Kollektion & Fläche 2 / Collection & Surface 2

In this semesters “collection & surface”, we were given one of our sketches (mine was a crystal collage) from last semester, had to extract different designs from it, decide on one, and use old clothes to quickly drape the design. We then cut that first “toile” apart, traced a pattern from it, and sewed a first prototype.

I had to work with one of my crystal collages, and I picked the one below. Our teachers wanted us to make something with lots of volume. To the right of my collage you can see the different designs I tried out (we only had about an hour for this step...)

I ended up with a mohair sweatshirt with large folds or wrinkles and softshell panelled pants, with a band that’s attached at the front, holds the pockets and passes over the back of the legs. The pants have a tulle understructure (like a petticoat, but pants) that supports the volume.

Next I printed the design a couple of times and tried different color combinations. (seen above image, those on the left side are my favorites, on the right the rest).

Below you can see my technical sketches, and the draped, frankensteined first toile (it was held together with pins and marked with tape). I marked the toile, cut it apart, and traced a pattern from it. That took quite a while… 2.5 hours for the frankenstein toile, and then about 5 hours for the pattern. Walking the pattern took forever (well it was more measuring than „walking“, because, seam allowances). I also drafted the facing and pocket pieces.

Because our teachers stress the importance of accessories, we had to experiment in 2D, how different accessories (hair counts as an accessory too) change or add to the design, which is what I did here:

Now to one of my favorite parts! I learned how to use a knitting machine! I’m not quite sure what the actual technical term is, semi-automatic? I mean, you have to drag the yarn back and forth across the loops, but it’s really fast! And I figured out a way to create these organic wrinkles in the knit. At irregular intervals I’d hook some of the already knit fabric back onto the current loops, to be knitted into the fabric again (sounds complicated, but I think the pictures make it easy to understand).

I made a prototype of the sweater by sewing two sweaters together to make one really long one, then attached strips of jerey to the inside, to wich I could sew the large folds (I made an illustration of that „technique“). I then pinned the knit fabric sample to different parts of my prototype, photographed it and photoshopped it together to see what a sweater in that fabric would look like.

and this is the finished prototype!

And by prototype I mean it's really just the second toile. I tried something with the different colored panels, but also, I couldn't find any more white softshell, only black, so it was kind of a necessity :)

I'm not quite happy with the way the tulle supports the pants, mainly because I didn't want to spend hundreds of francs on tulle just for a toile, so I had to make the most of the tulle I had by rolling pieces into tubes, then folding them in half and sewing them onto the underpants at the fold (as the tulle wants to spring back into its original unfolded tulle, I got quite a bit of volume like this). I mean, it's voluminous, it's a monster! But the volume could be more even, and there's supposed to be lots of tulle coming out at the bottom, like a tutu.

The pants are so heavy though!! Softshell+Tulle does that though, I'm not surprised :) With the pants I'm most proud of the pocket band, which you can't see to well in the above images. I lined the pockets in a contrasting purple. I had to fuse thick canvas inbetween the layers of sofshell to make the pocketband, and because the pockets are in there, I couldn't just fuse 3 layers together and cut out the pattern piece. Technically I could do this to softshell, as it doesn't fray, but then I wouldn't have seam allowances to sew the pockets to, or you'd see stitching on the front, and I didn't want that. In this photo you can see the purple pocket if you look closely!

Other than that I'm quite happy with how this turned out! I was surprised with how well the sweater turned out, I wasn't sure it would end up looking the way I wanted it to, and I wasn't that excited abuot draping it. I think what's important for the sweater, is that the bottom "tier" or fold is very tight and form-fitting, so the sweater doesn't completely overwhelm the body. But still, I mean, it wouldn't be a sweater you'd wear on an "I feel fat"-day, it's a little dramatic, but that's what I like about it! If I made a finished version, it would be all in the same color (dark purple mohair). And I'd go with the shorter sleeves!

That's all for now. I just got back from a 10 day trip to Iceland, where my dad and I took part in an Oldtimer Rally. We drove around the island in an AC March Special 1938, no windows. It was tough, but Iceland was very impressive, I'll share pictures. Unfortunately there were also some events surrounding the trip that were very scary and sad (we witnessed a car accident, luckily no one was hurt, but it didn't look like that at first, and then we had a very shocking death in the family), and that made it hard to really enjoy it. I'm glad I went, but I'm also glad to be back home.

