Design sketch analysis
Aren’t you annoyed by people rubber necking as they drive by car wrecks? I found one on the web that just won’t let me go. Yes, it’s Levi’s Project Runway. I tell you, everybody’s gotta get into the act. There, anyone can upload their ideas and Levi’s (and you) pick the winner. As you can imagine, that’s where the car wreck comes in. And there is wreckage galore with guts strewn mile after mile, making it hard not to stare. I think it qualifies as an attractive nuisance. The site is a bit wonky. Sometimes when you click through on a design, the page looks blank -scroll up, it’s there.
I decided to do something productive with it, namely design sketch analysis. Thus, I’ve selected a few to share with you with an eye towards improving your renderings when passing it off to a service provider. An aesthetically pleasing sketch really isn’t important. Some are gorgeous but can’t be made. On the other hand, some very unattractive ones were entirely suitable for working purposes.
Language usage was a common problem. While we don’t expect you to have the lingo down, try not to be contradictory with your descriptions. I don’t know how you can have a “high waist hip hugger” (below). It’s one or the other. This pant also doesn’t have a CB seam, something that comes up repeatedly.
Here’s another one somewhat similar. There’s a conflict between the description “low rise” and the provided measurement of 9″. Nine inches isn’t a low rise, that’s waist high. A service provider is going to wonder which it is. This sketch also lacks seaming. And by the way, sketches like these are very typical!
The height of the band on this next one annoys me. There’s no way to know whether the designer really wants it that high -riding just below the nipple- or if the band is supposed to hit under the bust. Recently, there’s been a spate of poorly made tops that have the empire “waist” riding the bust line rather than under the bust where it belongs. I can’t tell if this poorly made pattern has become so prevalent that people now think it’s supposed to be that way, or they’ve decided they like the look. I think it looks moronic. This designer’s made a notation that this will “camouflage the tummy”. Somehow, I don’t think it’ll come out like that.
Don’t laugh at this next one, I see stuff like this all the time. It’s a pleated “pencil skirt”. How can a pleated skirt be a pencil skirt? Made as sketched, this is plus sized but I don’t think that’s what the designers (a dad and daughter) intended. The conflict is between the description, costs, and width and quantity of pleats. An accurate illustration would show the skirt significantly wider than it is long. The spec for the pleats are 2.5″ with a 5/16 gap between them. The sketch shows 11 pleats which -just for the front- finishes at 30″ inches. Doubling that and we have a total waist measurement of 60″ on this pleated “pencil” skirt. Wow. Allowing for turn back on the under pleat (multiply by 3) and we’re talking serious fabric allocation. Now imagine what this would look like in denim. See what I mean by car wreck?
I call this next one, “just because you can draw it -or photoshop it- doesn’t mean you can make it”. Hands down, this is the biggest problem with sketches. People think that just because they can draw it, it can be made as illustrated. This is probably the number one problem with sketches. And designers get mad or insinuate you’re incompetent if you tell them that!
This next one I describe as an allocation nightmare. There were tons of these so I won’t elaborate beyond this one example. People, you need to include seam lines. Cutting the front and the sleeves in one piece will use much more fabric than you can possibly imagine. Not to say it’s not done but the design usually has interesting design lines compelling the project. Usually designs aren’t this obvious but we won’t know which you really want and which you really don’t. Watch those seam lines, copying them from existing garments. It matters. Really.
Of course not all sketches were bad. Here’s two from the same designer. I’m guessing this girl either sews or sketched on the basis of a photo of a well fitting garment. The asymmetrical top on the left hits perfectly under the bust. This is exactly correct. The blue one gets bonus points. I don’t know if you can see the midriff cupping the bust. The bust portion has (necessary) gathers where it meets the midriff. Good show.
I picked this next one because I want to illustrate that a sketch doesn’t have to be a work of art to be usable. The proportions are all there. She’s spec’ed it to include a side zipper, I can see it’s fitted. The bust obviously gathers into the midriff. The only thing I’d want to ask is about the skirt. Is it straight but cut A-line, or is it gathered into the midriff or a combination of both? This sketch is definitely something one can work from.
Ditto for this next sketch. I’d have a couple of questions but it’s workable too although I’m not wild on charcoal for renderings. All the seams are there, the fitting lines, proportions etc. A sketch doesn’t have to be beautiful to be usable but we have to have something.
The cost of producing some designs is too high when demand and market are thrown into the equation so a service provider will advise against the attempt. Here’s a “couture” gown; I think she means evening or formal attire. The dress is entirely constructed of 501 back pockets. This is a tremendous amount of sewing when compared to what it’d sell for. It’s a novelty item, not something that would end up on the red carpet.
Speaking of costing too much, below are two designs that just aren’t going to happen. Not in denim and not by Levi’s. One was the only one I commented on, mentioning product development costs and the designer (smugly) responded that a company of Levi’s size wouldn’t have a problem with costs nor execution. Really? If a company isn’t producing similar styles already, it’s not because they haven’t thought of it and are waiting for you to come along with your great idea. I just want to sigh and roll my eyes when designers argue about things of which they know nothing. Just for grins, anyone care to take a guess as to how many pattern pieces for each? Just calculate the portions you can see. Then guesstimate allocation and how long it’d take to sew it. In denim and at moderate price points. Heh.
Below is another one not likely to happen as-is although the style lines are interesting. Check out the back neck and collar. This one could best be described as mismatched to the product price points. Levi’s won’t do this in denim but I could definitely see the jacket in a high end leather line -minus some of that superfluous design stitching on the front. That’s another thing, if bodies are strong enough as this one is, resist the impulse to gunk it up.
This last one I included because it was designed by a six-year old and it’s pretty good (the croqui template is provided by Levi’s). All the style lines are there, seam lines, the neckline is interesting etc. It’s even marketable. One could make a pattern based on this sketch. Kind of puts “designing” in perspective if a six year old can do it. It’s a good thing hard skills are needed to make patterns, otherwise there’d be more of us out of work.