26 december 2015

Queen of Peace and Tons of Food

Well hello there, I'm back with a sewing post after this whole drawing extravaganza! I hope everyone has had a great Christmas. I spent two lovely days with family, there was loads of good food and talk, and we even managed to squeeze in some picturetaking!

Some time ago I was alerted to a selection of Christian Wijnants fabrics that had appeared on Mondepot, and after spotting this particular fabric I couldn't get hold of my wallet quick enough. It looks like textured super dark green scales on a black background, it's super drapey but not that lightweight and it just screamed at me. "Make me into something swishy and comfortable! Let me SHINE!"

The occasion for this project arose when Lieke and me (and our loved ones) went to see Florence + the Machine in concert. I had been looking forward to this for ages and thought it warranted a new dress, but with an unexpected trip to Berlin right before that (and some warmer sewing being necessary) I had less time than anticipated. The solution? Turn to a pattern that has worked out really well before and sews up quickly!

I had sort of drafted this dress for Oonapalooza a while ago, and always thought a second version would be awesome (the first incarnation gets worn loads of times and is still going strong!). The pattern is super simple: I started from a bodice block, added a bit of length and width for swishiness and did some cutting to make the contrast panels at the neckline. This time I used a sort of matte viscose for the neck part, which contrasts nicely with the slight shine and texture of the main fabric.

Everything went together smoothly, and the fabric was surprisingly easy to sew (I have no idea what it's made of- my only gripe with Mondepot and the reason I often pass on their fabrics is that they rarely provide fabric contents! This is especially important with online shopping in my opinion... If I can't feel a fabric I want to at least have an idea of what it'll feel like. End rant. I set a piece of this on fire and think it's a mix of silk and poly.) I did cut the hem a bit short, the fabric is a bit stretchy due to the texture and I think the weight of the excess fabric pulled it down more at first, if that makes sense. But hey, my look for this winter appears to be 'did she forget to put on pants?' so I'm just rolling with it.

I'm going to spend the rest of 2015 eating with family and friends, drawing for friends and doing a bit of work, so this will probably be my last post of the year. A very happy new year to all of you lovely readers, and see you in 2016!

20 december 2015

Draw all the things: I think I can see a pattern here

Wow! How time flies! We have arrived at my last post for this year's Draw All the Things! Don't zone out just yet because tomorrow Hanne will officially close with a post on textures, but today I'm talking patterns!

Maybe you've wondered before about fabric designs and how they're made. Maybe you've wanted to have your own fabric printed! Simple repeats like square repeats, half drops, half bricks or mirrored patterns aren't hard to figure out, and most fabric printing sites have a built-in feature to design those basic repeats. But what if you want an all-over pattern? In that case, you need a tile, and I'm going to show you how easy it is to create one!

First you start with a piece of paper. Any size works, really. I chose square because it's a tiny bit easier. Draw something on the center of the page. You can go big, but make sure your drawing doesn't touch any of the edges!

Next we are going to create a new page with space to draw what will fill up the gaps between the repeats of the first drawing. To do this, we will have to cut up the original. Draw a horizontal and a vertical line through the center of the paper, like so:

Next, cut along those lines and rearrange your pieces. This is a little hard to explain, but you basically switch everything around. Bottom left becomes top right, and the other way round. This should make it clearer:

What you should end up with is a drawing with edges that meet up seamlessly when they are tiled and a nice blank space in the middle to fill in. You can do whatever you want here, but again, make sure none of your drawing touches the edge of the paper! I went with a bird:

In this case (and since it's just a demonstration) I didn't bother working on a fresh sheet of paper for this second part of the drawing. Normally, I'd layer a new sheet over the cut-and-pasted one and use a lightbox (or window) to see the first drawing, then scan and put the whole thing together in Photoshop.

But what if I told you the whole cutting and pasting isn't even necessary! You can use Photoshop to do this very quickly and more accurately:

Open your file in Photoshop. I gave it a little bit of colour because pretty. Take a look at your image size, and make a mental note (or a real one) of the height and width in pixels. This is going to be important!

Take a look at your filters and select 'Other', then 'Offset'. Now for the crazy stuff!

Remember the correct amount of pixels? Divide those by two and enter them for the horizontal and vertical values. Make sure to select 'Wrap Around' and see what cool things your drawing is doing!

