Posts Tagged“clothing design”

5 Inspiring knits to transition to spring

Hello readers! It’s been quite a while, I know. Many things have happened since, moved to a new country, moving to a new house and a serious case of wardrobe edit. Which felt fantastic.

One of the things I’ve taken up in the last couple of months is knitting. I can’t believe I stayed away from it for so many years. I’ve just finished my first sweater (I’ll tell you more about it in a future post) and I’ve made quite a few cowl neck scarves and even a (horrible and too big!) beanie for my boyfriend.

So, there’s still snow on the ground where I live now and I’m still layering 2-3 sweaters and pretty much wearing my winter coat and boots, but warmer temperatures are just a few weeks away, so it’s a good time to start thinking about new things to knit for spring 🙂

In the slideshow:

Cocoon Sweater by Wool and the gang

I don’t think I would make this pink, but I like the chunky texture and it looks like soemthing that could be knitted out of fabric strips; too tacky?

Ella Viscardi’s knitted top and backpack featured in Teenvogue

I love these two knits here. I especially like the backpack, and if you’d line it in fabric, it could even be practical. That sheer tank top is pretty as well, maybe to wear as a vest over a white blouse?

Kstylick’s open knit cardigan

I really like this chunky cardigan and I also like the bold red. It looks like soemthing you can knit in a weekend or two and it could replace a spring coat. Hmm…

Ravelry pattern by Veera Välimäki

I like this super light knit, I don’t know if I’d knit it as it is, but it’s a great inspiration for making a spring cotton blouse.

Hedvig Opshaug in a Stella McCartney dress featured in Harper’s Bazaar

I’m also thinkign about knitting a dress for spring in cotton and while I won’t try anything as complicated as this dress, I really like the fit (not too cloe to the body) and the dress lenght.

 

 

11 things you could do now for becoming a better garment designer in 12 months

So you want to be a fashion designer, a pattern maker or the world’s best sewist? Good for you! If you’re just starting to learn about sewing and garment making, you’ll be happy to hear it takes very little time to learn the basics of sewing and start making your own clothes using patters.

Learning how to adapt and transform existing commercial patterns is another level in sewing. And then there’s making your own patterns, following your own designs – that’s the most tricky part, as you will need many skills, from sewing basics, to draping, sketching and other things that are not always mentioned in sewing, but should be the most important: basic anatomy, body shapes, movement knowledge (supposing you want to create garments that are also comfortable, not only pretty).

I know user experience is not something you hear a lot of sewists talking about, but for me it is the most important: the way your clothes make you feel when you wear them. This should be the ultimate goal of the garment designer: to understand first how their garment will make the wearer feel; will they feel extravagant and bold (like costumes and evening dresses), will they feel relaxed and serene (summer sleeping garments, silky tank tops, beach wear) or energized and ready (workout gear, structured jackets)etc. I think you should always start with how you want your end product to feel when worn.

become a better garment designer

But I digress. What I really wanted to talk about was those things you could start doing now that will make you a better garment designer in the next 12 months:

  1. Find people who are passionate about the same things. Look at what they make, learn from there. Get to know them.
  2. Start a small notebook for all your thoughts and ideas about sewing, fashion and garment design. At the end of the week transcribe, scan or capture everything in a digital file, or a blog. Add extra notes and ideas.
  3. Read sewing and pattern making books. Read everything you can with the notebook on hand. Write down any genius ideas or must remember tips.
  4. If you’re sewing for many hours adjust your desk and chair to prevent back pain. If possible don’t cut fabric on the floor and don’t press fabric on a surface that’s lower than your waist. If you do, include 5 minutes of exercises or stretching to protect your back.
  5. Take 5 minutes everyday to daydream about making thigs that you can’t make yet. Write these ideas down.
  6. Be mindful when you are creating and make things that you will enjoy for many years.
  7. Sew or make something for another person at least every few months. It doesn’t have to be something big, just put in a lot of love and see your loved ones enjoy your master skills.
  8. Travel. Look at what other people wear, eat, how they move in their clothes. Learn from them.
  9. When you ruin a garment, go out for a run, then put the garment in the recycle box and wait for an idea to come to reuse that fabric. Make rugs or donate leftover fabric.
  10. Sew less and enjoy more. If you want to learn, don’t limit yourself to making 4 blouses of the same pattern you already master. Move on and experiment. Think about what you’ll sew next, think about what you want.
  11. Go shopping and make a list of things you dislike. Take photos if you want. Make notes about fit, fabric, brands; as you learn more and more about garment making, this will further help you to create better clothes for youself and who knows, maybe for the entire world.

