Thank you, Project Runway!
This is a story about creativity…
In my family there are eleven adults, four children and way too many pets. We spend every holiday, every extra "trip time", and basically see each other almost every third month, even though we live in many different places…San Francisco, New York, Austin, Los Angeles and Grand Cayman. It’s crazy.
I, of course, have always been the “go to girl” for clothes. That would mean every wedding, every Christening, tiny cashmere coats for a 3 year old (what to do with left over fabric…), and too many “first date outfits” to count. Something to do with my obsession. I love to sew.
Creativity has taken me through times in life I thought I would never have to face. It has been my partner through challenges, joys, and twists of fate beyond my imagination. Last month, the “new normal”, once again, came around. Someone in my family was life-changing hurt in an accident. It shook my soul.
As fate would turn, and in the midst of my temporary move from New York to Austin, a designer needed help in fitting a jacket…like right now…it was Fashion Week. Still in shock, with floor to ceiling boxes in my loft filled with chaos that looked like absolute junk…there it was, creativity on demand. Knowing that I would never be able to speak at that moment, we pulled out a dress form, unpacked the music, turned up the volume, and for the next two hours slowly went through the steps of fitting her jacket, without talking.
“Sometimes from our deepest depression, come our most inspiring moments.” This one was beautiful.
My message, with this story, is that for all of you who are vying for Project Runway, pining over your collection, looking for new clothes to fill your closet, or creating a Halloween costume for a toddler who will never know how long it took you…just keep on sewing. Creativity is a rock.
My sincere thank you to Valerie Mayen for this beautiful dress with detail that fuels my passion, and makes me smile. Here’s how she did it! Congratulations, Valerie! Go Project Runway!
PROJECT RUNWAY - VALERIE MAYÈN
This garment was made using a black geometric burnout lace, neoprene and of course, my trusty Fabulous Fit dress form. I’ve had my form since 2007, when I first started my company, Yellowcake where I specialize in women’s custom clothing and ready-to-wear outerwear. It was the first professional grade dress form I ever purchased and I wouldn’t stand to buy any other because I knew the quality of Fabulous Fit was second to none. Below I’ve detailed a how-to guide on the process I used to create this garment.
When I begin a new piece, I prefer draping over flat pattern making. It’s more accurate and efficient for me. Once a year I debut an exclusive collection for my companies signature fashion event showcasing anywhere from 35 – 50 looks (approximately 65-95 total pieces/garments). Because I have to create such a large collection in a few short months, speed and accuracy are paramount. Most designers will create a mock up in muslin or comparable fabric before beginning the final product. The nature of this event and collection don’t allow me that luxury.
For this piece I started with the bodice and draped the garment in my final fabric (the geometric lace) as carefully as possible so as not to waste precious textiles or time. Once draped, pinned and marked, I remove the fabric and lay flat to “true up” the sides, neck edge, arm holes, darts and waistline. I reinforced the neck edge, arm holes and waist with black seam tape to prevent stretching and for more stability with the lace.
To create the skirt of the dress, I measured the length I desired on the bias of my textile as well as the waist measurement needed and doubled that for the front of the skirt so I had ample room to incorporate pleating details to give fullness and flair to the skirt. Once cut flat, I draped the front skirt piece on the front of my form starting with the center front and working my way to the sides of the waist. I then began to let the fabric fall where it lay best to place and shape my pleats. I repeated this step for the back of the skirt as well, leaving a center back seam for an invisible zipper closure. I also cut classic side seam pockets to sew into the dress as my clients (and myself) love a dress with pockets.
I then moved on to the sleeves of the dress, which are slightly off the shoulder to create a cutout effect and attached at the underarms and shoulder with a thread chain. The sleeves were draped on the sleeve form that came with my Fabulous Fit simply by pinning at the center of the bicep where I wanted the sleeve cap to start and working my way around to the underarm. This is a bloused sleeve so I added fullness to the hem of the sleeve by draping it slightly and adding an extra few inches for a bloused return. The sleeve is finished off with a stretch neoprene cuff and gathered hem to exaggerate the blouson effect.
Finally, the underpinnings. The bralette was constructed from neoprene. Due to it’s stretch yield I was able to drape the bra cups quickly, only incorporating a horizontal center seam at the apex for simplicity. There are two narrow straps attached to the back which clasps together with 4 sew on snaps and two hook and eye closures for stability. The hot pants are a basic full coverage high –waisted panty design with two side seams and a crotch seam. They are finished off with an elasticized waistband and a bit of elastic cupping the backside of the panty for better fit and coverage.
The garment is finished off with a detachable collar affixed with small sew on snaps and a 4.5 inch self faced hem made from neoprene to give it a bit more weight and substance. The neckline, sleeve cap and armhole edges are bias bound with neoprene as well.
This garment is easily one of my favorite top 5 looks that I have made in the 8 years that I have had my company, among the 5 collections I have created for this event each year, within the nearly 300+ custom pieces I’ve designed and sewn. Having quality tools like my Fabulous Fit dress form help me to create the highest quality garments I could ever dream imaginable.