Tag Archives: Handmade

Ad Campaigns, Packaging, Exhibition Planning and a Few Other Things….

A few things that I haven’t talked about….

I developed several possible ad campaigns for this module, I was pleased to get the children’s photoshoots done early as I was able to put the real images into place instead of images of other companies websites:

I can’t really decide which one is my favourite, but I think it was good to have some different sized ones that could be used for different magazines or websites. I love the first one, I like having a long, thin one with a single image as it has a strong impact. However, I also think it works well to have a main image with thumbnails below to give more of an idea of the whole collection.

I’ve also loaded the images onto my exhibition invitation:

In this instance, I think it definitely works better to have a main image and thumbnails as I want to give people a sneak preview of what will be in my exhibition. The dates and venue etc. are all correct so if anybody reading this would like to attend feel free!! The dresses will however be taken off the exhibition early as it clashes with the fashion show, so contact me if you are thinking of visiting.

I hadn’t been too sure of how I wanted my invite to look, I found these examples really useful:

I found loads of examples just by putting Exhibition Invite Ideas into Google, but these ones were my favourites as I liked the simplicity of them. I think this gives them more of an impact than ones that have too much going on!

One of the extra things to design and research for this module was packaging. As my business plan outlines a webshop, I decided that researching packaging would be a useful element to include, as the business is to be a high end luxury brand I wanted the packaging to reflect this. Companies such as Net-a-Porter use their packaging to reinforce their luxury image:

I have tried to achieve a similar effect:

If I was actually doing this for real, I would obviously have to think more carefully about the cost of this. However just to create a prototype, I have used a box from Print House Group, personalised ribbon from Partyrama costing £0.95 per metre and tissue paper from WH Smiths. It has the luxury feel I was aiming for, I think most little girls would be excited to receive a pretty new dress in this lovely packaging!

I designed numerous swing tags several weeks ago but was only able to print them onto card yesterday:

Just printing them onto different colours and qualities of card makes such a difference, I have chosen the bottom right one. I’ve put a ribbon in it so that it could be attached to a garment. However I’ve also used some of my business cards (they arrived on Friday…yay!) as they have a really lovely finish, if I were actually placing an order for swing tags I would like them to have the same satin finish: I think it gives them a more luxurious feel.

Last week I also put together a plan of my exhibition space:

There is a limited number of plinths and mannequins available on campus, I’m hoping I will be able to use these. However, if not I will have to borrow mannequins from my mum’s and ask my uncle (who is a carpenter) to build me a plinth. I’m planning on building the clothes rail myself (well attempting to anyway!!!) but at least I know I can ask Dave for a bit of help if I’m struggling! Let’s face it I’m not very handy with a saw or a hammer!! I have also found several websites where I can buy artificial wild flowers: Just Artificial and Withycombe Fair. I’m really looking to actually putting this together and having my work on display, I think it will feel a huge relief!!


Final Garments…

What?!! Two posts in one day?! That’s right, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. No outfit post, will try and do one later but need to write a journal entry on the construction of my final garments, which apart from sewing some press studs into the ruffle skirted women’s dress are finished!!! I feel like such a huge weight has been lifted, I still have things to do such as putting together a book of all my samples but I feel like I should get everything done  in the time I have left (7 days eeeeeeekks!!)

So there are images of the children’s dresses in my previous posts but I wanted to show some close up shots so that I could talk about the construction in a bit more detail:

The wing sleeved dress:

I’ve written a lot about the construction of this dress already but just a few overall reflections; this dress has been the most expensive to produce, even more than any of the womenswear. This is primarily because of my fabric choices; the main dress is sand-washed silk, the sleeves and collar silk georgette and the lining is silk twill. The sleeves have also been a major expense, when the fabric is pleated you have to allow 3 times as much as you would normally require; this meant that for the sleeves on a dress for 7 year old I required 3metres of fabric! The pleated fabric has also been quite difficult to work with, I think that if you were to use it on a more commercial scale then it would be for simpler garments such as a skirt or for finishing touches such as the collar. Hemming this fabric also proved problematic, I decided that the best way was to keep the edges raw and seal them with fray stop; this has kept the fragile and delicate feel that I was aiming for. The sand-washed silk I’ve used for the main dress is beautiful, it’s very tactile and has enough weight to it that it hangs really beautifully without being too heavy. It creases very easily though and the creases are difficult to press out, especially as I don’t want to risk getting steam any where near the pleated fabric.

