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Pattern Experimentation Week One:

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I apologise for the extreme lack of posts on this blog but I feel like I’m finally back in the game.

I officially started my second year(!) at University just at the end of August/the beginning of September and my timetable (although it seemed like there are no classes) has been chock-a-block. I am taking this ‘reading week’ to post a step-by-step of the last SIX WEEKS of my PATTERN EXPERIMENTATION course that takes place on a Tuesday morning.  So, to give you a bit of an over view here is the brief written in the third person and technically in past tense because I’m describing my methodology behind the creation of the garment. This was asked for by the lecturers and will be assessed when presenting my garment.

The Brief:

‘The task set for the designer was to create a garment that hung from the shoulders, would be easy to get in and out of and to be created with only six triangles of an equilateral and right triangular angled shape.

Once the triangular shapes were decided upon and cut, the garment then had to be created directly on to a mannequin stand. The fabric given was a light weight calico in which only two and a half metres were to be used in the final garment and an extra half metre for fabric experimentation. The calico was to be manipulated in a way as to not look like its original state, this could be done through painting, dying, laser cutting, printing, embellishing etc. Restrictions were in place, the triangles could not be cut to change their form, as in no corners could be cut, however the designer could cut within the shape but making sure that the triangle kept its three sides. However the triangles could be manipulated to make different shapes though pleating, gathering, folding etc. The designer was given 5-6 weeks to create this garment and could use different fabrics to embellish and line the item of clothing with.’

When I first read the original lecturers brief I am not going to deny that I was overly excited, but also cacking myself. I couldn’t help but think ‘Six triangles?! That surely won’t be enough to make a garment!?’ and boy-oh was I wrong. I used the whole two and a half meters to make my six triangles and I had waaaay more than I expected. Here is my layout plan:


I measured the material then scaled it down into cm’s so I could figure out the best lay plan. I decided that THREE equilateral and right angle triangles would give me enough material to work with. Also it would give me enough uniformity to make my garment ‘symmetrical’.

Now, I live to work from the mannequin it’s how I’ve sort of worked since going to sewing classes at the age of 15/16. I mean, I worked with patterns BUT in the end I would always end up sticking my garment on a form to get an exact fit which would alter the style of the original pattern piece. I like properly fitted clothes. Ha, I think you could say I’m a tailor at heart…

As the brief stated we were only allowed to create the garment on the form, there was to be NO initial ideas, no drawings, no ‘Oh well, I think I’ll design this’. This whole garment was to be created from a spur of the moment ‘I like how this looks, let’s roll with it’ kind of idea. The thought of having so much creative freedom scared me because I was thinking ‘Ah! I haven’t done this for so long and my creativity is out of kilter. Fingers crossed my work isn’t monotonous’. I think what I created in the end was very interesting and quite sculptural.

BUT! I’m not here to talk about the end result! Over the next few days I shall be uploading the each stage of my creative process, so to begin with here is a picture of the material I was given:Image

You MIGHT have seen this when getting a ‘sling’ for your arm. Calico is a cotton material which hasn’t been chemically treated and can be very sensitive, if you wash it IT WILL SHRINK by 5%. Which might not seem like a lot but it’s enough to alter your garment completely, so dying should take place BEFORE you cut your pattern. However I didn’t use dye. I had HALF a METRE to experiment with the fabric:Image

These were a mixture of Gouache Paint, Burning, and Waxing.Image

I apologise for the terrible quality of this photograph. But here I was manipulating with the weave of the fabric, pulling, de-threading more burning and waxing. In the end I went down the Paint and Wax route:


(The wax comes a little later in the process).

In the end I enjoyed painting it far too much, it was basically a blank canvas. I used gouache paints on the original samples… unfortunately the paints are overly expensive and there is always never enough so being a typical student I had to settle with poster paint when ‘dying’ the final garment. However the poster paint added to the rigidity and that helped when creating a ‘structured’ look.

Now having chosen my preferred method of manipulating the fabric I got cracking on the mannequin.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next step!


Warhol’s The Paintings Gone?

Andy Warhol Exhibition, 2007, The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.

This exhibition quite literally blew my mind. I was only 13 at the time but I had a good grasp on what I felt was meaningful art and design. His artwork came from the depths of an obscure mind-set which in turn was found and thrown out into the public domain, where everyone went crazy for it. Was it because the masses naturally didn’t understand the concepts behind Warhol’s art that brought this spout of interest? Or, was it because his work had broken away from society’s mundane art world?

Whatever it was, Andy Warhol is still considered to be one of the most influential Artists of the 20th century (being part of the Post-Modernism movement). His work created a huge wave of interest, the more popular bulk of his work was screen printing and his use of bold colours which lead to ‘Pop-Art’, a scene that many designers and artists still delve in to.

However my preferences to his work go in this order: Photography, sculpture and lastly screen printing. The reason why I have chosen photography over screen printing is not because I don’t like it, it’s because I know that Warhol is more than just a bright coloured, pop art printing machine. His photographs are unusual and sometimes there is more behind them than what the cue card on the wall tells us.

