Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cut and sew knits – first project

There is a story behind my outfit, but I do not think it would make things better; the picture really speaks for itself. This is just the fit muslin. I will bedazzle you with more photos after I finish the project.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beautiful buttons and noble mollusks

I knew textile evaluation would be a useful class, but I did not expect it to be much fun. I am pleased to have been wrong about that. The textbook, Quality Assurance for Textiles and Apparel, 2nd ed., by Sara Kadolph looked like it would be a dry, boring read, but I am finding it quite interesting. In chapter 5, Specifying and Evaluating Materials, in the section about buttons, I found a passage that made me smile. While describing buttons made from naturally occurring materials Kadolph wrote, “These buttons are usually assumed to be environmentally friendly. If a button is made from a shell, the animal living in the shell has been, at the very least, removed from its home.” (2007). I hope you found that statement as poignant as I do. Please take a brief moment of silence to honor those brave mollusks who made the ultimate sacrifice to satisfy our need for beautiful buttons. Thank you.

Kadolph, S. (2007). Quality Assurance for Textiles and Apparel, 2nd ed. New York: Fairchild Publications, Inc.

Briny Beach by Sir John Tenniel

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Igor Stravinsky, Line Development, and a Horse

I will eventually develop a line or two in my line development class, but first I need to learn how to draw. I knew I would eventually have to take a fashion illustration class, but I did not know this one would be it. A good rule of thumb for college classes is to expect to spend one to one and a half hours studying and doing homework for every hour spent in class. So far I have spent six hours in line development class and about 15 hours doing homework for it. I have another six or eight hours of work to do for it this weekend. I should not complain; drawing requires a lot of practice. I am have already seen some slight improvement in my skills. I still do not draw well, but my croquis now at least resemble humans. I hope to have a few usable croquis by the end of next week.

The first assignment for the class was to copy a picture of a horse and a Picasso sketch of Igor Stravinsky. We turned both pictures upside down before copying them so that we could focus on just drawing lines rather than on creating a recognizable image. It sounds odd, but it worked. None of the students in the class had heard of this method before, but it seems to be a common technique for teaching drawing. Many thousands of art students have copied the upside down image of Picasso’s Stravinsky found in Betty Edwards's book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
Before I began work on my horse I would have said that horse was far beyond my drawing skills, but to my great surprise I drew one. Other horses might not welcome my horse into their herd, but most humans can immediately recognize it as a horse.

Even after finishing the horse I was still skeptical about Stravinsky. The horse had long lines and few fine details. The same cannot be said about Igor. The only way to learn to draw is by doing it, so I got to work. It took a few attempts to get started, but by the time I finished the head I was on a roll and was able to finish the sketch. I am no Picasso, but for my first Russian composer I am quite pleased with myself.

I must learn to draw good croquis, but once I have some I can make copies to use for the rest of the semester. I need six croquis, each in a different pose. My attempts at croquis have not turned out so well thus far, so I will not be including any pictures of them today. Once I have some good croquis (or as my professor calls them, Best Girls) I will post photos.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The first few days of class

Classes began last week. I knew I would have a lot of work this semester, but I underestimated how much. All my classes will require a lot of work, but two of them will demand tremendous amounts of time. Despite the work load, I think this will be a fun semester.


No hablo español ahora, pero quiero aprender. Me gusta esta clase. La profesora habla solamente español en clase. OK, I am not sure that is correct, but it is only the first week of the semester. By the end of this semester I should be able to write a little more.

Intro to apparel design
On the first day the instructor spent a lot of time encouraging people to drop the class. She stressed how hard the major is. She added that most students arrive at school knowing nothing about the fashion industry, and that whatever they expect is probably wrong. Day two was a little more positive. She addressed concerns students raised on the form we filled out about ourselves on the first day and explained what we need to do to succeed.

As I sit in the class looking around at my classmates I feel as though I am in a landing craft waiting to hit Omaha Beach. There are 100 of us now, but soon people will start to drop. By the time we make it to graduation fewer than 30 will be left. I hope everyone makes it, and I will help out my classmates if I can, but my number one concern is ensuring that I make it to graduation.

Textile evaluation
Everyone in class needs five yards of a fabric to run through a gamut of tests throughout the semester. The requirement was a plain weave with staple fibers. I thought my fabric was good enough, but it was not. My filling yarns were made with crimped synthetic long-staple fibers. They were too weak. I needed something with spun yarns. At least I was not the only one with bad fabric. As the class began its first tests three of us ran to Walmart to buy more fabric. My new stuff is 100% cotton. A blend would have been more interesting, but I did not want to risk buying another bad fabric.

Line development
This will be my most time consuming class. The first few weeks will be spent learning to draw, we will then move on to Photoshop and Illustrator, and finish the semester by designing lines of men’s and women’s wear. The professor said she felt it ought to be two three-credit classes – a drawing class and a line class – but the school wants the two topics combined into one. We will do the work of both classes, but receive only the three credits. So far I have drawn a horse and a lot of arms and legs. I need to draw a man with glasses for tomorrow. Pictures will be posted soon.

