It is so often that we fall in love with unique styles yet tend to shy away from actually buying them if they appear to be difficult to style or wear. If you feel intimidated by more challenging-to-wear clothing, rest assured that there are plenty of options to style even the most difficult items without forgoing comfort.
Here is a list of commonly difficult-to-wear clothing and how to fix some of the styling issues associated with them:
Backless or Open-Back Tops and Dresses:
So why are backless and open-back tops and dresses so intimidating yet so appealing to us? It is true that an open back garment can feel like a risky choice yet if designed and worn properly, exudes elegance in evening wear and more casual styles. If you learn a few tricks to comfortably wear and style them, open back garments can become regularly used clothing items in your closet.
The main challenge when it comes to backless clothing is what to do with that pesky back bra strap. How can you achieve comfort and support without going fully braless (unless you feel comfortable doing so!)? The good news is that there are plenty of accessories and products on the market that allow you to have comfortable coverage and support without the inconvenience of the back bra strap. You can choose whichever product works best for you based on your comfort level and style.
Truly, the easiest way to wear a backless garment is going completely braless- That of course, is if you feel comfortable enough doing so. If you invest in some pasties for nipple coverage, you’ll be able to tackle wearing any backless style you fall in love with. If going braless is not up to your comfort level and you need a bit more coverage and support, there are some adhesive products and invisible back-strap bras that offer additional comfort and coverage.
Get creative! Just because a clothing item features an open back design does not mean the back has to be completely uncovered. If you have a black or contrast color bra, allow the back strap to show for a more relaxed, casual look. Don’t forget to hide or trim any tags the bra has at the back. Try to avoid tan or white bra colors as these colors are more suitable for wearing underneath clothing. If you are feeling a bit more risqué, a colorful lace bra can add a flirty, feminine flare when paired with more casual backless clothing.
Another option for styling backless clothing items includes pairing them with racer-back bras. These style bras add a unique design touch to open-back garments. The most common racer-back styles on the market include crisscross and bandeaux shapes. If you are lucky enough to find a color match, these styles will incorporate with you backless garments beautifully giving the impression that they are part of the design. If you prefer more coverage and support, a racer-back bra will work with most of your open back clothing providing a more casual look that does not jeopardize comfort.
Spaghetti Strap Blouses and Dresses:
The beauty of spaghetti strap tops and dresses is that they make great layering pieces. Believe it or not, spaghetti strap styles can become everyday items easily adjustable from an office setting to an evening out afterwards. During the late spring and summer months, spaghetti strap dresses and blouses will make a versatile, feminine addition to any closet.
It is certainly true that spaghetti strap clothing can be a little bit tricky to wear if you particularly dislike your bra strap showing. For that reason, many women shy away from purchasing spaghetti straps all together and may sometimes become a bit uneasy with this somewhat junior-esque style.
When it comes to wearing a spaghetti strap garment, we encourage you to embrace your figure regardless of size or shape. If you feel comfortable enough going braless, do so, especially if wearing a bra has always felt a bit too confining for you. If you choose to go braless, pasties are a great way to add a bit more comfort and solve the issues of the nipples showing through the lightweight fabric.
Adhesive bras on the other end, are another suitable option if you prefer more coverage, support and maybe a bit of extra padding. The adhesive nature of these products are often a hassle to wear on a regular basis but will become a go-to with more formal eveningwear and cocktail dresses that feature spaghetti straps.
On the other hand, a traditional strapless bra may be quite suitable if the spaghetti strap item in question features a horizontal seam underneath the bust line. The main issue with traditional strapless bras is that they shift down during movement which can be frustrating and uncomfortable. A horizontal seam underneath the bust line may provide more stability for a regular strapless bra by preventing it from shifting down during wear. If you are lucky enough to fall in love with a spaghetti strap item that already has built in padding at the bust, you do not have to worry about bra straps all together.
In the case you don’t mind having the bra straps showing, spaghetti strap dresses and blouses can actually handle this look very well if you choose a neutral bra color. The combination of the straps will create a more casual look and allow you to get creative when pairing the bra strap color with the spaghetti strap item at hand. Keep in mind that wearing a simple black bra with black straps will work with almost any spaghetti strap dresses or blouses. Even better, if you find a bra color that matches the dress or top in question, pairing them might give the impression that the bra strap is part of the spaghetti strap design. You can also go for a more color blocked look by combining a bra of contrasting color with the spaghetti strap items you own. We do encourage you to stay away from styling spaghetti strap items with tan or white bras as most of them are designed to be worn under clothing.
If you get a bit too warm during the fall and early spring months, layering a spaghetti strap blouse or dress underneath heavier pieces will provide a great balancing act temperature wise. Spaghetti strap blouses work great with light cardigans and blazers and can be paired with almost any bottoms. They make a perfect addition to an office setting while easily adjusting to any environment outside of work. These styles are lightweight enough to be tucked into higher waist pants and skirts while also eliminating bulkiness in the layering process.
Low, Plunging V-Necklines:
We’ve all fallen in love (in theory) with a deep V-neck dress or blouse at some point or another, but are we daring enough to wear them? It is true that not only are they a bit difficult to style and high maintenance to wear, they are certainly not suitable for every occasion.
Deep V-necks are commonly added to evening gowns, cocktail dresses and formal/evening blouses. While they may not provide an everyday style suitable for the office, a plunging V-neck garment is feminine and sexy yet still maintains an elegant flare.
As is also the case for backless garments, lower V-neck clothing often requires investing in a few additional items in order to wear and style comfortably. The problem area is usually the bust- Specifically, choosing between the right support and coverage such that it does not show in the open V area. Needless to say, a regular bra just won’t work.
Let start with the simplest solution: Going completely braless. If you feel comfortable or have the courage to do it, simply going braless will create a clean look and eliminate the need to hide any unwanted bra elements. If you do decide to go braless however, you may want to use pasties to eliminate the nipple-issue. Invest in some double sided adhesive tape to hold some of the unstable fabric edges down thus avoiding those risky “peek-a-boo” accidents. If you are looking for a quick fix and don’t have time to go on a search for adhesive bra tape, use duct tape. It adheres just as well (if not even better) and nobody has to know your secret!
