In Fashion, Part 2


We’re back for the second week of our new series, In Fashion w/Nancy Spaulding. Are you following along? Any plans for sewing some apparel?

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Once you have a solid idea of trend and style for a particular season, how do you get started with plans for what to make?
As stated in the first blog post, I sort through my inspiration resources for the project. I look at images, swatches of various fabrics and trims, notes from vintage garments I’ve viewed. I look at color combos, textures/pattern, and see what kind of theme or direction is emerging from it all. I then think about how I am going to design the item – what steps are necessary – and then go from there.

Tell us a bit about your design process.
I sometimes just jump right in and start working as I get pretty excited! I can easily imagine in my “mind’s-eye” what the finished design will look like; quick sketches (“roughs”) are often helpful to work through the ideas of what I need to do first, second, etc.

However, sometimes just working- experimenting -is the best way; sometimes it is trial and error and working out the “bugs”. I like the organic process of design, not always being constrained and systematic. For me, oftentimes it is about letting the process flow.

It is also good to have an understanding of the foundational aspects of design such as silhouette, line, rhythm, repetition, etc. You can then go back and refine your ideas once you can step back and take a critical look at your own work. I often like to put a new design aside for a short while and come back to it with “fresh eyes”.

Do you always work from a pattern?
Pretty much, although most times the pattern gets developed along the way as I’m designing. I can then go back and refine the pattern.

Do you prefer to create your own or work through pattern software?
I use both methods: flat pattern and computer pattern-making; although computer pattern drafting is faster for me for some projects.

How do you select your fabrics?
First of all, the fabric has to “speak” to me; I need to be attracted to it. I also like to use fabrics that I typically haven’t used previously in order to expand my repertoire. I think that it is good to not be afraid of unusual fabrics; experiment; try them out. If you make mistakes, learn and move on; it’s okay!

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from couture designer Kenneth King. He said something to the effect that “you’ve got to ruin five miles of fabric before you are any good!”

I do a lot of mixing & matching, deciding if certain fabrics will work together structurally. Again, I look at all aspects of color and pattern/texture and ask myself if they work together. I sometimes like to show my work to a trusted colleague who will give me honest feedback.

How do you determine which interfacings you’d like to use where?
This is where experimenting is helpful. Trying various types of interfacing on scraps of fabrics that you’ll use in the design is essential. Right now, I’m using mostly fusibles. I like to analyze how they affect the “hand” and/or drape of the fabrics.  Does the interfacing do what you want it to do to achieve the effect you desire? If not, try another. With so many great interfacings available now, there is bound to be something that will work for your project.

Do you typically dive right into the creation process with your final materials, or do you work up a model first?
If I am going to do a one-off design, I’ll dive right in and sew what comes out.  However, if I plan on making something again, I need to be a bit more systematic about it.

I like to make prototypes, especially if I am going to produce the design again in order to check fit, work out any pattern “bugs”, and see how the overall design works.

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Thanks so much Nancy! We’ll see you next time for a quick chat about your new project for Pellon®!



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