Image by ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER via flickr.

Large tropical leaves: 3 ways to use them in your wardrobe

Abstract:

large tropical leaf top

Vintage:

vintage white shirt with tropical leaves

Mimetic:

tropical leaf like dress

For centuries, the tropics and the jungle have fascinated us; for both their beauty and their well… deadliness. Banana, papaya, mango, they all have large, tropical leaves. We often talk about these fruit in terms of coulours, when it comes to garment making (ok, not sure about the banana, but humour me) but it’s about time we talked about their opulent and full of life foliage.

And there’s nothing that says summer more than tropical leaves!

1. Townsen Tank – Rattan from Bloomingdales, €124

This top has a very simple shape, almost completey square, with lines neckline and armhole facings. The black tropical leaves are applied on the shoulders, but you could also paint them if you make this in cotton or batiste. The top closes at the back with a metallic zipper, but you could use a keyhole back cleavage and a button.

2. Vintage white shirt with green tropical leaves from Etsy, €21

3. Mimesis green leaf dress by Kamila Gwawronska Kasperska from Not Just a Label, £750

(Image credits: As linked above.)

Bonus: a tropical skirt and palm leaf pants.

 

 

Two delicate and feminine, no pattern blouses

As a person who owns much more patterns than she will ever get to use and still remembers the exact number of the now lost Burda magazine she lent a friend over 6 years ago, I am fascinated by garments that don’t need patterns. More specifically about boxy, square-ish shapes that have never seen a french curve in their life.

That’s why I really like these blouses and dresses from this Kitting, Crochet and Sewing Magazine (I can’t find this magazine anywhere else, do you know if it has a different name?)

Look at this blouse below, for example: it’s basically a trapeze shape, but the crochet straps and hems only barely drape it to create a wonderful and simple blouse. If you’re good with crochet, this should be very easy to make.

delicate no pattern summer blouse

This second blouse follows the same style: crochet upper bodice and soft flowy body.

delicate blouse with crochet trim

I really like how delicate the crochet looks against the modest napkin-like fabric.

delicate crochet and cotton blouse in japanese style

The magazine has instructions at the end, showing you how to create the very very simple patterns.

The softer and fabric you use it, the more delicate the finished garment will look like. If you use heavier fabrics, you will end up with boxier blouses.

how to make an easy blouse in less than one hour

If you want to take a look at the other blouses in the magazine, here it is:

How to make a dress or blouse bodice: the easy way

Today I was thinking about ways in which I could simplify the making of the bodice. Now, I have a bodice that I’ve made following the instructions in Helen Joseph Armstrong’s book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design and another from Sarai Mitnick’s book, The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress but I wanted to see how I could make one fast and easy, if, let’s say I am too lazy to look for them 🙂

And then I found this video with Peggy Sagers who explains pattern-making by draping. I always thought this was difficult to do, but she explains it very clearly.

One point she makes about the bust darts is that they always have to reach to the bust point (the nipple) and that they have to end somewhere within the bust circle, which is a 3in radius circle, with the centre at the bust point. If a dart does that, then it can be safely positioned in a multitude of ways, either vertically or horizontally.

See how to draft the bust circle below:

sewing patterns drafting the bust circle

Another point that’s actually something I wish I had understood sooner is that the bodice always stops at the real waist. So if you want to make a blouse, you should add as much length to your bodice as you need (maybe you want it to only touch the hipline or to pass it completely, you always need to add that length). It’s funny now because when I first created my bodice following Helen Armstrong’s instructions, I had commented that the bodice fitted me more or less well, but it was way to short.

Measuring the body takes much longer than draping the body, she says. It’s true, how come I didn’t think of that before?

How does she drape? She pins the square piece to the mannequin (my recent madness about owning a body form is bubbling up here, but let’s put a lid on it for now), marks the neck points and the shoulder, then she drapes the paper at the bust point, horizontally, creating a bust dart. She then repeats from the bust point to the waistline, vertically, creating a waist dart.

how to make sewing patterns bust darts

Another quote that sounds a bit funny in the beginning, but makes a lot of sense: an armhole is created the same way as a neckline: down and out.

