Friday, April 27, 2018

In The Sketchbook-April 2018

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

This month brings us the double breasted garments. This specific style always has me thinking of the 1980's with a double breasted jacket and super wide shoulders and big hair ladies or of pea coats worn by the US Navy. Not really the look I am going for!

Double breasted details have always interested me and eluded me, so I took some time while at the Design II workshop to sketch out several different ideas.

The first one is a bit rough, I have a double sided wool of hot pink and bright yellow and I was just playing with the idea of using a double sided fabric. I started with the top or in this case a jacket. It was intended to have sleeves I just never got around to sketching them in since this was just playing to see what would happen.

I decided quite quickly that the look of a traditional double breasted was not doing it for me and I tried to make it more interesting with adding a skirt (or it could just be the detail at the bottom of a long coat) that echoed the idea of the double breast and showing the reverse color.

Then after some discussion the points of the turn back portion were elongated and slightly softened to keep it from looking harsh and not quite so 80's punk looking.

I also tried a pair of pants and this look is just funny!

The next idea was an idea that I could use for work wear. A softened double breasted jacket that has an asymmetric collar with a pencil skirt. I like this, I think the shape and proportions would look good on me.

I also sketched out a back side of this garment and I decided to echo the double breasted detail with a double back vent and button detail for the walking vent on the skirt. Since I can go crazy with color on work clothes, I am finding that adding in extra details is a nice way to express myself.

The last in the group this month  was to take that same idea and make the entire look more asymmetric. I know that for the high side of an asymmetric skirt I can not go any higher than sketched. Or else I begin to look indecent for work purposes! In order to keep the proportions correct on my body I had to make the jacket a bit shorter than the original one drawn up above. The asymmetry of the jacket and the skirt now echo each other and the proportions on my body look much nicer. With the jacket at the original length I was cut right in half.

If all else fails I can always revert back to the original inspiration!

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas with us.

Happy Sketching!!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Exploring Fashion Design II- a workshop with Sarah Veblen: Part Two

This is Part 2 of 2 on Exploring Fashion Design II, a workshop with Sarah Veblen
To read Part one go HERE.

Day 3 continued. 
Playing with the flowers sort of acted like a palette cleanser for my brain and got me ready to push on with more work!
In the afternoon we started out with an exercise with our croquis to deliberately play with hem lengths and figure out what we could wear for different types of skirts/dresses and then take that into asymmetrical work. When I took design I, I was initially skeptical about how the sketching on the croquis would translate into my designs. For instance, were the lengths or designs that I liked on the croquis going to work on my actual body. I spent several months after Design I playing with this and for the most part it is quite true. Things that I like on my croquis match to what works on me. Having almost 2 years to play with this between design I and design II have been very good for me to process many of the ideas.  What does that all boil down to? It means that I now trust the relationship of what I sketch on my croquis and how that translates directly to my garments and my body.

Everyone hard at work in the workroom! We each had a 4 foot table space to our own and boy did we need it... being creative really makes a big mess :)

The rest of the day was spent doing individual work and working with Sarah to discuss fabrics and trims that we may have brought with us. I brought a couple lengths of fabrics that I really like but was not sure what to do with. Sometimes it helps to get others opinions just to shake some ideas loose in your brain.
I had several good discussions with Sarah that afternoon. One was how to recreate this deconstructed Chanel look that has always captured my interest. We discussed and before I knew it she had a scrap of boucle in my hands for me to play with and test my idea out!
Top photos are of my Chanel inspiration
Bottom photos are of my test piece of fabric. I learned it is doable and I will just need to teat on different swatches of boucle before making a decision on the garment. It will certainly be a slow, slow, slow sewing project!

The other discussion was around one of the fabrics that I brought with me. It is a panel fabric of silk taffeta plaid and an area along each panel that has yarn woven across the grain. I decided to purchase the silver/grey cotton and purple wool crepe.

Sarah playing with the fabric to see what it would look like in the cross grain versus lengthwise grain. On the right are swatches of the companion fabrics that I purchased at A Fabric Place to go with it. A silver/grey cotton and a purple wool crepe.

Day 4: Trip to: A Fabric Place!!
A Fabric Place has become one of my favorite places to shop for fabrics!

