If you are the kind of person that loves surprising loved ones with one-of-a-kind, special gifts, you are probably always going the extra mile in your search for unique products. What catches your eye is most likely something that is seldom available in brick and mortar stores and quite difficult to come across in general.
Whether you enjoy being the best gift-giver in your family or the smile on that loved one's face, putting some thought into that special gift, especially around the holiday season, can be truly rewarding. Needless to say, if you are reading this, you love to give that special woman in your life gifts that she is sure to remember. The good news is that while you love gifting them, we have the passion for creating them at Doina Alexei.
These fashion products (as we like to call them) have truly inspired us and are all about YOU. They are constructed with your needs, your passions and your little indulgences in mind. Whether you are searching for something educational, functional, unique, or simply aesthetically flattering, the special gift items we hand picked below might prove to be just what you are looking for this gift-giving season. There is a sense of whimsy and excitement about every single one of them.
It is worth to note of course, that every item is handmade and individually tagged and packaged with care to safely arrive at your doorstep right before Christmas (or that special birthday!).
Whether it is for a wife, girlfriend, mother, grandmother or your favorite aunt, here are the three fashion products that will prove to be some of the most one-of-a-kind, successful gifts this Christmas season.
The 11:11 Jacket- A Jacket Convertible To Shoulder Bag
The 11:11 Jacket- the convertible jacket to bag is bound to put a smile on the face of everyone gathered around the Christmas tree. The name of it has already partially given away its secret- As you might have guessed, it transforms from fully functional jacket to fully functional shoulder bag in just a few easy steps.
We've all been fascinated by convertible products especially in the apparel industry. Quite often however, we shy away from wearing them due to their heavyweight, hardware-rich characteristic. The goal with the 11:11 Jacket was to construct a piece of apparel with no overwhelmingly visible hardware which risks being heavy and aesthetically uncomfortable to wear. When in jacket form, it resembles more of a trench coat giving no impression that it is a convertible garment. If you do look very carefully, the separating zippers, which are sleekly sewn into the side seams, give you a little hint that this isn't just another boring jacket.
A clothing item that serves us in more than one way is always a great investment and worthy of becoming a life-long item in your closet. For that reason, the 11:11 Jacket offers a classic silhouette that is appropriate to style with just about anything in your closet.
It is not bulky or thick but rather lightweight, making it interchangeable through transitioning seasons. The length stops right above the knee featuring a subtly curved hem at the back which adds softness and increases flattery.
Now for the fun part: How does it work? How does a seemingly classic jacket with no visible heavy hardware on its surface transform into a fully functional, roomy bag? The secret is in the back panel.
The back panel itself provides for a hidden compartment that houses two light yet extremely durable D-rings. Once the side separating zippers are zipped fully to form the bag compartment, the back panel is simply flipped over the neckline and shoulders to expose the D-rings hiding the neckline underneath. This panel not only creates a straight bag opening edge, it also provides a clean look on the inside of the shoulder bag by hiding the neckline opening underneath.
Each clip on the bag strap, which is naturally housed inside the jacket, is then attached to each one of the D-rings completing the formation of the bag. Because no bag is complete without a means to close it, the bottom of the jacket folds over the bag opening in a unique fashion to create a beautiful ruffle flap. The curved edge of the back hem hides all the layers of the jacket's bottom underneath, which increases the authenticity and functionality of the bag.
As you play around with the conversion steps, you'll find that you cannot tell either item is of the convertible type whether it is in jacket or bag form. That was truly the goal in the creation of this design- being able to interchange the two whenever necessary without compromising their ability to fully serve their functional purpose.
When you are out on a walk, running errands, or simply going to work in the morning you may be faced with changing temperatures throughout the day. Start with the jacket during those cool early mornings and convert it to a bag as you deem necessary. We think that this simple idea of interchangeable products is the true beauty of functionality.
The Learn To Sew Box
The Learn To Sew Box is perfect for those that steer more towards educational gifts. It is just as enticing for a student as it is for the person looking to add an extra skill to his/her repertoire. How many times have you heard the phrase: "I wish I could make my own clothes..."? Well, now you can with the Learn To Sew Box as it includes all the basic necessities to get started.
The world of modeling is just as much glamour and mystery as it is hard work. What we don't see in an ad campaign or the final images of an editorial are the long hours of behind-the-scenes work in grueling weather conditions using sometimes uncomfortable garments and props. What truly separates the weak from the strong is the ability to produce beautifully crafted and effortless images regardless of the unpredictable conditions endured behind the camera. A model that works great under pressure, adjusting to different settings and offering variety in her/his look is the result of not only talent but years of practice and experience. On the "strong" list is Melanie Blankenship-A talented, versatile model we've had the pleasure of working with on numerous occasions.