She sews the darts starting from the bust point down, arguing that it’s easier to get that first part right, like that, and that if you get wrong the foot of the dart, then that’s going to be encased in a seam anyway. Plus, she sews darts with an overlocker!

A french dart is a combination of the bust dart and the waist dart: you start with your basic bodice with the two bust and waist dart. You then mark the new french dart starting with a few inches up from the side and drag it to the bust circle. Slash open and close the old darts:

how to make a french dart

Would love to know your thoughts on this technique!

 

The Wonderful Fashion Illustrations of Nancy Zhang

I love how illustrators take the everyday and make it fabulous, magical. What I like most about  Nancy Zhang’s fashion illustration is how she takes an outfit that she wore and draws her feelings or mood, as she was wearing it. Or maybe her intention when she created the outfit.

Zhang’s outfits are stories, they are sometimes journeys into the past, other times frozen fragments of the present. Sometimes they are pretentious and constructed, other times practical and comfortable. Even though she wears a lot of designer fashion, she is not a slave of the latest trend. Instead she travels in time, she plays different roles, maybe historical characters, maybe different Nancys. They are like a diary of an ever-changing everyday.

Sometimes we are attached to clothes not because people tell us we look great in them, but because of how they make us feel. You can see how happy and free Nancy feels in her cream-coloured, low-waist gathered skirt, how shy and delicate in her vintage gathered skirt. Or how sexy she feels with her new haircut.

Looking at her outfits, you don’t feel like you’re just looking into somebody else’s wardrobe, you’re looking into who she is.

You can find more of Nancy’s illustrations on her blog.

5 Vintage Necklines and Collars Ideas

One of the reasons why I like vintage sewing books is how practical and down to earth they are. Many go over women’s fashion and expect seamstresses to be able to apply the learned concepts to make garments for kids and men.

The purpose of learning dressmaking is to be able to fill the needs and wants of all members of the family, garment making shouldn’t take too much time, yet the clothes should enhance the personality of the wearer and last a long time.

I am curious whether you agree with me or not on this one, but I think that one of the details of a garment where personality and taste are most obvious is the neckline.

It can change a dress or blouse completely.

Maybe you remember one of my posts, in which I was sketching various vintage necklines; today I’m listing a few other vintage necklines ideas.

The sailor bow tie look good both in patterned fabric, like in the image below and in a sparkly white with dark blue piping. This one closes in the back with snaps, but you could move the bow to the back and close the blouse with it.

bow tie vintage neckline

The square neckline is safe and sweet. Keep the straps quite fat like this dress, or slim them down for a more delicate look.

square vintage neckline

If you like the look of a handkerchief worn over a shirt, you’ll like this small collar on a dress. I like the contrast fabric also.

I love this faux wrap neckline and how simple the whole look is. I also like how this blouse in particular fits the model quite loosely.

faux wrap vintage neckline

And last but not least, a sweetheart neckline, this time adorned with a zipper. I quite like the contrast between the sweetness of the neckline shape and the metal of the zipper.

vintage sweetheart neckline

What about you? What’s you favourite vintage or modern neckline?

Images from: 1) sailor bow tie, 2) square neckline, 3) tiny collar, 4) faux wrap neckline, 5) sweetheart neckline.

Spring Play: Flower Inspired Outfits

Spring is almost here and what better moment to shuffle, edit and update the way you dress. I didn’t do a lot of sewing this winter. Even though I live in a Mediterranean climate, winter mornings, when it’s still dark outside and you hop on your bicycle are still cold.

I can’t even think of dresses or silky shirts, just my practical everyday bike to work uniform, which is mainly constituted of pants and a jumper. Not very chic, but warm and comfy.

But spring, that’s a whole new story. Spring is wonderful here. With crazy blue skies and timid cotton-bound clouds, with soft sun-rays filtered through the palm trees, on your face.

I needed to play a bit with colour and come up with a few flower inspired outfits for spring. My winter closet is all dark blue, grey and black so I have to teach myself colour again.