If you are working digitally, you can just fill in the blank space in your file right there and be all set. If you are working on paper first like I am, it's easiest to print the image and use it as a base for your further drawing:

I did it on a separate sheet of paper (putting it on top of the printout) so I wouldn't have to remove the printed areas later. Scan this second page, edit it the way you want to and paste it into the first file. You now have a tile! This is what mine looks like as a repeat:

A few final things to keep in mind: the bigger your individual drawings are, the more obvious your pattern repeat will be. If you fill up a page with tiny doodles it will be harder to see where the tile repeats itself! This all comes down to personal preference or what you want to use your pattern for. It looks like a whole lot of information, but once you get the basic principles it's really not that hard to create your own repeat patterns!

18 december 2015

Stamp all the things!

As far as this drawing series goes, Hanne and I thought it would be fun to show a few easy ways to apply your new drawing skills to something even more practical than sketching figures and designing clothes: printing your own fabric! I'll show the fancy way to block print today, and tomorrow Hanne will tell you about a more low-budget way, using things you might already have lying around.

First up: tools! The main things you need are something to carve your stamp from, carving knives, ink and a brayer to roll your ink. You can find materials for stamp carving in almost any craft store, and I'd definitely recommend the softcut type over the harder lino for hand-stamping. It's a bit tougher to cut, but wayyy easier to print if you don't have a press!

(I ended up going with a different design, as you'll see further on)

As for knives: you only need a few (I use a v-shaped one and two sizes of u-shaped blades most of the time) and if this is a sometimes thing there's no need to buy expensive ones. My knives are a dirt cheap set that were sharpened by my teacher in my first year of college, and they're still going strong! Same goes for the brayer. A small one is fine since you'll probably be making small stamps anyway!

Just a heads up about ink: block printing ink will work best with this type of printing. Other inks or paints are usually too runny to make a good print. Oil-based printing ink should be fine for fabric that is going to be washed once it's fully dry, but Speedball makes a block printing ink for fabric that is pretty great, especially because you don't have to heat set it! (I've never seen it sold in Belgium but I've ordered from here before and had no problems!) No more ironing fabric for hours at a time! You could also use a thickening medium with regular fabric paint, but I have no experience with that personally.

Now, on to the actual doing of things! First, you'll need to decide on a design and carve it out of your stamp. I use pieces of softcut material that are already mounted onto a block of wood, which works pretty well. You can always glue your stamp to your own block of wood of course, which is easier to stamp with! I would recommend a simple design, using mostly large shapes and not too many fine lines. Use your carving tools to carve the stamp (I use the small v-shaped knife for outlines and then remove all unnecessary material with the u-shaped ones), making sure that the area that's supposed to be blank is carved down and smooth.

Next, we'll get printing! Protect your floor or table with a plastic tablecloth (or good old newspaper) and find a piece of smooth cardstock for your ink. Start with a small amount and spread it around with the brayer until it's smooth and makes a nice sticky sound (you'll know it when you hear it!)

Next, roll the brayer all over your stamp. Don't be stingy with the ink! It's best to do a few test prints on scraps of fabric to see how it turns out. I had a different fabric (lighweight denim) picked for this but it turned out the ink barely showed up, so I went with black linen instead.

Now print! And do some yoga while you're at it. You need to put some weight down on the stamp, but not as much as I'm demonstrating here, I promise. This was more being silly.

I chose a random pattern of moons, stars and comets, but you can do anything. If you're doing something with a repeat, I would advise to put down a few guidelines in chalk first, to make things easier to line up. It's easy to lose track of a straight line when you're dealing with a big piece of fabric!

I decided my print was still missing something, so I got one of those pencils with an eraser at the end and added a load of small dots. Done! Now all you have to do is let the fabric dry, set the paint according to instructions and think about what to make with your personal yardage!

Here's how my fabric turned out! I'll probably make this into a skirt.

16 december 2015

Don't blow things out of proportion. Or do. I don't care.

Alright people, today things will get complicated! Or not really. There will be skeletons and muscles and a tiny bit of counting and looking!

Have you ever tried to draw a figure and felt something was off, making things look awkward? Chances are the proportions weren't quite right. If you draw figures regularly you sort of develop a feel for it, but if you try to do this as a sometime thing I have a few neat little tricks to make things easier!

The key to drawing people (or animals) is to understand the basic structure that builds them. The shape of our skeleton and the muscles attached to it influence how we look on the outside. So if you know what a skeleton and basic muscle structure looks like, all those weird human curves make tons more sense!