Before we headed out to A Fabric Place Sarah gave each of us our assignments. We would spend the morning working on our exercises, have a well needed lunch break and discussion and then head back to A Fabric Place for additional assignments and of course fabric shopping.

The fabric exercises are comprised solely of gathering swatches. Sarah walks around armed with scissors to cut fabric swatches. There are also the employees at the shop who also will cut fabric swatches for you as needed. At the end of the day I ended up with something around 50 or more swatches.

Each attendee is given different assignments based on what you have been working on during the week and on what Sarah believes will help you to grow and discover.

My assignments were:
  1. Develop a traditional palette of Navy and make sure to have some companion fabrics to spice it up. As you can see in the photo I ended up takin gmy navy palette and pushing it inot the realm of purples. Very nice exercise and one that I would not normally do. 
  2.  Develop 2 palettes of Teal and Orange, one for work and one for non-work life! in the photo below the top portion is the work collection (i'm not mad about the print on the left but I left it in anyway...) The bottom half of the photo is a collection for non-work life, It was nice to see that there are a couple of overlaps between the two.

  3.  Using a princess sheath dress that I sketched and called ‘Mix Princess Dress’ find the following combinations:
    1. menswear and chiffon... this was super fun!! So much fun that I bought the left side swatches.
    2. hard and edgy- picked a couple swatches but didn't get a photo
    3. sweet and girly- this never even happened
I also had several of my own fabrics that I wanted to find companions for! So much to do and so much amazing fabric to choose from!
Had to grab a photo of Jonathan from A Fabric Place
Here I am with 2 of my fabrics that I shared with the group.

We wrapped up the day back at Sarah’s showing each other the fabrics that we purchased. Good thing I left lots of room in my suitcase! My suitcase ended up clocking in at 49 pounds! Whew!!

Wendy purchases a beautiful beaded navy fabric for sleeves, Mary is all smiles with her purchases, 3 of us all purchased the same brocade fabric! so beautiful!! Liz purchased a lovely silk chiffon.

Day 5 and our last day of the workshop
Hard to believe how quickly the days pass when you are so engrossed with learning and exploring! We started the morning off with sharing the results of our fabric exercises with each other. Always fun to show what you thought does and does not work and always someone else will whip out a swatch from their pile and go ohhh, what about this one? This process is fun and you learn so much about color and texture and how and why things work together and all of this is done in such a natural way. This is a great learning style for me and it exposes me to color pallets and combinations that I just don’t normally work with because they are not what I like for me.

We also had some very good discussion on how to take a sketch and move it into a pattern. This of course, can be quite subjective and you really need a very good master/base/block pattern to start with.
It also includes making muslins or making several or just a muslin of an area. For example, if you are just changing up a collar design or a sleeve design you can construct the body of the garment and then just make a muslin of the collar or sleeve and work with that.
I know many people don’t like to make muslins or may find them to be time consuming. However, I think they are an invaluable tool in finalizing a design and they give your hands time to play with the design before cutting into expensive fashion fabric.

Sarah showing us different was to manipulate patterns and how to move from sketch and design into pattern work.

The afternoon was spent doing whatever work that you wanted, along with some individual time with Sarah. I used this time to discuss several of my designs and to get some ideas on the trickier aspects of construction and pattern work. It is also very good to bounce ideas off of her, she has so much experience and I find that as my own experiences become stronger and stronger that sometimes I am just checking myself to see if my thought process is going in the right direction or if there are things that I never even thought of!

At the end of the day we took a few minutes to gather as a group and have a wrap up discussion before we packed up all our belongings.Sarah wanted to hear from each of us on one or two things that we learned or that we felt was an important part of the workshop.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who has gone to the Design I workshop and wants to take their design skills to the next level.

Happy Sewing!!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Exploring Fashion Design II- a workshop with Sarah Veblen: Part One

A fun trip to Baltimore with some great friends! Several of my Chicago friends and sewists made the trip to Baltimore for a this workshop. We decided to go a couple days early and treat ourselves to a fun weekend in the city of Baltimore before heading out to Sarah Veblen's for the workshop.
Sewing friends off on an adventure!

The weather was beautiful and we really enjoyed exploring the Inner Harbor and finding lots of great restaurants. We spent Sunday afternoon in the Walters Art Museum. What a wonderful and eclectic collection of art! We spent several hours and only saw a small portion of the exhibits. I will definitely put this one on the list to visit again!

