Remember back in February when I shared with you why I started teaching? How I had felt like I had been invested in, given and earned a lot of skill, expertise, and knowledge from some pretty terrific people, and it did not feel good to not have a way that it enters the world when I stopped my practice of fashion design. I used to read a lot about artist block and how people experience it, but for me artist block occurs when the flow gets stopped because you have built up a project, idea, or practice so far, but don't have a way to share it with other people.
And lately, I've been feeling like I have my next steps. That though this has been a long journey, as I shared in this series, I know see a great opportunity to allow my designs to be in the world again, by using a combination of what I'm already teaching and experiencing with my students.
As I hinted at last week, I have decided to release my Fair Fit Dress as a sewing pattern and online workshop. The pattern actually goes beyond just a dress, because it is a customizable system of components and pattern pieces that build upon each other to make infinite variations. If the first dress is well received, then throughout the year I plan on releasing each of the components that allow you to further customize the parts into tops, skirts, and other styles of dresses.
I've been waiting to see how it can enter the world, and finally leave the confines of how I use and experience it in my own body of work. I'm one person, so I'm always going to fall upon my own decisions and taste levels to make the dress. And as I discussed in the previous posts, it doesn't really belong in a store, because of the quality of the sewing and personalization of the fit. And I can no longer support it in my own studio, again because of the quality of the sewing and personality of the fit, and I would love for other fashion and sewing lovers to bring their own perspectives and expertise to this design.
And I believe the project can thrive in an audience of people who love to sew, who love fashion, and who want to make new and compelling clothing for themselves with a high fashion and artistic twist on the construction. I have been asked by readers of this blog for more advanced teachings, more advanced sewing, and while this might not be exactly what you were thinking, this is my best way to teach how I experienced and learned new levels in sewing and design.
Know the rules, so you can break the rules.
Eventually, to really achieve autonomy from what exists already in clothing and all the limitations I hear expressed, its great to step outside and push yourself creatively. I'm hoping my pattern teaches and inspires you to invent some of your own systems, by freeing up how you experience a sewing pattern. While its still my design, and its not completely free of that, what I can offer you is a different approach to fit, sewing, and clothing and teach you how to customize it for yourself towards your own individual perspective.
Using the Fair Fit Pattern, the Maker Learns and Owns Their Own Sewn Production
In the online workshop and using my specific pattern, I will be teaching how the pattern works and how to customize the fit while showing how to drape it and change it to achieve the look and feel you want for the dress. What you learn in this part of the workshop will apply to other kinds of patterns too, so you will get more lessons on fashion design and fit and how to customize patterns for yourself.
I will also discuss the different kinds of finishings, the components you can add to change to look, fit, feel, and shape of the dress. Its a pattern puzzle! And like legos, has multiple very playful variations. In this workshop, because we are focused on fit, we are going to use the basic shift dress variation. You can choose if you want a sleeve, or to create a sleeveless dress. But later down the road, this pattern converts into tops, skirts, and multiple kinds of dresses and I intend to teach lots of sewing, dye techniques, and surface design variations.
The Sewist Decides How They Want the Garment to Fit
The Fair Fit pattern is not just any sewing pattern. It was developed to create a new kind of pattern and experience with clothing that would allow the person wearing the garment the space to choose how they want it to fit. That’s why its fair- you get a say in how its made, instead of a designer assigning how your clothes should look and feel. This is a pattern that teaches not just innovative and artistic sewing techniques, conceptual sewing applications with a high fashion twist, but the process of making it teaches the student how to drape for their own body, and the pattern pieces are created and graded in such a way that you choose how you would like it to fit, and what’s most comfortable and flattering to your body.
You Get to Choose What's Comfortable and Attractive to You, In the parameters of this design
I care most about the potentiality of what the experience can bring to the wearer, and how they use the pattern to expand their awareness of fashion design. I know I don't have all of the answers, and have my own limitations to what I can present and discover within my own designs. This frees me up to explore next steps using the pattern, and be inspired by how this pattern finds its place in the world.
To outsource and offer the pattern helps me grow as a designer because the project is finally going to live beyond the confines of my own studio and creative practice. As more people work with my design, and create their new interpretations of it, I will be inspired to make new interpretations of the pattern and explore more ways the grading can apply to new types of style lines and shapes.
This is a way that my design and garment can find more people looking to grow in their sewing, and wear a different kind of design, without me carrying the burdens of inventory and the retail exchange. Is a direct designer to client relationship, and that's far more efficient than taking this dress to production, market, and retail.
I'm not the first designer to open source their production. Like I mentioned last week, the work of Natalie Chanin and her company Alabama Chanin, provided me the inspiration to do this. While her business and impact is far greater than mine, I felt like the levels of craft and time involved in the making of her garments were similar to the Fair Fit dress. Her genius has been in setting up business models with sustainable labor practices to produce their clothing and designs and I have always followed and admired it. Through her books, she has open soured her designs by offering patterns and kits and step by step instructions to people who wanted to own an Alabama Chanin piece themselves, and were willing to use their own hands to make it.
