I am currently developing a design for a tie-back strapless dress. The garment will be poly-morphic with the inherent ability to be worn as a skirt or top. It is a relatively simple design that will move effortlessly through the summer. Layer it up if you like and take it into transitional fall.
As with all of my designs of this nature, it will be sustainable, created from recycled tee shirts. Art and embellishements will be hand-painted allowing the wearer to have pride that she is wearing a one-of-a-kind edition. No metal fasteners or zippers will be used. The drawstring closure will also give this dress a very floaty and fun sort of feel and the voluminous design will allow it to fit a range of sizes.
Before I begin to cut and sew I like to start with flat sketches. Flat sketching like this forces me to consider seam placement as much as it does the intended fit. It also gives me a handy way to add specs for the final work.
Development of this project will be easier [and it will probably make a lot more sense] if I treat the design as if it were being created for a hypothical client. Going forward I will refer to this hypothical client as HC.
At this point HC and I have discussed the style she is interested in. I have her measurements and we have discussed her issues with her body. HC has indicated that she feels most comfortable in a dress that strikes her at mid thigh. She also likes longer skirts that fall to mid calf. This design accomplishes that.
HC has also indicated that she would like to disguise a slight tummy bulge and minimize the look of ample hips. She has no issue with her bustline and doesn't mind drawing a little more attention to that area of her body. Again, this design, as presented, will accomplish her goals and maximize her assets. We have talked about it at length and she is very happy with the design sketches and is ready to choose her art and select her color palette.
At this point I will present the flat sketches, colored and filled with a digital redition of the artwork. This gives the client more of a feel for the uniqueness of the design and helps her to feel the mood of the piece.
I do not take scissors to cloth until the entire design has been approved. HC is given the line sheets and/or tech packs that include the filled flat sketches and a mock-up of the artwork that she has selected.
Occassionally HC will request a croqui and ask about different looks or outfits for the same garment. Since this design works well for juniors, misses, and curv-a-licious body types I am showing the same garment as a dress and a skirt on two different croquis. The looks that you can derive from this particular garment are almost endless but I have confined myself to two different versions in order to save time for the sake of this exercise.
I've also created this list to inspire you to play with your clothes!
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You can see the list I made for this design here: http://teamsugar.com/group/1527911/lists/1701898?page=0
Play with your clothes...
The process of proto-typing
One of the aspects that I find most rewarding and enjoyable when designing a garment from start to finish is sitting down to create the prototype design.
When you're working with recycled or vintage garments you can never really be sure what you'll find in terms of color or features of the product that you're going to be starting with. In this case I found that my tee shirt had a pocket and I really liked the idea of utilizing it for this particular design.
I also thought about the idea of tying the dress [or skirt] in the back. This is sometimes easier said than done if you're alone when you're getting dressed. Sure you can always tie it in the front and then wiggle it around -- but why? You tie it to the perfect fit, arrange the gathers beautifully to fit your figure, and then force it around your body. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me but it's nice to have options.
With this in mind, I sewed the pocket and slit of the top to face front. It's a great look, granted, but not so much if you're well endowed on top. Even if you're not busty the slit may create issues of modesty if the garment is being worn alone as a strapless dress.
I also found that having the slit in the front created a very awkward look when the garment was worn as a skirt. To solve this issue, I turned the slit to the side. It was better but not great. The side seam ended up going down the front of the skirt and it just isn't pretty.
Yes. It's okay if you're improvising but the need to turn the slit to the side will also cause issues with the placement of the artwork. That being the case, the idea of a split top is now abandoned.
On a positive note I did try this garment on as a dress and a skirt and I have to tell you that it is way cute. I do not look a bit pregnant in it, which is a common issue with styles of this nature, and it is very breezy and comfortable.
Play with your clothes
With the slit being gone I was able to give this dress additional morphability.
Or pull the waist band up under your bust for a shorter, flirtier look
Or drop it to your waist and tighten the second drawstring for a sexy, longer length skirt
Additionally you could pull the skirt up to your waist, tighten the second drawstring and roll the top for a kicky, knee-length version
Yes. I'm loving this design. 4 completely different looks from the same garment! I will be finishing the artwork on these designs but I am also moving forward and revising it to make it a bit fuller.
The fully completed prototype design: Fueled by Time
Hand-painted, acrylic on jersy knit
Please feel free to offer your insights, comments and critique. I only ask that you respect my copyright of the design as well as the subsequent sketches.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.