I'm working through the sadness, and trying to get started on my semester project, which I'll share here as well.

Design Understanding - 2nd semester

I find it hard to write about school sometimes, because we use certain phrases in the curriculum that I find hard to translate accurately. One of these is "Designverständnis". It's one of 5 general "fields of study" we're taught during what is called the "forum". Every semester consists of a forum, which are made up of the 5 different (mostly weekly) courses, and a project we work on on our own (what I shared in my last post). The courses are:

"Designverständnis", which can be translated to design understanding. So far we've delved into the impact every stage of a piece of clothing has on the environment; methods for designing besides drawing, like life-size collages, stylings with objects; texts on subcultures, fashion and gender etc.

"Körperverständnis", which I guess would be understanding of the body, or "bodily awareness". We work with a Feldenkrais practitioner for this. Here's a bit about Feldenkrais from wikipedia: "The Feldenkrais Method, often referred to simply as "Feldenkrais", is a somatic educational system designed by Moshé Feldenkrais (1904–1984). Feldenkrais aims to reduce pain or limitations in movement, to improve physical function, and to promote general wellbeing by increasing students' awareness of themselves and by expanding students' movement repertoire. [...] The Feldenkrais Method is therefore a movement pedagogy, similar to the Alexander Technique in being educational and not a form of manipulative therapy." Since clothing is something we wear on our bodies (duh), my school feels it's important to be aware of your own. We also use how our bodies feel after the Feldenkrais work as design inspiration (for example, if my legs feel super heavy, my partner will try to interpret that in some way with paper or tapes or fabric, that's how the first image in this post came to be)

"Kollektion & Fläche": collection & surface, where we learn a lot of technical skills like patternmaking & sewing techniques, but also delve deeper into the design process (fabrics!! that's the "surface" part :), but also quickly developing silhouettes, ideas for colors and accessories)

"Präsentation & Kommunikation": presentation & communication, pretty self explanatory I think. We learn about photography, graphic design, performance... basically all the ways you can present your work. And it's not just about the skills, it's also about developing an idea of how you would like to present your work and finding your own visual language/doing things differently than the ads that might be printed in Vogue (unless you totally dig those). It's also about finding efficient ways of testing ideas in this area, and doing things on a tight budget.

"Konzept & Prozess": concept and process. This one I personally find very exhausting. Very important, but exhausting. It's basically about figuring out your "vision". What you want to do, why you want to do it, how it might be relevant, for whom you want to do it, where and with which materials, what you don't want to do, what you want to change and how... All those big questions. They don't expect us to find something right from the start and forever stick to it, but it's important to them (and I think that's good) that we ask ourselves these questions, and figure out in which direction we'd like to go. On a smaller scale it's also about how to gather inspiration, and formulate a concept for a project based on it, and how to go about further research (primary research where we test methods and design ideas ourselves, and secondary research where we looks for images / texts that help/inspire us).

Well, today I'd like to share my results from this semesters design understanding. It was a really cool set up: a creativity workshop spread across 3 days. The first day we spent a half day doing short challenges (write a love letter to your favorite piece of clothing, make a sculpture from 3 different materials lying around, sketch it in 4 different ways, stuff like that), and a half day "pimping" process photos from last project. We have to document our project, and some of those photos don't turn out too great, but we need them. So in different groups we figured out ways to make them into something more useable through different methods (digital (photoshop, smartphone apps) and analog (laminating, burning, scribbling, collage etc.))

On the second day we displayed all of our results (images and texts) around the room and the different groups explained what they did. Then we each had about an our to pick out our favorite things from the whole room, make a moodboard from them, and set ourselves an assignment. We had a day for the assignment.

These images are from my documentation I have to hand in next week:

left page is the challenge I had: take an old piece of clothing, "pimp it" in a few minutes ( I added glitter, tinsel, dish sponges and "copper rags"). Then we had 10 minutes each to go find someone to wear the piece and take a picture with it. After this we had to print the photos and add sentences from the "love letters" the others wrote (some of those sentences were really funny taken out of context, like "I fell in love with you from the moment I saw you hanging from that pole" - german word for rack is also the word for pole :))

right page are my analog process images from project 1 that I manipulated (laminator, photocopier, pens, collage)

left side is my "group sourced moodboard", some of my own images in there, but also from my classmates. I sorted the images according to what I wanted to take from them (color & pattern, silhouette, materiality & dimension, shapes & layering). The assignment I gave myself, was to come up with silhouette ideas based on simple geometric shapes and layering of those shapes, that I could clarify into actual designs in a later step.

