Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Coffee and Skittles

Monday October 5th

Computer class is not a highlight of my day so I don't usually talk about it, but I am getting better now and I'm learning a lot.  I hope I can retain some of the info because the class still moves really quickly and I forget steps along the way because of the speed. We have been working on creating a mood board out of different non-fashion pictures and using special effects to change the look and colors.  Then we will make computer-generated fabric designs and swatches and work towards filling in a fashion sketch to show pre-selected outfits in the fabrics we created.  It's a cool process even though it drives me crazy every step of the way.  Photoshop is amazing now.  I remember the old school version that pretty much colors in shapes and has the spray paint function.  Now I could replace someone in a photograph and have it look realistic.  I could take a photo and turn it into a computer generated work of art.  Well, I shouldn't say that I could do it, but some people can!

I got to play with my fabulous orange check wool to create a creative dolman sleeve draping project.  I had something in mind: a jacket with a hood and short dolman sleeves, closing in front across the body with a little wave at the top.  As I worked on playing with the fabric, I had a bunch of the excess gathered at the neck to get it out of the way.  Prof Renzulli came over and gushed about it and had the class come over so he could talk about how sometimes you get something really great but you have to step back from it to make sure the proportions work and tone it down a bit.  But basically he loved what I accidentally had going, so I kept in that direction!

Working on the mess that started it all

Playing with the rest of the material to see what shape looked best. 
I was afraid it was too picnic-tablecloth-like so I didn't want to overwhelm the eye.

It's hard to work with this much heavy fabric.  The pins don't hold up that much weight easily.  The fabric to the side is because eventually I will drape the back and then pin the front to the back in the rough shape of the dolman sleeve that I want.

It was really enjoyable getting to play with the material and practice using my design eye.  And as for the evolution of my design... I'll show you the final product soon!

After class I went straight to work because the Basics Project was due tomorrow.  I had a lot to finish.  I treated myself to some Chinese delivery so I wouldn't have to take a break to cook or walk anywhere.  It ended up being a good choice because I worked straight through and ended up pulling my first all-nighter of the year.  I am a night person, but I hate to do that because I am also prone to migraines when I'm stressed and lacking sleep.  I stayed awake on 4 cups of coffee and 2 bags of Skittles.  It was like crack!!  I don't usually drink anything with caffeine so that combo was golden.

Spread out on the floor with all my magazine clippings, rendered figures and mood board.

Side note: I had a friend ask what rendering is.  I should probably explain my terms better!  Rendering is drawing and coloring fashion illustrations in, but more than just coloring, it's trying to represent a particular fabric by showing texture, pattern, drape, etc. as well as realistically showing how the fabric wraps around the body.  I'm learning how to render wool patterns like houndstooth, pinstripe, herringbone and checks in class now.  Fur is coming soon - yay!

Okay, so back to the all-nighter.  It was crazy.  I worked solid through the night.  When it got late enough that I needed to let poor Katey (roommate) sleep in peace, I moved to the kitchen table.  And when it came time to use the toxic spray adhesive around 3 in the morning, I wasn't about to go outside so I went out into the hall of my dorm floor hoping that I wouldn't somehow cause the smoke alarms to be triggered. 

Besides the decisions on mood board elements and layout, I had to line each figure with a clean sheet of paper, cut it out carefully around the edges (same for all the flats).  Then I had to apply everything to the board and use a special double sided adhesive page to attach the swatches so they won't fray.  Every step took a lot of time to turn out a clean, nice final product. 

I finished at 7 AM and went to bed for an hour before waking up for class.  Whew. 

Being behind on my blog has benefits... I won't make you wait to see my final product this time.  I have it back, graded and pictures taken.  Here is my "Basics" Project.  Now that name makes me laugh! 


Mood board - shows target customer, theme, colors, and overall mood

Swatches and flats.  The flats show design details like topstitching that sometimes don't show up on the posed girls.  They are used to communicate with the manufacturer how the garment should be made.

This was a fun flat.  It's a striped knit with "dangling chads" of fabric that will sway when you move. 