1. A woodruff inspired spring outfit

woodruff flower

Woodruff Inspired Outfit

If you want to look like a woodruff you will need a lot of green and a touch of white. I chose forest-green pants, grass-green shoes and an apple-green scarf. The top: a white button-down shirt or a t-shirt.

2. Very, very blue, like a hyacinthus

blue Hyacinthus

Hyacinthus inspired outfit

 

For me the smell of spring is the smell of the super sweet, nauseating hyacinthus. There can’t be spring without it!

An outfit inspired by this flower is pretty easy: use a few blues, whiter on top, darker at the bottom and some sort of green shoes.

(In my house, next to the parsley, the sage, the rosemary, the licorice plant, I also keep a small white hyacinthus.)

herbs and a white hyacinthus.jpg

3 An outfit with spring flowers and bees

bees and white spring flowers

birds and the bees outfit

 

I was never a big fan of pink, but sometimes, especially when you play dress-up, it’s good to change things up. In this flowers inspired outfit, I’d use shades of peach and red-pink and orange yellow altogether, then I’d splash as much white as I could.

What about you, what inspired you to play dress-up lately?

 

Eleonore Klein’s Wearability Project

pretty clothes on a line

There are a few reasons why I like Eléonore Klein’s Wearability Project: it’s funny, refreshingly sincere, useful and inspiring. It’s also in French, but Google Translate should help you with that unless you want to do a 2 in 1 and learn how to improve your wardrobe and French at the same time.

Eléonore, the mastermind behind Deer and Doe, and the inventor of the popular Plantain Top sewing pattern, has decided to review and edit her wardrobe, specifically the garments she sews for herself and to identify the outfits she best feels in – and basically – to sew more of those. For me this makes a lot of sense, as one of my sewing resolutions for 2014 is to sew less and better.

She documents her whole process, from dying garments she is not wearing, to identifying bad cuts and bad styles for her and also talks about accessories she loves but don’t fit with her day to day style. That is maybe what I like best about this project: how much she adapts it to her day to day use. She introduces an interesting concept in designing one’s wardrobe, and that is cost per use. What she’s saying, and I can’t agree more is that price (of fabric, accessories used, pattern, time spent making) is a relative thing: a super cheap t-shirt you made in 2 hours and never wore is more expensive than a 50 euros shirt that you wear every week.

I also like that she’s getting those garments  and even fabric that she’s not 100% happy about out of her closet: either selling them or giving away or recycling them. This is something that is also very important for me.

The other day I was having dinner with my friends and they had the idea to organise a garment reconstruction/clothes swap, which sounds like fun. Except, I almost don’t have any clothes to swap; I’ve either given them away when we moved or put into the remake pile and that’s not a very interesting pile for my friends, I am sure. They were also very surprised to hear that the only things I bought since September last year were workout clothes and a leather jacket that was actually a gift.

I’m excited though, I’ll tell you how that goes. Have a lovely Sunday!

 

Wanted: Fashion Design and Pattern Making Books Recommendations

apple and books

Like many pattern-makers-to-be or pattern making newbies, if you want, I sometimes tend to feel like I maybe need to study this properly in order to make something of it. The only formal fashion design and pattern making class that I could take right now is an online class.

I am mainly a self-learner and I know I can save a lot of time learning by myself (in-class experience with fellow student and a teacher who interacts with you is still the best for me, but not always possible). A Coursera and Udacity and Codecademy aficionado, I’ve also noticed I prefer books to instructional video. I read faster than I watch videos and sometimes I can’t fully concentrate on a video. At the same time I can read perfectly comfortable in a room full of screaming babies (not something I am usually exposed to, buy just saying).

So, as I decide whether I want to pay the online course or read the good books, in my time on my rules, I day-dream about my sewing, pattern-making and fashion design library.

My go-to book for pattern-making is Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. This book is one of the most valuable book buys I made in the last three years. I actually stopped buying pattern magazines when I realised how easy it was to adapt and modify existing patterns.

Other two books I like but don’t actually use are Coletterie and the first Burdastyle book. They are both great for inspiration, but I did’t make anything out of them. (I almost finished a chocolate truffle, but made a major mistake when fitting the back and the dress ended in the “to fix” basket).

What other books are the stars of your collection? Which books would you like to read? What are the “stay away from” pieces?