Friday, January 06, 2012

Sewing Designer Inspired Garments

Robin left this comment on my Erdem Inspired Dress post:
"After seeing your dress, it motivated me to learn more about Erdem.  Honestly looking at the runway models does very little for me.  It takes too much imagination for me to see how I might make it wearable for my age, my figure and my lifestyle."


Robin I'm sure you won't mind that I pulled your comment to use as the basis for this post because I think it will help not only you but other sewists.


First let me state that I love designer fashions.  I spend a lot of time on style.com, net-a-porter and other designer sites (especially the iPad apps, which I love!) peeking at details, checking out colors and silhouettes.  So here are my five rules/guidelines for deciding if I can "interpret" a designer look.


1.  I always look at silhouettes and never at the models.  
Come on let's face it, I look nothing like the models used in publications or on internet sites.  But I'm not looking at them.  I'm looking at the silhouette of the dress, just like you look at the line drawings on patterns, each garment has a line drawing (silhouette) and that's how I choose if I can interpret a garment.


2.  I know which silhouettes work on my body.
And here is the catch...the thing that I believe trips up a lot of sewists...knowing exactly what styles work for them.  And that's really important...see I know that I don't look good in waisted dresses.  I love those styles but if I want to look pudgy, dowdy and fat, I should make one of those type dresses.  I like long lines.  I think that they make me look slimmer, taller and more attractive.  So the first thing I look for is that long clean line.


3.  Color and pattern
I'm always looking for an interesting play of pattern and color.  The reason the Erdem line caught my eye is because he is doing a really fresh take on the play of color, print and pattern.  I honestly did not care for his Fall 2011 line...it looked really grim and Morticia Adams dark to me.  However, his Resort and Spring Lines for 2012 have a lot of color and pattern.  But this is what I like.  Have you determined what you like?  What colors make you feel good when you're wearing them?  What colors get you the most compliments?  What styles are guaranteed to get someone to say, "Boy are you looking good today?"


4.  Does it work for my lifestyle?
I think if you have a defined dress code for your job it's easier to pick garments.  But, it is also easy to fall into the bland trap which is dressing like everyone else in dull colors.  I know what the requirements for my job environment are and I try to stay within those guidelines but I need color so I try to add it in my jewelry, shoes and certain pieces (top, skirt, dress).  


Now to me, working in a business casual work environment, gets a little dicey because I think you need to determine what you want to look like and that's where it gets a little confusing.  At my last job I worked in a business casual atmosphere and I had to chose a path that wasn't very casual but not very professional.  I solved this by wearing alot of twinsets with skirts and pants with the occasional dress.  I never wore a suit.  The minute you showed up in a suit, you were asked if you were interviewing.


Also you need to determine what is comfortable to wear on your job.  I can't imagine wearing a suit as say a kindergarten teacher.  I would think it would cause a distance between you and the children.  Any job where you have to wear a uniform (nurse, policewoman, contractor, postal person etc.) means that you are only determining what to wear when you're not working.  A SAHM has a different need than someone going out to work and I think you have a degree of freedom that I don't have.  


I'm saying all of this to say that you have to determine what clothing is comfortable and appropriate for your job or lifestyles.  Now there are books on this subject, magazine articles, people who have "the credentials" to tell you how to do this.  I'm just saying that this is a journey...just like learning to sew is one...so is determining what to wear.


5.  Is it fresh and new and does it touch something in my creative spirit.
That is a huge thing for me when picking which designer gear to interpret.  I also keep a large file on my computer and with magazine clippings to inspire me.  I'm looking to the fresh, the new, the different that inspires me and makes me want to leave work and sew.  It's just something that grabs me.  And if you like it, copy it!  That's pretty much my motto!


Now these are all my opinions.  This is what works for me.  This may or may not work for you and please feel free to ignore me.  But I thought I would respond to Robin's comment and tell everyone that first and foremost, I don't look at the models.  They are a non-issue for me!  *LOL*  They really are just the hangers wearing the clothing, sad to say.


