Brainstorming: The Design Idea
This week marks the beginning of a new project... something I’ve been mulling over for a while now and finally found the right fabric (and the time!) to bring to life. Unlike the functional oriented work I usually focus on, this project involves a dressier design. I’ve always been a fan of two piece cocktail/evening dresses but never actually made one for myself, partly because I never came across the right fabric with the appropriate structure and color scheme for the very specific design I had in mind. That being said, I may be a little out of practice but let’s see how the process unfolds. Recently, the perfect material fell into my lap as I was browsing the fabric store for something completely unrelated. In a number of tutorials to follow, I’ll be going back to basics and retracing my steps from the beginning of a design idea to the eclectic construction process in between. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration in the process, or maybe just entertain yourself on the journey as I’ll take a fashion design concept from paper to finished product.
First thing’s first, the design process for me usually starts one of two ways. I get an idea (or a partial idea) in my head which is then followed by a search for the right fabrics and trims. Vice versa, I may be inspired by a unique fabric, texture, color combination or simple trim first before jumping into the design process. Regardless of which it is, my mind then goes on an analytical roller coaster of working out all the details, from fit to sewing patterns to how the garment will function and all the little details in between.
In this instance, I fell in love with the fabric first, including both the print and its medium weight, structured quality. I’ve always loved those 50’s inspired silhouettes and thought this particular fabric was perfect for a vintage inspired look with a modern twist. Relying on the fabric’s unique drape, a high waist skirt with deep box pleats would hold its fullness and structure, creating the perfect look for a two piece cocktail dress.
So you've gathered all supplies, trims, and fabrics for your garment-to-be but there is just one thing missing… You’ve scoured fabric store after fabric store and still can’t find that perfect length zipper in the right color. Let’s face it, if your garment calls for a zipper, it is most likely essential to its functionality. Needless to say, you won’t be able to skip this one.
What if the opposite happens- you found the right color in the right style but not the right length? Should you forgo color for length and just get the next best thing in a mismatched color? While you may think that’s your best option, the good news is, there’s a better way. If the style and color of the longer zipper matches the clothing item you are sewing, buy it and shorten it at home using the simple technique described below. After all, if you are striving for a professional finish, a mismatched zipper color can be a dead giveaway that things didn’t go quite well in the construction process (unless done intentionally, of course).
Do you remember the very first clothing item you made? I vividly remember mine: an A-line blouse with long sleeves that extended into an exaggerated bell silhouette (oh early 2000's fashion...). Here I am, years later, thinking about some of the sewing elements that still intimidate me to this day. Regardless of how much you love this craft, there are always things you love to sew more than others. That's just a very natural aspect of dressmaking, regardless of your skill level. One of the things I used to dread, but have actually come to enjoy, is sewing lining and facings to the zipper area.
I used to be terrified of anything remotely related to zippers. From sewing them evenly to navigating around the zipper coils during machine stitching, needless to say, all were highly dreaded. Along the way, I've learned that the key to getting past the fear is not only to keep practicing, but also to embrace the possibility of making mistakes. In the process, it is also a good idea to adhere to some basic sewing rules. I know, nobody likes rules, and quite frankly, they can overwhelm a sewing beginner to the point of giving up way too early in the game. Nonetheless, they are designed to be helpful in the long run and save you time in the sewing process. This concept is especially applicable to sewing zippers and clean finishing lining. If you follow some basic techniques correctly, you'll minimize stress and make the process a lot more enjoyable.
That being said, when it comes to finishing lining edges against that dreaded zipper, there are a few main sewing factors (or basic sewing rules) that come into play:
1. Fabric pieces should be sewn face to face, with their right sides touching (in most cases).
2. Sewing clean finished corners at the top of the zipper opening should be done correctly, at a 90 degree angle.
3. Learning how to use a regular zipper presser foot for different sewing applications (you'll fall in love with the convenience of this one!)
Today's Sewing Tip: When Making A Garment Smaller At The Seams, Cut The Old Seam AFTER The New Seam Has Been Stitched.
If you are taking in a clothing item at the seams, use the existing stitch line as a guide to sew the new seam. Cut the old seam and excess fabric after the new seam stitch has been applied.
Taking in certain areas of a garment to make it smaller is a one of the most common alterations that can be performed by just about anyone who owns a sewing machine, regardless of sewing skill level. It is easy to do, without the need for complex sewing techniques, or tools, for that matter. To make things even easier, there are some tricks you can use to maintain the balance of the garment while also simplifying the measuring and sewing process. Today's sewing tip covers a simple seam alteration method that should hopefully take the headache out of some of your future projects!
The best way to keep fabric layers together before and during machine stitching is to pin perpendicular to the fabric edge instead of parallel (when possible).
How To Pin Fabric Edges:
Place the fabric pieces together, aligning the corresponding edges to be stitched. Insert pins horizontally, perpendicular to these edges such that the pin ball/bead corresponds to their (edges) right, and the needle is pointing inward, to the left of the fabric edges.
Why Pin In Perpendicular Direction?
Easy Pin Removal. If you think about the fabric edges to be sewn in relation to the sewing machine needle, you'll come to the realization that having the pins placed in perpendicular relation to these edges provides much easier removal during machine stitching. As you stitch down, removing the pins from left to right feels more natural, comfortable and intuitive than in downwards or upwards motion. Sliding pins out from left to right also provides more pin containment on the table surface, avoiding less dropped pins on the floor.
The idea of drafting your own patterns can feel pretty intimidating. After all, it takes some acquired technical skill and understanding. It is true that there is a greater learning curve associated with learning pattern making. However, if you start the right way, learning just a few important principles, you can actually start making your own sewing patterns in no time!
The whole idea of patternmaking is based on altering basic patterns. Every dressmaker/patternmaker should have a basic set of patterns they work from. These basic sewing patterns are called slopers or blocks in the fashion industry. If your goal is to make patterns for yourself, then all you really need is a good basic dress pattern with a simple curved neckline. When it comes to a basic dress pattern, keep in mind that it should include all appropriate darts (bust and waist darts) and form a well fitted garment for your body type.
I personally like to work from a good dress pattern (form fitted to my body type) because it allows me to see the transition from waist to hip, providing a way to make longer tops and outerwear without having to physically piece together a bodice pattern and skirt pattern. A basic dress pattern keeps things simple and can be separated to create both tops and bottoms.
A journey into our design process, sewing tutorials, fashion tips, and all the inspiring people and things we love.
Today, allow yourself a few moments to explore and feel inspired and don't forget that everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. Never stop searching for what makes you truly happy.
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MICROFIBER BEACH TOWEL
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