Starting with embroidery

Professional Fashion Design

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The previous unit demonstrates that fashion design can be driven by fabric development. In the same way, embroidery can be used as the starting point for a garment idea. You can draw on paintings for patterns and shapes to develop into embroidery designs. The artist Gustav Klimt, for example, used intricate and ornate patterns, and his work would be an ideal starting point for this exercise. You may have your own preference, but be sure to choose a source that contains sufficient decorative information to inspire you throughout your investigations. Look for shapes and patterns that can be simplified and adapted to your own design ends.

As you incorporate your embroidery ideas into garment designs, take your lead from the pages of your fashion magazines. The size, amount, and placement of embroidery used by designers tends to vary as fashion changes through the seasons.

the project

Select a work of art that you find inspiring. Explore the patterns, colors, and shapes of the chosen piece, using painting, drawing, photography, gathered research, scrapbook ideas, and fashion magazine cuttings. As you work, gradually Isolate simple patterns and shapes that are easily interpreted into embroidery ideas, and use these to inspire some rough fashion designs.

the objective

• Select a suitable starting point for embroidery development. ® Combine textile and garment design by using intricate ornamentation in a fashion context. • Select your strongest embroidery ideas to inspire your fashion designs.


• Was your chosen source of inspiration suitably detailed for the development of embroidery as well as fashion ideas?

• Did you let your decorative concept take the lead in the garment design, balancing intricate ornamentation with simple design?

• Have you taken the strongest ideas through to rough sketch stage?

Gustav Klimt Patterns

< Pattern and rhythm

Choose works that show a strong sense of pattern and rhythm, like this painting by Gustav Klimt. The swirling shapes are ideal to translate Into a powerful embroidered design.

< k Widening your investigations

Original photography can be combined with research from magazines to support your observations of an artist's work. Use a sketchbook to abstract out simple patterns from your photographs. In this case, the wrought-lron railings provide a strong decorative theme.

the process

Begin by looking at a number of your chosen artist's works, but stay focused by editing down the starting points. As always, the journey of selection is vital to the design process. You might wish to combine gathered research with photographs of your own that capture a similar series of shapes and patterns. This kind of primary research adds to the originality of your design solutions—but keep it simple.

Draw or paint your own interpretations of the work, evolving these into simplified and abstracted patterns and shapes. Still working through your ideas on paper, use collage and machine embroidery to begin evolving decorative ideas. Echo the shapes and patterns that you have observed. These pieces are drawings in themselves—done with a sewing machine rather than a pen!

Begin by using the colors of your source material, but feel free to move away into your own palette. Changing colors can be a productive way to give a new twist to a familiar pattern.


Embroidery Patterns Necklines

V Isolating shapes

Drawing or painting your own interpretations of an artist's work will encourage you to examine your source material closely. Use your sketchbook to establish simplified repetitive patterns, derived from your starting point.

Now work your embroidery ideas into some rough garment designs. Remember that a simple garment shape will show off embroidery to best effect. Pockets, collars, necklines, hems, and cuffs can all be good places to site decoration, or you might want to be bolder and place a design within the front or back bodice or on a sleeve. Decoration can be used once or repeated a number of times over the garment, in a random or engineered pattern. At this stage you should also reconsider your choice of colors and make the palette appropriate to your target customer (see page 94). Select your strongest ideas to pull together as the final fashion designs.


A Drawing with a sewing machine

A sewing machine can become a tool for drawing. Here, colored paper has been used to experiment with combinations of colors and shapes.

Klimt Inspired Embroidery Designs


Embroidery ideas can be translated directly onto fabric and used with fashion designs as appropriate, or they can be developed further as print ideas or textures for knitted stitches. It is possible to combine a number of these techniques, embroidering into a print idea or printing over a knit, for example. It might be that a collection contains some garments that are printed whereas others are knitted or embroidered—but they should all reflect, even if only distantly, the essential elements of the initial research.

The four final garment designs illustrated here have evolved a long way from the initial starting point, and references to Klimt have become subtle. The finished collection has been shaped by the designer's own sense of style and reflects the source without being overwhelmed by it.

■4 Be versatile

A set of simple patterns can be used in many different ways. For example, embroidery ideas can be echoed in knitted structures or print designs.

■4 A Themed outline

The curves and swirls of the source material are reflected in the silhouettes of the garments as well as In their embroidered decoration.

Structure Decorative Initials

T Communicating clearly

By showing the decorative detail separately from the garment itself, these four final illustrations can make a strong statement about both. Some of the embroidery ideas have been developed further into knitted textures. These designs have moved away from the original source to become strong concepts In their own right.

A Experiments on paper

These machine embroidery designs have been tried out using paper. Simply by working on the pages of a sketchbook, it Is possible to create highly original fabric embellishments.

Life-size paper templates of these garments were used to finalize the placement of decoration. The embroidery designs were drawn straight onto the template.

Fashion Drawings With Fabric



Now that you have developed some great design ideas, it's time to look more closely at the techniques of fashion illustration. This chapter discusses creating figures, whether through an easy paper-folding method or by drawing from life, as well as exploring the wide range of media that you can use in illustrating designs and looking at how to lay out your page effectively. Throughout this part of the course, you will learn to observe carefully and to represent what you see in a bold and individual way.

Fashion Design LayoutsHuman Body Embroidery Designs

M The cropping of this figure produced a strong illustration that boldly fills the page. Learn more about layout techniques on pages 74-75.


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100 Fashion Tips

100 Fashion Tips

One of the most important things you need to take note of about becoming fashionable is to get fitter. Therefore, if you are carrying some extra pounds, then you should lose some of it soon. You can do it through dieting, working out, or a good combination of both. Find more fashion tips like this one within this guide.

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