Subtraction Cutting


Julian Roberts is of one of my greatest fashion design and pattern making teachers. He is a British fashion designer and academic. “Subtraction Cutting” is the name given to an experimental method of hollow construction developed by him. Julian has been teaching his methods in 25 countries since 1998.

I discovered him by being introduced by another teacher and I got hooked his method for a long time. I have been following where and what he is doing through social medias from time to time and I have bumped into a conversation he had with one of his students.

The student who participated on his workshop asked him whether she could purchase his demonstration piece and he kindly replied to her that yes she can but he does not want money, all he needs is only the postage. The dress was made and autographed on the corner of the dress by Julian. He is one of the greatest fashion and pattern making tutors in the world. So presumably the dress would be worth a lot even if it was a prototype.

I have come across his generous gestures some time before like this. One time he asked for donation to his followers of the intention of giving that donation to women’s health or cancer research when he participated a long marathon. When I saw his conversation with the student, it reminded me how generous he was and has been.

On this post, I wanted to share some of the photos that I tried using the technique of subtraction cutting over the years to create garments for myself.

 

The above photo is a subtraction cutting dress. The materials are taffeta and cotton.

 

The wooden dummy is wearing sub-cut coat. It was difficult to make it for real size so this was only an experiment.

 

The back view of the photo is actually a poncho. It is hard to figure that out because it looks like a long dress.

 

Above photo was me experimenting the method with a quarter size mannequin.

 

Again, it is me working with a real size mannequin.

 

The back view of sub-cut trousers. But I did not use good fabric so it became my pyjama pants.

 

Above photo shows a sub-skirt. The material is deep red taffeta and it is comfortable to wear.

 

Another dress

 

More dress …

 

I love his techniques so much and I tried a lot. I did not take photos every single time when I made something because I created so many garments using the technique. I made dresses a lot, trousers, a poncho, wraps and shrugs. I participated one of his workshop but I really learned this method through trial and error. Of course, I was disappointed when the result was not successful because I ruined the fabric. Julian encourages us through social medias not to feel defeated when things go wrong because there is always something to teach us. Instead, let go of the failures and try again.

 

Julian Roberts and me. I was at his workshop in Melbourne in 2014. Wearing a sub-cut dress I made on that day.

 

Exploring and designing many creations through Julian’s method is very exciting and compelling. That is why I have kept coming back to use his techniques when I want to make something unique. I will make more trials again to delve into his methods and see how much I could go beyond my limitation.

Best,
Chiggy

Yohji Yamamoto’s Messages

Yohji Yamamoto is my favourite living fashion designer and it is said that he is one of the greatest fashion designers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Since his designs are unique and some of them are extreme, some people consider that his arts are enigmatic. In spite of those negative views, every single one of his designs has an ineffable beauty and there is Japanese essence behind the forms.

I have read his books, articles and watched videos on Yohji Yamamoto over the years and I want to share some advice he has given to fashion designers.

1) “Just listen to the fabric . What is it saying? Just wait. Probably the material teaches you something”. That is one of his famous sayings to his pattern makers.

Fashion designers and pattern makers tend to use muslin or calico when they create a fashion design because it is an economical way to start experimenting on their first attempt. That is the method we have been taught in fashion schools. In reality, most of designers would not choose to use calico as a final garment. Calico is coarse, unsophisticated plain-woven textile made from unbleached and often not fully processed cotton.

Yohji Yamamoto starts with fabric. He lays the final fabric on a dress form to create a design. He can afford to do it because he has mastered his craft. For intermediate fashion designers, using a final fabric for the first trial could cost greatly if they made a mistake.

However, it is an ideal way to design and use the final fabric to work on a mannequin and move toward the chosen design. In doing so, designers can see how well the fabric drapes, whether or not their visions manifest with the final fabric in terms of correlation between the grain line and gravity.

In my case, I use the final fabric to drape and get the pattern if I am absolutely confident although I am still an amateur draper. Otherwise, I would find a similar fabric to achieve the design by draping and applying the best fabric for the final construction.

 

2) “Do not search for information in terms of getting ideas on the Internet because you will be bombarded with enormous amount of information and as a result, you will lose yourself”.

It is true that we rely on getting information from the Internet when we are confused. While doing the search, we waste a lot of time in front of the computer. We might get  a few sparks from searching but the mind is never satisfied with the little information and strives for more ideas. In addition, we sometimes get distracted by another messages that pop into our minds whether it is related to what we are doing and before we know it, we forget what we have been searching for in the first place. So I understand what Yohji meant when he made that statement.

 

3) “Copy, copy and copy your favourite masters. At the end of copying, you can find yourself.” What Yohji meant was that practice makes perfect. By reproducing the fine art as a practice, you can cultivate the dexterity of your craft. 

