Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lessons on moving from Concept to Creation

For those of you who have wondered whatever happened to my cut and sew hat pattern, I actually did order the proof of the whole thing.  What I discovered was that I should have done a little more paper testing before I spent time on the layout. 12.5"x12.5" was 4" more than the crown of the hat needed.  The length of the bridge only needs to be 27 3/4" to work effectively. This also changes the dimensions needed for the bridge of the hat. Suffice it to say it has taken me so long to update this post because it required a complete rework of the pattern.  The idea was solid, the dimensions were off.

I have decided to share with you the lessons I have learned about taking an idea from concept to creation based on the struggles I had with the hat pattern.

1. Paper is your BEST friend.

If you're going to be making things from scratch without the benefit of a store bought pattern, there's nothing wrong with this.  However, you'll waste a lot of fabric and money if you don't thoroughly test out your ideas on paper before trying to cut and sew them together.  I recommend buying large rolls of newsprint so that you have roughly the same dimensions as you would with fabric when working.

2. Don't just sketch it out. Piece it together.

Sketch out your initial idea on the paper, but then cut out the pieces and tape them together. This will immediately bring to your attention any potential design flaws you may have and problems created by any errors in your mathematical calculations.

3. Be sure to include seam allowances in all your calculations

Nothing is more disappointing than creating something that is absolutely beautiful and works perfectly only to discover it doesn't fit because you forgot to include the seam allowances. If it helps, piece it out on paper without the seam allowances first, then trace the pattern onto a new section of paper and this time add the seam allowances around the edge.  If you're an expert seamstress, you might not need more than 1/4" seam allowances, but I prefer 1/2" seam allowances because it gives me a larger margin for error.

4. Design ideas rarely work out the way you plan them in your head.

Expect things not to work out exactly as you planned them in your head the first, second, or even third time you try it. As you gain more experience creating things from scratch you'll run into fewer of the same problems but new problems will present themselves. Just ask any engineer.

5. Try it on cheap fabric first

Go to a thrift store and buy a lot of fabric. Use this fabric as your test fabric. Just be sure it's the same type of fabric as you plan on using in your final design.  If you're planning on using standard cotton fabric in your final design, make sure you pick out a standard cotton at the thrift store.  If you're planning on using a knit fabric in your final design, pick out a knit fabric at the thrift store.  Wash the fabric before you use it on high heat and dry it the same way to ensure that all the shrinkage that's going to happen happens before you begin cutting and sewing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Project 3: A Cut & Sew Hat Pattern - Step 4

The hat I've designed is intended for a Mommy and a young child/infant. I designed this whole project with my niece, Kristina, and her new baby, Paisley, in mind.  So, since it's now time to create a pattern - what would be more natural than to create a paisley pattern??  

I sat down on my couch with a blank sheet of paper and did a rough sketch in crayon of the paisley pattern, using pinks and grays since I had seen that color scheme on some of the pictures that Kristina had posted to her Facebook wall. Here is the original sketch: 

I imported that image into Illustrator and worked up a paisley design that would serve as the base for the pattern.

I ended up creating two different designs. The first had a large floral motif centered in the design.  

However, I wasn't fully satisfied with this design. I felt there was something lacking in it.  So I created a second design, similar to the first but this time with the paisley florals on a diagonal instead of by row.  This one I found much more pleasing to the eye.

Now that I had the pattern I wanted, it was time to fill in those blanks :)

Project 3: A Cut & Sew Hat Pattern - Step 3

After, literally, hours of playing around with different configurations, I finally found the layout that would fit on one yard of 42"x36" fabric, including a lining for each hat, and still leave room for instructions.

Now that this step is finished, it's time to "fill in the blanks" and create the fabric pattern.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Project 3: A Cut & Sew Hat Pattern - Step 2

There's nothing like a little sleep and test-driving your ideas with paper to make you see design flaws and find easier ways to do things.  The bridge of the hat (part that connects crown to bridge) doesn't need to be done in separate pieces at all.  In fact, it's a simple rectangle. I also realized, after testing with paper, that a 23.5x23.5" circle is WAY too big. The dimensions need to be closer to dinner-plate sized, so probably 12.5x12.5 will do just fine. This also means the brim will be adjusted in size, but I still want the width of the brim to be 4". Based on the adjusted size of the crown, the bridge will be It will be 5" wide by 40.25" long, but that's really too long for our cut-n-sew dimensions so it will be done in two pieces - each one 20.13" long.

I also got another idea while I was working. In honor of Mother's Day (and my niece and her baby daughter), I'm going to make my cut&sew hat pattern into a Mommy&Me style. I will have one hat my sized and a second hat about half the size.  Should be very cute, and a good use of fabric.

