Sunday, 26 July 2015

Dragon dress: technical design and fabric

Pattern construction is very fun when everything goes your way. When you get unexpected difficulties, on the other hand... I had planned my construction thinking the slubs in dupion run down the fabric, but turns out they run across. Long story short, I'd done a lot of work for nothing.

When things like this happen, it's the end of the world time for a break. I printed some inspiration for the embellishment I was going to do on the dress and put it in the sketch book. It's very therapeutic.

There's going to be a princess bodice. The shoulder dart is  moved to the armscye.

I'm still pretty new to pattern construction, so to be sure everything looks like it should, I often tape together a test. The protuding shoulder part had been draped and then transferred to the paper construction. In 3D I was able to see that there was a sharp edge between those two parts, and then fixed it.

Making the pattern for the organza bits on the hips.

Some of the people in my class took a trip out to one of the largest fabric stores in Norway. For a person whose only options for getting fabric has been a craft store selling only quilting cotton or an interior store that sometimes has curtains that can be cut up and used for other things, entering this building is like Yule and Halloween on the same day.

I am fire, I am ... Death! ...Or maybe not. 

I went relatively berserk and bought all of the pretties. There's everything from studs, to pearls to sequins. In addition to the fruits of my raid, I already had loads of stuff lying around.

A polite reminder what the design looks like.
Chosen fabrics, silk thread and some rhinestones.
The dress will be sewn in red and orange silk dupion mounted on silk organza. Because the embellishment will be rather heavy, the top will have an extra foundation layer of cotton muslin and shoulderpads made from cotton canvas. The floating effect one the sides will be done with silk organza that will be softened and crinkled by pouring hot water on it and letting it dry wrinkled up.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Oslo Medieval Market

In between far too many exams and sewing in blind panic for the fashion show at school, I went to Oslo Medieval festival. Just one of the days, but the day when it didn't rain. (Hah.)

I've no idea what I'll use it for,
but these stamps were so pretty I had to have one.
Bags fromGungnir.
It's just an advertisement, but this tiny tent would be the perfect size for a tiny cat.

I fell in love with this lovely leather bag a la Frankenstein's monster made by leather scraps stitched together. A little out of my price range, sorrowfully.

I tried to keep my purchases sensible, because I have most of the small things you need for reenactment. It's always tempting to buy jewellery and such, but I need to control this because I have enough. The amount of viking glitter and pretties you can put on at once is limited. This season I'm looking for a belt, a bag and some proper shoes.

So I bought a book about viking clothes in hopes I can make some additions to my viking wardrobe that isn't just serk and smokkr, and also got a stamp and an iron needle for period sewing.

And, I got one of the things I was looking for. This leather belt was bought at Gungnir, a seller who unfortunately doesn't have an online presence.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Dragon dress: sketches

For the draft of sketches I just come up with all sorts of ideas without editing anything. I ended up with about twenty sketches and tried to categorize them by what I was inspired by. Some of them have taken inspiration from the dragon itself: wings, fire and tail, and the glittering armour covering Smaug's belly.

I asked myself what I wanted, and with this dress I want a floor length dress with focus on the shoulders, and something that moves when the wearer moves. While the dress itself is pretty simple, it will be richly embellished.

We were tasked with sewing one dress, but we were to design as if this was a collection and come up with three designs, one basic, trend and showpiece dress. (Basic is something you could use at work, trend is something trendy and showpiece is either a galla dress or a garment where the designer has gone crazy.)

Of course I decided to make a showpiece. (As this was the first project where we were allowed to go a little overboard, I wasn't the only one who decided to make one.)

Final design.
I decided on a sleeveless dress with appliqued embellishment and some sort of thin, floating fabric that falls lightly over the hips and produces a sort of flame effect when the wearer moves. The front is sewn in dupin (hard) in contrast to the sides (soft). It's going to be embellished with pearls, embroidery, organza and everything interesting I can find.

Early on I knew I was going to make a showpiece, so I planned to finalize that design and then base the designs for trend and basic on it. Easier said than done. The designs need to have something in common, but they have to be different and I find it really hard to find a balance. (Twenty sketches later I was considering setting fire to something.)

Basic & trend, with an axe that goes with the trend dress.
But, somehow it worked out. Basic is in a soft leather with decorative stitching along the panels. Trend is in two different, stiffer leathers, one of them texturized, the other smooth. They can both be sewn as is without altering the design.