He also said, “From time to time, stop and ask yourself why you create things. You could become a writer if you are able to tell stories with words. But if not, you might want to be a creator such as designers, artists and sculptors. You have to practice, practice and practice in order to let the craft instil into your bones and blood. Then let the body express what it wants to express”.

 

4) Yohji talked about the history of Japan which began around 10,000BC. For a long time, Japanese people have been indoctrinated with the cultural beliefs, dogmas and distinctive ideas of how to be a Japanese.

Yohji’s message to adolescents is “Living in a strict society like Japan is sometimes hard. Some people are adaptable, but others are not. A tough period is the time to consider and question yourself how to live and survive in that environment”.

Some Japanese who cannot tolerate with the conformity of Japan go overseas. They want to be true to themselves and express their freedom.

 

I think most creators agree with what Yohji Yamamoto has stated through his messages. There is always a precious moment underneath the process of doing when we are being creative. Keep copying fine artists and be prolific. Tenacity is the key to master your craft.

 

Always,

Chiggy

Powerful Questions About Life 2

Sometimes in life, I think it is a good idea to stop and think for a moment on philosophical questions that resonates in my heart. I have come across a couple of things that I would like to ponder.

 

(1) What does make me get up in the early morning?

I have been getting up early in the morning to do yoga for about fifteen years. But it does not mean I am a competent yoga practitioner. I have lots of poses that I cannot do and am not that flexible, either. Rather, I do my practice at my own pace, making a little bit of extra effort each time. But in the last twelve months or so, I have been dedicated to do the practice frequently. I am using The Yoga of Awakening DVD Series by Seane Corn.

Seane shared her thoughts in one of the dvds. She said “I have found over the years that when my yoga practice is off, I get reactive easily and my tension will come up which influences my choices. I practise yoga to release the tension and remind myself  to make healthy, open and loving choices in conflicts and challenges in life. Yoga also reminds me to stay patient and accepting of situations as they are. Each day, I use this body-mind practice to empower myself and cultivate confidence.” What she said resonated me because I had similar experiences before.

Since I have discovered and started Seane’s yoga practice, I have felt a shift inside me. I notice that my stress level is much lower, I am less judgemental about myself and yoga makes a big difference in my overall attitude.

Everyday, I get up early because I know that Seane’s teaching takes me to a better spiritual and physical state through movement and breaths. Every time I finish the program, I always feel serenity and stillness inside.

 

(2) Which to choose, fail or never try?

Over the last seven years or so, I started learning fashion design, dressmaking, various types of pattern making and draping skills. My creations were interesting and I had positive comments about the pieces from other people when I was wearing them on the street. Because of that, gradually my desire for selling clothes built up. That was the reason I started my previous online business some years ago. I was not able to build a website by myself at that time so I decided to use a web designer to create it. Also I invested more money for industrial sewing machines and other equipments for the business.

I assumed that once I got my website ready, that would generate traffic and could lead to sales. But my assumption was wrong and I realised that I was immature with respect to running an online business. Before I had my site, I had not learned any business skills such as marketing, advertising, finances, social medias and others. Once I started, I realised how important it was to learn those skills before starting a business. I was overwhelmed because there was so much to learn and I was not sure whether I could cope with it.

In order to be successful, I needed to put my brand’s name out there. But I did not have a lot of extra budget for outside advertising. I knew ads would sell things but they were expensive. From time to time I invested smaller amount of money for promoting my business on social medias. I tried to use free sources such as Pinterest, Instagram and others. I had to spend a lot of time doing the things that were required in order to get my site’s name on higher presence on the Internet. And as I was doing business related things in front of the computer, I wondered “when on earth would I have time to design and create my clothes?”.

I kept spending more time on business activities in front of the computer rather than making clothes. But despite the effort, I could not spread my brand out there much and I slowly became disheartened and lost passion for making garments.

I sometimes wondered whether to spend more money for outside advertising such as magazines, but always fear came in and whispered to me “what if I did not sell anything even though I would invest for advertising?”.

Many months passed. One day, an event organiser came along and we decided to have an artist retreat and a choir event at our property. Those were the only times people actually saw and touched my products. Fortunately, I sold several items at the events.

What I learned was that selling products through online was pretty difficult. There are millions of competitors in the world online. Starting an online business sounds maybe easy and quick for some people, but there are a lot of things to do behind the scenes. Online presence takes time. It takes five to ten years or even more. Online business owners need a lot of patience and endurance to get through the tough periods.

I was managing the business by myself and that was a problem. I realised that it was always advantageous to have team members whom I could trust and build up a business together.

In the end, I decided to close my online business because I could not make profits. I learned a lot and I think of that experience as a journey of self improvement. At some point, I blamed myself because I could not make it work.

Nevertheless, I never regretted what I tried. I think of it as a lesson. Studying about online businesses forced me to read the subject a lot, listened to podcasts about business, motivation and consistency. I gained some skills in photography, computing and I trained myself how to write better. So the business I had was a stepping stone for the future development.