Just a heads up: I'm talking super general here. This is what the 'average' person supposedly looks like, but of course the majority of people won't be exactly like this. Everyone's body is slightly differently arrenged, but this is meant as a starting point to understanding how things fit together.

That's our basic, regular human right there. A lot of resources tell you a human is about eight of its heads tall, which results in a more streamlined figure, but I find that most regular people are around 7-and-a-bit heads tall. This means that the distance from the chin to the nipples is about one head, same as nipples to belly button, belly button to hip joints, hip joints to above the knees, knees to middle of shin, shin to ankles and then a bit left. I've drawn a rather crude skeleton here but you can see how the shoulders, chest and hips are shaped by our bones. If you simplify this basic structure, you get a nice little stick man with hips and a ribcage, and all you have to do is add muscle! Or a creepy smiley face.

Speaking of muscle, this is what humans generally look like without things like hair, skin and fat. When you've drawn your stick man, you can add an outline of the muscles to make it look like a real human. I've always thought the best way to figure all this out is to look at people: compare diagrams of muscles with how your own body looks in the mirror. Get your partner naked to study them. Look at pictures of naked people on the internet. Maybe not at work, or at least tell your boss you're studying anatomy! This takes a bit of focus and practice, but once you get the hang of it everything suddenly makes sense. Trust me!

Next up: faces! Notoriously hard to draw, but they can bring a lot of extra character to a picture. Here's a weird bald head to make things clear:

Again, a face can be divided into four equal parts: top of the head to right underneath the hairline, hairline to middle of the eyes, eyes to underneath the nose, nose to chin. The mouth is in the middle of that bottom part. A little trick to decide on eye placement: in general the distance between two eyes equals the width of one eye. The width of the nose is equal to the width of the eye as well. Also, the width of the mouth equals the distance between the two pupils. Bam! Again, once you get this, you can start to play with it. Some people have wider set eyes, or bigger noses, ears or mouths... Endless possibilities!

There are, of course, loads more things to say about bodies. Most people know that our 'wingspan' (from the tips of your fingers when you extend your arms sideways) is about equal to your total length, but did you know that your hands are generally the same size as your face? Or that your feet are about the size of your forearm?

If you really want to get into this kind of thing I would strongly suggest looking for live-drawing classes in your area. Again, you can study diagrams and pictures as much as you want, but the very best way to learn about how bodies are shaped and move is looking at real humans and observing!

15 december 2015

Get inspired and then DRAW ALL THE THINGS!

All right, let's get this show on the road!

We thought it would be nice to start with a bit of inspiration. I have to admit that most of the artists I like don't necessarily focus on drawing clothes... With one notable exception!

Maarten Vande Wiele is a Belgian illustrator and comic artist who released Paris, a graphic novel about models and starlets, a few years ago. Since the fashion industry plays an important part in the story there was a lot of attention paid to the clothes the characters wear! So if you feel like curling up reading a dark comedy and looking at pretty pictures, I'd definitely recommend this!

Maarten's drawing style is deceptively simple, with the characters reduced to the most essential lines, and the same goes for the clothes. Still, there's a lot of detail included that makes them stand out!

Most of the outfits worn in the book are vintage or current designer garments, and some of them are instantly recognisable, like this epic Viktor & Rolf coat:

(I kind of want this)
The designer names are always mentioned in a little footnote, which is a fun detail.

I always liked how these drawings almost have a technical quality to them: they're obviously stylized and drawn with an artistic instead of a funtional goal, but the attention to detail reminds me of functional line drawings.

It's also interesting to see as an example of drawing clothes on a body in motion, which is basically the next step after drawing static line drawings. Folds and movement in fabric are (in my opinion) some of the hardest things to draw (apart from cars!!!) and this guy makes it look so easy.

So run to your nearest comic book shop, get a copy and sit down with the story of Hope, Chastity and Faith. You won't regret it!

Don't forget to go over to Hanne's blog and see who she's inspired by!

14 december 2015

Draw all the things? Draw ALL THE THINGS!

Remember how last year Hanne wrote an excellent series of posts on drawing, and I attributed a post giving some tips to make your fashion sketches look pretty? Well, we're bringing this back with more tips and techniques! So you are all welcome to draw allll the things this week!

You can pop back to Hanne's blog to refresh your memory on last year's posts. There were excellent tutorials on how to easily draw a figure with a body that looks like yours, inspirational pictures and techniques. This year there will be:

More inspiration!