Whether it is beauty, bridal or fashion, there isn't a topic not covered in Melanie's portfolio. She can do commercial just as well as she does editorial easily transitioning from classic-feminine to punk-rocker without losing her personal edge. As you'll see in some examples of her work below, Melanie's ability to adapt to different styles and conceptual looks allow her to be greatly sought after both in the Washington DC area, where she currently lives and works, as well as various major cities across the US and abroad.
In the array of questions to follow, Melanie lets us in on her background and work, piquing the curiosity of anyone interested in learning a bit more about the modeling industry. Topics like what it is like to work as a freelance model, should you work with an agency, and what are the industry moments that have helped her build thick skin are just a few that Melanie Blankenship shares with us in the interview below.
How did you get involved in modeling? How old were you when you did your first photo shoot and what was that experience like?
One of my really good friends and photographer Stephen Archer got me into modeling in high school. He would always ask me to model for him for his college portfolio. Stephen interned with photographer Roy Cox, and when I was 17, Roy asked me to come into his studio for a professional photo shoot with a makeup artist. I was hooked on modeling and the whole experience of it from there. The first shoot was a beauty shoot with a few different makeup looks and also the first time I worked with a makeup artist- it was really fun!
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.
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.
Sleeves can sometimes make or break a clothing item. Not only are they essential for comfort and functionality, their style has a huge impact on a garment aesthetically. There are a variety of different sleeve types out there ranging from simple to very unique in shape and design. No matter how complicated the design however, all sleeves are derived from just a few classic silhouettes. These basic silhouettes act as a building block both in the sewing as well as design process.
From a construction standpoint, sleeves have always been a bit challenging to sew, especially for sewing beginners.
Below, we'll introduce you to 25 sleeve styles you should know and the challenges you may face in their construction process.
Although sleeveless is not necessarily a type of sleeve, understanding what sleeveless means is a good place to start if you are trying to get a better grip on sleeve construction. Just as the name suggests, a sleeveless garment has no sleeves. A sleeveless garment has armholes that are clean-finished using a variety of different sewing techniques.
Sleeveless clothing items can have different size armholes and be shaped in a range of styles. Some sleeveless garments feature very wide, deep curves at the armhole's bottom while others extended towards the neckline to form a thinner shoulder strap. Regardless of style, if a clothing item lacks sleeves or any form of arm coverage, it is safe to say that it can be classified as sleeveless.
Sewing Difficulty: Thankfully, with a sleeveless clothing item, you don't have to worry about sewing in a sleeve which can prove to be quite challenging (especially for sewing beginners). Clean finishing armhole edges however does require some special attention along the more curved underarm areas. If you are a beginner, you should feel comfortable sewing a sleeveless garment and clean-finishing armhole edges first before tackling the unique task of sleeves. Clean finishing armhole edges will get you accustomed to working with the more challenging curved edges of a garment which will ultimately get you one step closer to sewing that perfect sleeve.
The most common methods for clean finishing armhole edges are by using binding (for more casual, lightweight apparel), armhole facing, or applying trims and other decorative techniques.
A set-in sleeve is the most common sleeve style used in apparel. It is what you may refer to as a regular sleeve. It is connected at the regular armhole and extends down in a straight or tapered line without any special silhouette features. A set-in sleeve comes in a few different lengths but the most common are:
Short: stopping at about 3-6 inches from the shoulder, a set-in regular short sleeve is used on all T-shirts and short sleeve blouses. It is a plain, straight silhouette and does not flare out or taper in too much at the bottom.
Three-quarter: extends to mid-forearm in a straight cut.
Long: stops at the the wrist or bellow the wrist forming a regular straight silhouette. A long set-in sleeve is the most widely used sleeve in apparel.
Sewing difficulty: While it is the most basic sleeve style used in apparel, sewing set-in sleeves is anything but easy, especially for a sewing beginner. The difficulty consists in the necessity to add ease along the sleeve cap in order to make it easy for the wearer to move his/her arms freely. Adding ease (or excess) along a sleeve cap requires the use of a gathering stitch that is applied along the upper curve of the sleeve cap (before the sleeve is sewn) such that when the sleeve is connected to the armhole edge the sleeve cap does not pucker or gather along the armhole seam.