And I'm inspired by how other designers and expert patternmakers like Grainline Studio, Victory Patterns, Closet Case Files, and Christine Haynes have made a huge impact on the sewing industry by creating companies to share and sell their sewing patterns. Their work is changing the experience of sewing and patterns, and through attention to detail, extensive instructions, and sew alongs on their blogs, they are teaching sewing skills through their patterns. I have sewn their patterns to learn and refine my own skills.
And, I've been written by students who are seeking a challenge, to broaden their perspective and skills. I've been asked to teach more about fashion design, and advanced sewing, and this pattern is one example how how I push my own skills conceptually. Its one way I can share and teach more advanced methods, artistic approaches, and ideas with fit with a pattern I know and have used and can show these approaches effectively.
Who is it designed for?
I know its not for everyone- everyone has a certain taste level and due to its unique voice and aesthetic, how the pattern is sewn and looks, its going to reach a specific person who wants to wear it. My aesthetic has always been on the raw side. My clothes were once perfectly described by the critic Missy Wilkinson-
Who will benefit the most from this pattern?
So if you like lots of details and an artistic sewing aesthetic, then this pattern is going to teach you fashion draping, how to fit for your body, and free your mind to explore artistic forms of sewing that go beyond the rules and process of contemporary production.
I offer it up to people looking for that kind of a challenge, for folks wanting to try surface design through their choice of thread and own unique sewn style that the pattern compels you to develop. You will get to play with color and contrast, and in the future I hope if the pattern catches on, that I will get to teach you how to push your boundaries of color by learning the dye process.
And if you are frustrated with fit, and would like to break out of the boundaries and limitations of traditional clothing patterns and sewing, this pattern will teach you how to develop your own opinion and make the dress democratically fit to your own liking. The pattern will help you develop your own problem solving skills and critical thinking, so you can learn more about fit and apply that to future patterns.
You are also going to advance your skills, by learning draping using the pattern as a framework. Draping helps you determine how the garment falls on the body, and fits in certain places. Using this pattern will teach you more about customization of clothing, and you will discern some great lessons to move forward with in your self sewn clothing projects.
Who its not for:
1. It might not be your taste level, and I understand- fashion is very personal. If this pattern is successful, I'll release more interpretations, but its still a specific template and you would have to like the way its sewn, and the originality of the look, and would want to wear something like it. While I have left a lot of room for freedom in your own design and perspective to shine through in this pattern, my specifics of how I make still come through too. If you don't like this pattern, don't attempt it because the techniques I teach can't be translated to any other pattern, there's many reasons why it doesn't look traditional and why conventionally drafted patterns can't be used to create the fit the way my pattern can.
2. You have to be comfortable with going off road. If you are uncomfortable with the space I provide for your personal opinion and critical thinking to emerge, then this pattern won't make you happy, and I want you to be happy if you purchase it. This pattern isn't like a recipe- there are going to be times when you use your own experience and preference that goes outside all the lessons I provide to make the pattern. And I want you to have that experience because that's where this pattern brings you more growth and awareness into design. But I can't know what's in anyone else's head, so there will be times when you are making it, that you might think- hey, what If I just shortened that seam here, or added a dart there. Awesome, I want you to do that!! Write me if you have that experience because I want to feature it. However, if going off road like that makes you uncomfortable this pattern isn't for you.
3. I'm not going to tell you what's best for you, what looks best, or what feels best. That would put my input above your own and this pattern is supposed to provide space for you to make your own decisions and build confidence in your skill and design choices. I'm happy to offer resources, or provide some trouble shooting in the videos, but you are on your own in terms of how you make the dress look and feel.
4. Anyone looking to use the pattern to sell, or produce, as a product. That's stealing, and you don't want to go there. Not only have I taken all steps to legally protect my brand, ideas, and clothing, but this garment is not for production or sale of any kind. Its for you to use for yourself, to make something great for you and to learn, and not another person. And the skills I teach you will not work for another person, because built into the final product is your own perspectives and interpretations. Please lead them to the pattern and show them where you got it, if you are asked to make one for someone else.
But if all of what I've written today gets you excited, then lets do this!
The Fair Fit Pattern is only offered in a six person online workshop. I will teach it in groups of six at a time, those who take the survey will be the first to know when the course is offered, as well as those who subscribe to my weekly newsletter. I want you to get the best experience possible and ensure you get the individualized attention necessary to learn the most from the pattern.
The class is going to be 6 weeks, and each week we will tackle a module- with videos, live video workshops, and class discussions. If you want to be first to know when the course opens, sign up below and you will be emailed as soon as it opens.
Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you!