07 Mar Sewing Planning for Rebels, by Jess
We designed MyBodyModel fashion templates to fit a wide range of planning styles. In today’s guest blog post, Jess shares how she uses her body model croquis for designing her makes in a way that fits and flows with her Rebel tendency.
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My capricious relationship to goal setting and making sewing plans makes a lot more sense after the Four Tendencies Quiz revealed I have a Rebel tendency. (Thanks to the Love to Sew Podcast for introducing me to Gretchen Rubin). Contrary to popular assumption, Rebels—who enigmatically resist both inner and outer expectations—actually can get things done. It is just about finding a different approach that leaves room for freedom and flexibility.
I find that if I get too prescriptive with sewing plans, it takes the creative wind out of my sails. Instead I point myself in a few directions that appeal to me and leave lots of choice about how I move forward from moment to moment.
Case in point: my Make Nine for 2019. The Make Nine challenge gave me a reason to identify the pdf patterns in my collection I felt most excited about sewing and wearing…without getting too specific!
But what motivated me to actually participate in Make Nine was a desire to get more fluent with drawing. Rebels need reasons! A Rebel tendency is motivated by identity and values instead of expectations (their own or those of others). I have always been an artist/maker who works in three dimensions, but I realize that being able to communicate visual ideas on paper is an important service to that identity.
As part of my 19 for 2019, I am aiming to spend a few minutes drawing (almost) every day. Make Nine gave me a daily drawing project for nine days, which was a great way to jump start that habit.
Fear of “wasting paper” is an old stumbling block for me when it comes to drawing. To counteract this, I print out enough MyBodyModel croquis for a whole month at a time. It really banishes feelings of scarcity.
I like to use the three-croquis-per-page layout. It’s a good scale to show some detail, but is still easy to approach as a “sketch.” The set of fine-quality colored pencils I splurged on a few years ago elevates the aesthetics of drawing.
Also, as someone for whom drawing is never going to be my main discipline, it’s nice that I can use the MyBodyModel croquis to leapfrog over learning satisfactory figure drawing proportions and just get to designing the clothes!
Because my creativity runs on freedom, these sketches don’t necessarily reflect my intended fabric or color choices. I approached each with an attitude of experimentation, and tried not to be too fussy about the outcomes. It’s nice to see not only what the garments will look like on my body, but to visualize, say, what a Sapporo Coat from Papercut Patterns might look like in that chartreuse wool I spotted in a local fabric store.
Three of my Make Nine are drawn with fabrics from my collection in mind. But I have already deviated from the sketches, and sewed up the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet in the heather-grey ponte knit that I thought I had planned for the Elliot Sweater! I do think it was a better choice for that fabric.
One fabric choice that I think will stick is the gorgeous wool gifted to me by my mother-in-law. The drape will be so lovely for a Deer and Doe Opium Coat. Having the fabric in front of me was a good opportunity to experiment with replicating the texture of the fabric in my drawing.
Speaking of drawing techniques, I can offer a couple of (unsolicited) recommendations that have helped me up my drawing game.
- MyBodyModel’s free YouTube tutorial series, Fashion Drawing for Absolute Beginners is a great starting point for anyone who is new to drawing. You can also get a free PDF of 24 Hairstyle Drawings when you sign up for the MyBodyModel email list.
- The Drawing Fashion Flats: Designing Construction Details class on Bluprint/Craftsy is full of helpful tips for using croquis, communicating the three-dimensional shape of a garment in a sort of visual shorthand, and actual mechanical drawing techniques (like using the natural arc of your hand to draw hems more realistically).
- Zoe Hong’s fashion illustration tutorials on YouTube have been invaluable as I continue to learn about drawing fabric textures and prints.
This fun zebra print jersey fabric that I plan to use for the boat neck ANEGADA from Halfmoon Atelier was a great opportunity to practice drawing prints at scale. I can’t be bothered to be too exact about replicating the print, but the sketch was enough to confirm that I like this pattern-fabric combination!
The Make Nine designs I don’t yet have fabric for are evolving in my usual iterative way. Some fabric swatches I ordered are looking like contenders for three of the garments.
I arbitrarily sketched the Fulton Sweater Blazer from Alina Sewing + Design in blue, assuming I would change my mind later. But this denim blue ponte de roma is a surprisingly close match to the drawing, and I think I might go for it. Call it serendipity.
I need a new idea for the Helen’s Closet Elliot Sweater, since I used the grey ponte for her Blackwood Cardigan instead. This super-soft french terry print is winning me over. Swapping a big bold print for the plain grey top I drew is exactly the kind of flexibility I need in my creative life.
Finally, I can’t get over how cute this fabric – another french terry print – will be for a super cozy True Bias Hudson Pant. It’s not at all what I drew, but that’s the whole point.
I call this planning, but my version of planning is more like planting the seeds for creativity to further develop later. For me, not making all the decisions up front leaves some of the juiciness to savor over the course of the year. In that spirit, I have intentionally left the color and fabric undecided for both the Kelly Anorak from Closet Case Patterns and the Gypsum Skirt from Sew Liberated. They represent a promise that I will keep coming back throughout the year to let my rebellious creativity run free.
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Jess is a freelance sewist from Duluth, Minnesota who has been sewing for over thirty years. She founded Pivot Sewing Studio in 2018 on the belief that everyone deserves to feel good in their clothes. Pivot Sewing Studio is dedicated to supporting diversity and inclusivity in the sewing community, especially with regard to body size and gender identity. You can find Jess and her makes on Instagram @pivotsewingstudio.