And Valerie C., feel free to copy anything you see on my blog.  I'm honored that you like what I make enough to want your own copy of it.  Finally to my plus size sistahs, having the ability to sew means that we can have alot more than what is available in RTW and even in pattern sizes.  If you have a few TNT patterns and an adventurous spirit, you can cut them up and get the clothing you want.


...as always, more later!



34 comments:

  1. Love your 1 to 5 guidelines - you certainly have a great eye for detail and can transpire it from fairyland to reality. Very interesting read...

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  2. Hi Carolyn, I enjoyed this post as I also don't spend much time on designer websites, except when you mention them on your blog lol. I'd be interested to know the iPad apps you have downloaded, as I can see this may be something i'd also enjoy. Thanks and all the best for 2012!

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  3. Great post, Carolyn!! You have encapsulated some of my own thoughts. I don't spend a lot of time on fashion sites, but I *do* spend a lot of time looking at Lagenlook-style clothing, which is what I like to make and to wear. I also feel I know, pretty much, what lines/silhouettes/colors are good for me, the "uber busty hipless wonder." ;)

    And, as you noted, this is a process. I have come a long way in the last few years and blogging has been a big part of that. The more I look at photos of myself, the more I learn what works and what doesn't. It's easy to kid yourself when looking in a mirror. I don't know why, but it's true.

    I love to watch your process!

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  4. That was a great read Carolyn. I must admit that before following your blog I would never have thought to only look at the line drawing. Dumb-a..... me checked out those models and the pretty pictures. No wonder I just about always got it wrong. So much more is revealed in those line drawings. Thank you for the info.

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  5. I really enjoyed this post Carolyn! I don't look at fashion websites much at all. Perhaps I should. Sometimes it is hard to get past those poor starved girls and their crazy makeup ;/

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  6. Thank you for sharing this! I think I will need to print this out and have it there when I am deciding what to sew for myself.

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  7. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I am putting a lot of thought into these points and it's helpful to read your insights.

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  8. Thank you :) I really enjoyed reading this post. Since I am very short and a plus size I always have to think about the outlines I want to create with my garments.

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  9. When you said Erdem Fall 2011 was all dark and Morticia like I thought "REALLY??" and zipped over to style.com to look. But that's my inner Goth coming through.

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  10. Your guidelines are spot on. I spend lots of time checking out the daily online retail looks and try to see what trends I can apply and which to giggle about. Thanks Carolyn.

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  11. Carolyn, thanks for your thoughtful post. I'll be sewing for my sister this year and Im pointing her to your blog as an illustration of some of the things I'm talking to her about sewing and patterns. I'm not a plus size sewist but the points you make are spot on for all sewists regardless of size. Thanks!!

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  12. Thanks for a great post. I sporadically look at designer websites and try to look at the garment and not the hanger.... urr.. I mean the model. Visiting sewing blogs for the most part serves as my look book and source of inspiration. With that I have come to understand (as long as I can keep up with my aging body) what works for me and it has allowed me to venture outside my uniform... the Suit... lol However, I am still learning and looking forward to experimenting with my TNTs, embellishments and incorporating mixed materials into my garments. So keep the inspiration coming Carolyn.

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  13. Great article Carolyn. Lots of good sugestions.

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  14. I never look at a model's body either. They are just hangers for the clothes. I will look at their makeup, hair, accessories and shoes. And for some reason I ALWAYS love the resort lines best.

    I have more freedom with my wardrobe, yet I have restrictions. I don't wear pants, cover myself 3/4th and wear a headwrap. Some how I have to make that look business casual. Fortunately my office allows for summer dress code. And since I am in GA, the summer is longer.

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  15. Enjoyed reading your post today. I was going through the links to the different posts you wrote about your TNT patterns. Did you ever think of making a TNT pattern to sell? Who knows--you may have a new career ready for you when you retire from your current job.