Providing ease around the cap sleeve is used to add a 3-dimensional nature to the upper arm which is essential for movement. When it comes to manipulating a gathering stitch into ease, the main challenge for a sewing beginner is achieving a smooth seam without any gathers or puckers. In addition, it takes some practice for the two sleeves to look even. Sewing set-in sleeves requires a bit of practice and making some mistakes before finding your rhythm. Once you do, sewing set-in sleeves can feel quite accomplishing.
A cap sleeve is a short sleeve that features an extension that resembles a little cap extending from the shoulder or armhole seam over the upper arm. The cap portion can either be connected to the garment at the armhole or extend out from the body of the garment without the necessity of an additional seam.
A cap sleeve can be either gathered or pleated. It is very commonly added to dresses, blouses and kids-wear. You can think of it as half of a short sleeve because the underarm area is usually left bare and only a portion of the shoulder is covered. Cap sleeves add a feminine touch to any garment featuring a structured yet very gentle, young look.
Sewing Difficulty: Depending on the style of the cap sleeve, it is usually not very difficult to sew. It can be however a bit challenging to pattern- It can be quite a task to achieve the correct ease and shape of the cap portion. The most problematic patterns are those that often result in a cap sleeve that is too tight at the shoulder causing the cap sleeve to lift up during movement. On the contrary, some sleeve pattern errors may result in the upper arm being too loose and shapeless thus jeoperdizing the correct proportions and structure of the garment.
A bell sleeve gradually flares out at the bottom in what resembles the shape of a "bell". It can be short, 3-quarter or longer in length and the flared-out portion is usually not separated by a seam but the sleeve rather flares out in one continuous piece.
Bell sleeves are widely used with various types of fabrics from light to heavy weight and applied to a range of styles from casual/formal dresses and blouses to blazers and heavier coats. Bell sleeves can feature different flaring proportions from very subtle to quite pronounced. On the same note, the flared out portion of the bell sleeve can start from higher up on the arm or closer to the wrist as desired.
Historically, a common bell sleeve style used to be known as pagoda sleeve during the Victorian and Renaissance areas. Pagoda sleeves were wider at the hem in the same fashion as a bell sleeve and featured embroidered trims and decorative finishes along the bottom of the sleeve.
Sewing Difficulty: Bell sleeves are somewhat similar to set-in sleeves in construction. They do require the same attention to the sleeve cap area where the upper sleeve should have enough excess for movement. The body of the sleeve is not difficult to sew since the curve of the bell shape features a more gradual, smooth transition. In addition, hemming a bell sleeve uses the same methods as those of a set-in sleeve.
A puffed sleeve flares out at the shoulder using gathers or pleats added along the armhole seam. Puffed sleeves are usually narrower towards the bottom such that the top, puffed shoulder is more pronounced. Just like most sleeve styles, it can be constructed in different lengths from short to long.
A puff sleeve features different silhouettes in its body as long as the shoulder area maintains a puffed-out style. The puffed portion of the sleeve can be very subtle or quite pronounced. The size depends on how dense or how deep the pleating at the armhole is.
Sewing Difficulty: It can get a little tricky to work with lots of gathers or pleats along the round armhole seam. Gathering and pleats can be quite challenging on a straight seam and they can prove to be even more difficult to sew along the curved edges of the armhole.
In some instances, gathers leave some room for error which can actually makes it a bit easier for sewing beginners. As opposed to a set-in sleeve which requires the addition of gathered ease not visible on the outside of the seam, having actual gathers along the seam of the armhole allows for more even looking sleeves and perhaps an easier sewing experience.
Bishop sleeves start off as a regular set-in sleeve at the shoulder area, gradually balloon out as they reach the elbow area usually tapering in at the wrist. The sleeve bottom is commonly contained at the wrist using gathering or pleating which is sewn into a cuff or double folded binding. Bishop sleeves can also be designed in a three-quarter style and at times, short length (although short styles are more rare).
It is a classic, feminine sleeve that works great with lighter weight fabrics especially sheers. Bishop sleeves are very commonly used with elegant dresses, blouses and evening wear. The gradual curved nature of the sleeve silhouette is gentle allowing for a soft addition to any garment.
Sewing Difficulty: A bishop sleeve is very similar to a set-in sleeve in construction. However, it requires gathering or pleating at the bottom as well as additional steps for cuffing or adding binding along the sleeve hem. If you feel comfortable with gathering/pleating already, a bishop sleeve will be of medium difficulty to sew depending on how well you can handle sewing the sleeve cap.
