Thursday, July 9, 2009

Plan, Design, Create

The Planning is Crucial
I know that when we're in the excitement of making a new piece of wearable art, we're hot to jump in and get started. We're usually wanting to try a new technique, fabric, color combination, pattern, design, or any of a million things that go into artwear--and just want to get on with it. I know people who do that and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. My time is too short and valuable to waste making something I can't wear, so I'm more methodical. Do you stop to think about the process? Top of my list is making sure the thing is going to fit right.

If don't have my latest measurements and body shape, I can't get started. That's why I put so much time into making a moulage and sloper last spring. Now I trust that I can compare those vinyl copies of sloper pieces against any pattern I use. You probably can't see the detail in this photo but I buy size 10 patterns because that's what fits my neck and shoulders. Then you see where I have to redraw the sides to make the rest of the garment fit my body. Even if you're planning to make an oversized jacket for example, you should still check the fit. This is where you also consider proportions. If you're short, you don't want this jacket hanging below your knees, or have the shoulder drop near your elbow.

Getting My Plans Together
I'm still in the first stage of my next garment. It's the planning that I have to be sure of before I let myself design and create. I thought I was in the design stage until I realized that I keep backing away from the final vision. It's getting clearer, as of today I'm certain I'm making a long vest, but I haven't got a feeling for what it should be. (Actually, having said that, I sat out in the night and now I know what I want--lots of sparkle this time--probably influenced a bit this week by Michael Jackson's outfits.) I also know I'm making a black foundation. I know some of it won't come together until I have the pieces before me, ready to be stitched permanently. What colors of embellishing thread do I want to use, what color and types of beads, or which flower am I going to fussy cut--I don't know yet. But right now it doesn't matter, because at least I know I'm going to be doing some freemotion stitching as well as hand embroidery, I know I will be adding beads and even sequins, maybe even crystals, and I know I'm going to applique flowers. Knowing that and collecting the supplies to choose from is my planning process.

Sketching is Key
I've gotten my black fabrics by mail, I've met with Rachel and gotten her input on what techniques she wants, I've perused patterns and selected three I will combine, and I've sketched my ideas a couple of times. So I'm just about out of the planning stage. As you will see, I've been building the design simultaneously. I don't normally show them to anyone but I know these are not final, so I'll give you an idea of how I sketch. If I can't sketch it, I can't make it. It's just how it works in my brain. (And now that I've looked at the scanned copy as I'm editing this blog, I see that I'd better make sure that the vest is 2/3 of the entire length, including pants, otherwise my proportions are disastrous.)

Collecting Ideas
I had planned all along that I would make some sample pieces, to see just how the appliques and beading will look. But part of my creative process is the breathless excitement at seeing what happens in the doing. I like some of it to be spontaneous. This weekend I'm taking the class on ethnic embellishment so I'm going to get back to my handstitching skills and maybe even pick up a new idea or two.

Practice, Practice, Practice
I need to practice first when it comes to some skills. I always have to warm up for freemotion stitching. That's when I make the foundations of little purses, cell phone holders, or postcards. I prepare a fabric sandwich in an appropriate size and start to stitch--no goals, no worries, just play--if it turns out well, it gets used. This is my way to practice techniques and work out problems. To learn more about making quilted postcards, go to I just love making those. I use them for holiday and greeting cards all year round. But now I'm prepared to go even smaller: ATCs (art trading cards) which are the size of playing cards, and would you believe "inchies" which are one inch square. Here's information about ATCs with samples of people's work:

Inchie Quilts
As soon as I saw little beaded items on the cover, I had to buy Inchie Quilts by Nadine Ruggles. American Quilter's Society, 2009. ISBN 978-1-57432-991-9. ( Mostly the author explains how she makes inchies to apply to a quilt (with velcro, glue, etc.). She does explain clearly how to make inchies and provides many embellishment techniques including embroidery, beading, freemotion quilting, and more. She tells you what supplies to buy and how to finish these off. I kept thinking about how you could use them in wearable art. An obvious choice would be as a removable and interchangeable brooch or charm. I can see these tucked away in a collage vest or used as part of a closure. I can also see them as a focal point, though an inchie is probably way too small on it's own unless you expand the design beyond the inchie (for example, start a seam under an inchie seam and continue it across the garment). The idea of making them sounds like such fun, requiring even less designing than you have to do on a postcard or ATC. It's the beading I'm looking forward to because it doesn't take much to create a design. Yes, this is where planning and design overlap but then can carry you to a more successful creation.

Hmm, I'm going to try to make my posts shorter when possible so they aren't overwhelming to read. So I'll stop for now. I'll leave you with a view of who visits my husband who is cooped up at home.
This is Woodrow Woodpecker sipping out of the hummingbird feeder! He announces that he's about to come over so we can't miss his visit. Charming! Till later, Rosalie

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