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!

1 comment:

  1. So interesting. Full of detail and inspiration! enjoyed your post


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