s in your head, you’re not going to dive into a notebook.
      Somewhat similarly, for one class in school we made these ring-bound notecard books, which listed vendors for costume shop supplies. Mine made it all the way to California with me, but was thrown out pretty quickly after on the grounds of THAT IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS FOR.


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