Today I bring you the first post of a series of 4 posts on how to design your own pattern. I belive the creative process implicit to it is interesting, especially for those who have no idea how to get there, and partly because, for those who want to create their own models, this post can be of help.
The first step is to conceive an idea. You should demystify that ideas must be original and 100% pure. Ideas are always based on anything that one has seen before. There is no way to get around it or have pretensions to invent the wheel. This is called inspiration. The way you use the inspiration and transform an idea into reality, with your own interpretation and your own stamp is what makes a project unique and different. The initial idea is then multiplied in other small ideas that your creative mind goes exploring, some ideas will be feasible and should be maintained, other ideas that will make the process harder or are not easily achievable, and to those you shall say goodbye without guilt.
Many good ideas have their genesis in a necessity. For example, every year I like to make summer dresses for my girls and as I like to do diferent things, my need is to find a different dress based on the requirements: easy to make, consume few resources (including time), be different than the ones I have made before, and not entirely made of fabric.
This is the way my idea was formulated in my head. The next step is get it written so that it doesn’t fade away and so you can identify the weaknesses in it. It does not take great drawing skills for this, I don’t have them, and even if my drawings seem disjointed, the truth is that I can read them and they help me identify the steps I have to follow.
By writing an idea you also get to figure the best materials to use, allows you adding details that meight not be essential, but make your design unique and different from the rest. Of course, it helps you to understand what steps you will need to consider and how much material is needed, which is particularly useful with fabric. Drawing an idea on paper also helps to understand what should be the right cut of the model you want to use.
Returning to my case, my dress for the “spring-summer collection 2013” consists of a piece of crochet sewed to a fabric skirt. Drawing the idea helped me realize that the simplest process would be to crochet 3 blocks, each corresponding to the measures of diferent parts of the chest, as it is in my drawing. Also helped me to realize that a rectangle of fabric would be perfect for the skirt and the dress would be greater if instead of a simple hem it was finished with bias tape.
The first step is simple: To conceive an idea and writting it down!
Now it’s time to test the idea.
Testing an idea is a hard process and it takes some dedication and willingness to make things happen. Rarely an idea comes out perfect at the first attempt of materialization. Just see that even following a preexisting model, it is difficult to end a project without errors or failures, it’s even harder if we are creating a project from scratch, without any guidance or other than our own.
For this, testing an idea may involve doing 3 or 4 attempts, and with these attempts you realize what mistakes need to be corrected and what do you need to chang in the model to approximate to the result you want.
For my 2013 summer dress the first step was to choose a crochet stich for the bodice of the dress.
These are the three crochet stiches that I inicialy choose. The decision criteria was the easiest and fastest stich to make, the one that did not require too much concentration and was easy to learn after half a dozen stichs. And of course, as the idea was to make a pattern, it had to be easy enough to be explained in a few words and some pictures. Testing stichs also forced me to test diferent cotton threads to see which resulted best not only in giving structure to the dress but as well as making it confortable to wear.
Actually testing the crochet stich of the first picture forced me to three attempts! As I had already made the stich in the second photo on a size fitting Teresa, I wanted make this one in Mafaldas size so each one would have a dress. But it’s like I say, testing a model is mostly trial and error.
The first attempt to make the bodice of the size of Mafalda resulted in a first bar too small to fit her. So I let that bar apart and started another one this time with the right size. The bodice of Mafalda’s dress was done but I ended up with a crochet bar that made me had another idea.
I decided to use my extra crochet bar to edge another dress, as this one wouldn’t fit in any Mafalda dress. So I made an extra bodice fitting Teresa and ended up with another dress. By the time I ended the stich testing I had already made 4 dresses!
With all the testing done I had to choose one. How do we make the best choice?
My starting point is the three crochet stitches that make 3 different dress bodices. The idea is to choose the best of the three.
We must take into account the main objective and the initial requirements. In my case the goal is to make a ease and fast dress, with few resources (including time), resulting in a unique dress that can be easily explained by words and some pictures.
Beginning with the first photography, the stich is not the easiest to make, requires attention and concentration fleeing the initial idea and it’s hard to match with printed fabrics, from all of my fabric stash only two fabrics were supported by this stcihs and so, follow with this idea would compromise my goal of having a beautiful dress. The dress straps can’t be done with this stich or they would be too big for small sizes, and combinations with other stichs did not result. Although the idea of making fabric straps in the same fabric as the skirt could be a gracefull idea, the truth is that these straps difficult the easy making of the dress. We would have two more strips of fabric to cut, sew and turn. For all that this stich was not elected.