Circular Flounce Sleeve
Circular flounce sleeves are often confused with bell sleeves because of their resembling flared-out bottom. The difference however, is that while bell sleeves flare out in a more gradual nature in one long piece, a circular flounce sleeve has a horizontal seams that connects the flared-out portion to the rest of the straight sleeve. This results in a sudden transition from straight to flared out.
The widened portion in a circle flare sleeve is constructed using the same sewing method as that of a circle ruffle. The flared portion is achieved by sewing the inside edge of the circle to the straight edge of the sleeve. This creates flowing ruffles that are soft and feminine used commonly on dresses and blouses in light to medium weight fabrics.
Sewing Difficulty: A circular flounce sleeve is perhaps of medium difficulty to sew. It really depends on your skill level, but a less experienced person might have a harder time connecting the circle ruffle portion of the sleeve. It is highly recommended that if you are not quite comfortable sewing a straight edge to a circular edge that you temporarily hand baste the two layers of fabric together before machine stitching. A circular flounce sleeve might require some temporary basting techniques if you are not quite comfortable sewing ruffles yet.
Leg of Mutton
A leg of mutton sleeve puffs out from the shoulder (armhole seam) to the elbow area and extends into a straight or form fitting silhouette from elbow to the wrist. A leg of mutton sleeve becomes narrower as it extends towards the bottom either in a gradual fashion or a more sudden switch from puffed to straight. It can have a very subtle puffed top and include a very soft transition towards the bottom or feature a more dramatic puffy top with an immediate switch to a form-fitting silhouette at the bottom. These unique characteristics should make a leg of mutton sleeve fairly easy to recognize the moment you see it.
Leg of mutton falls more into the vintage category of sleeves. A more exaggerated leg of mutton style is very often used in historic costume design. Nevertheless, this unique silhouette is still used today on sweaters, blouses and dresses.
Sewing Difficulty: Sewing and especially patterning a leg of mutton sleeve can prove to be a challenge depending on the design. The more abrupt the transition from the puffy portion at the top to the form fitting portion at the bottom the more difficult it is to pattern and sew. It can be a bit difficult to draft the correct line transition in the sewing patterns so it might take a few tries until you get the sleeve to fit how you want it.
Sewing a leg of mutton sleeve can prove to be a bit of a challenge when it features a more exaggerated silhouette. However, if the sewing patterns are drafted correctly, you shouldn't have too many issues in the sewing process. You should however feel comfortable with sewing pleats or gathers if you are to tackle the sometimes complex task of sleeve construction.
Raglan sleeves are often used with long sleeve t-shirts and more casual knit items, sport jackets, and blouses. As opposed to most sleeve that normally get sewn into the circle of the armhole, raglan sleeves extend into the neckline edge forming a straight or semi-curved seam from the underarm area to the neckline. These seams are present on both the front and back of the garment.
Raglan sleeves are often color blocked where the sleeve is a different color than the rest of the clothing item. The color contrast creates a unique, more sporty look that is so typical to raglan sleeves. The reason they work best with stretchy fabrics is due to the fact that raglan sleeves don't have any added ease through gathering at the sleeve cap thus using stretchy fabrics achieves more comfort and movement. Raglans sleeves, especially those in a non-stretch garment, are sometimes gathered at the neckline. This ensures that there is enough excess fabrics at the upper arm for easy movement during wear.
Sewing Difficulty: You can't really know how difficult it is to draft the pattern for a raglan sleeve from scratch, until you try. It is perhaps one of the most difficult patterns to draft correctly due to the fact that it requires manipulation of the garment's front and back shoulder seams.
If you have the sewing patterns readily available, you are in luck because sewing a raglan sleeve is not a very difficult task. It does not require the addition of ease during sewing because some excess fabric is accounted for in the sewing patterns. It can however be a bit confusing to match the front and back seams correctly so make sure you keep track of each pattern piece as you cut it.
A juliet sleeve is very similar in look to a leg of mutton. It transitions from a puffed, gathered top to a form fitting bottom in a more abrupt transition. There is usually a seam where the transition from gathered to straight occurs which accounts for a more pronounced puffed top. It is very common for a juliet sleeve to be gathered both at the armhole seam and the horizontal seam that connects it to the straight portion.