Several of the objects in the Walters Art Museum that especially captured my attention!
After a fun weekend in Baltimore we headed out to Sarah's to get down to work! 

I have taken quite a few workshops with Sarah, participated in her mentorship program for a year or so and now I will take time to work with her one on one as needed, as well as in Skype sessions. 2 years ago I took Exploring Fashion Design I ( you can read those posts here and here) and I just finished up Exploring Fashion Design II earlier this month. You can read Sarah's class description here: Exploring Fashion Design- Level II

 Exploring Fashion Design II was much more self driven than the first class and I am very happy that I had 2 years in between the workshops. There is so much information and much of it doesn't become fully absorbed until you go home and start working. Then its like a little string of Christmas lights in your head slowly starts to light up as the information goes into practical use.

On to the nitty gritty of the first half of Design II

General outline
Mornings were generally spent in group discussions and group exercises.
Afternoons were generally spent working individually along with several private interactions with Sarah.

Prior to the workshop all 7 attendees sent in questions and areas of things that they wanted to work on. Sarah used this list to base her workshop off of. Some of the questions we went into a great deal of discussion and others were just touched upon. By the end of the workshop all of the questions on our list had been discussed!

Day 1:
Started with discussion on what we have done since design one and how we have incorporated sketching in to our regular routine. If you follow my blog you know that I am a regular sketcher and try to post every month on ideas and sketches that I have done.

Some great thoughts on sketching were discussed amongst the group about sketching.
A- adding words to the sketches to help complete the picture in your head.
B- using prompts such as what would I wear if going to xxx?
C- taking some time to think about WHY some detail is inspiring and figuring out why you like something. Again use words to describe.

Remember that creativity and vulnerability go hand in hand. In order to grow you have to be willing to go outside your normal boundaries and explore.

It was quite interesting to me that as we tried to define what our individual styles are and assigned words like elegant, edgy and contemporary or traditional that these words really meant very different things to each person. Instead of trying to come to a consensus on the meaning we just had to think about what the words meant to us as individuals and how these related to our own style or explorations style.

Several of the ideas that I identified as being goals for me in the Design II workshop were:
Colors and further exploration in how they related to each other.
Tailoring details, or traditional details along with interesting shapes along with developing a work wardrobe that is interesting and captures my personality.
Combining textures and different textiles
Be deliberate and thoughtful in designing
Go for the unexpected

One of the goals for me from Sarah was to really try and expand and define my concept of neutrals. This really led to some very interesting conversations and exercises later in the workshop.Apparently my concept of neutrals can be a bit different from what other people would design as neutrals. 

We spent the afternoon revising our croquis for changes in shape over time.
My croquis was 2 years old and needed some slight tweaking. It was incredibly helpful to have a group of ladies with a discerning yet nonjudgmental eye to look at your body and croquis side by side. It was also much easier to do this time versus from design I. In my head the negative body image that can be evoked when standing there in tight fitting undergarments in front of a group was easily put aside due to my greater need and want of having an accurate representation of my body to sketch from!

The changes to my croquis in red on the left. It was nice to slim myself down a little bit :)

After croquis adjustments we were each given sketching assignments.
Mine was to sketch using 5-10 different tailoring details. With the rest of the sketch being built or derived from the particular details.
Our inspiration could come from our imaginations, magazines, design books or inspiration that we brought with us to the workshop.

I ended up sketching
  1. Asymmetric double breasted
  2. Slots on pants
  3. Interesting seaming details
  4. Hard tailored shapes
  5. Softer tailored shapes
  6. Release pleats

Several of my warm up sketches on the first afternoon.

As we worked on these warm up sketching exercises, Sarah rotated around and spent some individual time with each of us. During these times we could ask questions, discuss designs, talk about what is inspiring us and how to get that from mind to paper to garment.

Monkey once again claimed my suitcase as her favorite resting spot for the workshop! Must be something special about that suitcase, she camped out on it in Design I as well!
Day 2:
Spent morning time with discussion around designs. We have all made things that we really like and things that are just ok and things we really dislike. It is very helpful to understand the reasoning for the likes and dislikes as this can help you to become more successful in designing. These feelings can come from many aspects of the garment like fit, color, proportions, design lines, fabric and texture.