It bothers me a bit that this looks so easy. There's a week's work in those two sketches, frustration mixed with crippling doubt, second-guessing myself and being sorely tempted to crawl into a corner with chocolate. At the end I started doodling matching weapons to each dress, but looking back I am so grateful my teacher didn't accept the first sketches I came up with. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Dragon dress: inspiration

bilde via lotrwikia

At school, we started off a new semester after Yule with an extensive design project. We were to make a dress inspired by an insect or a reptile. Even though my teacher doesn't think dragons exist, she graciously allowed me to use Smaug from the Hobbit.

I research by gathering everything remotely interesting, which I sift through when I have enough. What catches my attention goes into the inspiration/sketch book and this is seriously the best part of any project, starting something new and it's fresh and exciting - and I get to make collages at school, it's amazing.

Instead of linking to a source for each picture, I'm linking to the Pinterest board for the project. 

Sharing a few shots of my inspiration/sketch book.

In addition to Smaug, some other dragon related things came up. I made a few swatches with the dragonscale smocking used on the costume of Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, and used hot glue and paint to sort of recreate the organic golden armour she wears in Qarth.

Nothing exists in a vacuum. I have worked with beetle wings before, and they're easily re-imagined as scales.

Somehow a character strode forth: the woman who would wear the dress, a dragon in human shape. I could go on forever about empowering clothes and clothing as armour, but to keep it short, I'll quote Alexander McQueen:
I design clothes because I don't want women to look all innocent and naive. I want women to look stronger. I don't like women to be taken advantage of. I don't like men whistling at women in the street. I think they deserve more respect. I like men to keep their distance from women, I like men to be stunned by an entrance. I've seen a woman get nearly beaten to death by her husband. I know what misogyny is. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress

Monday, 20 July 2015


This task was to design something inspired by the taste or how something feels. I chose ash. It also gave me a broad field to play, from "your joy will turn to ash in your mouth", to the thought of floating ash particles landing on eyelashes like snowflakes, or how amazingly comfy it must be to let your hands sink into lukewarm ashes. 

Our theme was to be matched with a potential group of consumers. I chose mori girls, a Japanese style with Scandinavian influence. Put short, they dress like they live in the woods. There are also subgenres of the style, dark mori og strega, that are darker.

We were to design at least five products that had to have some sort of drop sleeve. I did a raglan. My designs for this project were simple because we had to use jersey, which I haven't used a lot, and as if that wasn't enough we were to swap projects with someone else in class and sew theirs.

It took me about an hour to cut, serge and steam the top. It's made in a thick, stable wool jersey. The surface reminded me a lot of ash.

The long sleeved one is made for school; the other one was something I did when I had some left over fabric and some free time. The kimono sleeves are open in the lower part of the armscye, like a proper kimono, and the garments are meant to be layered on top of the basic designs I came up with.

Drawing flats. The bane of my existence.

In addition to design and sewing, we made a brochure. The printer at school hates me so I decided to paint and glue together a prototype. I used watercolours on recycled cotton paper from Norway Designs sprinkled with quotes from Cheshire Kitten and Hey Alice.

Zoom in to have a look at the  flats and product description.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Collection 2014/2015

In April we had professional photos taken by everything we had made at school so far.

Photographs by Marit S. Wollan.

Autumn skirt in diagonally wowen sandcoloured wool, lined with forest green viscose. The design is based of autumn leaves - with lines in the side panel. I made the pattern from scratch, altering a skirt sloper.

Originally the skirt was going to be dark green, but when I was at the fabric store I met one of my favourite cosplayers and being starstruck I bought another colour. In hindsight I think this colour suits the fall-theme better.

Dress in wool, black plain weave and dark blue twill lined with midnight blue polyester.

Inspiration, sketches, figurine and technical drawings.
The guidelines for this task were pretty strict - the design lines used in the dress had to be from different photos we were handed, the finished dress had to have the same silhouette as the dress sloper and the school provided three different wools to choose from.

Mori inspired top with kimono sleeves in thick woolen jersey. It has its own blog post here.

And my showpiece, a dress inspired by the dragon Smaug from the Hobbit. It's made from silk dupion and silk organza with appliqued dragonscale smocking, and richly embroidered with pearls and pretties. I have WIP blog posts about it: [inspiration], [sketches].

The photographer took some detail shots of the dress. At the time of the shoot I had finished adding pearls, but I had yet to start embroidering, so these are WIP-shots.