And finally... the rendered figures!  I'm really proud of them because they make the portfolio I submitted to get into the school look like a kid's coloring book.  Progress!  I especially like the girl on the left in the denim jumpsuit.  She turned out hot.  And I still have little to no control over that - it's funny how the faces sort of land on the paper and the personality just comes out.

The dreaded pattern skirt.  I had to draw it twice on girls and once for the flats.  I can see why people might prefer Photoshop for ease in duplicating the hard stuff.  It can also save time because you can scan in the figures and print on a background instead of having to line them and cut out so carefully.

 Ah.  Hard work pays off.  My first A in the class and on a big project!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Holy Rendering Batman!

I'm still pretty slow at drawing figures and rendering fabric in marker and colored pencil is new to me.  I really wanted my Basics Project to look good so I spent most of the day Sunday working on the figures and the mood board.  Every single step took longer than I expected!  I had already done a lot in class, but there was so much to do for finishing work.

The assignment was to create a mini collection that would be compatible with stores like H&M, Gap, and Uniqlo for the 18-25 year old market.  We had to use a denim and a pattern and mix up cotton and knits.  I picked a green denim that was really cool and a striped green and off white knit, a blue knit and a floral cotton in green, blue, black and off white.  My colors were very coordinated which seemed a bit boring at first, but the stripe and floral combination was pretty fun.  And for that market, I don't think creative use of color is necessarily an important selling point.

I already had my ideas sketched and selected in class but there was so much work to draw four dressed figures showing how the looks would coordinate along with flats of all the garments (also had to be colored in) and swatches and a mood board completed the presentation.  At the end, I had to render the floral pattern on skirt with some fullness three times.  It took SO LONG!  Ugh.  And the crazy thing is, you don't have to show the entire pattern since they only see a small swatch of fabric.  I could have just repeated that smaller pattern more, but I just couldn't picture that as well as the way all the fabric would look.

Practicing the crazy skirt pattern

My desk covered in blue and green pencils, markers, fabric and drawings!

The mood board also took a long time.  We sort of did our project backwards this time - working from our designs before getting a mood board together proved to be quite difficult.  To search for pictures that show your customer and a similar color scheme after you've already created the whole look is difficult.  It would be easy to make color changes to a picture I like in Photoshop now that I understand it better, but I didn't have time to mess with that so I spent a lot of time finding blue and green looking pictures of background scenes online.

Finding a young looking smiling girl was pretty tough in my fashion magazines too.  The models don't smile!  Come on, you're getting paid to wear the most fabulous clothing, wouldn't it look better to have a coy sexy smile instead of a full on frown?!  I might just make my models smile on the runway because they ought to look happy to wear my clothes.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Fabric

Required shopping trips to pick up fabric can be stressful due to digging through bolts, seeing scary prices, and general exhaustion.  However, that all melts away when I find something that strikes me.  I feel giddy and I get really pumped to see what will become of my selection.  I walked into the heart of the garment district with Angela to make a stop at Mood.  I split off in search of something at M&J Trimming - no luck.  That store is amazing, but I think the help isn't up to the standard of Mood experts.  Saw the Korean parade on my way.  Running into random events in the city is always so fun!

 Korean Business Leader's Council of New York float

Marching band with interesting uniforms

Young band with a row of boys playing what I assume is a conch!

I met back up with Angela and she was not happy after leaving Mood.  The high prices really turned her off.  We kept walking and found Textile Kingdom which might be a new favorite fabric store!  It has low prices like TrueMart without the weird hours and somewhat unhelpful help.  TrueMart serves its purpose being within a block of our school and it works for cheap small cuts of fabric needed for experimental assignment drapes but it doesn't always have quality fabric like Mood and I swear they don't always know what they are talking about - almost get the feel they would try to make the sale by lying about fiber content or something.

Textile Kingdom was a good mix of helpful salesmen and reasonable prices.  They made me laugh because every fabric we looked at, they would say, "This is beautiful wool, $8 a yard, I give to you for $7.  This is great crepe, $4 but I give to you for $3."  You get the idea. Anyway, I really got excited because I found this cream and deep orange checked wool that was so different from most fabrics I was considering for my dolman sleeve project.  Finding it really made me happy - like finding a personalized treasure!  Then I found a nice sueded-feeling rayon in a brick shade.  It reminded me of the color blocked silk shirt craze of the early nineties.  It was so soft and I left feeling better in general.  Fabric can do that.  Angela was super pumped with some great (cheap!) finds as well.