The Dragonfly Box-Pleated Dress:

This dress is made in age 2 and looks so cute! I’m really pleased with this, I fitted the toile to the model and then spent about 5 hours on Saturday hand painting the dragonfly wing pattern onto the dress. I then stitched the box pleats into place and the way they break up the print design is more effective than I had ever imagined. I really love this one, which is funny because it was originally the one that was my least favourite! I’m actually looking into the possibility of putting this into production at the moment, obviously this would mean getting the wing design made into a screen. I have put a facing in this dress that finishes just under the arms, I was finding it particularly difficult around the armholes as I wanted the finish to be as professional as possible. This tutorial I found on Fashion Incubator was really useful though and I’m very proud of the end result. Here’s a close up of the pleated and printed fabric, you can see how the lines of the print are broken up by the pleating:

 I didn’t want to machine stitch the hem as I didn’t want a line of  stitching interfering with the bottom of the box pleats, for this reason I pressed the hem under and then caught it to the dress with a slip-stitch.

The Dandelion Pin-tucked Dress:

I don’t think I actually had any problems putting this dress together! The pintucks look beautiful and match up perfectly on the front and back at the shoulder seams:

I had originally intended just to have the dandelion painted in gold but it just didn’t stand out enough and so I’ve added some fine detail with the brown I used on the dragonfly dresses. I also drew the design on with a disappearing fabric pen so that I didn’t risk messing the design up. Again, I am really pleased with the end result of this dress and would consider putting this into production: perhaps with fewer pintucks though as there is 36 altogether on the front and back!!

I will write a post about the womenswear dresses tomorrow once I have taken some photos of them on a mannequin.


Pastel Pop….

Dress: Vintage

Shoes: Irregular Choice

Nails: Numerous shades of Barry M

The past week I think I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked before. Hence the lack of blog posts. I’m pretty much surviving on coffee at the moment but I finally feel like it’s paying off, things are really starting to come together. As I haven’t done a post for a whole week I have a huge amount to write about, so make yourself a coffee and settle in for a while…..

Firstly here’s a picture of the pintucked and pleated women’s dress that I recently blogged about, I’ve made the bias-cut slip to go underneath it and it really finishes it off. I used a silk twill for the lining, it’s a bit thicker than the ponge I was going to use and so I don’t feel concerned that the dress would still be too sheer. It was quite strange putting it together, as it is a 1920s pattern the seam allowance on it was 1/2″. I’m used to sewing 1cm seam allowances and to sew such a wide one seemed more difficult!! It also didn’t look as neat once I’d pressed it open to have such a wide seam so I have overlocked the extra off to make it look neater on the inside.

This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I am really pleased with it. The only thing left to do is to sew in the press studs and finish the hem. I’ve decided that the best way to do this is to just use fray stop on the edge, I think that anything else I do to the pleated edge will spoil the line of it and look to bulky.

This is the pintucked bodice for the second ladies dress:

Again, I am immensely proud of the construction of this. The silk chiffon I have used for both these dresses has been very challenging to work with as it is so slippy and stretchy. I’ve french seamed the armholes, neckline and all side seams. It looks perfect and I feel that it is made to professional standard. I’ve tried to take a photograph of one of the french seams but I’m not sure if you can really tell what it is:

This bodice is ready to be sewn onto the ruffle skirt, I have been fray stopping the raw edges every evening for the past week! I’m almost there, if I were to make this again I would probably have used something that wouldn’t fray so badly so that I wouldn’t have had this extra labourious task. But then on the other hand I don’t think anything else would have the same effect, it falls so beautifully and feels so light and delicate. Here’s a little close up to give you an idea:

This week I’ve also been working on the final ladies dress, I thought this one was going to be really straight forward but as per usual it was harder and took longer than I expected!!! It was the pintucked panels that caused me the problems…again! I had thought that as the silk linen is much crisper they would be easier to keep even, but I stitched the first three and they just didn’t look quite right. They weren’t perfectly straight or the perfect distance apart even though I had notched and pressed the tucks first. The only way I could overcome this was to unpick them and draw on the lines with a vanishing pen. This kept them the right distance apart and lovely and straight:

I’ve also hand painted the wing design onto the other panels:

This technique has been really effective, the wing is obviously very stylized. If I had done it exactly it would have taken me even longer, each little section would also have been much larger and I just don’t think that it would have had the same impact. I think that it has as much of an impact as printing the image would have done and the lines still look beautifully crisp. On the bottom panel I did have to extend the wing a little further across than I had originally planned, just as I was putting everything away I got a spot of the fabric paint about 8cm away from where I had finished the wing. I wanted to cry, but I have managed to extend it so that it doesn’t just look like I’ve stuck a bit extra on. On my original drawing I had planned to put a small painted section on the bottom left hand corner of the skirt too, but after I had done all the right hand side I have decided that any more on it would be a bit overwhelming and take away from the impact that it has. So this dress is all ready to be joined together too. That means the womenswear designs are almost complete.

