Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Benefits of fashion sketching

Fashion sketching is not just reserved for costume designers or fashion design students; in fact, it can benefit anyone interested in expanding their sewing and design skill set. Professional artist, sewist, designer, and teacher Carol Kimball will be here April 27th and 28th, 2013, to teach two classes on fashion sketching and one on sewing ergonomics. 

Jumpstart your brain
  • Rather than just sitting at your sewing machine and hoping inspiration will strike, sketching can get you over the paralysis of beginning a project. It can break down that sew-er’s block and get the creative juices flowing.
Create a garment that is truly one-of-a kind
  • Why be constrained by the mundane offerings in commercial pattern books? You needn’t be restricted by that which already exists
  • Take a neckline inspired by a commercial pattern, sleeves like the ones on your favorite dress, and the piping you saw on that jacket Stacy London was wearing on TV, or imagine something completely new.
Save time, money and fabric
  • Sketching allows you to examine different combinations without making countless muslins.
  • Instead of just visualizing fabric and style combinations in your mind, you can see the design on paper and critique it before constructing or purchasing anything.
  • Sketching means you get the design right before cutting expensive or irreplaceable fabric.
  • You can experiment with fabric from your “stash.” Have enough for a dress or a jacket, but not both? Draw a quick sketch to figure out the best use of the fabric.
Recreate and reimagine existing garments
  • How would a major-remodel type of alteration change an existing piece of clothing? Is the time or money investment worth it? What if I (raised the waistline/removed the sleeve/added pockets)?
  • Make your wedding day special by refurbishing your mother’s gown. Figure out how it’s going to look before making changes that can’t be un-done.
If you sew for others, get on the same page
  • Your clients (or your daughters) need reassurance that you're paying attention to them. Why go to the trouble of making the pattern, sewing a muslin, and then finding you need to start over because it wasn’t what the client had in mind? 
  • For example, one of Carol’s clients, a mother-of-the-bride, had a definite design in mind for some lovely silk her late husband had brought back from Thailand. When she saw the workup of her "dream dress" she exclaimed, "It looks like a bathrobe!"
  • When you sketch with your clients, they are right there providing feedback. As they see their ideas worked out, the dynamic changes from master/flunky to fellow collaborators.
Find the most flattering look for the wearer
  • See quickly how design changes make an outfit look better (or worse) on the body it’s being designed for.
  • Determine what details, hem lengths, fabric combinations, and silhouettes are the most flattering on a particular person.

Minor modifications were made for a considerably more flattering look; neckline was lowered, pockets were slanted, double buttons traded for single button, armhole was raised.

Below are sketches done by students after the first day of Carol’s “Fashion Sketching for Any Body” class.

If you'd like to join us for Carol's classes, visit this link.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Making of a Dream Come True: Having a gown custom made

Having a gown custom made is truly a unique experience. Instead of hunting for the perfect gown, or settling for one that is close to what you want, you can have exactly the gown you’ve always dreamed of.

A custom gown is just that--it is customized to your desires, and to your figure. You can decide on any combination of sleeves, skirts, necklines, waistlines and hemlines. You can choose the colors, the fabrication, and the amount of embellishments.

And everything will be put together exclusively for your figure, so the dress will fit you perfectly. Proportion is taken into account, so YOU will take center stage--not your dress. This means that petite figures can wear big, fluffy skirts with a train without being overwhelmed. Broad-shouldered figures can have puffy sleeves without looking like football players. And rounder figures can wear fitted waistlines without looking pinched.

Party Dress by Barbie McCormick

To begin, you need to find a dressmaker you feel comfortable with.

References from friends are great, because they can tell you about their own experiences with the dressmaker. You can look in the yellow pages, online, or get references from a fine fabric store.

Call each of the prospective dressmakers and talk to them personally. You can get a good feel of your compatibility. Make consultation appointments with the ones you like. The face-to-face interaction will let you know whether it is a good match. The dressmaker needs to see sketches or pictures in person to be able to give a price range, and she (or he) will need to see your figure to estimate yardage requirements and determine proportion adjustments for the dress.

When you meet the dressmaker, you will want to see a portfolio of their work, and any dresses she may have so you can see the construction quality. If you have questions, ask now. If you are uneasy about the work or the answers, then you should probably choose another dressmaker.

When you find a dressmaker, the creation of your gown will begin.

Bridal gown by Barbie McCormick
First, the style of your dress will be decided. If you have a picture of exactly what you want, the dressmaker will work off of that. If you have a series of pictures or sketches, or just an idea, the dressmaker will create a sketch of the finalized gown to work from. Keep in mind that changes can be made along the way, but the dressmaker needs a starting point. Unless you have experience in fashion design and sewing patterns yourself, you should NOT pick out your own pattern from the fabric store. The dressmaker will pick out an appropriate one, or they will draft one.

The fabrication of the gown will be discussed. If you are unfamiliar with different types of fabrics, you need to trust your dressmaker to choose the best type for your dress. Dressmakers with a lot of experience will know what kind of fabric is needed to achieve the look you want. They may collect swatches for you to look at, they may have some fabrics in stock, or they may send you to a knowledgeable fabric store.

You will need to have whatever undergarments (bra, pantyhose, waist-cinchers, etc.) and shoes you plan to wear with the dress, since they can drastically change your posture and the shape of your figure. These will need to be worn at EVERY fitting, so the dressmaker may keep these items in her studio with your dress.

Your measurements will be taken, and a muslin (sometimes called a toile) of your gown will be made. This is a mock-up of your gown; usually made of plain, cotton muslin. The muslin will be fitted exactly like your dress, and will give a very good idea of how your final gown will look. Most of the detail placement will be determined, and necklines and hemlines will be adjusted at this stage. Any changes you want made should be completed in this stage. Sometimes additional muslin fittings will be needed, and sometimes additional muslins will be made.

When the muslin is exactly what you want, it will be taken completely apart and used as the pattern for your dress. Your next fitting will be your actual dress, out of the final fabric you’ve selected.

Bridal gown by Erin Retelle
Your gown is now well on its way to being done.
Since you will now be working with your actual dress, the final fittings will be made, and the smaller details will be tended to. The dress will be hemmed to its final length, and the bustle hooks will be placed, if needed.

Any beading or embellishments will be applied only after the final fitting is done (this means your weight must be stable until the event date), since they often would have to be moved in the event of further adjustments to the fit of the dress. 

A veil can be made to complement the dress in fabrication and embellishment. A small, coordinating handbag can also be made, and plain shoes can be embellished.

When the embellishments and accessories are finished, the lining will be carefully inserted into the dress, and you will put everything on together.
Modest silver bridal gown by Barbie McCormick

You will look into the mirror and see that the dress of your dreams has come to life.