  Self Portrait with Skull – 1977

When I first spotted this I was perplexed. The pain background makes you focus on the two subjects; the skull and Warhol. He was always said to have a fascination with death because he was afraid of it, which is perfectly common. But the idea he’s trying to put across with the skull sitting on his head is that it is constantly on his mind. Not like a thought that is there one minute gone the next and you move on. He thought about it all the time, other parts of his work also focused on the concept of death., Andy Warhol Self-Potrait with Skull, accessed 23/2/12, (www) 

 Silver Clouds – 1966

This is a very popular Warhol piece. Silver coated bags filled with a form of helium that allows you to toss the bags into the air and watch them gradually float back down. (I remember being really enthusiastic about hurling the bags up as high as I could). Warhol was trying to suggest that every cloud has a silver lining and I guess I was trying to reach for sky when I chucked them around., Andy Warhol Silver Clouds, accessed 23/2/12, (www)

 Marilyn Diptych – 1962

 (This is a clipped and modified version from the original silk print.)

This is one of Warhol’s most iconic screen prints. This is a combination of two very famous ‘artists’ from the 60’s, the sex symbol Marilyn Monroe and the artist himself. His use of bright, unrealistic colours tried to show that fame and fortune was fake and deceiving. No one could have peachy skin, banana yellow hair, ruby lips and perfect white teeth. (Unless you take into consideration todays ‘celebutard’ culture!) His idea was controversial for its time, but was it truly recognised as this? Or was it seen as something bold, different and exciting?, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, accessed February 12/2/12, (www)

I remember leaving the gallery in a strange sense of awe. I kept thinking “Could I ever be like Warhol? daring, witty, intelligent and artistically imaginative.” From that point onwards I kept myself busy, trying out new styles and trying to stretch my imagination. I started reading up on unusual Artists (and later Designers).  I still apply this to myself to-day, if you don’t keep expanding your knowledge and challenging your style then you might not ever know who you are as an Artist. Heck, you could become the next ‘Andy Warhol’ of your generation.

Giles Deacon LFW Spring/Summer Collection, 2012

(Picture available from:

Giles Deacon graduated from Central Saint-Martins in 1992 and is best known for his collaborations with New Look and latterly being employed by fashion houses Bottenga Veneta and Gucci as head designer.  (V&A Giles Deacon Biography).  In 2003 he created his own brand, GILES and showed his first collection at the London Fashion Week in 2004. He later became creative director of the fashion house Ungaro in 2010 but left in late 2011. Every year since his first LFW show, he has won countless awards from Best New British Designer to Best British Designer of the year. (GILES: Giles Biography 19/9/11 Author Unknown)

In this year’s LFW show there was a real buzz to Deacon’s collection. His opening piece was a crisp white women’s tuxedo topped with a decorative swan hat made by the milliner, Stephen Jones. This set the character and mood for the rest of his collection, the swan theme took centre stage as mentioned by Vogue writer Jessica Bumpus Vogue LFW 18/9/11

 “A meeting of heaven and hell seemed to pursue as angelic looks of feathers, silver dresses and laser cuts combined with vivid red detailing to offset them – the red beak of the swan which was to become the overriding theme.” (JessicaBumpus 18/9/11

Giles had taken many aspects of a swan’s beauty for his show this year. He changed its characteristics into mind blowing 3D prints, laser-cut leather, silks, corsets and chiffons.  Later on in his catwalk he had broken down the bird’s colour scheme; using only nudes, black, greys, silvers, whites and red to create avant-garde couture gowns, pant suits and A-line dresses.

According to the WGSN website, just before the finale of Giles’s collection his models were dressed in kaftans to divert the viewer’s attention before the show stopping couture gowns stepped out. Graceful, like the swan, they were decorated with ostrich feather trim and complex laser-cut embellishments. (Womenswear London S/S12)

Giles Deacon’s collection for LFW 2011 was essentially couture. His use of colours and style never cease to amaze his public. As stated in The Wall Street Journal “If all good fashion is theatre, then Giles Deacon is high drama. And we don’t mean the enfant terrible kind. The man knows how to put on a show.” (WSJ Drama at Giles Deacon 19/9/11)

So in conclusion, Giles Deacon’s show was jaw dropping. His innovative mindset is always ten steps in front of every other designer and his designs are always other worldly.

What Are You Looking At?

I am a lover of both fashion and music and fortunately for me both subjects have always been closely linked.

Take for instance the intricate embroidery stitched onto clothing of the 18th century, all frills and flounces to embrace the music of the time. In the world of music, the major composers of this era were Mozart, Handel, and Haydn, and fashion, like music, architecture and painting was designed on a grand scale.

Some of my favourite musicians and artists all have their own defined style, like my brother’s band Dark Horses and my favourite painter Picasso. I couldn’t, and I’m not sure if I would want to say that I have one particular style, as I still have a lot to learn and a lot to see. I love couture designers especially when they dive back into history and cherry pick the best bits like bustles or embroidery, or when they travel into the future, everything is over the top! My favourite designers are, John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen.

I have created sleek and elegant designs and then contrasted them with the avant-garde to try and find the area of fashion I feel most comfortable in. And I hope that the next few years spent here at Heriot-Watt will help shape me and my style.

In contrast to my strong interest in fashion and music, my favourite object would have to be our family’s Yacht. She is from Holland and her name is Bolle Bof which literally means “Fat-Luck”! I love the overall shape of her, she’s quite beamy and a little old fashioned looking, kinda like my granmama, but when all three sails are up, she suddenly changes hitching up her skirts and off like quicksilver!