Sarah emphasized that we should take the time to figure out the reasons why we don’t like something so that we can grow. Assign words and vocabulary to the details we don’t or do like before parting with the garment.

It also helps to try and figure out those garments that are perplexing. The ones that you may always get compliments on but that you may not particularly like.

Sarah shared with us some garments that she has made and why she doesn’t like them and went pretty deep into specifics. We were also encouraged to bring examples of garments with us that we considered to be in the failure category and discuss why they were considered failures and what could make them better.

Lots and lots of discussions about fabrics!!

From here we jumped into sheers! Such a fun, fun, fun topic!
Sarah shared some of the work that she has done with sheers including at drawstring hoodie with a kangaroo pocket all out of sheers.
We also explored the idea of using sheers and lace with traditional menswear Fabrics.
This interesting discussion led us into discussions of using prints

Prints can be tricky. Need to consider:
  1. Size
  2. Scale
  3. Contrast
  4. Regularity
  5. Coloration
  6. Also never buy a print with a background the same as your skin tone...unless you are going for the partially naked look!
 Most of the same principals of prints can also be applied to stripes. Carefully consider contrast of the stripes and contrast to your skin, size and regularity. Later in the week on of the ladies had a fabric exercise at A Fabric Place to swatches many different kind of stripes she could possibly find. She easily had about 15 to 20 or more different swatches. It was a great exercise to expand the thought of striped fabric. I am not a very big fan of stripes, sometimes I just find them to be too regular. 

When working with any fabric but especially with prints you should really hold the fabric up to your body and stand in front of a mirror both close up and at distance to really see what happens.What may look good to your eye on its own may be very different from what you see when your body is the backdrop. This concept really has me distinguishing between things that I like and things that I like on my body!

Just before lunch or maybe just after Lunch we spent some time playing color kittens! This is a very fun exercise where Sarah dumps a whole bunch of fabric swatches on the table and we just play! To start of the exercises this time we each had to start off with a couple swatches of a burnout chiffon and then pull swatches to make a palette of colors and textures to go with the burnout. Everyone was much more open and adventurous playing this game versus the first time we did it in Design I workshop.
A great big pile of color swatches! My palette is on the bottom left and on the bottom right are Liz's. So much fun to see what everyone ends up with!

Day 2 afternoon we again spent sketching. This time we were all given the same sketching assignments.
1)      A double breasted garment
2)      A garment to wear to a MET gala for a 1950’s exhibit.

Double breasted jacket with some asymmetry and details repeated on the back of the skirt.

This was a FUN sketching prompt!
 What I would wear to a MET Galla for the opening of a 1950's fashion exhibit.

Day 3- first half
Morning had an interesting discussion about philosophy of sewing and how things can make you feel.
One important thing I got out of this is that I should check and question my assumptions. Take a time out to step back and look at the big picture periodically to see if you are still on track for your overall goal of your garment or look that you are going for.

Sarah shows some garments that were successful for her and why and she showed several ways of evaluating a garment that you made but may not particularly like to understand why and what things would make it better. Great information to understand as you go through the design process and evolution of designing your wardrobe.

Also that many people feel a bit different about sewing than I do and I never realized it!!!! There ended up being quite a lengthy discussion about sewing/designing and how to overcome failures/wadders or as I have termed them, garments that turn out not as expected. When I told my daughter of this realization that I dont think the same way about sewing as many people she just chuckled and said Mom, you dont think the same way as most people about everything!  
so before anyone goes and asks... I dont get upset about garments that fail or ideas that dont work out. I like experimenting and for the most part I may sometimes feel a little frustrated but that's it. This is not to say that I dont have emotions about sewing, there are lots of those. I just dont find it useful to be have negative emotions about an outcome that I had full control over. Either it works, Excellent! or it doesn't and I figure out why or just move on.

Before lunch we played with flowers. Yup, flowers. We pulled them apart and created flower art or as in several of our cases flower garment art. It was sort of like the unconventional challenge on project runway. It certainly was a pleasant diversion and quite unexpected! It gave my brain a break from the workshop and was fun to come up with a fairy petal dress.
Playing with flower art. we were given inspiration from the website above and then we took apart roses and a couple types of carnations to create our masterpiece arts and crafts project.

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

Happy Sewing!