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?

Variations on a Theme

Variations on a Theme

Variations on a Theme

Just as music has variations to a theme, so can we, using Garment Designer. In this webinar, you will learn how to take one pattern and apply different variations to it to create multiple looks. This is an ideal approach for anyone who has a garment they love, and want more mileage from. The inspiration garment for this webinar comes from Italy.

For those who have not yet attended, a webinar is a 60 to 70 minute online class to include Lecture, Question & Answer and PDF Handouts for personal use. This is a live class and cannot be viewed later if purchased.

***Webinars need a minimum of three participants to host. If we do not meet this minimum the webinar will be cancelled two days prior, so be sure to register early.

After registration, we will contact you with the meeting information.

Webinars  will be available to review for attendees who sign up prior to the scheduled webinar but are unable to attend at that time. The video will be completely unedited, directly from the webinar meeting. It will be available for three days after the webinar is hosted. You must sign up prior to the scheduled date.


American Sewing Guild Conference 2018

The ASG annual Conference is a once-a-year opportunity for sewing enthusiasts to gather to celebrate all things sewing, quilting and embroidery. This conference is open to members and non-members and will be hosted at Westgate Las Vegas Resort July 12-15 2018.

Susan Lazear will be hosting three classes at the conference, please see the class descriptions below.

How Body Measurements Relate to Your Pattern 

Friday, July 13 2018, 8:15 am to 10:15 am

A little knowledge up front goes a long way to fit and great looking clothing.  In this lecture, you will learn how to take meaningful and accurate body measurements. Then, we will take it one step further to discuss which parts of a pattern are impacted by proper and improper measurements. You will leave with a greater understanding of why some patterns work and others don’t, and you can apply your knowledge to correct patterns, based on your measurements before you even cut the fabric.

The Creative Process: From Inspiration to Planned Garment  

Saturday, July 14 2018, 8:15 am to 4:00 pm

This workshop will take your through the creative process, from story boarding your ideas, to developing a plan for a group of garments that work with your figure and your sense of style. No art background necessary. Learn how to ideate and create. Student will develop an inspiration board of ideas, and then move on to plan the fabrication, color story, styles, and fabrication for a group of garments. This is the process typical to designing a line of clothing.

Class Materials List:

  • Fashion magazines/mail order catalogs of fashion clothing or printouts of pictures or patterns that you like.
  • Basic Art Supplies: White paper, paper scissors, colored pencils, glue stick, measuring tape, rulers, pad of tracing paper
  • 15×20 Elmer’s Foam Board (half of a full one, available at Michael’s,
  • Fabric Swatches of fabrics you would consider using

Waistband Alternatives  

 Sunday, July 15 2018, 8:15 am to 10:15 am

Has your waist changed? Don’t give up on the skirts and pants you love.  Rather, learn some techniques for reworking your existing garments. Using various ideas gleaned from observing fashion and ready-to-wear, Susan Lazear will walk you through several techniques that you can utilize. Look also at what fashion is doing to allow clothing to fit a greater range of bodies.

American Sewing Guild Conference Class schedule and descriptions:

American Sewing Guild Conference Website:

Annual New Mexico Garment Designer Workshop

Annual New Mexico Garment Designer Workshop

Annual New Mexico Garment Designer Workshop

September 22-24th, 2017 Cimarron, New Mexico

Book by August 15th for the Early Bird Special of $250!

We are continuing our tradition of truly retreating in an amazing location and spending focus time with Garment Designer. So, we return to Cimarron, New Mexico and the 100-year old inn we have grown to love.

Our retreat this year will focus on borrowing fit and style details from existing favorite garments and then moving forward from there to create new variations of the style to add your own personal touch.

You will learn skills of working with Garment Designer, measuring existing garments to obtain valuable fit information, and then how to create a unique new style using the original one as your bouncing board.

The workshop is designed for people who have some Garment Designer basics, but really want to extend their skills.

Optional Day in Santa Fe: Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Santa Fe Artist, Victoria Rabinow in Santa Fe will host a workshop designed to get your create juices flowing in terms of design and creativity. No art experience needed. She will take us on a journey using collage, to prep our minds for the designing and garment building we will be doing in Cimarron.

Please contact us by phone or email with any questions:

858 259 1698

New Mexico Brochure & Registration

For ordering details and registration info please download the file below:

April Cochenille Design Challenge

April Cochenille Design Challenge

Our April Cochenille Design Challenge will help you keep track of your USB Hasp key! USB Hasp keys are small, easy to tuck away and sometimes feel like they have chameleon-like qualities. Poor little thing; we think she just needs some ‘glam’

For April’s Cochenille Design Challenge let’s dress it up! We invite you to make a keychain that will make your HASP key strut her stuff. She will stand out, so you won’t be able to miss her (or him).

April Key Fob Keychain Challenge: Fab Your Key Fob

We know Cochenille software users are creative, so let’s make our key fobs fabulously fun!

Let your creativity shine so bright you cannot miss it. Make it flashy, furry, fun, fluorescent…anything you would like, but most importantly UNFORGETTABLE.

Submit images of your easy-to-find key fob to and be entered to win a gift certificate for Cochenille product. We will post all the entries and a winner will be chosen by May 5th.

We don’t require that you use our software to design your keychain, but kudos to those that do!

If you have a story to go along with your keychain, please feel free to share it with us.

We look forward to seeing your submissions. As the month progresses you can see our staff entries at:

Happy Crafting from Cochenille!

(858) 259-1698

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