Creating a Fashion Collaboration: Introducing my Fair Fit Pattern

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 now see a great opportunity to participate and share my design ideas with others 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. (edit: this pattern is now a series of courses called The Fair Fit Method.) 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 more variations.  In 2018, 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 process of the sewing and personalization of the fit. I would love for other fashion and sewing lovers to bring their own perspectives and expertise to this design.

I believe the project can thrive in an audience of people who love to sew, who love fashion, and who want to make clothing for themselves with an 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. 

Is pattern drafting and design an area you are focused on learning more about too? I designed a free workbook that provides you the opportunity to consider your own process and bring some new methods that I teach to your sewing practice. There are a series of exercises and questions inside the book that I use in my own practice to design patterns to customize a garment. Go here to this link, get the workbook and give it a try! I'll also send you some more informative posts on sewing, design, and learning as well.

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, it's great to step outside and push yourself creatively. I'm hoping the Fair Fit Method teaches and inspires you to invent some of your own systems by freeing up how you experience a sewing pattern. While it's still my design, what I can offer is a different approach to fit, sewing, and clothing and teach you how to customize the pattern for yourself towards your own individual perspective. 

Using the Fair Fit Pattern, the Maker Learns and Owns Their Own Sewn Production

In the online courses 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 achieve the look and feel. What you learn 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. It's a lot like legos and has 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 share the sewing methods and surface design variations throughout the courses.

Learning customization through Draping

The Fair Fit pattern is a different kind of sewing pattern. It was developed to create a new kind of experience when sewing custom clothing that would allow the person wearing the garment the space allow more customization in the process. 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 conceptual sewing applications with an unusual sewing twist, but the process of making it teaches the student how to drape for their own body. The pattern pieces are created and graded in such a way that you choose and drape the pattern to what’s most comfortable and flattering to your body.

Applying 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 have my own limitations to what I can present and discover within my perspective of design and clothing. Sharing and teaching the pattern frees me up to explore next steps, and be inspired by how this pattern finds it's place in the world.

To outsource and offer the pattern helps me grow as a designer because the project can leave the confines of my own studio and creative practice. As more people work with the pattern and its design by creating 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. It's a direct designer to sewer creative 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 sourced 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. 

Since I've been asked 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 and its methods is one example how how I push my own skills conceptually. It's 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 it's unique voice and aesthetic, how the pattern is sewn and looks, it's going to reach a specific person who wants to wear it. My aesthetic has always been on the raw side. My clothes were once described by the critic Missy Wilkinson-  

If Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mad Max had a daughter, this is what she’d wear to prom.
— Missy Wilkinson

Who will benefit the most from this pattern?

I offer it up to people looking for a challenge and are excited to try new and different kinds of sewing processes. And 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 more ways of incorporating you perspectives into custom design. 

And if you would like to break out of the boundaries and limitations of traditional clothing patterns and sewing, 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. 

 technical sketch

technical sketch

Fashion draping will be a skill you will build by using the pattern as a framework. Draping helps you determine how the garment falls on the body, while teaching you your unique proportions. Using this pattern will teach you more about customization of clothing, and you will discern some great lessons to move you forward 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. It's still a specific template and sewn a certain way and would have to 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. 

2. You have to be comfortable with going off road.  This Fair Fit Method 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 garments. And I want you to have that experience because that's where this pattern brings you more growth and awareness into design. 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 email and the videos, and give you helpful advice during your check fit process.

4. Anyone looking to use the pattern to sell, or produce, as a product. This garment is not for production or sale of any kind. It's for you to use for yourself, to make something great for you and to learn, and not another person. 

But if all of what I've written today gets you excited, then lets do this!

If you are interested in taking courses in the Fair Fit Method, the next opportunity to enroll begins April 2018. You can visit https://www.fairfitmethod.com/ to learn more and read all about the program and full curriculum. If you want to know right away when enrollment opens again, click the button below and you will receive email updates, articles, and notifications when registration begins.