If you are not so daring as to go completely braless, or you need some additional support and cup-enhancement, there are plenty of products on the market that will fulfill these requirements. For starters, if the V-neck in question is very low, whether it is open or sheer, you may want to invest in adhesive side cups. These adhere to each side of the bust leaving the center completely uncovered. Some adhesive bras are more padded than others providing an option for size enhancement as well.
In the case of a garment that features a higher cut V-neck not extending all the way to the belly button, there are some specialty bras on the market that are designed to accommodate less exaggerated V-neck styles. These bras replicate the V shape of a V-neck garment by extending lower than a regular bra. They also feature a thicker band under the bust area providing more stability and support.
You might find this difficult to believe, but a basic sheer blouse is truly an everyday item. If you familiarize yourself with some simple styling tricks, it is incredibly easy to transition most sheer blouses from the office to an evening out afterwards. They are lightweight enough to be layered with cardigans, sweaters, and blazers which classifies them as multi-seasonal. See-through blouses like those made of chiffon are elegant and appropriate enough work just as well with a pair of blue jeans as they do tucked into a tailored skirt.
Don’t be intimidated by the transparent characteristic of the fabric. If you invest in a few spaghetti strap tank tops in different colors you can effortlessly pair them with all the chiffon blouses you own. Not only does this fix the see-through issue, the spaghetti strap tanks provide enough warmth thus counteracting the lightweight characteristic of the blouse.
Vise versa, you may layer a sheer blouse with a slightly revealing dress to make it more formal or work appropriate. The best example is a spaghetti strap dress that requires a bit of shoulder coverage- Throwing a chiffon button-down blouse over it can make it more elegant and appropriate for a number of different settings. You may tie the bottom edges of the blouse at the waist area for a more playful, casual look.
Corset-Imitation Tops and Dresses:
As opposed to actual corsets, corset-style clothing features less complicated seams and often forgoes the use of boning, padding and other structural elements. A corset silhouette can be quite flattering to the waist and bust area but it can prove to be a bit tricky to style and perhaps not quite appropriate for every setting.
When it come to a corset-style top, choosing the most suitable bottoms in the styling process can be a bit of a challenge. For a more feminine look, pair a softly draping skirt with more form-fitting corset items. If you like to juxtapose your styles a bit, pair a corset fitted top with tailored trousers and skirts. In the case you prefer a form-fitted look from head to toe, a pair of fitted skinny jeans in combination with a corset-imitation blouse can accentuate your waist and hips alluding to a more elongated figure.
As is common with all styles that are trickier to wear, some corset-imitation clothing can sometimes cause challenges at the bust area. Due to the increased cost, many corset-imitation tops and dresses do not have built in padding at the bust area. This means that if you are a smaller cup size, you may experience some fit issues in this particular area.
However, corset-type clothing is very friendly with various styles of removable padding whether adhesive or non-adhesive in nature. This is made possible due to the placement of the seams which provide enough stability and structure to support added padding at the bust area. If you usually steer clear of adhesive bras, you can cheat the system and use regular, non-stick cup enhancements. With most corset-inspired clothing, the form-fitted silhouette and horizontal seams underneath the bust line (if any) should be enough to hold them in place during wear.
Dropped Shoulder or One-Shoulder Clothing:
When it comes to dropped shoulder or one-shoulder garments, the main challenge is the bust area- What to do with those pesky bra straps? It can be somewhat of an undertaking to incorporate bra straps into the styling of a dropped or single-shoulder clothing item. While perfectly matched color bra straps might give you some pleasantly surprising results, adding the extra strap risks altering the look and design of the garment. Needless to say, the extra strap will jeopardize the one-shoulder look.
The solution? This is where those adhesive products can really come through for you. If you are comfortable not wearing a bra all together, some simple adhesive pasties will provide an easy, quick fix. If you are after a bit more coverage and support or perhaps an enhanced cup size, adhesive bras will work great with dropped shoulder or one-shoulder styles. It is true that adhesive products are not always suitable for everyday use and can be a quite a hassle to apply and remove on a regular basis. For that reason, they are more suitable for occasional rather than regular use.
If you prefer to steer clear of adhesive products all together, you can always go for a traditional strapless bra. One shoulder garments provide an additional advantage when paired with a regular strapless bra- You can actually leave one of the bra straps on for additional stability and support by hiding it under the covered shoulder portion. Doing so will prevent the bra from shifting down during movement which is such a common issue with traditional strapless bras.
If you own a lot of dropped shoulder and one-shoulder clothing, it is a good idea to invest in a specialty bra specifically designed to tackle the challenges associated with this style. Single shoulder bras are available on the market and come in a few different designs and support capabilities. Most of them feature a wider single strap resembling somewhat of a sports bra look.
A wider strap will allow for increased stability and support without jeopardizing comfort. Other options include thin, removable straps that can be used with one shoulder garments featuring thinner straps themselves. In many cases, multiple thin straps are preferred in order to maintain stability. Regardless the design, investing in a one shoulder bra, especially if you own a large number of single-shoulder clothing items, will take the hassle out of styling and comfortably wearing these challenging styles.
As a side note, single shoulder and especially dropped shoulder items are not particularly easy to layer. Their asymmetric nature is designed to work best alone and not in a layered combination. That is not say that you should completely shy away from pairing them with other pieces in your closet- if you get a bit creative you can certainly make one-shoulder items work in a layered outfit.
Crop tops are looked upon as a younger, more junior silhouette. If you feel like you are past the age where crop tops are appropriate, you might still get away with wearing them if you learn how to style and use them in the appropriate setting. While crop tops might not be a winner at the office, they are a great option for a night out with the girls weather you are going out for a drinks or risking it all on the dance floor.
The secret? Pair them with high-waist bottoms.
There is nothing wrong with showing your belly button in your teens and early twenties but when you get a bit older it is always safer to lean on the elegant side. Believe or not, crop tops can still be elegant while providing a casual, playful edge. As mentioned above, the principal rule is to combine them with higher waist bottoms. Not only does this combination provide comfort and allows for more coverage, it also creates the illusion of longer legs thus elongating the figure.
Due to the shorter length, crop tops offer a great option for women that have a longer torso by providing somewhat of a balancing act proportionally. In addition, pairing crop tops with high waist jeans, trousers or skirts will further accentuate the waist allowing for a more slender appearance.
