Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fashion Techniques: Embroidery, Felting, and Pleating

My back stitched reverse applique
As demonstrated by the brand Alabama Chanin (and mentioned in my previous blog post), one way to be sustainable is to use handmade techniques and couture details which help create a connection between the wearer and the garment. This is called "slow fashion" and it's a fashion philosophy that is gaining ground.  The popularity of, a shop where you can search for exclusively handmade items, is proof that the public is interested in handmade goods. 

In class we focused on a few different couture techniques that are used in slow fashion. The first, embroidery, is used frequently by Alabama Chanin. It involves hand stitching designs and fabric appliques to the clothing. The look that is achieved by hand stitching cannot be duplicated on a machine. Hand stitching gives the garment a natural, non-symmetrical feeling that looks less industrial and programmed. In class we experimented with a few different kinds of simple stitches (running stitch, and back stitch), and practiced appliques and reverse appliques.

My attempt at needle felting
We also experimented with needle felting in class. I've never understood how needle felting was done. I always pictured something similar to hat felting... not that I actually know how to do that either. But needle felting was surprisingly easy and also a good stress reliever. It's done by taking a square of wool fabric and placing it on top of a large piece of Styrofoam. You take a handful of loose strands of wool, and place them in a design on the wool base. Then you take the needle felter - which is a contraption that holds a number of sharp needles together - and stab at the loose wool. You can really get some anger out by felting! Basically every time that you are stabbing the needles through the wool layers you are pushing small fibers of the loose wool through the wool fabric. This locks it in, as if it's being sewn together. You can create any shape or pattern that you want.
My 2 types of origami fabric pleats

Finally we tried our hand at origami pleating. This is like regular origami except on fabric. By using origami pleating, you can create really interesting shapes and patterns that have depth and structure. We did two types in class. The first was a to create a three dimensional square by folding and twisting the fabric in a specific way, like normal origami. The second way we achieved the origami look was by using a pattern to sew anchor points to shapes on a piece of fabric. We then tightened the anchor points to create a 3D bulged in the fabric, and flattened them out to their original shapes. It sounds weird, but it was actually pretty easy. Once you iron these fabric shapes down, the turn into really beautiful architectural creations.

Our final project for the class will be to combine all of the different sustainable fashion components together for a total sustainable look. I plan to incorporate some embroidery and origami pleating into my garments to acknowledge slow fashion.

1 comment:

  1. The popularity of, a shop where you can search for exclusively handmade items, is proof that the public is interested in handmade goods. Sew Little Fabric