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?

Up-Cycling and Creativity with Fashion and Garment Designer

Up-Cycling: From Sweatshirts to Fashion – Getting Sustainable

As we all know, the movement for a sustainable world plays a growing importance in our day to day life. As a result, I’m becoming more aware of what I keep, and how I dispose of my used clothing. It takes a conscious decision to be an activist in sustainability, and one way to make it fun, is to challenge your creativity when it comes to designing clothing.

One of my current pet projects is to take a sweatshirt and see how I can transform it into something new and different.  There are so many approaches to this type of rework, that I know I will never run out of inspiration. My favorite go-to for ideas is Pinterest. Check out my board called Upcycled Sweatshirts and T’s.

I’d like to share a recent project with you. Generally, I like to start by pulling together my ‘ingredients’. Of course, the sweatshirt is the base, but I have fun gathering ‘ideas’ to use in conjunction with it. I like to mix my crafts; a little knitting, some stitching, and so on. Throw in a pair of denim jeans you plan to cut up, and away you go!


My concept for this project was to create a dress. I planned to add some knitting, stitching and sewn parts such as the skirt. My general plan was to cut the sweatshirt at the empire line and use the lower part to build a tall stand-up collar. I like to position things in place on my dress form, moving the parts around, try this, try that, and so on.

Getting an idea..

To get started I needed to establish the empire line which would become my cutting line. I used a piece of yarn to sort out the division line, and then, I cut the bottom of the sweatshirt away.

Establishing the line for cutting

This is the point that I get Garment Designer involved. I go to the software and utilizing some of the existing measurements of the garment (e.g. the width at the underarm and shoulders), I build a pattern with a new neckline and the correct garment length. Then I added an ‘edging’ in the software to create a flared skirt and I built a tall stand up collar.

My pattern in Garment Designer

Pattern pieces were then printed, and I cut out my neckline, chopped off the bottom of the sleeves, and cut out fabric for the skirt.

Using my Garment Designer pattern to cut out the neckline
Find yarn
My yarn

I had decided to add a yarn insert to the collar, so off to my yarn stash I went.  Then, I test swatched a mohair yarn, and knit a rectangular insert that I later sewed into the polar fleece cut collar.

At the sewing machine, I added a denim eyelet tape to the center front of the garment.

Then I attached the collar, and tested the skirt by pinning it in place.

Checking out the Skirt

Back to knitting… I knit up the lower portion of sleeves and sewed them to the sweatshirt sleeve. I had decided to add a pocket to the garment and utilized the blue jean pocket for this by simply cutting it out and placing it on the garment. Ultimately, I will add buttonholes to the pocket and button it in place on the garment.

Getting ready to cut out the pocket
Almost done

Now, on to the trims. This is where experimentation became. I took little pieces of denim and stitched various patterns on them as I explored stitches on my Brother sewing machine. I let the serger tails remain, and notice how I have been using a heavier denim-like thread in my loopers. I also crocheted a flower out of yarn.

Components; a mixture of stitching, knitting, and embroidery

I created a brooch-like composite of the various parts, and will have this be removable.

And now.. the final dress.

The finished project!

I really felt my creativity flow while making this project. And the bonus is, I recycled a garment and used up other parts of my stash. I will be teaching classes on this technique in the future. The first will take place at Stitches United in Hartford, CT. Join me in being sustainable, either by taking a class, or challenge yourself at home. This garment will be in the

