Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Exploring Fashion Design- Design 1 with Sarah Veblen, Part 1 of 2

This was an amazing experience!! Hands down the best non-sewing sewing class that I have ever taken. I left with so many new tools in my toolbox, it will be a fun journey exploring what I can come up with using these new tools.

I will be totally honest and say that I really had no idea what to expect from this class, other than knowing that drawing would be involved, and that made me feel both excited and a little apprehensive. I really did my best to go into it with a wide open mind and just experience the class, the exercises and the kinship with other woman. This turned out to work to my advantage. By leaving myself open and as free from my own fashion biases as possible I was able to learn so much about color, shape and form, as well as to learn so much about myself.

Sarah leads you down such a wonderfully positive path of discovery that you can't help but feel good about yourself as you climb the steps of learning and tackle self-imposed barriers. Through carefully guided exercises that are tailored to each group of participants she gives you permission to play and ask 'what if?' and 'what about?'. I quickly found that these permissions allowed for me to set aside my normal self expectations of perfectionism and my need to get it right the first time so I could get on to the next thing on my list. Every successful person inevitably does these things to themself and having 6 days of putting it all aside was a lovely gift to myself.

Monkey the cat on my suitcase of supplies, our workroom, kitchen filled with goodies, gathered around the table in discussion.

The days were a bit intensive! We arrived at Sarah's at 8:30 each morning and were treated to a lovely home baked good right from the oven. Most mornings we started off in the kitchen/dining area gathered around a table. Sarah would lecture for a while and then give us exercises to do. Lunch break was usually around 12:30 and we would reconvene about an hour and fifteen mins later. plenty of time to go out and get some food and fresh air. Then back at again! Some afternoons were spent at our workstations and some were back gathered together depending on what type of exercises we were doing. Wrap-up happened between 5:30 and 6 most days.

Most evenings, after a nice relaxing dinner with Wendy, I would spend some time re-writing my notes from the day and adding in my reflections from what we have learned so far. I like to take my notes in a notebook and then re-write them in a notability app on my ipad. This lets me be neater and add in any pictures or illustrations that help me to understand that day's work.

Here is a recap of what we did for the first 3 days and of the tools and lessons I learned from each day.

Day 1:
 Morning: spent the morning in lecture about the 5 Elements of a well designed look.
- design
- fit
- fabrication
- engineering
- construction

Afternoon; Spent the first part of the afternoon working individually on drawing a croquis. We worked off of a basic croquis that was closest to our body type and then made all the necessary changes. We had full length mirrors to look into along with help from Sarah.
The second half of the afternoon was spent working on your individual croquis in a group setting. you would stand up in front of the group with Sarah next to you holding your croquis and the group would assess your drawing and suggest changes. Lather, rinse, repeat until the group decided your croquis was matched your body.
The evolution of my personalized croquis

This was a great experience!! It really allowed me to look at my body with a non-judgemental eye and it made me realize that parts that I thought were too big or less than desirable in my head really are not. I am a beautiful person.

After finalizing the croquis we had a basic lesson in sketching garments just to get our hands used to the process.

Lessons of Day 1-
1.There is a complicated mix of elements that really go into creating a well put together look or ensemble.
2. I have a beautiful body that is all my own! and now I have a personalized croquis to sketch out personalized looks on.

Day 2:
Morning: Lecture/trunk show on the Evolution of Style from Sarah's point of view and on how you can use style lines and seam lines to make the body more proportionate.  We then spent a couple hours tagging fashions that we like in magazines and books. This was my first introduction to collezioni magazines. Such a treat!

Tagging and discussing designs that we like!

Afternoon: In a group setting we each presented our tagged items and expressed what it was that drew us to these designs being as specific as possible. While we did this Sarah took many notes and sometimes would stop us to put a star on the corresponding sticky tag. When we were all done, Sarah then handed out a list of sketching exercises/challenges to each of us. Some of these corresponded directly to starred tags so that we could have a specific reference.

The idea of this was that we explore the designs we like using our individualized croquis and see if there was a way to incorporate the essence of those details that we liked into designs on our own bodies. Brilliant!

My specific exercises/challenges were:
- structured necklines
- structured hemlines
- peplums of any kind ( I specifically was given this challenge because I said i did not believe that a peplum would work on me!)
- long jacket silhouettes
- very open necklines (wide and/or deep)
- Deep V necklines. very, very deep even if only achieved if by illusion by using seam/style lines
- outrageous shoulder details and classy cold shoulder looks
- belted looks, waist defining looks
- sheer overlays
- 60's neckline and collar
a portion of my to-do list from Sarah

Lessons of Day 2:
Not to be afraid of trying out different details and designs that I may have never tried before. Using my croquis I can try them out and decide if it is something I like and if it is a design I want to further work on. No excuses to push myself out of my box.

Day 3:
Morning: spent the entire morning sketching. The idea was to work on the challenges that we were given the day before from Sarah. She spent individualized time with each of us. During this time she helped with actual mechanics of sketching as well as with helping us to develop our designs from the exercises/challenges she gave us.

Presenting our initial sketches to the group.

Afternoon: Directly after lunch we gathered as a group and each took the time to present one sketching design and how we came up with the details and what we learned from it. I found learning from each other in a group setting to be highly beneficial. Each person had different ideas and different reasons for how they made their decisions. Often times this would spark new ideas in my brain! After this group exercise we were back at our individual workstations, or anywhere in the house you wanted to be, sketching again for the rest of the day. Time flew by!

A few of my sketches

Lesson of Day 3:
Not only could I sketch designs I really, really like it!! Finally a tool for me to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper in a meaningful way.

Half way through!
Stay tuned for part 2


  1. What a great recap of the first three days. There was so much to process.

    1. It was a great class and even more special because we got to take it together!


comments, thoughts, idea? Please share!