Sunday, February 8, 2009

Proportion and Fashion Design

Have you read this month's issue of Threads magazine? It's a good one, meaty stuff for those who want to sew well and aspire to ever better skills.

I enjoyed hearing from Claire Shaeffer on what denotes haute couture vs lesser techniques. Can't imagine taking the time, but I suppose it would be good to make a garment by hand just once. Or at least to handpick a zipper and perhaps handstitch buttonholes. I could do that.

In the same issue is an article I mentioned earlier, Sandra Ericson explaining the basics of Proportion. I heard the same things in a lecture from her last spring. It opens so many doors in design--what works, why something else doesn't work. It's not just about the length of your jacket as compared to your height, it's also about the design sizes within the jacket and even within those separate designs. You can go a long way just paying attention to the natural and mathematical components of proportion. I've said a mouthful. Just read the article, take your time and study it. If you search for proportion on Google you will find more explanatory photos though not necessarily of fashion. My favorite part of the class was studying fashion photos in magazines and seeing how designers were paying attention (or not) and how it worked.

Here's a peek at what I did as part of homework in Sandra's class. My husband traced my body on white paper. He angled the pencil so I had to add the pounds that were really there but he got the head, neck and shoulders right. I keep it taped to the wall next to my dressform and at my level. I didn't know just how short I am! I also have no illusions about my body shape. What you can't see is that we also did my side view which I have to take into account also when planning garments. So based on the proportions lecture, I measured off my head length down my body. Now I just study that drawing to decide on proportions best for me. I've only really just begun, there is so much to discover. Do get the tools that Sandra talks about--they save having to do a lot of math. Somehow every new tool leads to more new things.

I suggest that you explore Sandra's website also ( and consider joining the center (in recent years I've discovered her newsletters to be absolute treats to read, from funny to factual). Then, be sure to check out the list of workshops and classes she offers. I recommend them highly. Those were enjoyable days where we worked hard and learned a great deal, going home with notebooks and heads stuffed with ideas, and excited about the potential of what we'd learned.

Finally, read her events page where she talks about designer Julian Roberts. Note the url at the bottom of the page and go there prepared to spend an hour watching videos. This gets a little tricky. Julian has loaded his site with so many edgy graphics and photos that it's slow to load and also can be hard to follow. Go to the menu on the left and click on the Professional Lecture and Cutting Demo Video. I watched the cutting demonstration and was blown away. He explains carefully so we can immediately go out and try this ourselves. It's experimental, innovative--I gotta try it in colors!

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