Saturday, 18 April 2015

Design Journal: Print & Fabric Research


This week I got back from my Easter holidays and didn't get as much done over the break as I would have liked. I did have time to do a bit of fabric research whilst I was in London, but I think I will have to head back down for the day/weekend again so that I can cover Goldhawk Lane which I didn't have time to do. Since I got back to University I felt it was important that I finally put some images up on my wall so that I can constantly refer to them when I plan to start designing and toiling this week. I think I have spent a lot of time researching, because I was worried it wasn't enough, and now I need to organise that research so I can begin designing and forming my collection. I also feel my sketchbook needs a lot of work, but I think I will find it easier once I begin draping as I work better designing with the mannequin rather than just on paper.

I have spent a lot of time in my sketchbook researching and developing print and colour idea's, and in my last tutorial my tutor was worried I was focusing too much on print and not enough on the silhouette. I think because I've done a lot of research in and around the 1950s that in my mind the silhouette is kind of set already, so I wanted to focus on figuring out my colour palette and prints by researching around the S/S 16 trends, as well as things I find interesting. I've been particularly interested in vintage interiors from the 1950's/1960s, as well as the modern interpretation of vintage.

The main trend for S/S 16 that I find relevant to my project, according to WGSN, is 'Soft Pop' which is about feminism, equality, blurring the lines of gender, sweet and frilly designs, irony and funny graphics but with an intelligent point of view. (to sum it up quickly) So not only is it relevant to my approach to size equality and acceptance, but it is also super fun and feminine which is what I want my clothes/design handwriting to be like. The colour palette is kitsch and playful, and is somewhere between bright and pastel.


WGSN Colour Palette

I'm not particularly good at describing trends or images, but the best way to get a feel for the 'Soft Pop' trend is by looking into Matisse's work for which some of the colours are based off of. (I would show pictures from WGSN, however it is a paid service that my university pay for and I don't think WGSN would be pleased if I showed pages here). However I have found other trend moodboards online from Pattern Curator which match well with the Soft Pop trend, and I have found them useful when researching.

Pattern Curator

I am particularly drawn to bright, fun, splashes of colour and I think it's because this is something that is lacking from plus size fashion. I'm always looking to use bold colours and prints so that my plus size customer, who is confident in herself, is able to stand out and hopefully feel even more confident. I want to avoid small, cliche prints that don't make a statement and I think because I am doing a 1950's inspired collection that it is expected to do very soft, feminine prints. (which I do still like) I don't want to lose the feminine aspect, but I'm looking to make my collection modern and refreshing, and not just appeal to vintage enthusiasts. 

The beginning of my sketchbook is taken up with exploring print idea's, and I originally thought that maybe I could design one myself. However, apart from designing a print for my BA collection, which didn't turn out that well and I had no help with, I have no previous experience with print design. I wouldn't want to create an overly complicated print, as I'm particularly interested in paint splashes, or splashes that look like flowers, but I'm concerned that I don't have enough time and really my main focus should be the silhouette and pattern cutting. But I think the pattern, and colours, could really make or break my collection and I just want it to POP and make peoples eyes light up! So i'm just trying to figure out what the best method should be - and maybe I can source an already existing print that fits in with my concept.

Jackson Pollock

Marilyn Monroe by Francoise Nielly

Andy Warhol

I've been looking into artists that correspond with the Soft Pop trend, in particular I am interested in artists who use paint splashes and strokes. Jackson Pollock is the obvious one who is famous for his paint splashes, but I particularly loved the colours used in the above painting as they're much brighter than his usual work. My friend introduced me to Francoise Nielly who does portraits but doesn't use the normal fleshy tones, but instead bright and pastel colours. I love the colour palette mix between bright and pastel - it's hard to describe but I like how unusual but well it works, but most of all it POPS. I've also looked a little into Pop Art, even though I am aware my tutor is concerned with me using 60s prints with a 50's collection - however the two era's and the art movement do overlap a lot, and I still think it could work. Although I am definitely conscious of not using a very obvious 1960's Andy Warhol/ Mary Quant floral print like Orla Kiely.

Tom Wesselmann
Saguaro Hotel from Nicolette Mason's blog

I am also really interested in using stripes in my work, which I have come across a lot in my research - not just within print but also images I have found from the 1950's. A lot of my previous work, especially my final dress from Module 1, involves stripes (or straps) moving around the body and I do have a fascination with the bending of straight lines on a female body. For example I love how 1950s dresses, particularly Horrockses, lay the fabric of the bodice on the bias and when using stripes it means they move diagonally meeting at centre front which creates a really nice silhouette.


It would be good to find a big stripe on cotton that is similar to colours of my research. (if anyone knows of a fabric, please let me know) If I have to design my own stripe to match size and colours of what I have in mind, then that will be much easier than designing a floral and probably realistic in the time frame. I do wonder if using both stripes and florals is too much, but I really want to incorporate both into my collection, but I guess it can work as long as there is some solid colours in there too. I am particularly interested in using a vintage off-yellow colour, as well as a solid blue.

In terms of fabric, I would say this is one of my biggest weaknesses. I've never really learnt about weights and mixes of fabric, and the only way I'm going to learn now is probably through experimentation. A few people have suggested using a jersey, which I know would be good for draping but I'm after a fabric that will hold it's shape for circle skirts. I would like to have a go at toiling some jersey or stretch fabrics anyway just so I can begin to familiarise myself with new fabrics. It would be good to find a fabric that presents itself as cotton but has a lot of stretch in it, because I think it would be more comfortable for a larger figure. (speaking from experience) I wear a lot of jersey myself but mainly out of convenience and comfort, but I much prefer the look of cotton. I did find a really nice white cotton sateen (that's what shop assistant called it - she said it has lycra in it) in the Cloth House, which is super stretchy but only on the straight of grain. The shop assistant says that dying it would be difficult because of the lycra and it wouldn't completely take to the fabric. I wouldn't be able to digitally print on it (not at uni anyway because the fabric has to be certain ones that they provide), but a few of my classmates have suggested screen printing. However, I have never screen printed before, and all of these print techniques are new to me as I don't come from a textile background. But I think I need to find out more about screen printing, and it seems like it could be something that wouldn't take too long to learn. However, I am continuously researching fabric to see if I can find an existing print, but I haven't focused much on plain fabrics and it's because I don't really know what I should be looking for except cotton - but I don't want it to be an all cotton collection and I really would like to expand my fabric knowledge.

So if you have any fabric suggestions, then I would love to hear them! Or any idea's about prints, colours etc.

Until next time,


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