The stich of the second picture is relatively easy but requires an effort of concentration that seemed bigger than what I wish. Being a very little stich it takes too long to appear made and compromises the project. The straps have to be made with a different stich which requires extra explanations and additional concentration at the time of making the straps, it’s like starting another project.
The stich of the third picture is the winning stich! It’s easier to do, is fast enough to produce effects and it only takes an instant to see the work appear done. It is easy to combine with most fabrics and straps are a simple pattern repetition that allows you to continue working without having to stop and learn a new stich.
The idea is finally materialized. All choices were made and all the details are where wanted. It seems that the work is done.
The truth is that it’s not over yet. Still have to make sure that all instructions are correct, all measures fit various sizes. Still have to test the complete pattern and not just the stiches.
After having all details right, it is time to put in writing all the steps we take to make the dress, with all the care that the instructions are clear and objective, simple and easy to understand.
And of course good photographs illustrating each step of the way are mandatory in a good pattern. Greatly facilitate the understanding of what is written in words, and it’s like the popular saying: a picture is worth a thousand words!
After all writing is done it’s now time to make more dresses, this time following every step of the instructions to see if all are right, so that the people who are going to make the dress following your pattern will not be led into error. For each dress that is made you should check the instructions and if necessary correct them. In my case as there are measures of various sizes involved, it is also necessary to check whether the measures are correct for various sizes.
And so I ended up making this 6 dresses plus the previous 3 from the test fase! A big marathon of 9 dresses!
Most of the work is done so what’s left to do? Work on the design of your patterns and on the way it will look. Try to take some good photos of your final outcome.
Taking photographs is perhaps one of the most important and hardest things to do. One should consider the light, the background, the overall composition of the photo and see what way results the best in the reproduction of what you have on your hands. Often what we see with our eyes is very different from what we see mirrored in the photographs. Therefore we ought to test various hypotheses and see which one works best.
Next is necessary to arrange the picture so that there are no elements causing any noise and to make sure the dress will be the center of attention.
When we’re working with clothes or accessories, the best way to make them stand out is to photograph them while they are being used. It’s not always easy, especially if you’re like me doing a summer dress in late winter weather. You may have to wait a few months to get a good photo or in alternative, you’ll have to improvise.
In my case I improvised because the weather has not been on a summer moode and I’m not willing to wait any more time. Try to get a good place, or in lack of the ideal place, find the possible place. And the most difficult part? Find yourself a model willing to collaborate.
You might have to be a little creative on this to make the process easier. Most times it pays off!
Sometimes the pay off is so huge that you’ll find another models willing to help you!
I have to say that my choice on little Teresa was due solely to the fact that, on the day of the photo shoot, I only had this dress made for Mafalda! My original plan was to be able to take some good photos of the girls playing in the garden using proudly and comfortably their dresses. Life lesson: you can not have everything, so take the most advantadge of what you have.
You can see from the photographs that the scenario is not the best. Ok they are on top of the dining table, there is a window with the rope on the right side, a towel wrapped on top of the taple, chairs and my air conditioning equipament on the left of the photo. Ugly and it gets worst after you look at my beautiful child. You see a sweet girl, you vaguely notice that she is wearing a a dress, but you’re going to fix all your attention on the rest of the scenario just because it doesn’t fit on this photo.
Assuming that none of us is an expert image editor, we should find a way to eliminate the wrong things on the photo. Beginning by croping the picture so it will have just Teresa on center.
We still have two problems to solve: the towel on the table and the air conditioning back there. Let’s be creative!
Nothing that little clouds will not solve! As you see it is not that hard! And the picture has no noise, no towels and air conditioning to spoil the photo, just my sweet Teresa wearing her dress! You can now use this photo and with other elements compose your graphics display.
But the model still needs a name, not only to prevent you from getting lost in your work, but for whom who will purchase your pattern to distinguish it from any other patterns they might have.
This dress pattern is named Aurora. Want to know why? First because it is the first pattern that I write with the goal of being my own pattern, developed from beginning to the end by me, and for being the first of its kind should have a name with this meaning, and why not Aurora? That magical moment when a day starts still full of possibilities! And also because Aurora was the name of one of my grandmothers, this name is very meaningful to me that and remembers me all warmth and affection she gave me.
So the model has a name and is only missing a decent graphic desing, a beautiful cover and a great spelling check just to make sure everything is ok.
This is it! The Aurora Dress Pattern is finally ready and it’a available on my shop!
[cryout-button-light url=”http://shop.meiasmarias.com/produto/aurora-dress-pattern”]Aurora Dress Pattern[/cryout-button-light]