Check out Garment Designer on our website. It is such a capable tool for creative design.

~~~ Susan Lazear

Have a Crafty Halloween!


Cochenille would like to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! We hope that you were able to use our software to create some spooktacular projects!

If you would like to share any of your Halloween projects that you made using our software, please feel free to submit them to to be featured on our Creative With Cochenille blog!

This Halloween I will be looking forward to sewing up a Harry Potter robe pattern I made using Garment Designer as I await trick-or-treaters!For our digital “treat” please feel free to download the Stitch Painter file or .pdf of Frankenstein’s monster made using the Full Color Import module!

Frankie Stitch Painter File

Frankie PDF

As for “tricks”, here is how I made the Stitch Painter file….

I took the image into photoshop and viewed the file size information so that I would know how to setup my document in Stitch Painter. My image was 9″ x 9″, so I knew when I went into Stitch Painter I could use a 100 x 100 unit sized document and the proportions wouldn’t be skewed since the ratios were the same.

I then changed some of my contrast settings and colorized the image in Photoshop:

Then it was as simple as selecting the image in Photoshop and copying it to my clipboard (Keyboard shortcut on mac: Cmd + C)

I then opened a new 100×100 Unit document in Stitch Painter and made sure my grid size was an even proportion (I chose 9 x 9)

Using the Full Color Import Module, I selected my entire document (100x100units) and pasted the image (Keyboard shortcut on Mac: Cmd + V)

Then I clicked and held over the live selection and chose how many colors I wanted to reduce it to. I tried various selections and reduction algorithms to see which one I liked best. 

The great thing about the Full Color Import module, is that I can clean up my palette to make it easier to start reducing my colors even more.

A useful Stitch Painter trick for reducing colors is to find where a color is used in a document by clicking on it in the Palette panel to select it, and then pressing and holding the ʻfʼ key on the keyboard. The chosen color will flash on the screen as long as the ʻfʼ key is held down(picture below). One can then find colors near the value of the previously flashing palette swatch by using the eyedropper tool.

To combine the two colors click on the first color, then press and hold down the Cmd Key (Mac) or Ctrl key (Windows) while you drag the first color over the second color in the palette. The First color selected will then become the second color.

Stitch Painter also allows the combination of two color selections to create a new averaged color. Simply click on the first color, press and hold down the Cmd + Opt key (Mac) or the Ctrl + Alt (Windows) as you drag the first color over the second color in the palette.

I reduced the colors in my image to a more manageable amount of colors. If I didn’t like how a combination turned out, I just undid my previous action and tried a new color combination (Cmd + Z on Mac or Edit > Undo)

Thank you for Trick or Treating with us today! We look forward to seeing your Halloween projects!




Have Happy 4th of July! Free Captain America Shield Gridded Design

We at Cochenille Design Studio hope that everyone is enjoying their 4th of July! Please feel free 😉 to download the Captain America Shield Cross-Stitch Pattern made using Cochenille Design Studio’s Stitch Painter software with the FCI Plug-in.

.PDF files are at the end of the post. Here is a quick overview of how I made it:

I found the logo using a google image search from

Then I opened it up in Preview and copied it into my clipboard

Opened up a new Stitch Painter Document and set my document size as 100 x 100 (file > Set Document Size).

Set my Grid Size to 10 x 10 (Layout > Grid)

Used my Marquee Tool and selected 80×80

Then pasted my image (cmd+v on mac) into Stitch Painter, Clicked and held down on the image until my Full Color Import options showed ( I chose 4 colors)

I then combined a few stray colors and cleaned up my palette.

If you want Color 1 to become Color 2, you will click on the first color, then press and hold down the Cmd Key (Mac) or Ctrl key (Windows) while you drag the first color over the second color in the palette.

Then I had the gridded design that I will be using for a Cross-Stitch pattern.

No grid view option:I saved a few .pdf versions and included them below. Have a Happy 4th of July!

Captain America Shield – Color

Captain America Shield Full Size

Captain America Shield-Symbols

Stitch Painter file:

Captain America Shield.stch







Anything but Goring: Using the Gored Skirt Style in Garment Designer

All the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining outside in sunny San Diego today and I cannot seem to stop wearing winter colors. Time to put a spring in my step and make something bright and summery!

After I snooped around on Fashion Snoops (as one does) I came across just the right inspiration: Vermillion Sands…

Fashion Snoops is a fashion trend forecasting service that provided oodles of inspiration for creatives.

‘The retro-fantastic look captures optimism and an air of cool prep. Jacquards, punchy petals and stylized shapes leverage a lively color palette, while midi silhouettes speak to a retro flavor. This postcard from paradise is comes at a perfect time, offering bright nostalgia before the political and cultural moment we’re in.’

I obviously couldn’t pass up the color pallette. I usually wear bland colors day-to-day so when I make something myself, I want it to be bright!

