Finally, after a long break, I commenced my
design class. This was my second design lesson. I showed my tutor
what I did at home. I was embarrassed, because they were very few
sketches despite the long break, but she was very sweet and understanding,
as I explained why I did so few.
In fact, I dressed two of the models in
suits that I designed, and showed her that too. They were in pencil
sketches, and the erect body gave them a very a school-mistress look.
Maybe I wanted to show her some of my art capabilities. She stared
at them a little, and gave me a compliment, and told me not to hurry.
She looked at the sketches, and she told me that they were an improvement
from the first lesson.
I began to draw other models, back and
forth, with a little movement, but still in the grid. First I had
to draw a kind of inner skeleton to show the axis of movement involving the
trunk (chest, tummy, and pelvis) the head, the neck and the limbs to get the
sense of movement of the figure.
Then I drew another sketch of the figure
without the axis, but with the same sense of all body movements.
The latter was the harder part, especially if I am trying to get the right
proportions and the right symmetry all at once. To ease matters for
myself, I kept drawing the axis, and afterwards I sketched the figure on
top. I then rubbed the internal axis off. She told me not to do
that, because too much rubbing will affect the shading. So I have to
get used to drawing the figure without the axis.
She corrected my drawings. They
looked fuller, and the waist area was not good too. She told me this
was the most important part of the figure. If I got draw this area
right, then automatically, the rest of the body will fit onto it. She
recommended me to start always at this part. This was good, because I
always hesitated from where to start.
When the figure of the model moved, all the
body landmarks that were used to mark the proportions at the grid (like the
bust line, the waist, the groin, the elbows etc), changed, and that was also
confusing to me. My tutor kept mimicking the posture of the model,
and explaining what was going on especially at the elbows, knees, and ankles.
That means what goes up and what goes down. This was because when I drew the
figures, I had everything out of bounds. I learned a great deal today,
and no matter what I thought I knew seemed trivial compared to my
I practiced at home what I did in the last
design lesson in the past week. My design tutor told me it was an
improvement than before, despite some of my full figures. I began
to have a grip on how the body changed when it moved, but sometimes I lost
that sense when it came to drawing it. There were few instances when I
drew the waist, the groin and the bust lines at their places at the grid, as
they were in the erect position, and the rest of the body showed the
movement of the model. That made my model too full, elongated and statue
like (unreal). My tutor corrected that, and told me these landmarks
also moved when the body moved, just like the elbows, the shoulders and the
knees. For instance, a square in the grid might contain both the waist
and the bust line, if the model was bending her back. I repeated some
of the corrected ones, and that was some what disappointing to start with.
When I finished, they looked more realistic. Well, that was a
repetition from last lesson. I do not know how it escaped my mind when
I was drawing these figures at home!!
Afterwards, I started towards my next
step, which was taking the grid off and drawing without it. I was
taught to replace it with a central longitudinal line showing the intervals
of the grid. This line was to help me mark the balance of the figure,
the proportions, and the symmetry. This was a more difficult
transition, but it showed the figure better than the obscuring crossed grid
Today was very frustrating to me….. Every
time I drew a model, my tutor corrected it. Correcting it meant a
total change in the way it looked. I still drew moving female bodies
with that central line. In fact I spent the whole two lessons drawing three
models. All the rest of the students seemed doing O.K. and I seemed to
be the one lagging behind. Even the ones I thought couldn't draw,
began to master the technique faster than I did. I thought I will do better
than that. I don't know what was wrong in me. Surely, I
developed a lot in my drawing style than when I first began, but I was
slower than what I had anticipated at the beginning of my study.
I thought talent will be an additive at
learning design. I seemed to be stuck onto doing the same mistakes
repeatedly, and sometimes my old drawing habits lurked out again.
I thought to myself maybe if I hadn't a talent or some background experience
at drawing I might have been better.
After the lesson had ended, I went to the
faculty of fine arts, to ask about the courses they give for amateurs.
I saw their advert earlier on. I found out that the courses they will
give were very similar to my design course. I thought I needed more
supervised practice, and what I did at home alone was not good enough.
However, the course will be three lessons a week, 3 hrs/lesson, and will
consume most of my free evenings. I will have no time in doing my
pattern homework if I did take them… Let me give the design more time, and
decide later if I will really need to take these lessons…...
I decided not to practice the design, and
to tackle my problem from a very different point of view. This was how I
was taught to solve problems from my medicine years. I had spoken
about my difficulty with my design tutor, and she was very enthusiastic to
help me. She recommended that I should practice at home as she used to
practice with moving models in her art school.
