Monday, June 3, 2019

Visualizing your Design - The very start



More often than not, dress making is perceived as a complicated form of art that has too many technical aspects to it. Newbies, whether you are a first semester fashion design student or a self-learner, often get intimidated by these technicalities. If you are first semester Fashion student, you wouldn’t have much choice, however others conveniently resort to their friendly neighborhood  tailors for their sewing needs.
But honestly dress making is  a simple process as long as we keep the end result in perspective.

To make things simple I would like to divide the whole process of dress making in four parts —







Your ability to imagine an outfit on completion, in it’s full glory. And thereon your ability to work backwards and translate that three dimensional visual onto a two dimensional paper or fabric. This transition from concept to product gets better with every well executed project.

I started making my clothes early on  in life. It was more an act of survival. Being a middle child with an elder sister and a younger brother most of my clothes were hand me down. Now that I have two daughters, I understand the joy and pride the younger one feels in owing her sisters clothes. I felt the same joy when I received my sisters’ clothes. The only problem here was they were  over sized, and I literally swam in them. So, I would say my experience with clothes had more to do with alterations than making them from the scratch. I would put on those over sized clothes on my petite body and start putting the safety pins around the waist to create the darts, pull in the shoulders to settle the cloth  on it and even fold up the hem to reduce the length to match my height. My motivation was simple – I was getting something new to wear. It’s not that I did not have my share of new clothes, but I understood early in life that for a girl there’s never too many dresses.  Hence  the moment  my sister got her new dresses I would start imagining them on me, if I did not  like the design or the style I would imagine how I could rip open the seams and redesign it to my liking. That imagination is the key.

Before you even start taking the measurements for yourself or for someone you want to sew you have to imagine and visualize that garment on the body. For which its also important to understand the body, its shape and curves. Body is the platform where your dress will develop. Your measurement will help you understand the body but your visual will make you understand how the design will drape and fall on that  surface. Of course it would help if you belong to the same gender as the clothes you plan to make. for example women would find it easier to visualize women clothing than men but with time and after taking many measurements one starts to understand the body well.

Another important aspect to visualization is the communication of that visual. Its not just enough to be able to see the design in your mind, unless you are the one who is sewing that design one should be able to translate that design visual first on the paper and then on the fabric. 

 I firmly believe pattern drafting is the back bone of dress making and a good pattern leads to good fabric cutting. Sewing is just a matter of attaching pieces of fabric together that can be mastered by consistent practice. With the accurate body measurements and the instructions you can achieve the basic fit and design and with time can incorporate more creative and innovative patterns in your dress making.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I am a Dress Designer not God




As a part of my job, I come across many kinds of customers. If I were to categorize them, I would put all of them into two categories. The first type would be those who completely trust me as a designer and give me the creative freedom to design and sew their outfits. Their design brief includes a few things like the occasion where the dress will be worn, color preferences and whether the occasion demands any theme or specific color to be followed. These days, almost everything has a theme, be it baby showers, birthday parties or weddings. But I must confess, I have not yet come across a funeral with a theme. Thankfully, these have not become a trend yet, and hopefully, will never become one.
The second type would be the ones who trust their own design instinct and abilities more than anyone else. They often come with an air brushed picture of the design worn by a 5 ft 8 inch tall model, and they want me to sew “that” design “exactly” as it appears in the picture. While that may sound like a perfectly reasonable ask, it does sound like a stretch when they demand that the dress should make them look exactly like the 5 ft 8 inch tall model!

For asks like this, I humbly present my point of view. A couple of issues with these type of requests:
Firstly, the physical characteristics of the model in question could possibly be different  from the client. Height, complexion and body measurements of the model, who looks fabulous in that dress is also likely to be different.  Every design needs to be seen in context. What looks good on one body type need not necessarily look good on another.  I do not subscribe to the concept of mass producing some designs for people of different physical characteristics to buy, just because it looks good on a fashion model. A classic example of this would be “Anarkalis” (a long, frock-styled Indian outfit that is usually paired with a slim fitted bottom). How I have prayed for this fad to pass and common sense become more common. There was a point of time when I wanted to put a banner in front of my shop saying – “If you want to get an Anarkali stitched, the seamstress is on vacation.”

Secondly, even if I succeed in convincing the customer about the design of the dress and offer to change the design to suit their body type, in some semi stitched or precut garments there isn't much scope for modifying the dress. The design is already predetermined.

My point here is that whether you tailor makes your outfit or you buy off the rack not every design should or can be worn by everyone. Just because it's in vogue doesn't mean everyone  should have it. When we are young and exploring our style by experimenting with different type of garments, if some days our style doesn't hit the key it's still understandable but after a certain age one should know what looks good on them and there is no excuse to look disastrous.

My view is that it is always ok to stick to classics and minimalistic designs that can't go wrong, irrespective of who wears them. But if you want to look fashionable then it is advisable that you know which fashion and style works for you. The other option of course is to let your designer do their job. While designing a dress, one should keep the body type, complexion and height in context before deciding on the design. That's where the visualization plays an important role. Spending some time visualising yourself wearing a dress may help you make the right decision.