Tag Archives: patterning

prysm.break Vest Triangle Panel

The vest from my prysm.break collection has a triangle colorblocked panel on the back.   I loved patterning it and I loved sewing it.

Love triangle.

Pressing the perfect triangle.

Symmetrical seam allowance.


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Side Project: Mole Friend

In addition to creating clothing and accessories, I like to make creatures.  Secretly, I want to grow up to be a monster-maker (okay, not so secretly).  My passion is creating: clothes, costumes, creatures, whatever.   When I interned at the Sesame Street Live costume studio, I went to work each day in a building labelled “COSTUMES & CREATURES.”    So perfect.

A few months ago, I started painstakingly working on patterning some plushies. It’s hard for me to think three-dimensionally.  I know patterning for clothing requires three-dimensional thinking and planning, but I’ve been able to figure it out after years and years of working on it.  Plushies seems EXTRA three-dimensional (does that even make sense?!), so it’s super hard for me.  Like most people, doing things that are tediously difficult is annoying.  Most people tend to enjoy doing things they are naturally good at. But, if I had followed this model for my career, I’d be a mathematician instead of an artist/designer (not kidding, not even a little).  But, I ENJOY designing and creating patterns even though it’s tough for me.

Using the muslin to double check shapes.

The first creature I made was an adorable, chubby beaver.  He turned out really cute, but it took me quite awhile to get him there.  I decided the next creature challenge was going to be a mole.  Why a mole?  Why not.


This mole was going to be sewn out of an old faux suede winter coat that was given to me with hope I’d turn it into some awesome.  (Moles are awesome. Maybe not a real one that’s messing up your yard…..but this one will be awesome.)  I really do love to recycle fabric.  Actually, I ended up turning the lining of the coat, which was a nubby faux fur in the same color, into a second mole.  (You can see the nubby fur in the picture below.)

Spare parts (aawww, look at the cute little mole tail!)

Creepy Deflated Moleskin

I needed these moles to have some rockstar digging claws, so I brainstormed lots of different materials to make them out of: fabric, interfacing, felt, plastic, clay.  Then I remembered I have a pretty stellar leather scrap stash.  Leather claws would definitely look pretty gnarly.

Claw time: getting his nails did.

When it was finally time for stuffing, I was so ready to see him.  The anticipation was killing me.  He also turned out SO CHUBBY AND ADORABLE!  I was hoping to create a mole that looked sleepy, vicious and cute all at the same time.

Cutest chubby mole and chubby beaver I’ve ever made.

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Posted by on 07.11.12 in Side Projects


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Pattern Grading Issue: Dart Casserole

Ever since the pattern grading workshop I did in March, I’ve graded all the new patterns that I’ve been creating for my next collection.  I’m learning more and more about clothing pattern grading the more I do it.  Yay!  I am learning what I like and what I hate about the process I’m currently using.  When the workshop instructor first talked about nesting the graded patterns (you know, where all the sizes are nested together on one paper in sequential order), I remember leaning over and commenting to my neighbor “When I actually start patterning my own stuff, there’s NO WAY I’m gonna nest them.”

If you’ve ever worked with a commercial store-bought pattern you might know why this practice of nesting multiple sizes is so freakin’ obnoxious.  If you want to use any size other than the very largest size, you have three options: cutting it out of the pattern (while losing all the larger sizes), tracing it onto it’s own paper (why didn’t they just do this in the first place?), or laying the pattern on the fabric and cutting the fabric at the correct cut line while NOT cutting the pattern (sounds confusing? yup).  The second reason that I’ve come to hate nested pattern is because there’s always going to be a billion different lines/darts/notches/etc all over.  It gets really confusing. When there’s a giant cluster of dart confusion, I call it Dart Casserole.

Note to self: good luck!

So I hate nested patterns, but I grade my patterns into about nine or ten different sizes (this is fairly excessive, don’t worry if you prefer 3 or 4 sizes when you grade).  I use a good amount of paper for patterning already, and if I made each size separate, I’d end up using NINE or TEN times the amount of paper!!!  And, it’d actually probably take me four or five times as long to finish grading.  I’m really into the whole Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mentality, so I can’t justify using all that paper if I don’t need to.  I’m tight on time too, so nest away patterns!  Nest away!