Today I’ve also fitted the last two of the childrenswear toiles to the models.  I need to shorten the sleeve length on the dandelion pintucked dress by about 7cm as I want it to be just below the elbow but other than that it fits her perfectly. The child’s dragonfly dress also fitted well although the little girl is small for her age and I have had to shorten the dress length by approximately 5cm. I’ve got these cut out and overlocked now and so am planning on get the hand painting done on them tomorrow and then fully constructed on Sunday. I’m hoping to photograph the dragonfly dress on Monday afternoon and the Dandelion one next Friday. I’ve found a location just down the road from uni so I’m hoping it won’t be too much hassle for the children’s parents to get them there:

I have also completely finished the pleated wing sleeved child’s dress so this is ready to be photographed too. However, I need to speak to my lecturer Lindsay (it’s her daughter modelling this dress) to see whether she might be available for a photoshoot next Friday too. I haven’t taken a photo of it but it looks really beautiful, simple yet striking. The pleated fabric did actually make it rather more difficult to put together than I had expected though!! As with the ladies dress with the pleated panels, I had cut the wings out whilst still between its special layers of paper and then stitched across the top edge to hold the pleats in place before carefully tearing the paper out. I don’t know if it was because they were much larger pieces and not just a straight edge but the paper was much, much more difficult to remove from inside the pleats. In fact it was a total nightmare and although I was ridiculously careful when removing the little remnant of paper it did pull the pleats out of line ever so slightly. Even with the line of stitching holding them in place, it was really difficult to keep them perfect when putting them into the side seams of the dress. I was worried about this, particularly because the pleated fabric is silk georgette that frays even more so than the chiffon of the ladies dresses and so I really didn’t want to risk having to unpick it. The only way I could eliminate this risk was to tack them in by hand and notch where the sleeve should end on the side seam, ensuring they were level. Another time consuming task! I will write more about this dress tomorrow once I’ve taken some photos of it, the light in here is too bad to get decent pictures of it.


Slowly But Surely….

The weather has been weird today, beautiful one minute and then thunderstorms the next. Finally managed to get an outfit photograph done just before it went dark:

Jumpsuit: Motel

Kimono Cardigan: Topshop

I’ve made some serious progress since my last post, I’ve put the lining into the pintucked bodice of the ruffle dress. It took me a lot longer than I had anticipated, I had to french seam the whole thing so that I could trim away the overlocked edge; if I hadn’t done this you would have been able to see the edge as the chiffon is so sheer. I have to say they are the most beautifully neat french seams in the entire world. Such a shame that you won’t be able to see them!! The bodice is ready now for the skirt to be joined onto it but I don’t want to do this until I’ve finished putting the fray stop onto all the raw edges.

I’ve hand-rolled and catch-stitched the neckline, armholes and opening of the pintucked and pleated dress. I still have the hem to do but there’s no point doing it until I know the height of the model.

I’ve dyed the silk linen for the women’s and child’s dragonfly dresses. It was quite good fun to do the sampling, I used proper acid dyes and so was able to make the exact colour that I wanted. Normally for silk you would only need 1ml of dye per 10g of fabric, but as the fabric was a mix I used 2ml of dye for a 5g sample piece of fabric. I worked out that to dye the full 4metres of fabric (weighing 665g) I needed 266ml of mixed dye, from my chosen sample this worked out as 106ml of yellow green, 106ml of green turquoise and 54ml of charcoal. To do such a large quantity I had to use an enormous steel pot on a gas burner out in the shed, I felt a bit like a witch at a cauldron as I stood there stirring it for half an hour!! This was the fabric before I dyed it, I almost didn’t want to dye it because it looked so beautiful:

I particularly love the blue selvedge, it would be nice to make this the feature of the garment if I had used it undyed; for example the bottom edge of a skirt or dress.

These were the different samples I created:

I need to find a nice box or something to display all my samples when I submit the project and it would also be nice to display them for the exhibition.


3 Weeks to Go….

3 weeks tomorrow is my deadline….EEEEEEEK!!!

I’ve actually had a really productive and successful few days. I’ve all but finished the pintuck and pleated dress, just need to finish the armholes and neckline. I still need to make the bias cut lining for this too, I was speaking to the costume lecturer at uni today though and she is going to bring me a 1920s bias cut slip pattern in tomorrow for me to have a look at. I’ve also started the mammoth task of putting fray stop on the raw edges of the ruffle dress, I decided it was best to do a bit at a time rather than leaving it all till the end. It’s quite nice to have something to do in the evening that doesn’t require too much brain function anyway!!  I’ll take some pictures tomorrow so you can actually see what I’m talking about.