However, my moving models will be singers,
dancers, and models at catwalks over the TV. I will pause the picture
and scribble on paper the axis of their movements, and do quick sketches
of their bodies. Then later on, take another step, and draw the whole
body, noticing the movement, the proportions, the symmetry, and all the
little details of the body. I did some of that in the evening, and it
was fun and more interesting, and perhaps I will do it next week, before my
next design lesson...
I practiced the whole week the way my
design tutor had suggested, and she was right. I drew a couple of
models to her with the central line, and she told me they were a great
improvement. At last my waist area was corrected, and that meant
there was an automatic correction of the legs. But I kept widening the bust
area, and that meant a long neck, a big head, and big arms. However, I
drew faster, and more at ease. I even showed her another 2 designs
that I drew at home, to be published in here. They had no central
line. That practice that I had, had made the proportions and the
curves of the moving female figure be stamped in my head. They had few
corrections, but I was on the right track. I will repeat these
designs, and colour them, and hopefully they will be shown very soon! (if
there were no corrections from my design tutor)
Today it was better than my last design
lesson, but I was still lagging behind. Never mind the others,
concentrate on myself, I thought. I was just eager to see myself
drawing as a professional fashion designer, and that what made me very
depressed at my slow pace at learning how to draw.
In the past month in my pattern course I
learned all about darts and its manipulations. It was like an art and
craft lesson. I manipulated the darts in the basic bodice pattern to
show darts starting from the waist, the shoulder, the centre front and the
side seam. I even knew how to merge darts into one dart, and how to
split one dart into several places and types. I knew as well how to
produce parallel darts and radiating darts. I also learned how to do
diagonal darts which started from one corner of the garment to another, and
darts rising from other darts! I did too gatherings and pleats from darts.
I found out how darts can create wonders
to a garment, and how it can change the style too. I learned how
to camouflage the darts at the back into the centre back seam, so that the
garments take the shape of the body without the back darts showing.
With an imagination, darts can be a very intriguing thing.
However, I fell in a very common mistake,
when I did my first sample of the bodice with the darts... All the darts at
the front of the garment has to be based at the bust apex, and if the latter
is measured wrong then the bodice with the darts will never fit correctly.
I measured it narrower than my real size, and the dart constricted at the
bust giving the illusion that the garment is tight. No matter how much
ease allowance is added this problem will never be corrected. I
corrected that one in the pattern after measuring right the bust apex's
distance and length, and luckily I noticed this mistake in my fist sample,
before I did both projects.
I sewed the project for the month of
November, and did other some samples too. Sewing straighter lines
was smoother than sewing those wavy darts, and thanks to the latter, sewing
everything else was comparatively easier.
I became very confident with the sewing
machine, and tackled all of its problems. There was no clenching
except when I first learned how to attach the zipper. Unfortunately,
my first attempt at the zipper was in my November project, and it looked a
little nasty, but the whole thing was way better than my first project.
My next attempt at the zipper was better. I also was taught how to
install the part which carried the buttons in blouses, and keyhole buttons
at the back.
Another good thing is that my pattern
tutor gave me freedom to design the samples, as long as it carried the
basic idea in her mind. I was eager to do different styles, but under
her complete supervision, so that the samples do not turn to be challenging
as my first project.
My sewing had improved a lot, and I do not
fear the sewing machine anymore... I started a note book to jot down her
comments, and explained in it how I tackled the sewing of every garment I
did, because I kept forgetting some details. Mistakes in sewing can be
costly and time consuming to correct….
As for the pattern itself, I began to feel
it easier than before. My tutor follows a way by which she gives me a
sample, and asks me to solve it and try to draw its pattern, in a small
scale. With imagination, but following the basic rules of the
darts, most of it is solved. She explains it with me afterwards, and
then I make a real size sample. I like this method of teaching,
because it is similar to puzzle solving, rather than opening a book and
copying the pattern straight out of it. This will help me in my design
future. The irony is that it is a bit like practicing internal
medicine. A patient comes with symptoms and signs, and the doctor has
to solve the problem, unlike surgery; open-see-remove-close!!!
Darts are over, and hopefully next week I
will commence with the collars. I am surprised that I am doing
better in my pattern course than in my design course. How strange and
Merry X-MAS to you all and I wish you a
very happy new year…..