The main difference between a leg of mutton sleeve and a juliet sleeve is that the leg of mutton has a more gradual transition from puffy to straight/form-fitting without the need for a seam. A juliet sleeve however, requires a seam for this transition because it is more abrupt. A classic juliet sleeve is often puffed out from armhole seam down to mid-bicep area after which it extends down to the wrist in either a fitted or straight silhouette.
Sewing Difficulty: Just as it is similar aesthetically, a juliet sleeve is similar in sewing difficulty to a leg of mutton sleeve. Nevertheless, it can be a bit more challenging due to the addition of the extra horizontal seam in the body of the sleeve. Patterning a juliet sleeve can also be quite challenging if you are attempting to achieve a more form-fitting bottom portion.
Cuff sleeves are the most common addition to men's shirts and women's button-down blouses and dresses. Just as the names suggests, a cuff sleeve is finished with the addition of a cuff at the hem. This can either be a french cuff or a regular plain cuff depending on the design. In addition, a cuff sleeve can either be gathered or pleated into the cuff. Some sleeves also feature darts and other fit additions at the cuff area.
Cuff sleeves come in different lengths from short to three quarter and long. You have most likely come across most of these as they are so widely-used in classic blouses, dresses and menswear. The cuff usually features a slit and buttons or other means of closure.
Sewing Difficulty: A cuff sleeve's sewing difficulty depends on the style of the cuff. Sleeves that feature plain cuffs with no slits are a bit more simple to sew. On the other hand, french cuffs, bound cuffs and other closures can prove to be quite challenging even for a more advanced sewer. Classic cuff sleeves with slits and closures are not recommended for a sewing beginner until a more intermediate sewing level is achieved. Button placement alone can prove to be a challenge thus it is a good idea to work your skill level up slowly before tackling more complex projects like a french cuff.
As the name might suggests, an angel sleeve tapers out into somewhat of a triangle shape from the armhole seam down to the hem. It features an uneven hem with one of the hem portions extending lower on the inseam. When the arms are moved away form the body, the sleeves form shapes reminiscent of wings, hence the name "angel sleeve".
As opposed to bell sleeves, angel sleeves tapper out right from the armhole seam in somewhat of a straight line. A bell sleeve on the other hand, is a gradual transition which tapers out as it get to the bottom of the sleeve instead.
Angel sleeves range in length from short to long and are easily recognizable by the fact that they are very wide when extended laterally.
Sewing Difficulty: Angel sleeves are fairly easy to sew. The seams are straight and depending on how much they taper out (and the fabric you are working with), you can sometimes avoid the extra step of adding ease at the sleeve cap. Nevertheless, the hem could get a little challenging to clean finish if it is too pointy on one end.
The best example of a kimono sleeve is of course is that of a traditional Japanese kimono gown which is where the name derives from. A kimono sleeve does not connect to the garment through a seam but is rather built into the body of the garment. For functional and comfort purposes, it has a wide arm opening that is either rounded or more squared at the underarm seam. Speaking of seams, a classic kimono sleeve has two seams: the inseam is the continuation of the garment's side seam at the underarm, and the top seam extends form the shoulder seam out.
Kimono sleeves come in a few different styles from a more bell-shaped silhouette to square. Just like all other styles discussed above, kimono sleeves are also available in different lengths. Keep in mind that the one thing that sets a kimono sleeve apart from others is the lack of an armhole seam. Traditionally, it features a wide, straight silhouette in the body of the sleeve.
Sewing Difficulty: A classic kimono sleeve is not difficult to sew since you do not have to attach the individual sleeve to the curve of the armhole. Some beginners might have a hard time sewing the underarm curve which curves more abruptly in a kimono style.
Kimono sleeve sewing patterns are also not too difficult to draft and require the use of a front bodice pattern. There are a few tricky parts however: Figuring out the placement of the underarm curve such that there is enough room for movement is a more complex issue at hand. In addition, cutting out a kimono sleeve requires a larger work surface which might become a challenge for an amateur dressmaker.
Just like kimono sleeves, dolman sleeves do not have an armhole seam but are rather built into the bodice of the garment. As opposed to a kimono sleeve, a dolman sleeve has a more round, smooth curve at the underarm and the sleeve often looks like it is tapering in towards the bottom. If you look at a kimono sleeve for example, you will notice that the sleeves look straight both at the inseams and outer seams. By contrast, a dolman sleeve is drafted on a slight downward curve at the top, and the underarm has a wider curve that is not as abrupt as that of a kimono sleeve.