I’ve also got the children’s designs graded and toiled to the correct size so as soon as I’ve done a fitting with the models, I can get cut out and making in the real fabrics.

Stopped on the way home to take an outfit photograph, I love how much colour there is in spring. I instantly regretted wearing this skirt as soon as I walked out the door this morning. I say walk, what I mean is shuffled. I do really like this skirt but the tube shape of it means that you can only take tiny little steps, I have to remember not to try and cross the road in a hurry!!!

Maxi Tube Skirt: Topshop

Vest: Topshop

Cardigan: Topshop

Boots: Topshop

Oh and I’m also making good progress for my Start Up Planning and Promotion Module: I’ve just ordered my business cards and have started building my website. I’ve bought the domain and email address, which meant I could put these details on my business cards and actually use them for my exhibition. I’ll post a link once there’s a bit more to look at, I’ve been writing the “About” page this evening; it’s surprising how hard it is to write a few paragraphs to sum up exactly how you want your business to be perceived. First impressions really do count for a lot, it may only be hypothetical but it’s really important to me for it to look professional.


Difficulties and Successes…

I’m sorry there’s no outfit post but I’ve been shut in my mum’s studio all weekend sewing.

Well the past few days have certainly been challenging, I’ve been working on the pintucked and pleated dress. I can honestly say it is the most complicated thing that I have ever constructed. To begin with I had been really pleased with myself that I had thought to cut the pleated fabric whilst still in its special paper holding it perfectly still and stitched a line across the pleats at the top and bottom to hold the pleats in place once the paper was removed. These are all the panels once I’d cut and overlocked them:

And the paper that held the pleats:

Even the paper looks beautiful! I was worried the bottom edge would make the pleats sit strangely but it actually works ok:

My next step was to join all the pintucked and pleated panels together, this was where the problems arose.  I had intended to join them all with french seams but because the quantity of fabric was so limited each panel ended either in either the inner fold or outer fold of a pleat, if I had just carried on with my french seams on some of the panels the pleats wouldn’t sit correctly. As I joined each section I had to work out where my stitch line could be for the pleats to sit properly once turned the right way. The fabric has been really difficult to work with too, there is so much stretch to it that I had to use about a million pleats and then baste before I could sew. Once I had worked out what I needed to do though it was much better, it was tricky but I actually started to feel like I was making real progress. I’ve constructed the bodice and the waistband. These and the skirt are ready to be joined together now, but I’ve decided to sew each section onto ribbon to make the seams stronger so I need to go and buy this tomorrow. Then it’s ready for the lining and fastenings. I bought some small coverable buttons on Saturday but I think that even these would be to heavy for the lightness of this dress, I think the only option is to use clear plastic press studs so it’s back to the haberdashery tomorrow.

I’m at work tomorrow but I’ve got a list of digital fabric printing companies to call in my lunch break. I was really pleased that I’ve found several companies that will print on fabric that I supply rather than their own fabrics but after reading in detail on one of the websites, they use different types of ink on silk and linen. My fabric is a silk linen blend so I’m worried they may not be able to print onto it. I’d really like to have the fabric printed professionally but screen printing it myself may be the only option.


Hardly Dressed For a Wedding….

This was my outfit today, I felt very under-dressed with the entire world watching and talking about the Royal Wedding! I must confess the whole thing brought a tear to my eye, and the dress…..Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen would be proud.

Shirt and Shorts: Topshop

Boots: River Island

Aside from watching the wedding, I have actually got a lot of work done today. As per usual things took longer than I expected and it took me until 7pm to finish sewing the pintucks into the bodice of the ruffle skirted dress. I was beginning to wonder why I seemed to have designed things that are so fiddly and time consuming but I’m pleased (and relieved) to say that I think it’s really going to be worth it. I also trialled using fray stop on a raw edge of the chiffon, there is a slight change in colour where you put it but I don’t think it would be noticable and it truly stops the fabric from fraying. I think I’m going to need a fair few bottles though, it’s going to be a very long job that one!! Apart from that though (which I’m going to leave till last anyway) this dress is very much on it’s way to being finished. I  need to get some coverable buttons tomorrow and then make a lining for it. This is a job in itself though, I’ve been reading up on cutting bias-patterns in my Helen Joseph-Armstrong pattern cutting book to see how best to do it. Think that’s tomorrow afternoon sorted anyway!!