It is Christmas season, and I am in my happy
mood. I was busy the past week in doing Christmas shopping, and
Christmas preparations at home. The weather too is rainy and thundery,
and this climate gives me an upbeat through the Christmas season. In
Egypt, we consider a rainy Christmas, and a rainy New Year's Eve a good omen
for the forthcoming New Year. Just as in the belief of 'White
I did not practice at all for design,
except that I coloured my designs that I did last week. I showed them
to my design tutor, but she told me that pantone colours will show a better
effect than the pencil colours I used. She helped me with the
shadings too. I shaded faintly, but she told me that they needed
blacker and darker shades to allow for the contrasts and layering of the
fabric to stand out. She told me not to be scared about it, and this
was a very common mistake for starters. The deeper the shading, the
more the drawing will stand out, and become more realistic.
My pattern tutor saw my design, and liked
it, and thought they were straight out of catalogues, but I told her
that they were of my own imagination. However my humble drawings were
nothing like the ones of my design tutor. She showed us a few of her
designs with Pantone colours, and there were ones which were pencil
sketches, and others combining pantone and pencil. They looked very
real…. She told me to be patient, and soon I will learn how to draw like
Well I began drawing, and concentrating
hard at getting the models right. I still drew with that central
grid line, but I did not draw with an inner skeleton to define the movement
of the body of the model. I put all my tutor's comments, suggestions
and corrections into the drawing. It also took me a whole half an hour
to complete, and this was relatively quicker than my previous drawings.
I do not know why I felt confident and more at ease. Maybe it was the
Christmas season, and maybe it was the practice I did in the week before.
When I finished, the model looked very
good to me, and to my surprise my design tutor like it too. Other than
the relatively large head, everything was in the same proportions as the
original sketch, and the balance and the movement of the body were O.K. too.
She told me to draw the next one. With so much confidence I finished that
one too quickly, but taking into account to concentrate on the head as well.
S he was amazed that I did it right, and found nothing in it to be
corrected. Her positive attitude gave me a burst of self confidence,
which had been down for the previous few lessons.
She showed me how to shade those using
pencils and mixing pens. She showed me how to hold the pencil, and
how and where to shade. She advised me to try shading at home with
different pencil leads (2H,4H,6H,HB,2B,6B), to get used to the different
intensities of shading. I shaded one figure, and I used the pencil
sparingly, that it darkened the model.
She liked it so much, and she told me that
I brought up beautifully some details in the figure like the neck, the
pelvic bones, and the shoulders. This was because of too main
reasons. The first reason was my knowledge of the human body anatomy from my
medical profession .(Anatomy also helped me greatly in comprehending body
movements and body proportions, and its balance at drawing moving female
bodies, although drawing this right was a completely different issue, and I
realized this in the past few weeks). The other reason for my good shading
is that I used to draw and shade with pencil, and pencil colours. .. .
I shaded another couple of figures, but in
a lighter intensity, and my design tutor liked it too. I was thrilled today
of my tremendous improvement. Finally, I knew where I went wrong. I
sat in the evening redrawing all the figures I did before, and I will shade
them later on.
I still do not know why my sudden
improvement. Now I am on track with the others. It must have
been my lucky day today…..
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 third account
and is of the last weeks of the first Autumn 2004 session.
It sounds like you have a great and
understanding tutor who wants to lead you to a specific way of drawing
figures. She is probably thrilled to have so responsive a student.
The sketching of TV models is great idea and your natural talent and medical
understanding of human anatomy will stand you in great stead.
I'm so glad that that the sewing skills are
improving. The more you use the machine the happier and more
comfortable you will be when sewing. Soon you will be mentally
visualising how to construct garments when you are not even at the machine.
You will be mentally thinking of dart manipulation when you see a garment
you like that graces a shop window, knowing how you can slash and spread
pattern pieces to get that effect. Later on you will be able to
achieve almost any effect you can see in your mind when you learn to pattern
make on the model/dress form or dress stand and combine the two methods.
Your pattern/construction tutor has taken an
approach that can work very well. For example when I was taught to
tailor it was suggested we buy a good quality jacket or coat from a thrift
shop and unpick it to see how it was constructed. I recall buying an
old fashioned British warm coat and inside it had a label inside that said
Buckingham Palace Road and a little chain hanging loop and a secret inside
pocket. It must have been at least 50 years old. I was loathe to
unpick it, but it was worth seeing the inside which was a work of
reinforcement tailoring art.
The shoulder and various edges were full of
interesting canvas and layered padding, tape and reinforcement areas that
helped me absorb concepts about tailoring that are better seen on the inside
of a garment like that one, than in pictures in a book.
As for lucky day Vivian - luck makes itself
with the sheer hard work you have put in combined with your natural ability.
Hmmmmmm... it is odd how the harder and more diligently we work, the luckier
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