Skirts are always easy and breezy with Garment Designer so I’m choosing to follow some forecasted trend details for Spring Summer 2018 and make my own take on a pleated skirt.

Now I have a pretty hefty amount of bright colors to choose from in my fabric stash, because I love to buy them for all those projects I don’t get around to making…sigh

I have striped bright yellow organza that was given to me by a friend and a couple remnants from past projects. Since I cant choose which one to be the underlay…why not just do both!?

First I’m going to pattern the overlay which I plan on pleating. I want to do the overlay first so that once I make the pattern I can measure the hem length and see how full my gores need to be for the underlay.

When I go to Garment Designer I decide to use a shape instead of skirt option…why? Because I’m basically just gathering a rectangle for the skirt so I can keep my stripes perpendicular to the floor without any of that chevroning at the side seams business.

I have a lot of the yellow fabric so I decided I’m going to gather or pleat it at a 3:1 ratio to make it full.

I take my waist and multiply it by 3 to get 81″ for the width. I want my skirt length to be 28″ from my waist with a 1″ hem.

Width= 81″+.75″ (seam allowance)= 81.75″

Length= 28″+1″+ 3/8 (waist seam allowance) = 29.375″

Simple enough… l’ll be cutting this on the fold.

I’m not going to worry about printing this out since I can just cut a rectangle without a pattern but I want to save it for future reference so I know the measurements I used for this skirt.

Now that i know my hem length is going to be 81″ finished I’m going to start a gored skirt pattern…

I set my bottom length to 27 (Options > Bottom Length)

I start fitting my waist by measuring what it is currently by selecting the waist points and multiplying by 8

3.66 x 8 = 29.28

So I have some adjusting to do… I want the gored waistline piece to be 3.375 (27/8) total.

I’m going to do this by selecting the outer waistline points and nudging them in with my keyboard arrows equally from both sides until I get close enough to 3.375.

I like to zoom in when I’m making small nudges so that Garment Designer will make the nudges in smaller increments

Now I’m going to make the hemline add up to 81″ total

81″/8= 10.125

Now my Information and Recommendations is giving me a warning (lower right part of screen, see Appendix E in the manual) but I’m going to ignore it since I still have some things to adjust which should fix the angles that are off.

I kept the angles from the top two waist line points and just adjusted the bezier curves coming from the hip points to smooth out the seam lines and it fixed my error message.

Now to adjust the hem I just took the center point and nudged it down until I could see that my side seam angles were closer to 90 degrees. I do this so that when I sew the seams together they don’t make a point.

By doing this I made a ‘point’ down the center, but I just know that when I cut this out I’m going to make sure I make it a rounded hem (see below).


I made the mistake of not exploring all of my option on Garment Designer *sigh*

I had left my ‘Skirt Style’ option at the default setting ‘fitted’ when there was a ‘fit and flare’ option that could have saved me time! Lesson learned…look through all the dropdown menus and exlpore all your options before starting a pattern!

*end of update*

Then I add my 1″ Hem (Additions> Add hem or Cmd+H on mac)

…the I add my seam allowances to everything but my hem (Additions> Custom Seam Allowance 3/8″) and get ready to print.

These are just my preferences for printing…

I turn my grid on (Display > Show Grid)

Turn off my dimensions ((Display > Show Dimensions or Cmd+U on mac)

Show only the pattern (Display > Show Pattern)

Display my final pattern (Display > Final Pattern or Cmd+7 on mac)

Scale it to actual size (Display > Scale to> Actual size or Cmd+1 on mac)

Then I can hide my overlay shape by selecting the rectangle and hitting ‘H’ for hide

and view my print preview to see if I am wasting any paper (Display > Print Preview)

I like to change my Page Setup between landscape and portrait at this point to see which one will be more efficient and in this case it is portrait. I will only print out pages 1-4 and 5-7.

After printing my pattern out I like to use a glue stick to put the pieces together. Once again this is just my personal preference…

Then I like to mount it to manilla pattern paper so that I can cut out my notches and trace it onto my fabric. 

Side note: I also tried using my new elastic serger foot to serge on some horsehair braid onto the hem of the skirt, which kept it at a consistent tension with less fuss. Needless to say I will be using this foot on future projects now that I know how simple it is!

I also think I could have gathered the skirt a bit more….maybe at a 4:1 ratio if I wanted it to be fuller as the fabric was pretty thin and gathered easily.

Now I know I won’t have a top in my wardrobe to match this skirt so back onto Garment Designer I go….

I want my top to be off the shoulder and full of ruffles so the “straps” of the pattern I’m just going to ignore when I go to sew.

After I printed out the 1st pattern I made a quick sample out of spare fabric then fit it to my body. I then edited my pattern on Garment Designer to save the adjustments and printed out the second pattern which I used for the top.

and after a bit of sewing…the tutti frutti fruits of my labor!

Thank you for reading about my project. We love to see what our users create using our software so please feel free to email us any of your Garment Designer projects at!

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