Cochenille Design Studio

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

Tracing a Garment Designer Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

Tracing a Garment Designer Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

Hello All!

We’ve created a short video showing how to move a Garment Designer .PDF into Adobe Illustrator for those users who use both programs and wish to create a vector file from a Garment Designer pattern.

As you may know Garment Designer only saves Garment Designer files and .pdfs of the patterns. Sometimes you may want a vector file of your Garment Pattern for whatever reason and if you have access to Adobe Illustrator and some background Illustrator knowledge, we can show you the simplest way we’ve found to do this. Below is our video where we show you how we accomplished this, essentially we just trace the existing Garment Designer pattern.

If you have done something similar to this, please let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below or by contacting We’d love to hear from you.




Happy Hogwarts Halloween

Creative With Cochenille

Garment Designer Hogwarts Robe

Hello All,

We hope that you have been busy crafting your homemade Halloween costumes this October. Fall is always a great time for sewing projects. Between Halloween and preparing for the holidays, it is a great time to tackle those projects you have put off, the costumes for halloween festivities or to start on those handmade holiday gifts for your loved ones.

Since Halloween is already upon us I wanted to share a ‘Creative With Cochenille’ Harry Potter costume pattern I made using Garment Designer.

My friend is a taller-than-average (6ft+) gentleman, and as such, most store-bought Hogwarts robes are just too short for him to look like a real wizard. Garment Designer made it easy for me to make a custom Hogwarts robe to fit.

To start this project I took his measurements and used a refined fit sloper so that I had as much information as possible to work with. I also made sure to measure where I wanted the hem to fall on him from his High Point Shoulder to the imagined hemline. I set this as the Dress Length (Options >Top/Dress Length).

As you can see below, I used a Basic A-line Dress with a V-neck and widened the hem of the style a bit more. I also used a flared sleeve style and flared the hem a bit as well.

Since I did add more flare to the hems, Garment Designer let me know in a warning message that I had to fix some of my angles to make a nice seam transition when sewing the garment together. I suppressed the warning message by checking the box when it came up, then after I was finished making all my design changes I went back and fixed the angles at the points were the seams intersected with the help of my Information & Recommendations Window (Generate > Information & Recommendations).

If you haven’t yet learned about Garment Designer’s ‘Pattern Smarts’, we have a great video available for you to watch. This will help explain the ‘Warning:i’ and yellow Hazard sign symbol that Garment Designer displays in the lower left info bar at times:

For the hood, I went to my Extras Menu and chose ‘Collars: Joined at Back’, which gave me a new style menu for collars. I chose a hood Collar Group and selected ‘Contoured 2 Style’:

We have a video that will help you locate the hood on our webs site as well:

I was able to modify the round contoured style to the pointed hood style of the Hogwarts robes by moving the points around and the straightening the bezier curve points.

I ended up lining the entire robe instead of using a facing and I was so happy with how it turned out.

Pictured on my ladies dress form

The robe fit him on the first try! (face photoshopped face for privacy)If you have any projects you would like to share with us, feel free to email us at

Thank you for taking the time to stop by Creative with Cochenille, have a happy crafting season!


Garment Designer: Extra Extras! Read all about it!

Patterning Using Garment Designer: Extra Extras! Read all about it!

Hello All!

I’ve been meaning to post some more details on how I made this fun top on Garment Designer using the Extras menu on Garment Designer.

I started off with a waist length contoured top with a boat neck and a bust dart then modified the pattern points.

I moved my dart down to make a french dart.

I brought the front neckline down a bit, shortened the sleeve and tried to get as little ease as possible since I wanted it to be pretty fitted for my knit fabric.

I also chose to use the Dressmaking Armhole since this style allows the front armhole to swing in slightly in the front, make a more comfortable fit for a top like this.

Now the fun part…adding the extras!

To add a collar, I went to the Extras menu and selected ‘Joined at Back‘.

This presented me with my collar options:

I wanted a full stand and used the band option. I made my band about 3″ tall on the pattern, as I wold be folding it in half for a 1- 1/2″ tall collar.

Then I added my sleeve and peplum edgings from the Extras menu to add some flounces.

If you take a look at my sleeve edging, you will see I chose the longest option I could, which was 6″… but I wanted 8″.

I could have added a 2″ custom seam allowance to the sleeve edging (Additions > Custom Sleeve Allowance or keyboard shortcut ⌘+K).

Instead I chose to highlight the edge I wanted to extend, then added a 2″ extension (Additions > Add Extension)

I chose to attach at a 1:1 ratio so that the seam didn’t get too thick. I then added a 3:1 ratio for maximum flare.I did the same thing for my peplum by adding an edging to the hem of the shirt. I kept it at 6″ but elongated the back to 8″ and then played with the points to smooth the transition of the hem at the sides.

I added my seam allowances (1/4″ since I was using a knit fabric and will be using my serger) and printed it all out.

Cut it out of my fashion fabric…

Then began the sewing!

Since I just had to make this out of a white knit, I thought I would line the bodice with white for modesty.

I chose to use a white interlock fabric.

I will say in advance that the way I sewed this top up isn’t the only  way, just the way I chose to order my steps as I went.

I wanted to have a clean seam at the neckline so my first step was to sew the shoulder seams of my fashion fabric then separately I sewed the shoulder seams of my lining.

I also made sure to mark my darts and really carefully snip out my notches. Normally to mark notches on a 1/4 seam I would cut outward triangles but this was a quick project so I went with tiny snips.

I sewed the center back of the collar together, folded it at the fold line and then made a long basting stitch in the seam allowance.I then basted the collar, right sides together, to the fashion fabric. 

Then I pinned my lining on, sandwiching the collar between the self fabric and the lining, with my finished seams facing inwards towards each other.

I sewed the lining, collar and self fabric together then turned… No raw edge on the collar anymore!

I had marked my darts earlier and decided to sew them together by basting the pieces together, then sewing the dart closed.

Then I made a basting stitch around all the remaining edges

Instead of closing the side seam and setting the sleeves into the armscye, I sewed them in flat and left the side seam open.

I also added the sleeve edging at this point. I could have added the peplum too, but decided for no particular reason to leave it until last.

The last steps were sewing the side seam and sleeves together and adding the peplum, then I was done!

Here is the final top along with some Garment Designer patterned pants!

There are more extras to explore on Garment Designer…Until next time, happy crafting!

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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