The Design Process

Fashion Croqui: Myself As Muse Ginny O. (c) 2016
Fashion Croqui: Myself As Muse Ginny O. (c) 2016

Fashion is a business. In this series, I am discussing what it takes to create a fashion collection and how it applies to other businesses, mostly writing. We know our style and target customer, our brand, we know our brief, we have our inspiration and we have chosen fabrics. At last, we can design our collection!

There are many different ways to go about designing a collection. And every designer is different. Some like to sketch, others can’t sketch at all and thus use muslin and a body form to drape their designs. This is muslin is in French called a toile. (This is confusing because there is also fabric called toile, but that is fashion for you.) Some designers like to do a combination of techniques.

A lot of it has to do with how a designer sees things. People see things and learn things in different ways. There are auditory learners and visual learners and book learners. They are people who see in color, who see in shape and who see in line. The way these creators see the world influences who they interpret the world when they draw things. I’m a visual learner and a book learner. I like to see what is going on. I like to take notes. Then I like to have step by step instructions in books. (I like reading things and learning about stuff when I do.) And the way I see things is in line. To me, the line drawing on the left is a very strong drawing. Once I color that drawing, it loses strength to me because I can’t always see the outline of the drawing. That’s why I like cartoons, comics and manga. I can see the lines!

Contour drawing where you see the shape of the object and draw the “outline” of it and it’s shading makes sense to me. I prefer pencils and colored pencils and markers. (Even my fashion sketching teachers noted that my line work was stronger than my composition work where I needed to color things in.) Working with paint is difficult. If I want something realistic, I need to take a photograph of it because I get too frustrated trying to draw what I want. This shapes the way I design.

Because I see in line, I design in line. It is important for me to have fabrics, yes, because the weight of them, the hand of them, the thickness are going to determine what I can and cannot do with my designs. But the colors, the patterns, they don’t matter. I can take my designs and make them any color or pattern I want! Because I see in the outline, the silhouette and the seams of the design.

Theme & Variation: Myself As Muse, Ginny O. (c) 2016
Theme & Variation: Myself As Muse, Ginny O. (c) 2016

Designers can create hundreds of sketches and variations of their ideas as they work. At times, I like to play a game I call Theme and Variation. (I had a piano piece called Theme and Variation when I played piano.) You start with something complicated and high fashion and you take the ideas in that piece and you put them on other designs. You take a shirt detail and apply it to a pant. You can make a skirt into a sleeve. You take the shapes and you move them around the body to see what happens.

Sometimes designers will work with actual items and place them on their sketch. I’ve seen designers work with flower petals and pieces of candy or origami figures. Another technique is to take magazine pictures, cut them out and create collages on fashion figures.

Fashion design figures or croquis are supposed to be quick rough sketches that give the basic idea of the garment. They are much like the figures I have been using on werewolf Wednesday. It is also possible to draw garments on what we call a “flat.” It is basically what the garment would look like if it was laid down flat on a table.

Technical Flat: Chili Red Moto Jacket inspired by MINI COOPER Ginny O. (c) 2012
Technical Flat: Chili Red Moto Jacket inspired by MINI COOPER Ginny O. (c) 2012

Technical flats are what are given to manufacturing companies in order for them to make patterns and produce the garment. They show every seam and every detail. They aren’t supposed to be shaded because that just confuses your pattern makers and you might end up with garments with holes where they aren’t supposed to be holes! Technical flats are good for people like me who see in line. And are difficult for others who see in color or shape. They are a good way to draw many different designs on one sheet of paper to get ideas out of your head. With flats, you can see how the collection relates to each other quickly and if many outfits can be made. Can that sweater be worn with that skirt or that pant or under that jacket?

All these designs are the rough draft of a collection. They are many different ideas being explored, some good, some bad, some in between. It is the designer getting their thoughts down on the page without judgement.

Writers do this too. It is the first draft of the story. It is the writer trying to get all of their ideas out of their head. Grammar doesn’t matter. Word length doesn’t matter. What matters is getting it out and onto the page or screen or however you write.

There can be guidelines for fashion design. There needs to be a ratio of so many tops to so many bottoms and so many dresses and so many jackets. And in writing, there can be an outline if the person is an outliner or they can just write what comes out of their head as it comes out of their head. I’ve mentioned before, I like outlines. I like writing down scenes and connecting them together. I have calendars and days of the week noted. It can be insanity.

Designing is an individual and personal of a process as whoever is doing the creating. It can be organized. It can be messy. Design and writing can be fun. They can be hard. They can be exhausting. It’s all part of being a creative person. It’s part of the process.

But the process isn’t over.

Onto Part Eight


One thought on “The Design Process

  1. Pingback: The building blocks of fashion, fabric. | Ginny O.

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