I have always loved sewing. I have been sewing since I was in third grade. I sewed most of my clothes in junior high school, and I designed and sewed my ice skating dress. (Yes, I did a little bit of competitive figure skating!)
I always wanted to learn how to make my own patterns and learn better sewing techniques. After many, many years I am now pursuing a bit of this dream!
Last September, I enrolled at the De Marcos Fashion Academy. Thankfully, this program works well with my crazy schedule — because, you know, I really needed to add one more time-consuming thing to my week.
It has three parts: fashion illustration, draping on the dress form/pattern making, and sewing. It all is finalized in a fashion show at the end of the year!
During the first quarter, I learned Fashion Illustration. Well, this was an adventure. Let’s just say that figure drawing in college was not one of my favorite classes. To my surprise, though, I was able to get this somewhat worked out. Jodi, the instructor, taught with skill and formulas that work.
I practiced at home, and when I was at the warehouse I would make myself sketch one picture a day on scratch paper. I think practice really makes a difference. I remember when I was in college and my drawing teacher said that if you don’t spend time, like hours, on a drawing, you will never get the feel/eye/skill for it. I took that to heart for this new task, and practiced a lot.
Over the weeks the figures started to look a bit more normal, fashion normal. My drawings and sketches for Chic-a are so different than these fashion drawings. There are some parts that I have yet to master, especially the hands and faces.
Once Jodi thought I got the figure down, I was to design three dresses. That was easier said that than done!
I was a bit intimidated by how to draw on the clothes in a creative, unique way. I think it was hard for many reasons. I drew pictures of things I knew I could sew instead of just designing. I would figure the sewing out as I was drawing, and if I couldn’t figure out how to sew it, I would erase it.
Finally, I got past that and just tried to draw things I liked. I was able to get ideas and experiment with them.
I came up with three designs that I liked. I found fabric from my stash (yes, there are fabric stashes like yarn stashes), and decided what would work best for each piece.
The next step was to draw them on art board and add color. Oh no! I really am not a color artist! I’ve always been a drafter… black and white and straight lines. Now you see the art dilemma.
I had three choices: color pencil, oil pastels and watercolor! Oil pastels, way too messy. Color pencil, hard to get smooth lines. Watercolor, hard to work with and very limited experience. So what did I pick? Watercolor, of course! I had my watercolors from college — yes they are 20 years old, but they are the dry kind so they still work.
Jodi gave me a crash course in using watercolors, and I started the process. It took several days to complete the pictures, since it helps to have it dry between sections. Once they were finished, though, I was actually very surprised and pleased at how they turned out. I learned a lot in those first 10 weeks.
I still draw and sketch, but not daily. I probably should. I still want to improve in this area and learn how to make the hands look better, give my figures a face, and learn how to turn the body more. If I have an idea now, I will go draw it. But I use color pencils to add the color —watercolor takes too long and is hard!
In a small way, I think illustrating is becoming a part of me.
Next up, tackling the dress form!