I decided to break from the pattern
homework, and started to practice the design; erect female nude women.
I did the grid and began to draw women at front view. At first, my
hand started rusty, and I stared at the paper a bit. It has been a
long time since the design class. I forgot from where to start.
But as I began with the head, everything that I took in the first design
lesson began to pour out. I drew the model narrow and the waist is
wrong, so I drew another grid. In fact, I drew several other grids at both
sides of the page to get them out of the way. I began to fill them
with models, but they seemed wrong. Some are too flat, some are
fat…..I began to loose my way.
Although they looked different and more real
from my original way of drawing, they are too way out of the corrected ones
from the design class. I tried to remove the squares from the grid,
only leaving marks at the outer grid boundry. I drew one to see what
was going wrong. Perhaps those lines were obscuring the sketch.
The waist line seemed to be my problem, but the proportions and the symmetry
Enough of that... I couldn't concentrate
anymore. One illustration takes a long time to draw, and requires a
lot of concentration, and certainly a lot of rubbing. At one point the
paper thinned. I should try it another day…..
After I finished my pattern homework I
began to draw the design, with more concentration. Hurray. I did it
this time right. So I drew another without the grid and that
looked right too. I shifted to the model at the back view. Well,
let me do that another day, having a fresh start at it. It was wrong.
I decided to have a go at the model at the
side view. I guess I should delay the back view, because I was
afraid when I obsess at something, I couldn't concentrate at it well enough.
I started some music, to sooth me while I drew. It was a habit I
started from my years at studying medicine. Music also encourages
my creativity, and I found out that music also influences the style of the
garments that I draw.
I began analyzing the body of the model,
comparing every curvature. I began to draw. This was the
easiest, and it seemed O.k. Except for some tummy protrusions. I
had some difficulty to perfect the slope of the back towards the neck at the
shoulder level. I tried correcting it, but I couldn't get it quite
right. I then shifted to the back view. I did it O.k. too, but
with some difficulty at the waist line going down the buttocks, and curving
up the back. The back sometimes felt too wide, and big in proportion
to the rest of the body, and sometimes too narrow. I frequently
narrowed the curve of the buttocks, but eventually I began to reach the
At last I did several of those I am
satisfied with. I will leave it to that until I will show it to my
design tutor to correct them. I was afraid if I carried on
practicing without tutoring, I might be getting used to drawing the wrong
way. My design tutor told me that plenty of practice will stamp in the
sketches and the proportions in the brain, and at a point it will come out
automatically and naturally. Just like driving and swimming. But
I was afraid that the wrong thing sticks. I will practice again when
she corrects them.
During the last month in the pattern
class, I was taught a lot about darts and its types, and its manipulation.
My tutor gave me a project to design and
execute; it was a basic idea of a dress top bodice with darts. I
was so excited about my first design to be executed that I decided to be a
little creative. I made it very appealing, with a low waist line, and
a very sexy back, and the front with the darts she wanted. Only the
darts were zigzag.
It took me the whole day yesterday to do
the pattern for it, as well the presentation work for my project. I
began to trace them on the transparent vellum, only to discover that I
couldn't manipulate and sew the darts with a low waist bodice! I tried
every way, and I discovered ways of changing the style of the bodice, but
unfortunately not the way I can handle and needed from me. I was
taught to sew darts ending at the normal human waist (high waist line).
I became very frustrated, and I began to
change the whole design, together with the pattern to the one required from
me. I prepared the design on fabric to be ready to sew next
morning at the pattern class. I slept that evening at 3a.m very tired
and very frustrated. The only thing that was going on in my head was darts…
darts…. Darts…DARTS!!!!. Oh, I spend the last two days obsessing with
I was proud to show her my drawings.
I showed her my initial illustration, and explained why I changed it.
She told me that to execute and plan the pattern for the garment at my level
is to read the style and all the little details of it correctly. At
this point there are limitations to what I can do, and these limitations
will recede as I go through the curriculum. Well, it took the hell out
of me in the last two days to certainly know that!
She did not like the zigzag darts. She
told me that they will never work. But I was stubborn. But, what the
heck? as long as the fabric is cut, why not try them? I began to sew one of
them, at least to try. She agreed as long as it was only one, not to
waste the whole lesson. I started, and believe me to manipulate the
machine at those tight corners was very hard. It was my 4th time at the
machine. It took me around half an hour at it.
My pattern tutor tried to open them out,
cutting the darts loose at their back, but in no vain. They looked
like no darts, but looked like festoons with knobs in its midst. I thought
to myself they looked great if I tried developing them more, but they
weren't stable enough. I think I might work on the idea maybe later at home,
in my spare time. However, this was not what my tutor hoped for.
I changed the design into wavy darts, and had not time to sew them at that
My disappointment was very much. What I
ended with was nothing like what I intended to do. If anything I learned, is
to not be very creative and stubborn. I should follow the experience of my
Today, I began sewing those wavy darts.
And what an experience that was. I do not recommend it for anyone who is a
novice at sewing. I sew 6 darts the whole 3 hour lesson. Going the wavy
line recommends very precise and delicate movement of the fabric. Lose
the concentration, or too slow to move the fabric, and the sewing shoots
away from the dart. I had to remove the thread and start all over
again, only to discover that the ends of the darts that I have to sew do not
reside on each other properly. That means doing it all over again. Not
mentioning the clenching of the machine.
Eventually I began to get frustrated and
tired. Instead of redoing the whole dart again (because I was fed up
from removing the thread from the fabric), I cheated a little, and just redo
the sewing at the troubled part. Believe me, it did not look nice at all,
and it stood out even more noticeable where the sewing lines changed, more
than if it had not been corrected. The neck line fell into a complete
chaos since the darts began at it, but the tutor told me that will be
corrected by adding the facing.
Well as I finished the sewing, I pitied
the fabric. It looked very tatty…
I finished sewing the rest of my project.
I was happy that it finished in peace, before it got me mad. Yes,
I was disappointed that it did not look at all as it was planned for it to
be, but the back looked great. That was the only thing left from the
original design. Adding the facing improved the look of it.
However, the wavy darts looked very chaotic, but at least they were wavy. It
fitted well on me. Oh, there was one little mistake, one of the
shoulder slings was twisted!! I was too tired, as was my tutor, to
correct it. I will do it at home later (perhaps another bodice de novo),
once I think my sewing had upgraded a little, and once I buy the sewing
I had a very long sleep that night, without
obsessing at the darts…
Note from Pauline My sincere thanks to Vivian Mikhail for her
account to date of her fashion design experience. This account is Viv's
personal description of her course and feelings of excitement, jubilation and despair
to date. Viv forms part of Fashion-era.com's new section where
Visitor's contribute to the fashion-era site. This is the second account is of
the first weeks of the Autumn 2004 session.
Dart Manipulation is initially a complex
subject. It's only after you have mastered it and can do it you
wonder why it was ever difficult! Your tutor would have known by
looking at your idea that it might go awry. Still we learn some of our
best lessons not by what works, but by what does not work. I think you
have had the added stress of also operating the sewing machine which has
been a big hurdle to master. It's all very well for those of us who can sew
already. Most of us will have forgotten how terrifying it can be when
the machine just seems to run away with itself.
My advice is for you to keep using the
machine so that you master it, rather than it master you. That was the
reason I decided to learn how to use both the PC and a computerised knitting
machine Vivian. I liked much better the idea of having an element of control
over both machines rather than either of them terrifying me. After all,
if others can master complex hardware, so with time and effort can any of
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