To do this I used two methods: quick "material collages" (above right), with scraps from my material collection, and kinda abstract sketches that are roughly based on the shape of the human body (below). I think the material collages are my favorite, because in my past project I found it hard to merge the fabrics I was drawn to, to the silhouettes I came up with based on the concept. The method I tried here was a good way for me to take into consideration texture and color alongside the silhouette.


and finally, I colored the sketches and wrote down different ideas of what the shapes could be. Jacket? Cape? Top? Dress? Pants? Belt? Bag?

I hope I can use these collages/sketches in my next project :)

1st semester project - research & design

Well, my first semester of fashion design has been over for a while, but I needed a little break from my first project before I went over it again to pick out things to share on the blog. The presentation was at the end of january, and now, before I dive into the next project (which I'm really looking forward to!), I'm writing this massive, image heavy post to really close that chapter.

I don't feel like going into too much detail, but I do want to explain the assignment. The first year curriculum has the title "mapping the terrain and locating your position", and our first two projects focus on research and the design process, not so much on creating a complete, well-sewn garment (this allows for a wide range of people from different backgrounds to enter into fashion design, as sewing skills are not necessary at first). That said, we were required to complete three "look-sketches", which are life-sized, three-dimensional sketches (similar to a muslin, but it can be made from pre existing garments, stapled or glued together, painted or sprayed the right color etc.), that should communicate your design idea. They split up the three "look-sketches" so each one had a specific focus: 1. color/pattern, 2. silhouette, 3. materiality (so your silhouette look-sketch didn't have to have the correct color or use the material that the actual finished garment would).

It might be a little hard to imagine, but I hope the pictures will clarify. It feels a little weird, posting pictures of "clothing" that is so far from finished (especially since this used to be more of a sewing blog, focusing on learning sewing skills and technique), but I hope you can understand their context from my explanation above.

these are all the (front view) sketches I made

these are all the (front view) sketches I made

material inspiration

material inspiration

these are two of the "look-sketches"

these are two of the "look-sketches"

high priestess look with the convertible backpack/bag I made

high priestess look with the convertible backpack/bag I made

the strap of the bag can be pulled down into two straps to be used as a backpack. this is the "cleanest" object I got out of this project, and I really want to try to make one with real leather and that plush fabric.

the strap of the bag can be pulled down into two straps to be used as a backpack. this is the "cleanest" object I got out of this project, and I really want to try to make one with real leather and that plush fabric.

Parallel to researching and designing garments and accessories, we also have to research and create sketches for "key visuals". I'm really glad we learn this too, because I think developing a strong visual language to go with the garments is an important skill to have in this field.

So that's it! The first project. There are so many things I want to do differently next time, most importantly: stress less. And setting boundaries between work and free time for myself. I went home way too late, way too often (because I like working! which is a luxury problem, I'm aware), and 3/4 of the way through the project I felt drained and uninspired...
But now I'm recharged and ready to go :)

Style Concept

I've been blogging for 6 years, at times more regularly than now. When I started I posted lots of outfit photos, as that was what my blog was about mostly - a sort of fashion diary. I used to spend an afternoon every few weeks just creating outfits with my clothes, trying out things, and if I liked them I'd take a picture. Basically a styling exercise. The act of taking a picture helped me remember an outfit, and posting it to my blog enabled me to quickly search through the outfit tag whenever I didn't know what to wear.

After a few years of blogging, at the end of 2011, I became a little obsessed with the idea of a wardrobe planning computer program or app, but back then none existed. I wanted to have a way to scan through my wardrobe while I was shopping, to make sure I didn't buy things that don't work with anything. So I made a private tumblr, uploaded pictures of my clothes and tagged them, so I could search by color, style, season etc. I got some use out of that, but I soon lost motivation to photograph and upload every single thing I owned.

When I started blogging in 2009, during my exchange year in the states, my style was a bit "unfocused" I think. I just wore stuff I liked, things that made me feel a certain way, but I didn't really think much about "outfit building", which isn't surprising, as I was just 17. Only through documenting what I wore and writing about it on a blog (a very small one) did I become more aware of what kind of feeling I wanted my clothes to evoke in me. I started wearing dresses, lots of them! I fell in love with vintage fashion, and because I'd see vintage clothes (and new ones too) on other blogs that I could never own (one of a kind or way too expensive), I started sewing.