A cropped sweater works great in combination with high-waist, blue jeans providing a more casual, everyday look. On the other hand, cropped silk blouses mix beautifully with high-waist tailored skirts for an elevated, more elegant style. Needless to say, cropped tops can provide a lot of versatility regardless of age if you apply the right styling tricks. They are a great tool for layering especially with longer cardigans and blazers for a flattering, elongating effect. When styled in this fashion, the variation in hemlines provide a visually balanced appearance that enhances the waist and hip area.
Sewing the most basic of sleeves can be quite a challenge for sewing beginners. Even intermediate dressmakers can sometimes struggle with the construction of a basic sleeves. The challenge? Well, not only do you have to sew within a circular shape (which may feel a bit unnatural), sewing a regular woven sleeve requires the addition of ease (excess for movement) in the sleeve cap.
The sleeve cap has to have a rounded, three-dimensional structure in order to accommodate the shape and movement of the upper arms. This is achieved by adding two very subtle gathering stitches along the edge of the sleeve cap before the sleeve is actually sewn together. Working with these gathering stitches is one of the greatest challenges for sewing beginners as the gathering needs to be invisible on the face of the garment yet achieve a 3-dimensional shape. If it sounds a bit confusing, don't worry! We will walk you through all the steps necessary for achieving this concept below.
What is a basic set-in sleeve?
A set in sleeve is what you may know as a regular or basic sleeve. It is the most common sleeve style used with woven fabrics. The sleeve itself is sewn and prepped individually after which it is attached to the armhole of the garment. As mentioned above, it requires two rows of gathering stitches along the sleeve cap before the sleeve is actually sewn together. These gathering stitches add excess and allow for proper movement within the sleeve cap adding comfort to the upper arm area.
Here are some of the difficulties you are bound to experience in the construction of a regular set in sleeve, especially if you are new to sewing:
1. Stitching along the subtle gathering of the sleeve without actually creating a gathered seam on the face of the garment.
2. Achieving an even look for both sleeves: This is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of sewing sleeves for beginners. The two sleeves will most likely look uneven on your first few tries. This has to do with the direction of the stitch during the sewing process and will solve itself over time as you get more practice.
3. Keeping the fabric edges matched along the most curved underarm area of the sleeves/garment.
4. Working with the front and back notches to match each sleeve to the correct side of the garment. This will feel a bit confusing at the beginning but some tricks we'll share with you bellow will facilitate this process.
Sewing knit sleeves vs. woven sleeves:
As opposed to woven sleeves, sewing knit sleeves is a bit simpler. Because knits are stretchy, the sleeves do not require ease so you may treat the sleeve seam as you wold any other seam on the garment. As opposed to regular woven sleeves, the sleeve cap edge of knit sleeves are sewn to the garment first then the sleeve seams and side seams are connected with a single stitch.
Although this method is simple, keep in mind that it is not recommended for a woven sleeve. Using this method for woven sleeves flattens the underarm area creating aesthetic and fit issues in some garments. Knit sleeves also allow for some room for error as you may stretch the fabric a bit to make it fit within certain edges without jeopardizing the fit and structure of the garment- Knits are always a bit more forgiving in the sewing process than woven fabrics.
Sewing a Regular Sleeve: Step-by-Step Process
1. Pin and cut out your sleeve patterns.
To cut both sleeves at once, it is easiest to fold the fabric in half and cut your sleeve pattern through both layers of fabric. If your fabric has a face side make sure that the right side of the two sleeves are the mirror image of each other.
Note that a sleeve pattern should have 3 sets of notches:
The center notch is located at the very top of the sleeve cap. It is a single notch that gets aligned with the garment's shoulder seam when the sleeve is attached to the rest of the garment.
The front notch: This is a single notch located at the inner curve of the sleeve corresponding to the front underarm. This notch will help you align the sleeve's front to the garment's front.
The back notches: As opposed to the front notch, the back is usually marked with double notches to set it apart. The back notches correspond to the back underarm and will aid in matching the back sleeve portion to the back armhole of the garment.
2. It is important that you transfer all the notches from your sewing pattern onto the fabric. Transferring these notches will be essential in matching and aligning the sleeve to the garment in the sewing process. Once the sewing pattern is separated from the fabric pieces, it will be difficult to tell which side of the sleeve should match the front and which side matches the back without these single and double notches.
The center notch is essential in properly aligning the center of the sleeve cap to the garment's shoulder seam. If this notch is missing, the sleeve cap ease and sleeve grain will most likely be aligned incorrectly.
3. Once your notches are transferred to the fabric, remove the sleeve sewing pattern. Note that some sewing patterns feature triangle notches while others have T-dash lines (as displayed in this tutorial). The style of the notches is not important as long as you differentiate between the single front notch and back double notches.
4. Switch the stitch setting on your sewing machine to a basting stitch (longest stitch). Starting at the location of the front notch, apply a basting stitch corresponding with the seam allowance of the sleeve cap edge. Stop the stitch at the double back notches.
The seam allowance in this tutorial is 1/2", so this first basting stitch is applied at 1/2" distance from the edge.
Make sure you leave longer loose threads on each side of the basting stitch to facilitate gathering later in the sewing process. Note that the basting stitch extends from the front notch to the back notches following the curve of the sleeve cap evenly.
5. Apply a second basting stitch at half the length of the seam allowance from the edge. Use the first basting stitch and the actual edge of the sleeve cap as a guide. Make sure you start and end this second stitch at the same points as the first basting stitch.
As you did for the first basting stitch, leave enough length in the loose threads to facilitate the gathering process.
6. Starting on one end, gently pull on both gathering threads simultaneously. Make sure you keep both stitches evenly distributed as you pull. Pull the loose threads until the edge is gently gathered to form a 3-dimensional structure. Keep in mind that this gathering stitch is used for adding ease to the sleeve cap and when sewn, should not resemble and actual gathered seam.
Continue gently pulling the gathering threads until the sleeve cap edge is gathered up to the center notch at the very top. Use your fingers to distribute the gathers evenly.
7. Starting at the other end of the gathering stitch, pull the loose threads simultaneously until the edge is subtly gathered up to the center notch as well.
Distribute the gathering evenly along the entire edge of the sleeve cap. Think of this more as creasing rather than gathering. The basting stitches should crease the edge enough to add shape and movement in the sleeve without forming actual gathering.
