In today's post, I wanted to show the process of making the Fair Fit Dress Collection for Spring and Summer 2018 a little more in depth. I'll focus on just the first two designs featured in the video and the process of collecting items from previous work and collections to use for repurpose. I also made a short video that breaks down the dresses, showing their previous incarnations, with a quick demonstration of the thought process of repurpose and redesign that I used to create these 2 new garments.
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I didn't start out with the intention that this was going to be an almost entirely repurposed collection, it just came to be through a process of planning. When Jill and I started to plan the video, I saw that this would need to be a collection that related to how the dress could be used in everyday life. That looks a lot different than the editorial versions of dress that I made for previous collections.
Last year, when I was planning to offer the Fair Fit Method as an educational product for sewists, I started to make samples to show the potential of the dress and the variations that could be made with the pattern. I would map these out by writing out the pattern blocks needed. For example, I would list bodice pattern, sleeveless variation 1, high rise torso variation, with pencil skirt. In this way, I was designing strictly based on the pattern blocks and the potential to combine them for wardrobe diversity and customization.
This worked for the fall launch, but I also felt that even though these dresses were made as a group, there lacked cohesion. This new spring and summer collection presented the opportunity to use the previous method of design, but now incorporate consistency in the colors, fabrics, and sewing to demonstrate how the pattern and garments you learn in the courses can be designed to accommodate your daily life.
Watch the video to see the visual of what I am describing:
Dress 1 - Thought and Process
The important opportunity I also wanted to demonstrate is you can remake, reconsider, and repurpose garments that you sew up while learning. I tell my sewing students that I make most things twice, and I tell my Fair Fit Method students that the fabric they choose for their first garments should not be precious because you are learning a different and new way of sewing. The methods I teach are hard work and you will probably not be as happy with your first garments because you will have to work towards a new level and definition of success for this kind of sewing. However that work is never wasted, and nor are your materials.
By demonstrating repurpose for this collection, I wanted to inspire Fair Fit Method students to hold onto their learning or test garments. They can be seam ripped or razored quite quickly and reconstituted, refinished, and repurposed into new garments more easily then conventional ready to wear clothing. The garments are sewn from two layers of cloth, which creates a durability that makes it easier to deconstruct them without damaging them. And at the small size of the pattern pieces also makes it easy to cut them down and create alterations to the shape without having to lose too much fabric.
Dress 1 and 2 were designed with the intention of showing how this character relates to her neighborhood, and the ways that she would dress to run around town and enjoy her walk to work, or how she would make a Fair Fit Dress for casual wear. And talk about early Fair Fit fails of my own - I had this shirt from a runway show that I never got quite right, didn't style right, and never had an excuse to revisit. But the fabric was really great, and I liked that the exterior was white with a charcoal interior.
For this dress, I wanted to have that kind of "2 piece" shirt and skirt combo visually, so I cut the white shirt apart, and also presented the front of the dress as white, with the back being charcoal for a color blocked look. Then I absolutely loved this wax cotton skirt that I used for the Learn and Make the Fair Fit Skirt pleated skirt, but it had served its purpose. By combining it with the white/charcoal bodice, this skirt has new life, and now this version of the dress is a visual favorite of mine.
Dress 2 - thought and process
For the 2nd dress, I dug into my husband's archives. I did not have a lot of time for dye work, and since these pieces had already been designed into a cohesive and complimentary color palette, I saw no reason why they couldn't be further deconstructed into an all in one dress.
In the Fair Fit course, Heirloom Repurpose, I teach that one of my favorite things to repurpose are button down shirts. It's even better if they are one of your own me made shirts, because then the new item becomes more of an heirloom as it is reworked. In 2012 and 2013, Paul and I collaborated on a few menswear collections, and as we were developing the patterns and the samples we ended up with a lot of them. Most of the samples he ended up wearing for 3 or 4 years, and what you are seeing in this piece are about 2 or 3 pieces from this collection.
Overall my favorite aspect of this piece is the color palette and combination of clean and raw sewing. This dress has more texture to it, and features mixtures of clean and raw Fair Fit Method sewing. And because this is repurposed, there are lines of stitching in different thread colors from the garment's previous incarnation.
I should also say that dress 1 and 2 were made in the last hour in my production plan. I had 3 previous garments that did not make the cut. When I met with Erika for our fitting, once I saw those pieces I thought that they were following different tangents and did not fit in. This was really disappointing because I was following a tight production schedule to have all of the pieces ready for our shoot date. The lack of consistency in the 3 previous garments and their subsequent cut from the collection meant I only had 1 week to conceptualize and construct dress 1 and 2.
I met my deadline and ended up with my 2 most favorite dresses of the collection. It was worth it to push myself that way, trusting my instincts and be willing to start over. I feel that I was rewarded with better pieces, and that these 2 garments brought the aspects of casual dress or "free time" fun dresses to the story that we told in the video.
Up next week, I'll take us to the workplace and demonstrate the conceptual process behind dress 3 and 4! Hope to see you then :) In the meantime, if you want to watch the full video you can see it here:
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