Cut and sew knits
This class is taught by the same professor I have for line development. She explained that while this is only a two credit class we will be doing the work of a three credit class. Everyone in class will make the same (or similar) items for the first four projects, and we will design our own garments for the last two. I think the design aspect will be more difficult for me than the sewing aspect. Pattern drafting was not a prerequisite for this class, but perhaps it should have been. I will have to draft the patterns for all six projects. The first four are a women’s bathing suit, a t-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt, and a bicycling outfit (shorts and jersey). I must then design an active wear item and a casual wear item. My casual item will probably be a fleece jacket of some sort. I have no idea what my active wear item will be.

That’s enough procrastinating for now, it’s time for me to get back to homework.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Textbooks and my fall classes

I picked up my textbooks last week in order to avoid the rush at the start of the semester. Between work and trying to enjoy my last few days of freedom I have not had much opportunity to examine the books closely, but I did give them a cursory glance before sticking them on the textbook shelf of my bookcase.

APRL 101 – Intro to Apparel Design & Development
This class is required for all freshmen starting in the apparel design major. Transfer students do not have to take it, but I thought it would be a good idea to take it anyway. The class serves as an introduction to the college experience and to the world of fashion design. I am already quite familiar with the college experience, but I need to learn more about the fashion industry. I enrolled in the intro class in the hope that it will cover all the information that should have been but was not covered last semester in my fashion industry class.
The three books for the class are Fashion: from Concept to Consumer by Gini Stephens Frings, Fashion: the Industry and Its Careers by Michele Granger, and Inside Fashion Design by Sharon Lee Tate. All three are about the industry, so it looks like this class will be what I need. My goal for this class is that by the end of this semester I should be able to choose a concentration within the apparel design major and have a basic understanding of what my career path within the apparel industry will be.

APRL 185 – Apparel Line Development
I know very little about this class. It is required for two of the three apparel design concentrations, and even if I choose the third one I will still benefit from it. I was expecting a business oriented class about how to market and sell a line, but it seems the focus of this class will be line design. I need to purchase a lot of art supplies, and the two textbooks are about fashion drawing.
In addition to fashion magazines and apparel catalogs I will be using Fashion Sketchbook by Bina Abling and Fashion Illustration for Designers by Kathryn Hagen. My drawing skills need a lot of improvement. Hopefully this class will help, but I expect I will be spending a lot of time on homework and that I will often feel quite frustrated.

APRL 250 – Textile Evaluation
This class picks up where last semester’s textiles class ended. Last semester I learned about different types of fabrics; this semester I will learn how to decide if a fabric is good and which fabrics to use for a specific project. As I pick up textbooks I look for ones with a lot of text highlighted. I keep hoping that students who took the class before will help me by telling me what is important. For this class I found a copy of the textbook that was not highlighted, but had a lot of Post-It notes in it. My highlighting strategy has not paid off, so I decided to try the Post-Its.Sara J Kadolph, who wrote the textbook for last semester’s textiles class also wrote this one, Quality Assurance for Textiles and Apparel. Last semester I often thought that textiles was more a science than design class, but after looking at my new book I realize I have barely scratched the surface of textiles science. This will not be an easy class, but it looks interesting and I think I will enjoy it.

APRL 355 – Cut and Sew Knits
This is my only sewing class this semester, and it is the one I am looking forward to most. I enjoy working with knit fabrics, and I was upset that I did not get to do so in last semester’s apparel construction class. I often feel that design programs focus too much on woven fabrics at the expense of knits. Most of the dresses we see on red carpets are weaves, while most of the apparel in Target and Walmart is knits. Learning to design high fashion garments is fun, but I am more interested in learning to make apparel normal people can afford.

Designing and Patternmaking for Stretch Fabrics by Keith Richardson makes me even more excited about this class. It seems that I will be learning not only how to sew knit fabrics but also how to design knit garments.

SPAN 103 – Elementary Spanish I
I am also taking a Spanish class for which I have a textbook, but this blog is about apparel design so I have not included a picture of it. I would rather take Mandarin or Cantonese, but Stout does not offer any Chinese languages.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Magazines and other school supplies

The professors for my line development and intro to apparel design classes recently sent me lists of supplies I will need this semester. Both classes require fashion magazines. I read Vogue and a few other magazines in the library, but for the classes I will need to cut out pages so I had to purchase subscriptions. I now subscribe to Vogue, Harper’s BAZAAR, W, and InStyle. Last night I went to Walmart and purchased the September issues of Vogue and Elle. With a combined total of 1,500 pages those two should keep me occupied until my new magazines start arriving.

Both classes also require a lot of apparel catalogs. I ordered catalogs from J. Crew, Land’s End, L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and International Male. The first four sell clothing I like but can rarely afford. I will never buy anything from the fifth, but I think it might be a fun one to use in class. I will start collecting Kmart, Target, and Walmart sales flyers from the Sunday newspapers. I suspect we will be looking at a lot of expensive clothing in class, and I think it might be useful to have some examples of the clothing college students can actually afford.

I need a lot of art supplies for line development. I bought a large pack of colored pencils yesterday, and I still have all the supplies from my fashion sketching class. The list of required art supplies left me feeling quite nervous about the class. I was not sure what this class would be, but I was not expecting this. I will learn more next week once class starts.