A creased sleeve cap edge will create a three-dimensional structure that replicates the rounded shape of the upper arm and shoulder area. After creasing the two gathering stitches you should be able to see the shape of the sleeve come alive in a more organic structure.
Back-stitch at the end of the stitch especially at the armhole area. Keeping the sleeve seam stable and fully closed will make it much easier to work with when attaching it to the garment's armhole.
10. Iron the seam allowance open. The easiest way to do this is with a sleeve ironing board.
In this tutorial, the seam allowance edges are not clean finished. Keep in mind that ironing the seam allowance open is not necessarily a requirement in all sleeve styles, and it varies depending on the clean finishing method used for the seam.
Once ironed, turn the sleeve inside out to expose the face of the sleeve. Keep the sleeve with the right side facing outward throughout the next sewing steps to follow.
11. Now that the sleeve is sewn and prepped, it is time to attach it to the armhole. Align the sleeve so that the single notch matches the front of the garment and the double back notches correspond to the back.
12. Turn the garment inside out but leave the right side of the sleeve facing outwards- Keep this concept in mind as a rule of thumb when sewing sleeves.
13. Find the center notch at the top of the sleeve cap. As you may remember, this notch is located along the middle of the sleeve cap's gathered edge.
16. Next, match the underarm seams. The sleeve seam should correspond to the garment side seam. Make sure the face sides of both sleeve and garment are touching.
Insert a pin through both seams. Place the pin on the sleeve side and pin perpendicular to the edge.
17. Align the edge of the sleeve to the armhole edge and place pins perpendicular to the edge for easy removal in the sewing process. Make sure the gathered edge of the sleeve matches the length of its corresponding armhole edge. Distribute the gathering evenly ensuring there are no folds or puckers on either side.
If the gathering is too tight, gently pull to release some of it until it matches the armhole edge.
Vise versa, if the gathering is too loose, tighten it by pulling the gathering threads until the edge of the armhole matches the edge of the sleeve cap.
18. Place pins along the entire edge of the seam. To facilitate machine stitching, insert the pins perpendicular to the edge. It is easier to have the pins on the sleeve side as opposed to the garment side-sewing inside a curve is always more comfortable.
Make sure that all the edges are aligned and held in place properly with pins.
Before applying the final stitch, check that the single notch of the sleeve's front matches the front of the garment. On the other end, the double notches should match the back of the garment. If the notches do not match, then the sleeve should be sewn to the opposite armhole. To fix this, simply unpin and switch the two sleeves.
You should normally be able to tell in the pinning process whether the front and back are aligned properly because both the sleeve curves and the curve of the garment's armhole will appear to be slightly off.
It is good practice to always check that you have everything aligned properly before final stitching as correcting these errors after the sleeve is permanently attached to the garment will be quite a hassle after the fact.
Before applying the final stitch, check your sewing machine settings and make sure you switch from a basting stitch back to a regular stitch.
19. Apply a machine stitch right bellow the first gathering stitch. Try to stay as close to it as possible but make sure the gathered stitch stays on the inside of the garment (always to the right of the final seam stitch).
When you get to the gathered part, make sure the creases are evenly positioned along the curve and avoid puckering or actually gathering the seam in the sewing process. This will most likely be a challenge for a sewing beginner and it will certainly take some practice. The goal is to achieve a slightly rounded, 3-dimensional structure along the sleeve cap while avoiding actual gathers or puckers along the seam.
Note: It helps to hold the body of the fabric down during sewing, especially along the gathered edge. This keeps the gathering evenly distributed without puckering while also maintaining the edges properly aligned.
It is a good idea to stop a few times during sewing and re-distribute the gathers if you feel they are not even. Use a pin to move the individual creases around more easily.
20. When you get to the inner curve of the underarm, pull the fabric as you sew. This is an important aspect of sewing woven sleeves that lack fabric stretch. The underarm is usually the area that requires the most flexibility and strength during wear because it gets pulled excessively during arm movement. Pulling the fabric during sewing will pre-stretch the stitch and allow it to withstand more movement during wear.
Don't forget to backstitch and/or overlap your stitches once finished. Backstitching keeps the seam stabilized and prevents it from coming apart due to excessive movement during wear.
Note the placement of the final seam stitch in close proximity to the first gathering stitch right above it.
Equally important, the fabric is creased yet there are no puckers or actual gathers visible along the seam.
21. Trim the loose threads from the gathering stitches.
Use your preferred sewing technique to clean finish the raw edges of the sleeve seam allowance. The easiest is a serging stitch or a dense zi-zag stitch on your home sewing machine.
22. Turn the garment on its right side and iron the seam of the sleeve with the seam allowance pointing towards the sleeve. Use a sleeve ironing board for best results.
Silk is one of the most luxurious fabrics that often become family air-looms being passed down from generation to generation. To ensure their maximum life span, it is imperative that your silk garments are cared for properly maintaining minimum damage and disintegration over time. Care is perhaps the most important factor in regards to the long term durability and lifespan of a silk clothing item.
While it is easy to fall in love with the feel and look of silk, we can often feel dissuaded by its need for special care and dry cleaning. The good news is, you can actually wash many types of silk fabrics at home if you follow the proper guidelines to avoid damaging them over time.
We'll walk you through all the steps necessary for hand washing your silks bellow, but before we get started it is important to note that there are some extra sensitive silk fabrics that maintain best appearance and quality over time if dry cleaned only.
The following should always be dry cleaned for best results:
-Dupioni (always dry clean)
-Satin Back Crepe
-Beaded and Printed silks
-Most novelty silk fabrics
The main reason dry cleaning is recommended for these particular fabrics is due to their lustrous, shiny characteristic. Washing these silk fabrics by hand or with a washing machine may cause them to lose their luster and texture.
In the case of silk fabrics that feature beading, trims and other decorative features, dry cleaning is perhaps the best choice to avoid damaging these ornamental features.
Printed silk or silk featuring very bright or dark colors would also work best with dry cleaning due to the risk of color fading over time.
If you own silk garments that are lined (especially if the lining features a contrast color) it is recommended that you dry clean these items to avoid the color bleeding through or getting absorbed into the silk fibers.
