From Design

Personal project: The Dot Top

flutter_top_anthropologie_smI don't often have the opportunity to show you works in progress since 95% of what I do, is for other people. Today's post is a departure; a top I made for my sister, Dorothy.

Dot has sizing issues; she's 5'10" and weighs about 110lbs, maybe less. In addition to her slender figure and height, she has an extended belly. Accordingly, I thought the top I used as inspiration would be ideal for her. Speaking of, I found the photo here; she got it from Anthropologie but it seems that the design's provenance is murky. Who knows from whence this came? The Vogue home sewing pattern is out of print. But I digress, as usual. Oh, this link takes you to a larger photo.

The one I made is different of course; it has long sleeves, less cowling and a higher neckline. I'm still not certain about the neck... I've got a bit of elastic in there, raising the neckline for warmth. I also stuck a collar of sorts on it just to make it different. I'll have to work on that. But now for pictures -which are lousy. I haven't been able to use my real camera because I can't find the cord. I finally broke down and ordered a new one. I didn't realize these photos were this bad, should have checked before I mailed the top.

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2 Facts about Trends and Lazy Copycat Designers

The latest going around the intertubes are these quotes attributed to Marc Worth, founder of WGSN:

“People complain that everything looks the same today, but is it any wonder? Thousands of companies are signed up to WGSN, looking at the same color forecasts, the same material swatches and the same silhouettes,”


“It [WGSN] used to be a real source of inspiration to designers, but now it’s just doing their job for them. You can download CAD drawings of a garment and just tweak it. It has made life too easy for people in the creative space; it has made them lazy.”

If you can make it through the article amid back slapping your other BF designers, you'll discover that Worth -who sold WGSN for about 230 million USD in 2005- has a new business. Any guesses what that would be? Yep, serving up trends only this time, very exclusively to a tiny portion of the market [100 and by invite only and you won't be one of them. Me neither.] Meaning, the only people who get to be lazy copycats are those who have the money because as you know, rich people only got to be rich by being lazy copycats. Right.

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The designing of a man’s jacket, style #12601

sew_mans_jacket_finishedI promise there will be a sewing tutorial of sorts once I finish rambling about design -that is always first- so this will come in two or more parts. Fortunately for you, most of the sewing will be illustrations rather than photos. A jacket like this is too complex to show with photos and the color has to be just right -this one is too dark. Speaking of, the finished product is shown at right on my dress form. I have a man's form but it is so terrible ill suited to my purposes (a PGM form if you must know) that I can only aspire to sell it to my worst enemy. It's a size 42 man's form if you want it. $200 (neg.) bucks cash and carry. I'll even buy you lunch! But I digress. A photo of the jacket can also be seen on Mr. Fashion-Incubator but I didn't want to post it because he is not smiley like usual. He does like it, he picked out the fabrication for this one, just as he did for its predecessor, style #12658.

Onto topics related to design!

First of all, in real life, design is much more than picking out pretty fabric and drawing cute silhouettes on 9 head stick figures. Design means selecting materials that will perform congruent with expected performance as it relates to price points.

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Color Scheme Designer

colorschemedesigner A new-to-me site I recently found is called Color Scheme Designer. Maybe you already know of it? Probably, it's been on the web for 10 years. I'm still exploring it in fits and starts so I don't have a comprehensive review but the range of utilities built in, are remarkable.

The site is free -although donations are gratefully accepted- and accessible from your desktop. It can also be used on smart devices (I tried it with my iPad) but you can't move the main color picker around with your finger although you can type a hue number (which corresponds to degree) manually.

There are various color filtering options -one of which you used to be able to load Pantone color numbers but no more. Pity. There is a web option so resting your cursor over a color in a palette gives you the html coding for it. You can even select for visual perception based on criteria such as variations of color blindness (useful in designing safety items and signage). You can also export these options for use in various software programs -to include open source projects like GIMP.

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What kind of designer are you?

Can a designer teach her/himself needed skills? If so, how? This was an interesting question posed on the forum today; it speaks to the subject of what kind of designer you are (I started writing this a couple of years ago but never published it). It is too simplistic to say people can teach themselves (they obviously can) successfully and the question is too open ended because there are many types of designers. Depending on the kind of designer you are is what will determine what you need to learn and how to go about doing it. Caveat: There are other lists of designer types (I like the one Danielle wrote). Since I write mostly about designers starting clothing lines, my list describes those on an entrepreneurial path.

Without further ado, here are most of the designer types I can identify -feel free to add to it:

  • The artist
  • The artisan/engineer/technician
  • The mogul
  • The accountant
  • The project manager

There is no worse or better kind of designer to be because most people are or should be, a combination of each. Anyone who falls into a set category exclusively, probably isn't healthy because balance is required. That said, the project manager and the accountant are most successful. Doomed to failure -please stop sending me hate mail, I'm tired of it and it's not working anyway- is the artist and the mogul. Below is an abbreviated description of the archetypes. Once we've discussed these, we can go on to discuss paths to preparation for each (the next post).

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Review: Digital Textile Design

digital_textile_design_coverAs I mentioned yesterday, we have a review written by Jasonda Desmond (Dotty Logic), maven of all things textile and design related. Jasonda is a long time member of our forum and designed the masthead of Fashion-Incubator. Without further ado, here is Jasonda's review.

Digital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac focuses on creating surface designs for fabric using digital mediums (Photoshop, Illustrator) and touches on a wide variety of related subjects.

The 20 surface design tutorials make up about half the content. There is a strong focus on techniques that are currently in fashion, such as “engineered" prints – for example, a design created based on a photograph of a necklace, where the print is placed around the neckline of the shirt, to create a trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) effect, something that has been popular on the fashion runways for the last few seasons.

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What to do with hideous tie dyed leather pt.2

A lot of people said they liked the leather. Since I haven't warmed to it yet in spite of your many helpful and interesting suggestions, I've decided to auction it on eBay.

In preparation for auction, we measured it and the square footage is a bit over 18 sqft. The starting auction price is $29.70 which is what the hide cost me ($1.65 per sqft).

All auction proceeds (including the $29.70 the hide cost me) less eBay and PayPal selling fees, will be donated to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. So, happy bidding!

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What to do with hideous tie dyed leather?

All those who could, you did go vote today?

Martha has been organizing my stash and found this hideous thing; about 15 square feet of tie dyed leather. I thought that since you guys are designers, you could tell me what to do with it. So what should I do with it? In my opinion, it looks a lot better in this picture than it does laying on my table. Martha likes it. Or at least she says she does. Sometimes Martha forgets I've known her for 20 years and that I also know she can be... diplomatic... about these sorts of things. But she insists she likes it.

The results of this first attempt tie dyeing leather was mixed. It was successful in that I learned it is pretty easy to do -I used some ubiquitous taupe pig skin I had lying around. It was already ugly and figured I couldn't do much worse (the failure part, I could make it uglier).

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2 ways to prevent being ripped off if you design for hire

b_n_h_iconic_frameIf you provide design or other services for hire, the recent case of JCPenney's being sued by a design firm is a lesson to learn from. The central conflict was this: JCP hired a visual merchandising firm (Hudson + Broad) to design a fixture for its stores (shown at right). It is claimed that JCP promised to order X quantity of the fixtures to be supplied by H+B but JCP went around the firm to source the fixture from lower cost suppliers. Sound familiar? I thought so.

This is my take on it from the context of the little guy -you and me- with two tips to avoid a similar or related problem:

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