Sewing vintage inspired clothes (mostly late 50s and early 60s, Mad Men era I guess :)) taught me so much about sewing and fashion (like how fit is important! And that certain store bought clothes don't fit right on my short-waisted torso). I loved the dress-up aspect of it and learning about fashion history, I liked that the clothes made me feel feminine and grown-up, but in an elegant way and not super sexualized. I guess from the age of 18 to 21 that was what I wanted from my clothes, that's how I wanted to feel and be perceived. Of course I also wore "normal" modern clothes, I wasn't at all super strict about always dressing vintage. I wore lots of jeans and tank tops, but the outfits I carefully picked out and loved the most all had a vintage vibe to them I think.

But most of the dresses I sewed during that time are not very comfortable, as they all had tight waists. I suffer from chronic back pain, and many of the dresses would make the pain worse. I also stopped wearing high heels regularly, because they too worsened the pain.

In 2013, a few months before my 22nd birthday I finally got my hair dyed white, after thinking about it for about 2 years. This changed a lot for me, fashion wise! I went from having dark brown hair to this very flashy haircolor (white, light blonde, pastel pink and purple), and suddenly many colors in my wardrobe just didn't work on me anymore. I think this started my "style transition". Shortly after that I went through a break-up, sold or got rid of many of my clothes and a few months later I went from working at a jewelry store to studying an art foundation course, where practicality became important (I didn't want my dresses to get dirty). So basically a whole lot changed for me.

During the entire art foundation course I felt kind of lost fashion wise. I was suffering from "I have a closet and many boxes full of clothes and nothing to wear" - luxury problem I know. I started sewing things that were very different from the vintage style dresses I used to make (like the Armor Jacket). I stopped documenting my outfits (well, really that started in late 2012), mostly because I didn't think they were that special. I introduced new things into my wardrobe, like black (I rarely wore black when I had dark hair), leggings, crop tops, jersey and other modern fabrics, and in general more casual, modern items. I still loved vintage fashion, but I didn't necessarily want to dress like that all the time anymore, and it started to feel like a costume, something I hadn't felt until then.

My old clothes also felt too "nice". I had started to become more secure myself, and more vocal about how I wanted and didn't want to be treated by others. I wanted to be taken seriously, something I have always wanted, but I suddenly felt like my clothes were holding me back from that, they felt too "pretty", too cutesy and too harmless. That was not how I wanted to feel about myself, I wanted to channel a different kind of energy or attitude through my clothes. I still like cute, and happy and pretty, I just needed a different "dosage" of those things.

Well, I finally went about rethinking how I want to dress. I loosely followed tips from Into Mind, a blog about wardrobe building, to create a "style concept". She has a ton of articles, and reading through them really motivated me to do this. It is work, in a way, it takes time but it was so worth it. I think my concept is self explanatory, if you want to make one of these for yourself, definitely check out Into Mind! It's basically collecting inspiration and then culling every unnecessary image and organizing/analyzing the rest.

Most of the "basic pieces" are things I own and love to wear. I think there's still a lot of vintage influence in there, but it's split up, it might be just a silhouette or a color combination or material. I think I've also shifted more towards the late 60s early 70s for inspiration, and I'm pretty sure Megan Draper has a lot to do with that :)

I've already sewn an elastic harness (to hold my phone while I work, because I often have no pockets), and I plan on experimenting with making jewerly. I've also finally found a wardrobe app for my iPhone that I love! I might post about it soon. I've just finished my first semesterproject, so I have time to update the blog a bit and share stuff from school (like a bag/backpack I made!).

Posted on January 26, 2015 and filed under outfits, process.

Crystal Collages

Another way to design: collage! As minerals inspire me, and I wanted to use "crystalline volume" for the witch look, I printed a couple of crystal images, and made collages.

The first row are the collages, the second and third row are each side of the originals mirrored. This was a fun and relaxed way to experiment and come up with ideas. Obviously the finished clothes won't look like these collages, but it helps you get ideas for the silhouette or texture and proportions. I used an illustration I made a few months ago as a base to collage onto (as I'm not that fast at sketching bodies).

Posted on December 13, 2014 and filed under design school, process.