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Why I Love Design

So growing up, I was unbelievably dinky.  Starting the eighth grade, I was literally 3'6".  I looked like a four year old at thirteen.  A small four year old.  Needless to say, this meant that getting age appropriate clothes was very difficult.  Thirteen year old's don't exactly want to be wearing wearing the same thing as preschoolers.  Fortunately my mom is an outstanding seamstress.  A large chunk of my clothing was made by her. 

Despite her valiant attempts, I never did manage to learn how to use a sewing machine.  No matter the machine (I've tried several.), bobbins are the bane of my existence.  I just cannot master a sewing machine bobbin.  However, the deal we always had, and still have to this day, is it was my job to pin the pattern and cut it out.  Mom hates it with a fiery passion and I was and am always tolerant of it.  So from that early age, I grew up with an innate knowledge and understanding of how fabric, a two dimensional object, must be cut, shaped, and folded into something that forms to the human body. 

And the challenge of that transformation of a two dimensional form into something with three dimensions, oh... now that's fun stuff.  Let's check it out with the following pics. 

paper 1  So here we have a basic sheet of paper.  It's an easy to grasp two dimensional object.  How does it turn into something the isn't just flat?  Well let's think origami.

paper 2  Now honestly, I have no clue what I would use this shape for.  However it does prove with some basic folding, the paper no longer resides in just two dimensions.  It has become a three dimensional object with definite shape and fold.  You can equate the fold lines as being similar to seams with fabric.  The thicker the fabric, it's the same as the thicker the paper.  It's harder to fold and bend, but the thicker it is, the more likely it is to maintain the intended shape.  A silk blouse can't hold the shape in the same way as a heavy linen.  Well, the same applies with knitting or crochet.  The thicker the yarn, the thicker the fabric created.  While it does make a much warmer fabric, it also creates a fabric that can hold it's shape better.

paper 4  Moving into some classic sewing shapes here.  This one's a box pleat.  See how the fold lines are used to create the pleating lines?  It's easy enough to recreate that with fabric and seaming.  This one... think classic parochial school skirt or some really expensive curtains.  Box pleats take a rediculous amount of fabric to make a bigger piece.  My mom once made me a very beautiful window valance with box pleats and a lovely high end fabric I bought.  For a two foot wide window, it took three yards.  Not kidding.

Paper 5  Oh look!  It's a girl's best friend.  This tiny little detail is a dart.  Darting is the primary thing used to create a piece that flows with a female body.  We've got curves and this gives our clothing the curves that match.  With classic sewing, it's created with seaming.  With knitting and crochet, while it can be created with seaming, generally it's created  with a combination of increases and decreases.  Most of us out there who work with the needles and hooks tend to avoid as much sewing as possible.  By utilizing the increases and decreases, we can create the same shape but without having to annoy ourselves endlessly.

paper 3  And this one... this is the shape I'm using to create a tremendously exaggerated flared skirt on a tunic sweater.  Just think of ten of them attached in a circle.  I think the combination of them all together ends up looking like flower petals.  Love that. 

For me, design never starts with the stitch.  It starts with the geometry.  Every body is a unique combination of cylinders and rectangles and cones and spheres and on and on.  The challenge is how to take that unique combination and create something out of a two dimensional object that is flattering and (I hope) pretty.  By using some classic sewing construction techniques, I try to create things that are complimentary to the way the human body really looks.  Not just the way that they seem to think we look when you go clothes shopping.  I'm sorry but it's a continual source of frustration that it's so bleeping frustrating to find flattering clothing in the stores out there.  Through the hooks and needles, I try to create things that actually work and look good.

And the fact that it's a never ending challenge... that's the good stuff there. 


June 2012

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