Think of a dolman sleeve as a softer version of a kimono sleeve. It is widely used on blouses and dresses especially lighter-weight knit fabrics. Some dolman sleeves are short in length while others are longer and tapered into a fitted silhouette at the bottom. There a lot of different designs you can achieve with a dolman sleeve but its main characteristic is that the sleeve is not connected to the body of the garment through a seam but rather incorporated into the garment at the pattern drafting stage.
Sewing Difficulty: A dolman sleeve is not difficult to sew. Like the kimono sleeve described above, dolman sleeves have just two seams: One extends from the garment's shoulder seam while the inseam is the extension of the side seam of the garment. Both feature very gradual soft curves which are easy to machine stitch. For that reason, dolman sleeves fall into the less-challenging category to sew.
Drafting the pattern for a dolman sleeve has its ups and downs. It is important to know where to place the underarm curve such that it allows for enough movement in the sleeve and the rest of the garment. In addition, the top seam of a dolman sleeve has to be drafted at a slight downward slant which takes some trial an error when drafting the pattern from scratch.
A petal sleeve is usually made of two layers of fabric overlapping in a crossing motion, each layer featuring a softly curved edge. The reason it is called a petal sleeve is because these overlapping layers of fabric resemble flower petals. A petal sleeve works well with a wide range of fabric types and weights. It is a feminine style that can be more flared out like a ruffle or tapered in towards the bottom.
Petal sleeves are more commonly incorporated into short or three quarter sleeves. Shorter sleeves work better with the crisscrossing nature of the two fabric layers, keeping them more aligned and structured. They can be gathered or subtly pleated at the armhole seam for a more puffy, flared-out look. Petal sleeves make a great addition to lightweight chiffon blouses and dresses.
Sewing Difficulty: Petal sleeves are certainty a bit more tricky to sew and will require that you have at least a background understanding of sleeve construction. When sewing a petal sleeve, the hem is finished first. Depending on the style, you will still need to add shoulder cap ease along the armhole seam despite the fact that a petal sleeve has somewhat of a built in slit. Sewing a petal sleeve also requires that you have a good understanding of notches as they will be essential in aligning the sleeve when sewing it to the armhole edge.
A lantern sleeve features a portion of the sleeve that flares out then tapers in to form a round, 3-dimensional enclosure. The name perhaps gives away the sleeve style in the fact that the puffed portion or enclosure resembles the shape of a lantern.
Achieving this 3-dimensional puffed enclosure usually requires the use of gathering or pleating. If it occurs in the body of the sleeve, there is normally a horizontal seam that allows for an abrupt transition form the straight portion of the sleeve to the puffed enclosure. This lantern-shaped portion can start at the armhole seam and extend down to the hem of the sleeve in shorter styles. It can also be positioned anywhere along the body of the sleeve including at the bottom or center at the elbow.
Some lantern sleeves feature special horizontal seams along the puffy, 3-dimensional portion which gives the sleeve a rounder, more structured look.
Sewing Difficulty: Lantern sleeves are perhaps medium to higher difficulty to sew depending on the style and design at hand. The main challenges arise if you do not feel comfortable sewing gathers or pleats. In some cases, special seams are used to make the puffed section more structured or pronounced. These cases require some trial and error as it can be difficult to manipulate fabric to withstand a 3-dimensional shape.
As you can probably guess by the name, a ruffle sleeve is a sleeve featuring one or more layers of ruffles. The ruffles can be sewn into the body of the sleeve or start directly from the armhole edge to form the actual sleeve. They can feature either gathered or circular ruffles and include just one layer or multiple layers of fabric. The ruffles can be short and dense or long and layered depending on the design.
Ruffle sleeves are quite versatile and add a playful flare to women's blouses and dresses. They are widely used in women's apparel especially with spring/summer styles. Ruffle sleeves work in unison with fabrics that feature a fluid drape especially those of lighter weight quality.
Sewing Difficulty: Ruffle sleeves can get a bit tricky to sew when featuring multiple layers of fabrics. A beginner dressmaker can certainly handle sewing a simple ruffle sleeve if he/she is familiar with sleeve and ruffle basics. Nevertheless, it can get a little tricky reading the sewing patterns of a ruffle. Additionally, knowing which edges to align requires a good basic understanding of notches and seam matching.
A peasant sleeve is softly curved from the armhole seam down to the bottom of the sleeve forming a semi-curved silhouette. While it looks very similar to a bishop sleeve, a peasant sleeve has volume in the entire body of the sleeve starting at the armhole down to the hem. In contrast, a bishop sleeve flares out as it moves towards the bottom and is usually gathered or pleated at the bottom of the sleeve.
