The work table today…

Today I draped some peplums on the half-size dress form. I’ve been thinking of making these for months but something has been holding me back, today everything just clicked for me and I was able to finally start.

draped peplum 2draped peplum 1

This is the first finished peplum and it’s really beautiful. I got this fabric at Mood this summer. It has a black cotton background with brown satin stripes.

finished peplum 2

This peplum ties around the waist with a drawstring of the same fabric and on the back there are buttons to hold it in place and extra buttons inside so that you can adjust the width of the peplum at the waist.

peplum back

I’m working on some in other fabrics including one from crisp white poplin with a rounded shirttail hem that will resemble a men’s shirt.

Muslin update

Muslins are ugly, they just are.  So bland and colorless.  When I make one I can appreciate the beauty in it, well, because I made it.  But it takes a lot of imagination to see the final garment in a beige mass of unbleached cotton.  For example, here is a snap shot of a muslin, a sketch of the same coat and swatches of the fabric that the final coat will be made from.

I think seeing the sketch and fabric makes things a little clearer, no?

With all of that said here are some more snap shots of muslins on the models from our recent critique.

This shirt dress has a row of buttons and button holes on each side so that it can be buttoned right over left or left over right. Sewing in sleeves is a real pain, especially when you know you are going to have to do it many, many times.  That is why some of these shirts only have one sleeve. My sleeves also have a lot of detail in them so I tend to only make one in the muslin.

This hat is actually in final fabric, it’s the first hat of hopefully many.

What’s in a Muslin?

Since every minute of my free time and some of my not so free time is spent worrying, doodleing, and actually working on my senior thesis, I have no time for crafting. So, I thought maybe you would like to see exactly what goes into designing a small collection.  I say small because we are required to design and build between 4 and 8 complete looks.  Of course I have a lot to say so I’m doing 8.  That’s 8 fully dressed models and I am hoping to make hords of accessories like hats, shoes, bags and jewelry.

The first step is to develop a concept which can really be anything that inspires you.  In my studio we have designers who are inspired by the senses, under water creatures, Michael Jackson, synaesthesia, medieval music, and garments as musical instruments, just to name a few.

My concept is based on a Terry Gilliam movie called Tideland about a little girl who is utterly inocent to the point of makeing viewers uncomfortable.  She is left all alone with her friends the bodyless doll heads that she talks to, the firefly ‘fairies’, and the squirles in the attic.

tideland for web

I love her fearlessness, imagination, ability to make me uncomfortable, and her ability to defy death by ignoring it.

Once you have established your concept, you just start sketching, and sketching, and sketching… I find myself doodling constantly.  At some point you are supposed to have an ah-ha moment when you stop sketching, you pick your final designs and move on.  I never seem to reach this point.  Oh, I move on but the thinking and sketching just never stops and this can become confusing because now I have to start to making things…

Next, the patterns.  Lots of paper, lots of tape, pencil smudges all over my face; this is my favorite part.  Without a good pattern you will not have a good garment.

pattern making better

This is my wall of patterns so far:

pattern wal

Probably only 1/4 of the patterns I will end up making.  These are priceless.  Well, to me anyway.

Once you have a pattern that you think is going to do what you want it to, you make a muslin.  A muslin is a garment that is made from very simple fabric, usually unbleached cotton or something that resembles what your final fabric will be.

tux dress better

You fit this muslin on your model and make corrections by pinning or drawing right on it.  Then you transfer those changes to the pattern and yup, make ANOTHER muslin.  It isn’t unusual to make 3-5 muslins of one garment.  How many garments am I making again?

The things that don’t fit into this time line that you just have to squeeze in there between sketching, muslins and awful sociology classes, are the fabric research and shopping, fittings with models, critiques, eating, sleeping…

So, this is where I’m at so far and what has been occupying my time for the past 7 weeks.  I’m making some patterns and some muslins, and soon I will make the jump to final fabric.  Wish me luck, I’m gonna need it.

Hat Sewing Today

visor hat webFinished 2 more samples today for the prospective “hat making book”. I guess I have 7 finished patterns/samples now. I need to finish a few more samples, then I need to grade the patterns, take photos, write prospectus and send this thing out to publishers. Making these patterns has been so time consuming. Each pattern is drafted, tested in muslin, corrected, then tested in muslin AGAIN. After all of that I can make the sample from the final fabric while writing down every single step it takes to make the hat.

girly cap web

I am definitely feeling some relief at seeing the little collection of finished patterns and samples here.  Of course next is the tricky writing part.  Writing introductions and descriptions may take as long as the patterns took!