Combine fabrics, embellish

The first ‘avant garde’ post was about architectural shapes.
This post is about adding interesting and unique design elements using all the possibilities of textile surface art – combining fabrics and adding texture and embellishment.

There are so many options for creativity. This post has these sections :
- patterns with basic shapes for fabric combining and embellishment.
- embellishment techniques.
- multi-fabric combining :
. . . different main pattern pieces in different fabrics.
. . . fabric combining in patchwork and other shapes.
- high fashion in ‘artistic’ colours and prints.

There’s many exciting and inspiring ‘art to wear’ sites and blogs, this is just a short guide to a few starting points.
And sorry, just some suggested links. Lots of attractive images if you follow up the links, but I haven’t included many visuals here. I wouldn’t know where to stop :D

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Basic garments for embellishment

There are several patterns with simple shapes specifically for adding your own fabric combination or embellishment.

Fit for Art Tabula Rasa jacket (includes help with fit, other patterns for style changes)

Yvonne Porcella Jacket from The Sewing Workshop (simplest shape, terrible instructions) (gallery here).
There’s also a pdf guide to embellishment for it (not free).

Kayla Kennington has patterns built from rectangles. Her site is not active at present, but her patterns are available from sewingpatterns.com.

Or decorate the simple shapes of peasant workwear such as from Folkwear patterns.

If you just like doing the embellishment without doing the garment construction, use basic existing garments (such as from BlankApparel.com). Though that isn’t a way of getting interesting garment shapes.

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Embellishment Techniques

Many many internet sources of advice on :
- fabric painting, dying, stencilling, stamping, foiling. . .
- hand and machine embroidery, appliqué, texturising, couching, beading, heirloom stitching . . .
- plus sources for delicious ribbons, motifs, trims. . .
And dozens of books too.
Sorry I’m not going to attempt to pick out the good ones !

Perhaps work through a CD by Marcy Tilton on Surface Design, or her many on-line tutorials.

Several Craftsy classes to try :
Decorative seams
Edge finishes
Creative closures
Sewn texture
Stupendous Stitching
Machine embroidery, hand-stitched looks
Hand embellishing knit fabric
Designing details – pockets

Several McCall’s patterns for making fabric flowers.

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Multiple fabric combinations within one garment

This is the current ‘multi-media’ approach to clothes.

See the Style.com Fall 2013 trend reports Crazy Fur section (click on right centre photo) for designer inspiration on using fur, some in combinations.
and Style.com Spring 2013 trend reports Collage Degree section (click on left centre photo) for designer inspiration on combining patterned fabrics.

I love combining fabrics in a quilt, but find it much more difficult in clothes.
Easiest to use fabrics from quilt fabric designers, which are issued in groups of prints specifically designed to co-ordinate.

Whole pattern pieces

The most seen ‘high-street fashion’ multi-fabric look is to have whole pattern pieces in different fabrics, especially in princess seam styles. Many Big4 and Burda patterns in which this is done quite simply, with solids in ‘colour blocking’. ‘Texture blocking’ or ‘multi-media’ print combining are the newest idea.

At the extreme, if you add a CB seam and a waist seam to a princess seam jacket, you’ll have 16 different fabric areas to play with in the body alone. Then add on more fabrics for sleeves, collar, facings :D

Try these sources for more casual patterns in this style :
Design and Planning Concepts
Indygo Junction
Serendipity Studio

Patchwork and other fabric shapes

If you love piecing and quilting, there’s plenty of fashion inspiration for using smaller areas of each fabric too.

There’s a Craftsy class on making a Quilted jacket

And there are many independent pattern designers who provide patterns for ‘wearable art’ pieced and quilted garments. These are just some of them.
Dana Marie
Grainline Gear
Lorraine Torrence Designs
Pavelka Design (sewing patterns link at bottom of page)
Rag Merchant
Taylor Made Designs

Here are a couple of examples.

Silhouette 4013 dress for knits.

”silhouette4013”

McCall’s 6712 top and circular skirt.

”m8712”

The king of print combination is Koos van den Akker at Vogue.
Here’s a slide show of his styles to click through.

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‘Artistic’ high fashion

There’s another route, for people who aren’t so interested in architectural shapes and embellishment.

And that is to wear high fashion shapes in strong prints and strong colours.
YouLookFab gives an example here, from one of those style bloggers who appears to have an unlimited clothing budget.

As in the combining of contrasting prints and textures (see my post with an example), this requires a gifted artistic eye.
There’s a good article on mixing prints and textures here. [Ignore their Style Personality quiz, which only has one style.]

Note there’s no combining of colours or prints within one garment. They’re dramatically combined from separate garments.
But it is a rather different approach to wardrobe building than wearing a couple of neutrals and one accent colour with one quiet print :D

Lots of attractive and dramatic prints around. But take care if you have low contrast colouring or a quieter personality – perhaps these fabrics will swamp your own looks. It is possible to choose prints, textures, colours which ensure people look at you, not the fabric !

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I grinned while pulling this list together. I delight in all clothes. But the styles I actually wear myself are a bit like this – though very quiet versions !

I’m definitely a follower not an innovator in this area, but I’m fascinated by all the possibilities.
I’m particularly entranced by an old set I have from Lois Ericson, which has stencils and machine embroidery software for the same shapes. Almost infinite potential.

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If you love this sort of jacket, enjoy being at the forefront of fashion this season :D

There’s so much rich creativity available for clothes making. If this is your style I’m sure you have your own sources of delight and inspiration.

Do you show your personal style in the jacket shapes you choose ? This season there are quiet or striking versions of :
- tailored blazer,
- drapey or curvy shapes,
- assertive edgy shapes of bomber/ biker/ military,
- architectural shapes.

Or do you prefer simple shapes but delight in the bold or subtle combination of colour, print, texture, embellishment ? There’s a huge range – from overwhelming, challenging, sublime through to modest in scope.

No end to the delicious possibilities :D
Apart from the pleasures of looking at all this – when it comes to what you wear yourself, which makes you feel most happy, comfortable with and true to yourself :D

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Patterns and links available November 2013

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Explore posts in the same categories: current fashion, personal style

One Comment on “Combine fabrics, embellish”

  1. myrosesindecember Says:

    Great post. Thanks for all the new possibiities. I tend to stick with the major pattern makers but can see I am missing a lot doing so.


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