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  16. As always Carolyn, this is a great post. I have to admit I do look at the models and that deters me from sewing some garments because I think they wont look good on me. I will take this food for thought and use it when I am searching for inspirations and patterns. Thanks

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  17. This is a really interesting post. I have my own routine which is essentially the same as yours adapted to my lifestyle. Another thing that I do, which I think you do as well, is read fashion magazines. Sometimes looking at the runway shows is all too much. Editors at the magazines can normally distill a trend and show several designers' interpretations of that trend so I can see inspiration that I could not see on the runway.

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  18. Thanks for laying out your guidelines so well in this post. I think you're absolutely right about the journey, and I realized this is one I've been on for a while now, just hadn't really thought it through as well as you have. Thanks!

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  19. I love your explanation of how you look at designer cloths.

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  20. Another great post. How do you have the time to write such insightful posts, make great well-fit garments and still have a career. Do you ever sleep??

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  21. "They really are just the hangers wearing the clothing, sad to say."

    So true! Great post, Carolyn.

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  22. Great post! You are really working as an artist and interpreting styles in your own way. That's what makes your journey so fascinating.

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  23. Carolyn, thanks for taking the time to break it down! I shall comment accordingly :)

    1. Models and why they irritate me: When I was younger and thinner, I assumed I should look like the models on the runway, but clothes NEVER fit me they way they fit the models. In middle age, through a renewed interest in sewing, I finally identified my own measurement variations; ah ha! My narrow shoulders and long torso are quite different from a model who might be the same height I am. My legs were never nearly as long as a model's legs, even if we were the same height and weight. Understanding my own body has been the biggest breakthrough of my entire sewing effort.

    2. Silhouettes: I am still figuring that out. I have some good jackets, a shirt and tops. But my attempts at a simple woven dress design nave not yet succeeded. I need to try a sheath with cap sleeves and a boat neck - that could give me a balanced look.

    3. Color, print, pattern: In current styles, I see color combinations that I love, but often the combination contains at least one color that will make me look ill. I think I will try dying some fabrics this year since it can be hard to find specific colors locally.

    4. Lifestyle: That one is easy for me because I feel free to wear exactly what I want to my casual work environment.

    5. the creative spark - yes, I can relate! I do get a lot of inspiration from other sewing blogs, so thank you!

    Thanks Carolyn!! Feel free to dedicate more time and effort to helping me personally. LOL.

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  24. Very, very helpful - thank you for this. g

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  25. Carolyn.. what an inspiring post! thank you...

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  26. Caroyln I enjoyed the post...since watching the bloggers I've been HAPPY sewing...FIESTA!

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  27. Great post. I will definately take another look at designer web sites after reading your post. I am closer to your daughters in age, and of a smaller size but I wouöd definately copy most of your garments.

    I am waiting for the felted wool jersey garment, i have ordered some from gorgeous fabrics...

    /maria

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  28. Very good post. You do have to look past model to get an idea for a garment for you self. Most time for me a just a small design element or a feeling that the garment gives me. You do have to have creative eyes. Yours are soooo
    creative that I'm usually amazed.

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  29. I love this post! I most often find inspiration for my sewing projects from the patterns I have, but you have made me want to explore the possibility of finding more inspiration in other places as well. Thanks for the advice!

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  30. Thank you for your insight.

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  31. Teach! I am printing this post so I can display it front and forward so I can learn how to find the me in my clothing and sewing. To capture my real style.

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  32. Hello Carolyn,
    I really enjoy your blog. Your information is spot on. Knowing what you like and what looks good of you is half the battle. I never look at the models but always at the silouhette.
    Great information!

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  33. Oh I absolutely loved this post! It is so freeing and opens up so many doors! I've stopped looking at trends and styles due to age and a more relaxed lifestyle. I wish I had more confidence to make some pattern styles larger.

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  34. Thanks for this guidelines Carolyn. I have always wanted to sew designer inspired garments, but never really knew how to go about the whole process. This is nice to know. I think what I like most from your list is the fact that you have to know what style suits you.

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