After trying that avenue, I discovered that half the size of Mom's head was going to be way too big for it to fit on the dimensions I have to work with (42" x 36"). I had to adjust the final pattern for the kid's hat by a full inch. It should still be big enough.  The final dimensions for the kid's hat are: crown - 5.5"x5.5" circle; bridge is 3.5x18.25"; and brim is 5.5"x8".  This should be plenty large enough for her head but still workable in the pattern.

Now that all the math is done, and I've figured out the dimensions, it's time to get to work on the actual pattern layout.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Project 3: A Cut & Sew Hat Pattern

Spoonflower has once again inspired me with a new project: A cut-and-sew hat pattern. I have to design it, test it, and finish it in one week.  This means I get to start tonight with the pattern creation. The specifications are that the entire pattern has to fit on one yard of cloth, 42 inches in width, 36 in height.

I start by taking the measurements of my head. The circumference of my head is 23 inches.  I open illustrator and create a square canvas sized 23.5 inches by 23.5 inches to allow for seam allowances.  I then hold down shift and drag to create a circle of 23.5 inches by 23.5 inches in one color.  I also create a smaller circle of 23 inches by 23 inches, align it horizontally and vertically with the larger circle and save this. This will be the crown of my hat.

The brim of my hat will be 4 inches wider than the crown, and will be laid out in two segments. To create the pattern, I create a circle in Illustrator that is 28.5x28.5 inches. I then create a smaller circle that is 28x28 inches wide and group the two together. I create a third circle that is 24.5x24.5 inches. I use horizontal and vertical align to be sure everything is centered and subtract the third circle from the first two.  I then bi-sect the circles with a horizontal rectangle that is 0.5 inches wide by 28.5 inches long, align it with the first three. I use it to separate the two parts. This is the result:

Now the hardest part: creating the link between the brim and the crown. I need to decide how far down on my brow that I want the hat to go.  I measure the top of my head to the top of my brows. It's 4 inches. I will do this part of the hat in 4 parts.  Each part, therefore, will need to be rectangles of 5" high and 7" wide (allowing for a .5 inch seam allowance on each side).  I will, of course, need to remove semi-circles at the top and the bottom to match the crown and brim pieces. Those to come tomorrow night as I am too darned tired to finish mucking with it tonight :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Project 2: Animals of the Rainforest - The reveal

This is what the cut-and-sew fabric looked like when it came. I was really pleased, and very excited to get to work on my new bag.  After all the hard work I'd put into designing it, it was hard to believe I was about to see it come to life.

This is the front of the finished bag. It's so cute!!
Just as I wanted, it's got plenty of room for books or groceries. It would work well as a purse, shopping or beach bag, tote bag, or even a book bag. The fabric is 100% kona cotton, so it's durable.  I washed the fabric in hot water, dried it on the hottest setting, and ironed it to ensure that all the shrinkage that might occur already had. The colors stayed nice and bright, too.

Animals of the Rainforest Cut-n-Sew bag. And the backside of the bag.  Looks great, doesn't it? All in all, I'm really very pleased with the way the project turned out. I thank my mom in a huge way for constantly pushing me to actually get this bag made, and to the Art Institute Online for assigning me a shopping bag project in the first place. Who knew that only 9 years later, I would end up making this?

If you would like to order this cut-and-sew pattern for yourself, you can visit my shop at Spoonflower by following this link here: Animals of the Rainforest bag

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Project 2: Animals of the Rainforest - Step 5

Since my end goal is a cut-and-sew pattern that will fit on one yard of fabric including the instructions (thanks to Spoonflower for putting together a contest that would motivate me to finish what I started!!), I needed to figure out how big each panel would need to be in order for this to work.

A single yard, for those who have never done this, is 36 wide x 42 high.  I settled on front and back panels being 16"x16" each, side panels being 8"x16" each, a bottom panel of 16"x8", and two straps that were 5"x22" each.  This gave me plenty of room for instructions and made the bag sufficiently large enough to be useful as a shopping bag in addition to a tote bag, reusable gift bag, or even a purse.

I built the seam allowances I wanted in to each panel so that it would be harder for people who purchased the pattern to make mistakes by adding a colored border around each piece.  This also helped the pieces to stand out from one another once cut out.  Each edge was labeled to match up with the one it was to be sewn to in order to make it easier.
Finally, it was time to assemble each piece and put the instructions together.  In order to test that the edges were marked correctly, I created a half-size version of the bag out of paper and scotch tape using the techniques I would give in the instructions.  Confident that everything worked correctly, I finally finished putting together the cut-and-sew pattern, just in time to upload it to Spoonflower's bag contest!!

Here is a small version of the finished piece:

I hope to have pictures of the actual bag in the next few weeks :)