Washing Instructions for Silk Garments:
If you choose to forego dry cleaning and tackle silk care at home, it is best to wash silk fabrics by hand. Keep in mind that washing silk will change the texture and appearance of the fabric often resulting in a slightly faded color and altered luster. Some people prefer hand washing silks over dry cleaning due to the fact that if done correctly, it adds a soft quality/hand to the fabric.
It is important to note that silk fabric is made of protein fibers. This means that the fibers' structure is composed of protein molecules. For that reason, silk can disintegrate over time due to friction and high temperatures. It is good practice to approach caring for silk the same way you would care for human hair.
Never use chlorine bleach or brighteners on silk fabrics- Chlorine is too harsh for silk fibers to withstand and may often result in immediate damage. For that matter any cleaning agent or product containing alcohol will harm silk items. This includes perfume and lotions that contain alcohol- It is best to let these products dry before putting on a silk garment.
The following silk fabrics can withstand hand washing:
- Crepe de chine
- Sueded Silk
- Fuji Silk
- Various raw silk fabrics
- Mixed content silk fabrics.
For best results, use the following instructions to hand wash silk:
- Use luke warm or cool water for washing. Rinse the garment in cool water.
- Never wash silk in hot water. Heat weakens silk fibers over time.
-If you know that the water in your area contains more minerals resulting in a harder characteristic, you may add a softening agent to the wash. A good water softening agent is borax. Before using other water softening products, check the label (or do a quick online search) to see if they may negatively affect delicate materials.
-Use non-alkaline soap and try to avoid regular detergents. Regular detergents contain harsher ingredients which weaken silk over time. Special detergents for washing delicate fabrics like silks are available on the market- check your local fabric store or try some options available online.
-You may add a drop of hair conditioner or baby shampoo to the rinse for a softer feel. Remember, silk fibers behave very much like human hair and can benefit from gentle conditioning.
-Add some regular distilled white vinegar to the rinse. This will lock in the color and dissolve some of the leftover soap residue which may sometimes cause soap stains when the garment drys.
-Always wash silk garments separately.
-Avoid washing different colors together. Keep the colors separated and rinse in clean water each time especially if you notice the color continues to comes off easily in the wash/rinse.
-It is quite common that some bright colored silks will bleed in the wash. This is normal and is caused by excess dye housed in the fiber molecules. Continue rinsing the garment in clean water until the water appears clean.
-You may add a pinch of salt to the water in the last cool-temperature rinse cycle to set the color. However, avoid dropping the salt directly on the fabric. Add it to the water first and wait for it to dissolve prior to inserting the silk garment.
-Do not leave silk garments in water for too long. Always avoid soaking silk fabrics. A few minutes in water is most recommended.
-When the silk garment is in the water, gently agitate it to clean. Avoid handling the fabric harshly and never ring or twist a silk garment. The best way to remove excess water from the previous wash/rinse is to squeeze it gently.
Machine Washing (only if the care tag/garment allows it):
While hand washing is recommended over machine washing, some silk fabrics may be machine washed. We do however recommend always hand washing just to be on the safe side even if the care tag does allow for machine washing.
If you choose to wash your silk clothing items with a washing machine make sure to only use the delicate or hand wash setting. If your washing machine does not offer a delicate or hand wash setting, wash your silk clothing by hand instead.
Use a mesh bag or pouch to wash your delicate silk fabrics, especially in a top loading washing machine - the agitator is often too harsh for the fragile silk fibers.
As mentioned above, never use bleach, hard detergents or brighteners on your silk clothing. Stick to mild soaps or detergents designed for delicate fabrics only.
Don't forget to always separate your colors and wash silk separately.
How to Dry Silk Clothing Items After Washing:
-Never dry silk in direct sunlight- this not only fades the color but it also causes damage to the sensitive protein fibers.
-Roll silk clothing in a towel or water absorbent rag to extract excess water.
-Don't twist silk clothing to remove water. This not only weakens the fibers but it will also form traces of lines and wrinkles that are difficult to remove when the item drys. Twisting sensitive silk fabrics may also result in unnecessary stretching, as well as loss of structure and shape.
-Hang to dry. Silk usually does not lose its structure from hanging. However, this is on a garment-to-garment basis, so always check the care tag first.
-Do not hang silk garments on wooden racks or wooden hangers. This can often stain the fabric due to the various finishes applied to wood.
-When drying, silk garments should be placed away from a direct heat source. Never put silk directly on a radiator or right next to a heating unit. Keep in mind that excessive heat weakens silk fibers over time.
-Avoid the clothes dryer as much as you can. Silk is very sensitive to heat causing the protein fibers to weaken over time. In some cases, silk garments may actually shrink in the dryer. If you don't have an option to hang your silk clothing, you may dry them in a clothes dryer but make sure it is set to the Air Fluff option.
How To Iron Silk Clothing:
The best time to iron your silk clothing items is when they are slightly damp. Set the iron at the silk or delicate setting which will provide a cooler temperature, and always use a protective cloth in the ironing process.
Avoid spraying or wetting the fabric locally as this may result in staining or the formation of white rings on the surface of the fabric.
If your silk garment features decorative elements like beading, sequins and trimming you should avoid ironing all together. These fabrics are best left to the dry cleaner and if cleaned properly, should not require pressing.
Avoid using direct steam from a steamer in close proximity to the surface of the silk fabric. Most often, silk wrinkles release on their own either during wear or by hanging the garment for a period of time (usually overnight).
You may use the old bathroom-steam trick by hanging the silk garment in the bathroom during a shower or while hot water is running. The subtle steam and humidity is enough to relax the silk fibers and release most wrinkles.
Generally, the best way to avoid wrinkles in your silk garments is by following the correct drying process. If the garment is hanged properly after washing, it usually releases wrinkles slowly in the drying process.
Spot Cleaning Silk Clothing:
Silk fabrics can be a bit tricky to spot clean. Their ability to be spot cleaned efficiently depends mainly on the type of silk fabric/weave it is. Quite often, spot cleaning alone can leave rings or water stains on more sensitive silk fabrics especially those with a higher luster and sheen.
The safest way is to spot clean a tough stain with cool water and a gentle soap, after which you should proceed with regular hand washing to avoid localized water stains. As reiterated above, never use bleach to spot clean silk fabrics.
Avoid using stain-removal pens and harsh solutions as this may damage the silk or leave permanent discoloration on the spot surface.