Peasant sleeves are a great addition to lightweight blouses and dresses because the round sleeve shape drapes beautifully when the fabric is thinner. Truthfully, they can look a bit bulky/boxy if the fabric used is of a stiffer, heavier nature.
Peasant sleeves are often gathered or pleated at the bottom into cuffs or double folded binding. It is also common for peasant sleeves to be gathered at the armhole seam as well. This gives more flare and widens the body of the sleeve.
Sewing Difficulty: Depending on the style, peasant sleeves are not too difficult to sew especially if they are gathered at the armhole seam. It can get a bit more tricky to sew a peasant sleeve that has intricate details and trims. Overall, peasant sleeves are perhaps of easy to medium sewing difficulty based on style and your skill level.
Butterfly sleeves become wider as they move from the armhole down, creating a circular ruffle look in the body of the sleeve. Butterfly sleeves become gradually wider in shape starting right at the top, where the armhole seam meets the body of the garment. As you might have guessed, the reason it is called a butterfly sleeve is because it closely resembles the shape of a butterfly wing when extended.
Butterfly sleeves are designed in multiple layers or a single fabric layer and feature anywhere from very little to a large amount of fullness. This sleeve style is used very often with lightweight fabrics that have a high draping quality. Chiffon and silk fabrics work great with butterfly sleeves which is why this combination is commonly used with dresses and blouses. A butterfly sleeve is highly versatile, withstanding the ability to compliment more casual designs as well as more formal, evening gowns.
Butterfly sleeves are usually of shorter length although three-quarter and long lengths are common. Some styles are wider at the top where it covers the upper arm and become gradually thinner when moving towards the bottom. In some cases, a butterfly sleeve is sewn along the top and sides of the armhole opening and further extends onto the side areas of the bodice forming a ruffle-like structure along both sides.
Sewing Difficulty: Butterfly sleeves are not difficult to sew. They do not require additional gathering or pleating and the sleeve cap ease is often built into the sleeve due to it's wider nature.
A cape sleeve resembles a cape consisting of two panels of fabric individually placed on both sides of the shoulder. The most common cape sleeve style is one that features a slit or an opening usually connected to just the top or top and back portion of the armhole. In order to achieve the look of a classic cape, a cape sleeve cannot be fully sewn into the entire armhole opening as this will not allow the sleeve fabric to stay open in the style of a cape.
Cape sleeves are widely used in elegant evening wear dresses and gowns. Blouses and dresses that feature a compatible drape quality work harmoniously with the unique style of a cape sleeve.
Sewing Difficulty: Although not difficult to sew, it can be a bit challenging to clean finish the edges of an armhole that houses a cape sleeve. Cape sleeves might not always require ease along the sleeve cap and upper arm, but it is important to pay attention to how a cape sleeve lays on the arm during wear. If there is not enough room for movement at the top, a cape sleeve will pull towards one side or lack a smooth, relaxed drape that is so particular to a cape sleeve.
A two piece sleeve is a tailored sleeve used both in womens wear and menswear on blazers, business suits, coats and jackets. A two piece sleeve is classically used in combination with more structured clothing items that feature princess seams. You can recognize it by the fact that compared to a regular set-in sleeve that has a single vertical inseam, it features two seams- one at the back and one at the front.
Two piece sleeves allow for a more structured look with a clean, tailored finish. Because they are so commonly used in suiting and coating, two piece sleeves are often lined. They usually have a straight silhouette or taper slightly at the bottom.
Sewing Difficulty: Two piece sleeves can prove to be a bit difficult to sew, especially if you don't have any tailoring experience. Not only do you have to worry about adding the sleeve cap ease at the top, you should also feel comfortable using notches and differentiating between the sleeve's front and back sides. As mentioned above, two piece sleeve are quite often fully lined which adds an extra challenge to the sewing process. As a little side note: the greatest challenge with lining sleeves is clean-finishing the hem.
At first glance, some hanging sleeves have a slight resemblance to cape sleeves. They are however, quite different in construction: A hanging sleeve is usually connected to the armhole like any other regular sleeve but as opposed to most sleeves, it features a long extension at the bottom often accompanied by a slit. A hanging sleeve is a more historic, vintage sleeve style commonly used in the Victorian and Renaissances eras.
The extension of a hanging sleeve can be long and exaggerated or quite short and subtle- it all depends on the design. However, in order to be categorized as a hanging sleeve it should clearly feature an extension at the bottom, usually positioned at the back of the arm. The extension itself can be squared, pointy, round or of any shape considered by the designer.
