Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sew What You See- Part III Copying Design Elements

(This is the third and final post in a series called Sew What You See- part I, part II.)

What is a design element? A design element consists of those little eye grabbers that say "look at me", "I'm a little different", or dare I say "I'm not "plain Jane"". These are the little details that give what you make personality- trims, tucks, buttons, ruffles, sewing techniques, etc.

Let's say you like a certain ruffle size, tuck arrangement, fabric combination, or other interesting design element, but don't have a desire to necessarily copy the entire object. Keep a notebook to help you remember what you saw, why you liked it, and some brief notes on how it appeared to have been sewn. We love to get new fun ideas out of catalogs and books we've checked out from the library. One of my daughters tears out pages from different mail order catalogs and keeps them in a three ring binder. When she gets ready to make something or wants to add a special touch to a so so pattern she'll look through her notebook and/or closet for design elements she likes.

Just the other day we were looking at a ruffle design on a skirt and noticed as we examined it closely that while it appeared to be two ruffled pieces of fabric sewn close together it was really just one large ruffle sewn and ironed in a certain way to give the appearance of two. Wow- what a much easier way to achieve that look.

The ruffle shown on the right is 1 1/4 inches wide, is sewn 1/4 inch from the top and ironed downed to give layered look.

Seeing and sewing elements is such a fun way to personalize whatever you are making and in this instance there are no "wrong answers". The pleat formation that looks good on a skirt might make a terrific pillow top or bed skirt. The fun thing to remember about using different sewing elements is to have fun- break all the rules -borrow ideas from one project to use on another. If you like the look- go for it. This is the reason why a simple plain cotton t-shirt embellished with voile trim sells for $50.00 or more.

One final point to keep in mind as you sew what you see is to take careful note of the materials or combination of materials used in the item you are trying to copy. Sometimes garments and other decorative items have the look they do because of the type of fabric and if you don't stay in the same fabric family as the original you won't be able to achieve the same look.

Have fun and soon you'll be carrying a measuring tape, pen, and notepad wherever you go. By the way cell phone cameras come in handy too!!

1 comment:

Kathy, Jeff's Wife said...

Break all the rules? I'm GOOD at that! ;o)

Lovin' this blog, keep it up, you're inspiring me!!!