If the simple water and mild soap option does not work, consult with your dry cleaners for the safest stain-removal option. It is better not to take the risk at home. A dry cleaner will most likely have more knowledge and experience regarding this topic, including access to appropriate industrial products not familiar to us.
Tips For Storing, Travel and Long-Term Care of Silk Fabric:
Keep silk garments in a cool (room temperature), dry environment to protect the fabric's sensitive protein fibers. When traveling, you may pack silk like you would any other garment either by folding or leaving it on a travel hanger. If you are attempting to save space, don't roll the garment too tightly as this may pull on the sensitive silk fibers and damage them in the process. When you get to your destination, make sure to take the silk garment out of your luggage promptly and hang it overnight to release wrinkles. As an even more efficient option, use the bathroom-steam trick for a faster, smoother result.
Silk Dry Cleaning Options: The Eco-friendly Green Way.
As mentioned above, dry cleaning is recommended for cleaning most silk fabrics. These days, many people steer away from dry cleaning not only due to the cost but also the effects of dry cleaning chemicals on the environment. The main agent used by traditional dry cleaners is tetrachloroethylene. This most commonly used solvent has raised questions in recent years as its level of toxicity is enough to have an environmental impact. Hydrocarbons are a bit milder but also used as dry cleaning solvents in about 10-15 % percent of dry cleaning. Although hydrocarbons are weaker than tetrachloroethylene, they are considered pollutants.
If you own silk garments that require dry cleaning yet you are concerned with the environmental effects of traditional dry cleaning, we suggest choosing Eco-friendly, green dry cleaners. They use much safer cleaning solutions like silicone-based agents and carbon dioxide (CO2). Environmentally conscious dry cleaning facilities are available in most cities and becoming more wide-spread with every passing year. CO2 also offers less fabric shrinkage than traditional cleaning solutions. When dry cleaning silk garments, always make sure that the dry cleaner you choose to work with is experienced with cleaning silk fabrics.
For more information green dry cleaning you may refer to the Environment Protection Agency's website at https://www.epa.gov.
If you are looking for Eco-friendly dry cleaners in your area, enter your zip code and check the directory at: http://www.nodryclean.com/
To learn more about dry cleaning with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other green solvents, please refer to: https://www.greenamerica.org/green-living/green-dry-cleaning
Fashion illustration is a skill that is developed over time contingent on lots of patience and practice. Perhaps the most rewarding part about learning how to draw a fashion figure is being able to sketch your own clothing design ideas in an effortless, readable way. This is especially valuable if you want to learn how to design and make your own clothing.
Lets face it, the concept of drawing clothing on a fashion figure can feel quite intimidating. However, you really don't have to have a fashion design degree to learn how to design clothing on your own and effortlessly sketch your ideas down on paper.
The good news is there are a few simple steps you can follow that will help you avoid some of the confusion associated with proportion and movement and allow you to focus and prioritize when drawing clothing. Before tackling the clothing sketches, it is first important to understand how to draw a fashion figure. Drawing the figure first and then dressing it with your design ideas will not only help you bring the clothing item to life, it will also allow for a much easier sketching process and understanding of basic fabric drape, fit and movement.
A fashion figure is different than a regular figure drawing in the fact that it is a more dramatic, less detailed representation featuring more exaggerated movement and proportions. Fashion figures can essentially take any shape you desire stylistically allowing you to really express your style artistically. Often times, the style of your fashion sketches reflects the style of the clothing you are designing. As a beginner , don't stress too much about finding your style right away- this is something that occurs naturally over time whether you strive for it or not. For now, focus on learning the basic proportion and movement concepts described below which should hopefully lay out the bullring blocks for finding your drawing style over time.
As described above, a good fashion drawing should be able to capture the movement of the design and fabric you are envisioning. If you learn a few basic concepts about proportion, balance and movement you'll be able to sketch a fashion figure in just a few minutes. As you practice, you will find what works best for you and your drawing style.
Before getting started, here are a few things to keep in mind:
-Practice makes perfect. Keep practicing until your hand loosens up and you feel confident with your pencil and work surface.
-Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
-You can bend the rules! Try different things despite what the "rules" tell you. This is essential in finding your comfort level and eventually developing your own style.
-Practice drawing continuous lines at different widths and pressures. Try to avoid drawing multiple dash lines to form a continuous line. This can get a bit messy and does not allow you to completely loosen up when sketching.
- Keep it simple. Simple line impressions that capture general movement and proportion are often enough to make a fashion figure sketch look finished.
Drawing a Fashion Figure: Simple Step-By-Step Guide
1. Draw a subtly curved vertical line in one continuous movement. Don't worry about how straight or how curved the line is, just free-hand a vertical line. This will serve as your vertical balance line.
Traditionally, a vertical balance line is a straight line that determines figure balance and foot placement. To make it a bit easier, we are bending the rules and making this line semi-curved. This semi-curved line will still allow you to draw the correct balance in your fashion figure but it will also help you capture the figure's movement much easier, especially if you are a beginner.
The traditional vertical balance line rule is: Both feet CANNOT be positioned on the same side of the line or it will make the figure look like it is falling over. Each foot should be positioned on opposite sides of the vertical line. It is quite okay if one of the feet is touching the vertical line as long as most of the foot surface stays on the opposite side of the line than the second foot.
The same rule applies to the semi-curved vertical balance line displayed above. However, it is quite OK if the foot crosses over a bit more on the opposite side of the line. You can usually estimate foot placement by the fashion figure's movement which we'll show you how to do below.
2. Next, draw a slanted horizontal line less than half the distance down from the top of the vertical line as displayed in the image below.
Again, don't worry too much about measuring the exact distance as long as the horizontal line is placed higher than the midpoint of the vertical line. This will serve as the hip line.
Don't worry about the length of this horizontal line either. Simply free hand it in one continuous line ensuring that it is slightly slanted.
As you'll learn below, the direction in which this horizontal line (hip line) is slanted affects the movement of the body and works hand-in-hand with the shoulder line.
3. From the horizontal line you just drew (the hip line) divide the top portion of the vertical line in 3 parts. Draw dash lines to help you visualize the division better. The first part from the hip line up should be approximately the same length as the upper most part of the vertical line. The middle portion should be slightly longer than the two outer parts described.