Learn about proportions of the human body! Including sketches that show how hands are the same size as faces!

Easy ways to put drawings on fabric or clothes! Carve a stamp without carving yourself and print your own fabric!

Dip your toes into designing patterns for digital fabric printing! Learn about pattern repeats and discover the secret of tiling!

Learn how to draw clothing and fabric textures so your sketches look like you'd better frame them!

And above all: try something new, get some ink on your hands and have fun!

10 december 2015

It was very nice, it was paradise

Guess what I did this weekend! I took full advantage of my boss accidentally giving me five days off in a row and dragged two friends to Berlin (the boyfriend eventually followed as well). We had a blast wandering around and discovering a new city, and I even managed to photograph a project in the process!

This trip was super last-minute (I think we booked it two weeks before leaving) and I knew we'd be going from cold outside to warm inside quite a bit, so I figured a cosy layering piece would come in handy. This plaid flannel had been in my stash for a while (another mega bargain from work: down to 3 euros a yard + my employee discount!) and I decided to try out an Archer hack I'd been thinking about.

I chopped the pattern pieces off at the waist and added a slightly flared skirt with a curved hem. The waist has elastic to provide some shape and leave space for cake and pastries (which were abundant during our trip). I also added a western-style yoke to the front and back, which is super easy! Basically, you merge the back yoke and bodice pieces, draft a separate yoke piece with the shape you want, do the same for the front, sew the shirt body and yokes together at the shoulders, turn the lower edges of the yoke under, put it on top of the shirt body and topstitch it in place. If you sew the shirt body shoulder seams with the wrong sides together, all seams are enclosed as well. Of course I completely forgot to do that.

I only had two yards of this fabric so I had to do some compromising on the plaid matching. All horizontal lines across the bodice match, but I cut the yokes, pocket and button band on the bias to avoid matching those. The skirt portion had to be cut on the cross-grain to save on more fabric, but since it's all sort of gathered up it's not really noticeable.

The fabric was horribly off-grain, sadly enough. Even though the plaid is woven instead of printed, the whole thing was twisting around and took a lot of tugging and swearing to get right while cutting. It turned out all right in the end, and I love the final dress! It kept me warm during a three-hour tour about street art and subcultures, so that's a win. I also think it goes well with my hair (which is back to blue! Finally!)

Apart from freezing and posing in stairways we also had a ton of fun! I definitely want to go back to Berlin because there's so much more to see... Maybe when it's a bit warmer!

03 december 2015

Totally Radical!

I came upon a real treasure some time ago. One of my boyfriend's relatives, a woman who had done a lot of knitting when she was younger, said she had a ton of yarn and pattern books lying around, and if I wanted to have them? "Everything is clean! It's in bags! There are pattern books too, but they are very old-fashioned. I don't think you'll be able to use them."

I don't think I ever said yes so quickly.

And she was wrong about the pattern books. They are mostly from the eighties, and every magazine offers new inspiration for hundreds of amazing sweaters.

I felt selfish keeping this all for myself, so I thought I'd share some of the gems that I can't wait to make!

I feel like this is seriously missing from my life: a biiiiig sweater that makes me look like a dancing ice cream cone. Preferably slightly hairy.

Also incredibly lacking in my current wardrobe: peach/cream combos and massive shoulder pads. Go linebacker or go home!

This one is for Hanne! Or as she'd say: PINK FLUFFY UNICORNS DANCING ON RAINBOWS. Because why would you wear black when you can wear this and look adorable all the time.

New relationship goals, right there. Me and the boyfriend both have a mighty need for those shirt collars as well.

The girl on the left can only dream of being as awesome as the girl on the right, even with two optical illusion panthers (?) on her sweater.

Shoulder-showing sweaters are perfect for mocking manspreaders. You are basically required to spread your legs as wide as your leggings will allow at all times.

With this sweater I'll always feel like it's summer! A constant, blinding glare of eighties light and goodness. Sign me up.

Saving the best for last! I feel like there's something very feminine and sensual about the motifs on this classy sweater, but I can't quite put my finger on what makes it so. I do know that this is now on the top of my to knit-list, but maybe in pink?

If anyone wants to make one of these amazing patterns as well, do let me know! I'd happily scan the instructions, even though they're in Dutch so most of you will sadly have to guess at the magic behind these beauties.