Organize your Fabrics!

Guest Blog: Cochenille Garment Designer user, Chris Van Der Maas,

Chris shares her recent experience in organizing her fabric stash!

Finally!

For years I have been organizing and re-organizing, trying to find that perfect method that will take up less space, I can see what I have, and I can keep it organized.

Well, recently I stumbled across an organizing video that had all kinds of good organizing ideas. This was a video shared by Brother Brand Ambassador Angela Wolf and Brother Educators Jerry Granata, Kim Montagnese, Jennifer Gleich, Louis Carney, and Barb Mikolajczyk. They discussed their organizing tips.

https://fb.me/e/a6xh8C9DY

The one idea that spoke to me the most was a quilter’s method for folding quilting fabric (I do both, quilting and garment sewing). Given that I have both types of fabric (buying fabric is a sickness I think!), I just needed to start the folding and the outcome resulted in elimination of about 18 storage tubs.

This is just one photo of the eliminated tubs!

I couldn’t be more pleased; the only regret is I didn’t take ‘before’ photos.

This is my garment fabric, folded and labeled.
This is a bookcase I had after I purged some of my books so I thought I would utilize it for quilting fabric storage. Some of the fabrics are bundled and tied with a ribbon for complete quilts.

My New Year’s resolution was to purge and organize and to only buy fabric when an additional piece is needed to complete something else. So now I go to my stash and in the process of organizing and folding I found fabric that I had forgotten about.

Win-win!!

Chris belongs to the CCC-Creative Clothing Club and the Port Huron Sewing Guild which is part of the Detroit Chapter. When Chris was 18, her sister taught her to sew ‘over the phone’. Chris wanted to make a flannel robe and night gown for her daughter and she didn’t want to wait until they got together again. She has been sewing ever since.

Mistakes in Design and How to Fix Them

One of my favorite things to do, is to recreate a favorite garment that I’ve purchased and worn to the point it is showing its age. I’m generally pretty good at doing it, but every now and then, I have an ‘oops’. Of course, I recently did this

Here is a dress that I purchased in Italy several years ago. It is a bit funky, and super comfortable to wear. It is a great travel dress, because it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are with your eating, it hides everything.

Inspiration Garment
This is the inspiration garment from Siena, Italy

So, several months ago, I decided it was time to recreate it, and thus I measured it, created a schematic, and then began to build the pattern in Garment Designer.

Here is the pattern.

Garment Designer Pattern. The front skirt was cut once and the back was cut X3. Note the slight difference in cut. The extra back panels straddle the side seam of the body.

Now… here is where my mistake came in.

The original dress was made out of a cotton jersey knit. I decided to use a spandex/synthetic blend for the new garment, and it was a heavier weight. It was a woven fabric, but definitely had stretch in it. 

The mistake? The amount of stretch in the new garment should match the amount of stretch in the old garment if you want it to fit the same. I KNOW this, and yet, I walked down that path.

I sewed up the bodice and decided to self-line it. So, there were lots of seams, etc., and it looked great. Then, I tried it on… OOPS… the sleeves were too tight… could barely get my arm into them.

And so, my weak spot has been identified. I don’t like fixing mistakes. It is too much like alterations. I had enough of alterations many years ago, when I took in all kinds of alterations so I could save up enough money to go to Australia and New Zealand.  I managed that for my husband and I, and even though I learned a tremendous amount about how clothing is put together, I really was ‘over’ the alteration phase.

So, I set the garment aside… for months… figuring it would come to me.  And, yes, finally, I got tired of looking at the dress sitting in a bag waiting for my attention.  The solution was really quite simple. I found a piece of stretch knit (with lots of spandex) and I inserted a wedge into the underarm area. Of course, I needed to find a way to tie that new fabric into the rest of the garment so I added a trim to the neckline.

Inserting a piece of super-stretch knit in the underarm and then adding a trim of the same fabric to the neckline to make it look like it was intentional all along. Whewww…No one need ever know.

Now my dress is done, and of course, I have not wear to wear it, given that we are still in lock-down. But I’m happy with the result.

I am a big believer that our mistakes force us down more creative paths, and so I generally embrace them. I still can’t believe I didn’t actually do a comparative stretch of the two fabrics. I should know better. But sometimes we need to remind ourselves of something that should be so basic. I’ll just call this my ‘couture touch’ to a basic dress. See the final dress below.

The final dress with its ‘couture touch’.