Take a look at the image below and notice the proportion between these dash lines- try to replicate this placement in your drawing.
4. On the first dash from the top draw another horizontal slanted line in the opposite direction to the hip line. This will serve as the shoulder line.
Just as you did for the hip line, don't worry about the measurement of the shoulder line. Free hand it in one continuous line ensuring that it slants in the opposite direction to the hip line.
To put this into perspective, one of the edges of the hip line and one of the edges of the shoulder line should be pointing towards each other while the other ends should be pointing away from each other.
As described above, the shoulder line and hip lines work dependently when it comes to movement. They should always be slanted in opposite directions in order to achieve the correct figure pose. The more slanted the lines are the more exaggerated the movement will be, usually resulting in a more dramatic looking fashion figure.
As you practice different versions, you'll be able to find your style and figure out which method you prefer more. Often times, you'll find that if you are sketching a garment with more drape it will require more movement in your fashion figure in which case the hip and shoulder lines should be more slanted.
If hypothetically, the hip line in the sketch above was slanted the other direction then the shoulder line would be pointed the opposite direction as well.
5. Move down to the next dash (right in the middle) and sketch a smaller horizontal line that is just a little bit slanted in the same direction as the hip line- This will mark the waist line.
The idea is to have the waist line just slightly slanted but not as slanted as the hip line. In some cases you can leave this line straight.
Keep in mind that the waist line should be much shorter than the hip and shoulder lines. Don't concern yourself with exact distance at this point as long as you keep this proportion in mind.
6. Note the distance between the waist line and the hip line. Use this half measurement and place a horizontal dash line along the vertical balance line at this distance down from the hip line- this will mark the crotch line. If this sounds a bit confusing, use the sketches below as reference.
The crotch line might seem unimportant now but it will actually help tremendously when you are drawing the legs and capturing the organic shape of the hips.
7. Now for the connect the dots portion: You will connect the shoulders to the waist, the waist to the hips and the hips to the bottom center dash on both side of the figure. This will complete a rough draft of the torso and you will finally start to see your fashion figure emerge from all the lines.
There are however a two basic proportionality rules you should keep in mind:
-The shoulder should always be slightly wider than the hips. It is up to you how wide you want to make it as long as you keep this proportion in mind.
-The waist can be as thin or as wide as you wish. For a more dramatic fashion drawing, you can make the waist very thin.
It helps to draw little markers (vertical dashes) on the horizontal lines to note how wide you want the shoulders, hips and waist to be.
Once you've noted these markings, connect them with semi-curved continuous lines: It is easiest to go from shoulder down to hip and from hip down to waist on both sides as shown in the images bellow.
8. Starting at the side hip, draw a semi-curved line (with the curve opening down) to the edge of the lower most dash line (crotch line). Repeat this step on both sides of the hips.
On the side where the hip is pointing up, add a small elongation from the hip line down in order to give it a more organic, stretched feature. Use the image bellow as a guide.
These horizontal semi-curved lines will mark the underwear line. You will likely erase this later when dressing your fashion figure. However, drawing them at this stage will allow you to get a better understanding of the 3-dimensional aspect of the legs and hips. The underwear line is also quite helpful in displaying the organic movement of the body. This will help you better visualize fabric drape and facilitate drawing the seams of the garment, especially when sketching pant bottoms.
9. Next, lets focus on drawing the legs:
Returning to our vertical balance line: mark a dash line at the mid point between the hip line and the bottom of the vertical line. This will mark a general (approximate) placement/proportion for the knees.
Now for the tricky part: Drawing the legs will take some trial and error (it might even get a little frustrating).
We'll show you two leg placements to start with below. Once you can draw and understand the movement of these two examples, practice more variations using the elements described.
Leg Placement #1: Drawing the legs apart
When drawing the second leg, follow the same concept but position both the top portion of the leg (thigh) and lower portion of the leg straight in relation to the vertical center line.
The ankles typically end at approximately where the vertical center line stops at the bottom. For a more elongated fashion figure, you can make the legs much longer as desired.
Leg Placement #2: Crossing Legs
10. Drawing the arms:
This is a bit of a tricky part. Just like drawing the legs, it will take some practice getting there. Here's what you should keep in mind about the proportions of the arms in relation to the rest of the fashion figure:
- When the figure is standing straight, the elbows will be aligned with the waist and the wrist will be aligned to the hip line.
-When the hips and shoulders change with movement, the wrists and the elbows will change with it. This means that if the hip is pointing up on one side, the wrist of the arm associated with it will now be aligned with the upper thigh area. Following that same logic, the elbow placement will also move downwards and align closer to the hip line.
- Vise versa, when the hip is pointing down, the wrist will now be positioned higher than the hip line. The elbow placement will move up from the waist as well.
If you follow this logic, you will notice that when the shoulder line points up and the hip points down, the elbow and wrist are placed higher in relation to the waist and the hips. Vise versa, when the shoulder points down and the hip points up, the elbow and wrist will fall lower in relation to the waist and the hips.
If you observe the relation between arm placement and shoulder movement, you should notice a natural correlation between the two.
Now for the drawing part: Using very soft curved lines, draw the arms from shoulder to elbow making sure the elbow stops at the waist area in accordance with the concept described above. Next, use softly curved continuous lines to draw the forearm starting at the elbow to the wrist ensuring that the wrist ends at the hip area.
It will take a few tries to really get the hang of drawing arms. However, if you keep practicing and follow the proportional-movement concept described above, drawing the arms will become second nature to you in no time.
If you are in the learning process, it is a good idea to first practice drawing the arm extended straight before attempting a bent or foreshortened arm variation.
In the image above, you can see the correlation between the hips and waist to the elbows and wrists of both arms. The dash lines display the hip and waist placement when the figure is standing perfectly straight. You will notice that the approximate area of both wrists correspond to the hip dash line.
Now look at the waist dash line: The elbows correspond to the approximate area of the straight waist (dash line). This means that when the figure moves, the arms don't actually change their length but rather change their alignment to the waist and hips of the fashion figure.
11. Drawing the feet and hands:
Feet and hands are are perhaps the most challenging to draw even for more experienced fashion illustrators. Before getting started, keep in mind it will take lots of practice to understand not only the proportion and movement but also the size in relation to the human form.