The sleeve can feature a separate slit or be open at the sleeve seam to form the extension. This opening can start pretty high up on the arm closer to the armhole seam or bellow the elbow for more arm coverage. Regardless of where the slit opens along the length of the arm, the sleeve extension hangs down to form an elegant, feminine look reminiscent of regal historic costumes.
Sewing Difficulty: A hanging sleeve is not too challenging to sew if you have some experience sewing regular set-in sleeves. A simple hanging sleeve doesn't normally feature any gathering or complicated pleating which makes it less challenging to sew. However, if the bottom extension (hanging portion) is too pointy, it can be a bit tricky to sew. You should feel comfortable with a few different clean-finishing hemming techniques before attempting to sew a more complicated hanging sleeve.
A cold shoulder sleeve features a cutout or opening at the sleeve cap that allows the top of the arm or shoulder to poke through. It is a very common addition to summer/spring blouses and dresses and used often with lightweight fabrics.
A cold-shoulder sleeve's opening can be curved and actually cut out of the sleeve cap, or feature a lengthwise seam that simply opens at the sleeve cap to form a slit. Regardless of how it is constructed, a cold-shoulder sleeve will always expose the upper arm or a portion of the shoulder. In addition, the actual opening can range from very small for a more subtle look to large, allowing for a more relaxed, dramatic sleeve style.
Sewing Difficulty: There are really two main challenges when sewing a cold-shoulder sleeve: First, positioning the opening correctly along the armhole curve will require good knowledge of notch placement and solid understanding of the armhole curve. Secondly, it is important to clean finish the inner edges of the sleeve opening before sewing it to the armhole edge (unless the design doesn't call for it). Clean finishing a round edge can prove to be a bit of a challenge if you don't feel comfortable working with curved fabric edges. In this case, sewing a cold shoulder sleeve should be done by using a slit as opposed to a cutout for achieving the sleeve cap opening.
As one of the most unique sleeve styles out there, a panned sleeve is one that falls in the historic, vintage category. It is rare to find this sleeve style in modern apparel but you can most certainly come across it in costume design.
A panned sleeve, also called "puff and slash" sleeve, is constructed of multiple strips of fabric or panes which are sewn into the armhole seam. The sleeve is then bunched up and reinforced horizontally with twill tape (or other decorative trims) in order to achieve a 3-dimensional, round volume thus keeping the panes open and separated.
A paned sleeve can feature multiple rows of horizontal trims which allows for the formation of groups of open panes each puffed in layers of open fabric strips (panes).
Sewing Difficulty: If you are a sewing beginner, we commend you do not start with a paned sleeve. Unless you are interested in exploring costume design, you might really never have to tackle the construction of a paned sleeve. If you do however, keep in mind that the fabric strips (or panes) will need to be connected to another layer of fabric underneath in order to offer a surface for the horizontal trim/twill to reinforce too.
As described above, the horizontal twill tape (or other trim) is what keeps the fabrics strips open maintaining a spherical, 3-dimensional structure. This means that aside from the paned portion of the sleeve you will also need to sew a regular sleeve underneath proving itself to be double the challenge (especially if you're not 100% comfortable with sewing apparel yet)
A classic poet sleeve features a straighter silhouette from armhole to elbow and puffs out somewhat dramatically from elbow to wrist. It is also quite common for a poet sleeve to have one or more layers of ruffles along the bottom. You can think of a poet sleeve as a more stylistically exaggerated mix of the bishop and peasant sleeve. It often uses gathering at the armhole and especially the wrist area to contain the wider portions of the sleeve.
Quite commonly, the ruffle-like structure on a poet sleeve is achieved by the use of elastic which bunches the bottom of the sleeve horizontally to create a gathered ruffle at the wrist. Some styles also include the addition of elastic horizontally along the body of the sleeve thus forming separated puffed sections. A poet sleeve is usually a long sleeve style although some modern adaptations include three-quarter lengths.
Sewing Difficulty: Although of medium difficulty to sew, the ruffle detail at the wrist can prove to be somewhat of a challenge for those with less sewing experience. Elastic is the best option to achieve a poet sleeve's ruffle structure because it allows the bottom portion to be form-fitted at the wrist while the stretch helps it get past the hand. While a sewing beginner could construct a simple poet sleeve without too much frustration, if it includes more detailed features like multiple layers of ruffles and elastic, it can become a bit of a challenge for those with less sewing experience.
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