Back to school to work on my bodice and skirt for the dirndl skirt dress.  I finished what I needed to and jumped to pattern making homework.  Our assignment was to make a draft, pattern and muslin of a creative long sleeve.  I had a funky idea but I was pretty excited to give it a try.

 The sloper

Making the draft - added width at the bottom and a curve to make a nice bell look at the wrist

The pattern gets a little more complicated.  Have to add seam allowances, markings for where each piece matches, where to sew, etc.

The crazy looking sleeve in paper!  I wanted a a break where the elbow would bend and splits above and below on the front of the arm. 

Friday, October 2, 2009

Darts - Thrown not Sewn

How is it October?!  I worked hard Thursday night on my short puff sleeve variation for Pattern class.  It didn't go well.  My design ideas were not easily translated after only learning the basics in class.  I feel like the teacher puts a lot of pressure on us to be creative and design what we are envisioning, but she doesn't offer much direction after her lesson on the simple steps to manipulate a sleeve sloper into a bell, puff, shirt waist, leg-o-mutton, etc.  (Yes, leg-o-mutton is the technical term for one sleeve style, ha!  It usually refers to a leg of lamb, as in a hunk of meat.).

Learning puff sleeve variations

I had a design in mind that would have been a lantern sleeve on the bottom, and would have had pleats at the top that showed a peek through fabric when the sleeve puffed out.  I couldn't figure out how to accomplish that and it was getting late so I tried a basic lantern.  I had questions on that and got stuck, so finally I caved and made a boring petal sleeve.  Yes it looked fine, but it is so very girly and not me.  However, it worked perfectly for the style of our princess seam dress in Struct. Draping, so I was able to crossover and use it there.  Lesson learned: buy a pattern making reference book.  It wasn't required for class, but I obviously need it to fill in gaps in my notes!

My half pants got an A from Prof. Renzulli.  Yeah!  We started draping the princess seam dress but due to the missed Mondays, we are behind schedule so that project will be set aside to finish later.

Friday night!  Angela and I went out for sushi in the East Village.  We had a really great time and it was a mini celebration because she applied for the art concentration for second semester and she had just completed her application to hand in that day.  A glass of plum wine and good conversation about potential design ideas... it felt like life instead of school!

Angela dragged me to The Creperie after our meal (yeah right!!).  It's a hole in the wall tiny place that serves out of this world savory and sweet crepes.  I had the Nutella, banana, strawberry and whipped cream variety.  Whoa.

Half of the crepe packaged for leftovers.  Yes it was huge.

We thought about stopping somewhere to play pool, but didn't see any bars like that so we headed for home.  On the way to the station, surprise!  The perfect Irish type pub with a pool table and laid back patrons.  I told Angela she's like my lucky charm because we seem to run into so many great finds when we are out.

The pool table was tiny so we opted for darts instead.  We played one game and then got challenged by a couple of guys.  It was funny because we sort of made up rules since we weren't entirely sure on how to play Cricket.  The guys took a while to catch on but that's not why they lost.  We were superior dart throwers, hands down.  Angela's ability to nail the bullseye and my combination of luck and decent aim, meant we kicked butt.  No betting occurred so the guys joked that we really lost because we could have had a free shot out of the deal.  But, we didn't want to buy in case we lost (us being poor students and all).



I enjoyed talking to one of the guys who gave me an outsiders perspective on FIT.  He thought it strange that there is a SUNY state school in Manhattan.  He also laughed when we mentioned how intense our program is.  He didn't believe us until we described more in detail the pace and how much information we cover.  When the conversation turned to our previous college degrees and then our age, he pulled the ol' side step to escape.  Guys are so funny like that - heaven forbid they have a great conversation with someone that's outside of their dating pool.  Thank goodness I'm not looking so I don't care about rejection from 24 year old boys in the bar.  :)