category: in progress

screen printing in my studio

It’s been a while since my last post here, but I’ve been hard at work and things are really developing now. I’m getting ready to launch my retail website for the clothing pieces I’ve been working on, and I’ll be posting about some things I’ve been putting together in preparation.

Some of my pieces will be decorated with screen printed graphics. I put together a screen printing rig so that I can create these myself in my studio. Building in constraints at the beginning, like limiting my color palette and graphics sizes, allowed me to build a setup that fills my needs but is manageable in my small space. I can always evolve this if I need to, but for now I am excited at the possibilities of what I can make.

photoshoot teaser

Back after another little hiatus. Got a lot of things done in the meanwhile, including 3 new hoodies, the flapper dress, another hooded project, and 3 photoshoots in one week. Two of the photoshoots were for my dedicated fashion brand website, which I will be launching soon. I’m just going to post a few teaser shots here, so as not to spoil the surprise. Huge thanks of course to Kim for the magical photography.

side project: flapper dress

I’ve decided to be a flapper for Halloween this year, since I’ve always loved Roaring Twenties/Art Deco style and my hair is already in a short bob. I couldn’t find an appropriate 20′s style dress pattern so I drafted my own version from scratch. This is what I came up with for the dress pattern, but this is not the final fabric – since my first muslin only required a few changes, I figured I would make a full mock up for the dress out of this pretty striped fabric and end up with another wearable dress. It’s still in the unfinished state, but I will come back to the finishing details on this one when the real dress is complete.

update: new hoodies

Quick update since it’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ve been focusing on the hoodies for my line, I believe they are a good place to start establishing the identity of my brand, I have tons of ideas for them, and they can be direct descendents of my earlier projects.

First up, an asymmetrical color-block hoody:

I am also working on a hoody with leather “feathers” appliquéd asymmetrically on one shoulder. These pictures show some paper feathers blocking out the initial design (unfinished, front only), the final feathers will be black leather for a more subtle black-on-black finish.

new prototype: the ‘Jessica’

This is a piece I am working on for my Future Architecture concept. It’s called “Jessica” and is inspired by Jessica’s hooded cloak in David Lynch’s Dune (1984). It’s still a work in progress (missing buttons/closures), and I will be making several changes and cleaning things up for the final piece, but Kim and I decided to do a preliminary photo shoot anyway. Kim got some amazing shots, which motivates me even more to complete the final version.

See the full set of images here.

sleeve cap experiment

This is a sample of a sleeve cap I’m working on for one of my Future Architecture hoodies. I made this up in 1/2 scale out of scrap fabric so I could experiment with the shape of the flange between the gathered sleeve and the armhole. I like this proportion so I thought I’d capture it for the record.

ideation

After finishing the concept book, I plunged myself into 2 days straight of sketching design ideas. In that time I generated probably around 70-80 distinct sketches. I usually have music going while I work, but I decided to add more inspiration the process, and played several classic sci-fi movies back to back while I sketched (thanks to Mike for the idea!). The movies I chose were THX 1138 (1971), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Tron (1982) and Dune (1984). I had planned to include Logan’s Run (1976) and The Fifth Element (1997) as well, but honestly I was pretty movied-out by the end of the second day. Also, my sketching hand was about to give out, and I had already generated a ton of material.

Next, I went through all the sketches and organized them: I made piles of sketches that could work for each look, and one rather large backburner/reject pile. I’m keeping everything though, there is some good stuff that ended up in the reject pile just because it isn’t really on target for my concept, so I’m saving that stuff for possible use in the future.

Each group of sketches will be developed into a single design (one per look) that I will draw as front and back views in color. I am expecting to do multiple versions of each before coming to final designs, and I’ll likely make some changes to the individual looks once I can view all three side by side.

And of course, in addition to design considerations, there are construction challenges I’ll have to tackle as well. That’s why I chose the word “Architecture” to describe these pieces, it’s a term that marries design and construction, which, to me, is what makes a man-made object beautiful.

concept book

I know I’ve been absent from here for a little while (again) but it’s because I’ve been busy (not lazy!) – I’m going to take the next several posts to bring this record up to date.

First up, my concept book. I decided some weeks ago that I really needed to delineate the focus of my line – I had so many ideas that were going all over the place, and I was having a hard time organizing and editing. So I took about a week to really comb through all the material (inspiration and ideas) I had generated. I organized everything into a concept book, being very selective about what I included in it, so that it would show a clear point of view and be full of only valuable information.