When it comes to hands, it is a good idea to practice drawing them individually on a piece of paper before adding them to your fashion figure. Practice different hand gestures but don't focus too much on depicting every detail. Understanding hand proportion and being able to display it with just a few simple lines is all you need for a fashion drawing- a subtle hand impression should suffice.
Speaking of size, the length of a fashion figure's hand should be the same as the vertical length of the head. Keep this concept in mind when drawing the hands on your fashion figure.
To start with, it may help to break down the hand into 3 portions and use simple geometric shapes to draw each portion in relation to one another. This not only allows you to visualize the organic shape and structure of the hands but it also helps with understanding movement.
Once you practice drawing a few hand positions using the geometric concept describe above, try to break this down further by adding some impressions of fingers. A tip here is to focus on the thumb placement, pointer finger and pinky. Use a few simple lines to depict just the gesture of these three fingers in relation to one another. A subtle impression should be more than enough to complete your fashion figure. Keep in mind that the more detailed you try to make the hands, the more difficult it will be to achieve the correct movement, finger placement and proportion.
Focus on the transition between the wrist, knuckles and finger joints: Understanding how they work together will help you achieve proper movement and finger placement.
Follow some of the sketches above and keep practicing until you feel comfortable drawing a few different variations.
Note the hands in our fashion figure: The impression of the pointer finger, thumb and a small mark depicting the middle finger in the back is enough to depict a full fashion hand. Notice the line transition from the wrist to the joints as well as the placement of the thumb in relation to the rest of the hand- keep these relational elements in mind when drawing your fashion figure's hands.
Once you feel comfortable drawing the hand individually, try a few hand gestures with your fashion figure. Keep in mind that it will take a few tries to get the right size in relation to the rest of the body. If you are concerned about size, it is always a better idea to go a bit longer than shorter- this could work stylistically and provide a more dramatic style in your fashion drawing. As you practice you will find your own style and what works most naturally for you.
12. Drawing Shoes/Feet:
When it comes to drawing a fashion figure, it's not really about drawing the feet as much as it is drawing shoes. Just like the hands, you do not need to worry about detailed drawings but rather a few general variations of foot placement and perspective views. Unless you are designing shoes, you should be OK with just a subtle impression of the shoes. Keep in mind that the shoe position should correspond to the pose and the proportion of the fashion figure.
Fashion figure drawing is a more artistic representation of the human form which means you can actually cut some corners in the drawing process. What this means is that you do not necessarily need to draw shoes on both feet. As long as you have a general impression of a shoe on the balance foot (usually the foot that holds the figure's weight), it should give the drawing a finished look.
Just like you did for the hands, practice some individual sketches of shoes at different views and placements.
Here are four main shoe perspectives to practice:
The front view: Keep it simple by drawing just the curved impression of the front.
Three quarter views: This one is a bit tricky because it requires some foreshortening. Practice three quarter shoe placement by focusing mainly on the front curves and the position of the heel in relation to the body of the shoe. As opposed to a profile view, a three quarter view is drawn such that the heel and the front of the shoe appear to be closer together. The platform of the shoe appears to be shorter and extends upwards in a more exaggerated fashion.
The profile view: Once you get the hang of the correct proportions, this will be a fun shoe placement to draw. Keep in mind that in a profile view, the heel and front platform should fall on the same line/surface. The back of the shoe always curves out- it may help to draw a circle at the back to visualize this organic concept better.
The back view: Just like the profile view, make sure the bottom of the heel falls on the same line as the front platform. The back of the shoe appears to be somewhat of a triangle shape while the top portion of the foot is a circular shape.
The front view of the shoe in our sketch is a simple impression of the front shoe perspective. By including just a couple of main lines, the human eye can fill in the blanks for the general shape of the shoe and its placement.
13. Drawing the neck and the face:
Drawing the neck:
When it comes to drawing the neck, remember to always use single stroke lines. This results in a more organic, loose drawing. Drawing the neck is where this can really benefit the movement of your fashion figure.
In this case, the easier option is to follow the direction of the curved vertical balance line. Don't stress too much about the size and length of the neck but keep in mind that longer is always better than shorter when drawing a fashion figure.
Use just a simple impression of the neck sketching a longer continuous line on one side and a shorter line on the other side. This somewhat unfinished structure allows for a bit more room for error without affecting the movement and perspective of the fashion figure. Remember, the human eye can fill in the blanks so just a couple of lines should be sufficient to give you the correct neck shape.
Drawing the head and the face:
If you are not familiar with some of the basic proportionality rules associated with drawing a face, you might have a hard time with this one. If you are a beginner, try to keep things simple by following the suggested steps described below:
Use the basic guidelines described above to practice a few different hairstyles and facial features. Keep in mind that a longer neck will be more beneficial to your fashion figure by elongating it. Also, don't forget to utilize simple lines when drawing the face.
Your fashion figure is now complete! If you are having a hard time with some of the aspects described here, start over and keep practicing. It is quite normal not to get the hang of it right away. Keep in mind that drawing a fashion figure is something to be mastered over time.
Dressing your fashion figure:
Dressing the fashion figure is undeniably the most fun part- this is where you can really let those brilliant design ideas come to life.
Use the movement of your fashion figure to draw the correct fabric drape. Once you have the fashion figure drawn, this is easy to do by following the hip and shoulder placement. Make the waistline of your garment a bit curved to create more 3-dimensional movement. This is especially relevant if you are drawing a high waist skirt or pants. Curve the waist just slightly, with the curve opening up, to make sure that the cylindrical shape of the waist is displayed in your sketch.
Pay attention to the hem as well. For a straight hem, the hemline should always follow the direction of the hip line. If the hip is pointing up on one side then so should the hem of the garment. This follows the same concept as the arm placement in relation to the shoulder line discussed above. Always keep in mind that all elements on a fashion figure should work and move together in a codependent relation.
Once your garment is sketched on top of the figure, erase some of the figure pencil marks that overlap the garment. Add some movement lines to recreate the folds, drape or any sort of gathering/pleating your design features.
The most satisfying part about learning how to draw a fashion figure is that once you have the shape, proportion and movement down, the clothing design options are limited only by your creativity.
Take your fashion figure a step further by using a thick prisma colored marker (preferably in a lighter color) and adding some color to the garment. Add more color on more shaded areas along the sides of the garment and the fabric folds.
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