Adinkra Cloth Inspired Fashion with Garment Designer

One of my most recent projects was to design both fabric and garment with an Adinkra influence. The Adinkra is a hand-printed cloth created by the Ashanti in Ghana, Africa. The Adinkra cloths were traditionally made for royalty and religious purposes. The motifs in the cloth communicate meaning. Most of the cloth is white with a black print, but red cloth can also be used.

I have a lot of images of Adinkra textiles on my Pinterest page which can be found here on my African Textile page.

I decided to design an original print in the Adinkra style using black motifs from their alphabet.

Examples of Adinkra symbols

 I created the design in Illustrator and tried two options, black/red on white and brown on gold.

Experiments in color

Then, an upload to Spoonflower.. and wait for the fabric to arrive.

Meanwhile, on to Garment Designer to create the sewing pattern. I am a fan of asymmetry, and thus chose to create a two-piece dress with a slightly raised waistline that runs on an angle.

I added a pocket as you can see below.

Garment Designer Pattern

And, the final dress.

Finished Dress

Here are a few references should you want to learn more about Adinkra cloth.

Pocket Design

Here are a few resources

https://www.pbs.org/wonders/Kids/cloth/cloth.htm

https://www.thoughtco.com/origin-and-meaning-of-adinkra-symbols-4058700

https://africa.si.edu/exhibits/inscribing/adinkra.html

Garment Designer Top: African Influence

Recently, I oversaw a project at Mesa College in San Diego, which involved a partnership between our Fashion students, the Mesa African Art collection, and Visions Art Museum in San Diego Liberty Station.

There were several aspects to the project, but the final activity was a fashion show featuring African-influenced clothing. Many of the garments came from my Textile Design students in my Fall semester class. I decided that I too needed to get involved, and so embarked on two different design projects. In this blog, I’ll share the first with you.

My source of inspiration was a piece of carved wood. Sad to say, I don’t know future details, only that I took the photo while we were visiting the artifact collection.

Since the original wood piece was rounded, I had to use Photoshop to straighten it out a bit.

Photo of Inspiration: from a piece of carved wood

I wanted the garment to be relatively simple, free of internal structural lines, so that the wood imagery would be seen as it was designed.

Below is the pattern I settled on. This was taken from a top I own that I purchased in Japan.

The pattern created in Garment Designer pattern software

In Garment Designer, I set the page size to be the size of the pattern, and then saved the pattern as a PDF.

Then.. on to Photoshop.

There I opened the large pattern pieces (each on a separate page), and I brought them together into one document. The width of this document was set up to the width of the fabric I wanted to print on (which was a polyester chiffon, 58” wide).

Pattern pieces laid into Photoshop

Working between the imagery document and the Garment Designer pattern document, I used Selection tools, and copy/paste to bring the images in.  I orchestrated a border effect on the bottom and stretched the imagery to fill the space above. You can see the results below.

Garment Designer pattern in Photoshop, with the imagery engineered into place

Once I had the layout ready, I threw in some variations of the pattern off to the side of each pattern piece, so I would have fabric to trim the neckline and armholes during the sewing process.

Extra imagery is added to the file to provide trim fabric

The next step was to upload to Spoonflower in North Carolina.

The order process on Spoonflower, digital printing of fabric

And then to wait until the fabric arrived, which of course was only a few days before the fashion show… so time to sew!!

One of the beautiful things about engineered design, is that you don’t ever print a paper pattern. Instead, your fabric arrives with the garment piece all laid out and ready to cut. Here is my fabric just before cutting.

Fabric ready to be cut. Note how similar this is to a cookie cutter approach!

I used some of the trim areas to make the binding for the neckline and armholes. These were cut on the bias and applied to finish the edges. The most challenging part of the construction was sewing chiffon on a bias grain. I simply serged the edge, pressed it under and top stitched it in place, attempting to have minimal handling.

The garment was complete, and ready for the show.

See how the back cut is different from the front.
The final garment, yea!

I only have one shot from the show, a rear-view, but as you can see, it was modelled.

Garment being modeled at the Fashion Show at Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA

So, another ‘done’ project. I love to have a motivator (such as a fashion show) which gives me the reason to move ‘To Do’ items up the list of priorities.

And I course, I love Garment Designer. It is such a creative tool; I can do most anything with it and in very short order, and of course, because it knows my body measurements, I never have to alter. Can life get any better?

Theme: Overlay by Kaira © Cochenille Design Studio 2019