I am calling my line (for now) Future Architecture, which holds a lot of meaning (I’ll elaborate on the name later) and helps me make appropriate design decisions. In the first few pages of the book, I broke down this title and clearly outlined the concept of the line, including why I feel this concept is relevant. I want to take the “activewear” idea I had previously and grow it into something that has both functional and aesthetic appeal.

The next section is a collection of visual references and inspiration that I feel is valid for this concept. I was particularly selective here, as I wanted to build a clear picture of where I’ll be going with my designs. It was also really important for me to organize the images into groups (per page) because each page represents a visual concept or theme that will appear in my final designs. The first page is about mobile/active utility wear through the visual language of sci-fi and anime.


The next page is about geometric elements used in an architectural, structural way.

Then I included some inspiration pulled directly from existing apparel. I picked these specific pieces as examples of how I see the above concepts already being expressed in clothing presently.

Next I did a study on who I’m designing for: my user. First, I explored her physicalilty as preparation for how she will be illustrated in my final designs. In fashion illustration, the figure’s pose conveys the personality of the clothing, so I will show her in a dynamic, direct, active pose.

I also explored her spirit – I collected the images of iconic women (real and fictional) whose personality traits could merge into a strong, active, fearless adventurer. I included Lady Gaga, Princess Leia, Trinity from The Matrix and Nausicaa from the anime, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Next I outlined the color palette I will use and some of the materials I will use. The materials section is still in progress while I hunt down the right fabric. The color palette is mostly neutrals with black and cream (in place of bright white), and 3 accent colors, one per look (I’m working towards 3 looks, initially).

The way I had represented the color palette (each color an equal sized square) was a bit misleading to look at, so I did a page of color studies that show more accurately how I will be using color across each look. You can see from these studies that the neutrals will be most prevalent, and the accent colors will be spare and deliberate.

Then I drew up a game plan – I will create 3 looks (initially), each intended for a different level of activity (low, medium and highly active) and attribute the accent colors accordingly. The first look (low activity) will be a dress, the second will be heavier outerwear type top and bottom, and the third look (highest activity level) will be a light top and bottom set.

Finally, I put together some inspiration for accessories and started to list out finishes I’ll use. I picked zippers and buttons that fit in aesthetically and functionally. I also listed out hems and seam types I’ll use, they are more suited to activewear and stretch fabrics. I’m finding it helpful to think of these things early on in the design process, because when I’m sketching things out, I’m already in the mindset of things like elasticized waistbands, and can sketch more on target.

And that’s the book! It relieves a lot of anxiety to have put it all down on paper. I refer to it often as I’m working on the final designs. When all three looks are complete, I will include my drawings of the final designs and photographs of final pieces as the last pages of the book. Then I’ll have a complete record of my process from start to finish!

first prototype: raglan dress

This is one of the prototypes I’m working on, I drafted the pattern from scratch myself – a big accomplishment for me! It’s a raglan dress using purple/lavender wick-away material. This material drapes beautifully and is a functional high-performance fabric. The resulting dress is slinky and feminine but with a modern, techy edge.

The drop waist and blousy top section are figure flattering and comfortable, and the keyhole sleeves are both a fun design detail and a functional way to work in more ventilation. It’s almost impossible to wrinkle this fabric, so you could definitely go for a brisk walk on your lunch break in this dress, combined with leggings and flats.

Since it’s a prototype some of the edges aren’t finished. It looks a little flat here, but it really comes alive on a real person. I am going to finalize the pattern and look for fabric with similar qualities to make the final dresses in.

if it’s broken, fix it

It can be disheartening to learn at the end of a project that you have to redo something. But I know it’s not always a bad thing to have to fix something. It just means you’re one step closer to getting it right. And to me, if it’s not right then it’s not really done. I used to have an aversion to fixing things, because once you finish putting something together, you want that satisfying feeling of completion. But what I’ve learned from sewing is that it’s nigh impossible for something to be 100% right the first time you put it together. There is always something you can improve on. So I’m training myself (it’s not easy…) not to expect completion the first time around. If it happens, hey awesome! But I am totally prepared to take something apart and make it better, because I’m not going to negate all the time and effort I’ve already put into the thing by letting my standards plunge at the end. I’d rather spend 100 hours making something awesome than spend 10 hours making a piece of junk.