Still, I am annoyed with how confusing my darts are to read and to transfer from my pattern to my fabric.  After I finished the one pictured above I actually just thought to myself “Yeesh. Good luck with that later.” So I actually wrote a note to myself: good luck!  After dealing with those dang darts for awhile, I decided to try something else.

Before: dart casserole
After: easy-to-follow dart chart

Now my pattern only has the dart’s center post marked and a note telling me how far away the dart’s legs should be marked in on the fabric. (This dart’s legs would be drawn in 3/8″ away at the bottom. Wimpy dart.)  I’m going to try this method for awhile and see if it works out better.  It most definitely LOOKS better.  In case anyone wants to incorporate this into their pattern grading, I really don’t think it’d be very successful with any darts except straight darts unless you are crazy consistent drawing in your curved legs.

If anyone’s found a better solution to the “AHHH! DART CASSEROLE!” issue while nesting your graded patterns, please please let me know.  I love to improve my processes!


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Side Project: Beaver Fever!

I’m a textiles recycling enthusiast.

Or, as my partner sees it: I am incapable of throwing fabric away.

Seriously, I have boxes and bags of scraps that I just KNOW will come in handy for some project someday that will need just a teeny tiny scrap of that ONE fabric.  So, I keep it.  In addition to keeping fabric scraps, I even save thread clippings.  I’ve used thread scraps in the past for stuffing small plush creatures, so I’ve just continued saving thread bits for years and years.  I told you I’m a textiles recycling enthusiast: recycled thread guts.

Recycled guts collection site: Toss your thread clippings here!

I’ve been working on some plush creature patterns lately.  The first one I focused on was a super chubby beaver.  Now I’m SUPER glad I’ve been keeping all these scraps for years, because it takes alot of guts to stuff a super chubby beaver.  (I meant that sentence in the G-rated version.)

Pile o' beaver parts.

While I’ve been patterning clothes/accessories/costumes for years, plush creatures are real, real hard for me to pattern.  I think it’s because I don’t necessarily have a brain that works three-dimensionally.  Sure, clothes are essentially soft, three-dimensional sculptures worn around a body, but I have learned the shapes, curves, and contours of these sculptures.  The starting point is always human body shaped, so I’ve been able to spend years figuring it out.  With my plush creatures, there’s not really a starting point.  My brain panics. I decided to dive into this project despite my “holy cow…..what?!” mentality.

Using recycled guts.

While I still have some fine-tuning on my pattern, it definitely turned into a chubby beaver body.  When I use the recycled textiles, I tend to stuff them fairly tightly.  This gives the plushie some weight and they feel pretty dense.  I happen to like this, but not everyone does.  Some people prefer the super soft and squishy type.  Personal preference, no judgement here.

Now the fun part: details!  You all know how I love to get caught up in details.

Nose job!

A soft leather nose, suede stitched teeth, mop of furry hair, a quilted tail.  Yep.  Details are definitely my favorite.

Securing the teeth. Audio Helkuik: designer, costumer, beaver dentist....?

Over all, I’m reeeeeeeally excited about the outcome of this side project.  While I love making clothes, I’ve always wanted to be a monster-maker.  Okay, so a beaver isn’t a monster…..but if I can make a beaver, I can make a monster, right?   Plus, I love using up the scraps from all my other projects.  The beaver was stuffed using scraps from my clothing collection. A beaver with circus guts has got to have a destiny of serious awesomeness.  I think I have enough scraps to make a small army of creatures.  Since I’m constantly sewing clothes for clients, I’ll be continually creating guts.  Really, my studio has created a great cycle of sustainability as far as guts goes.  Textiles recycling winner!  And chubby-beaver-maker winner!

Beaver Fever: my new chubby beaver friend!

You know what they say: If you can’t make friends….MAKE some friends.



Posted by on 03.13.12 in Side Projects


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