I guess the biggest failure of all is never trying. So I was glad that I tried something I was afraid of. I was courageous at least. That gave me a certain amount of confidence.

Always,

Chiggy

 

Japanese Calligraphy Challenge

The other day, I was asked to write/draw an Australian name, using Japanese calligraphy by one of my sister-in-laws. Actually her son wanted me to write his new born baby boy’s name.

Some years ago I created a Japanese calligraphy for my sister-in-law’s grandchildren but I have not practised calligraphy much since then. So I was not sure if I could draw the name well. But I decided to do it for them even though I am an amateur calligrapher.

 

I took my old brush and some good quality paper and started to practise. It took a long time to get the hang of it. I practised in the early morning and the day time over the recent weekend. But I could not produce something I was happy with.

So my practice went into the night ….. until my arm got tired. I started to get worried because paper was running out.

 

At the end of the day, I was not still happy with what I was doing. I knew that it was difficult to produce something “perfect”, but at least I wanted to create something special for my law’s son.

 

The next day. I was looking at what I did the day before and I had to admit that I could not make any progress. Then after a long while, an inspiration came to me when I was about to give up. It whispered to me “CHANGE THE BRUSH”.

 

There it is! After I changed my old brush to a lighter version, my writing got smoother and effortless. I was happy with the result after about five times of practice.

Above, the calligraphy says T***E. I do not want to mention the real name since this is an online journal. For this name though, it was difficult to find exact sounds. But I figured the name out from a Naming Dictionary in Japanese. T***E consists of three Japanese characters. The first letter represents “precious”, the second one says “embracement” and the last one’s meaning is “flow”.

When I have to come up with the idea for naming from English to Japanese, I care about the meanings of each Kanji character as well as their sounds. My interpretation might not be perfect but I would like to think that it is good enough.

 

I decided to create another calligraphy for another one of my sister-in-laws’ grandsons for an extra gift. When I wrote/drew a calligraphy for C**N some years ago, I did it with a formal/classic style of calligraphy. But this time, I changed not only the Japanese characters but also toward a flowing and artistic style. I have practised classic style of calligraphy at first but I realised that I am no longer good at it.

Anyway, there are two Japanese characters in C**N. The first one represents “happiness” and the second one says “gorgeous or elegant”. C**N’s name is supposed to be strong and masculine because it is a name for a boy but I think a boy can have an elegant name, too.

So that is it! I wish my sister-in-law and her son will like the calligraphy and I hope I was helpful for my family.

Best of luck,

Chiggy

Sustainable/ Eco Fashion (Hats)

In the previous post, I mentioned sustainability about using scrap cloth. For a long time, I had the idea of utilising scraps to create something interesting but I never tried it.

I really love loose hats. Finding suitable hats on my head with the right colour and the design I like is difficult in most cases. That is the reason I would like to make hats for myself when I have some extra scrap fabric. I used to make things with black all the time but I sometimes need a change. This time, I decided to use other colours to proceed with an eco/sustainable hat project.

 

Below is the first trial. The material is khaki green, middle thickness cotton jersey. I made a little ruffled ribbon as an adornment on the side of the hat. I like the combination of the cotton and satin of the ribbon.

 

For this next hat, I found an old blue dress I no longer wear so I decided to use it for a loose headband. Again I made a little corsage as a feature for the headband. The blue looks so bright against black and I like the contrast.

 

In this next one, the black and white fabric came from another dress. The fabric is stretchy crepe and it is good quality, so I decided to recycle it for this project. I had a beaded black ornament I wanted to use for a long time and this project suited it.

 

The last one. The fabric is simple red jersey and the surface has become fluffy because of a lot of use. I had the iron on red ornament on my cupboard and I thought this would suit with the red jersey so I mixed them together.

If you have some scraps, I recommend that you try and make something unique and special for yourself.

Be individual.

Chiggy

 

Sustainable Fashion Experiment

In the world today, we are wasting enormous amount of things; food, water, electricity, packaging etc. And for fashion industries, we have to admit that we are wasting vast amount of fabrics. One of the reasons is because the human body is curved and there are no straight lines. So in most cases, patterns are also curved. When you place patterns with curved lines on a rectangular fabric, waste will occur inevitably. For me, I would like to avoid having so much waste. But usually I cannot create designs without waste. When that happens, I tend to keep some scraps for later use.

On this blog, I want to use some scraps that I have accumulated as a feature on a garment. I decided to use some scraps of faux fur to make a new garment. First of all, I cut them freely to make shapes. Secondly, I placed them randomly on 1.7 meters of linen fabric. Finally, I simply stitched the fur on top of the linen and made them into an applique fabric.

 

From this point is the fun part. Putting the applique fabric on the dress form, shifting and moving around and trying to see if I could get the design I like. I added some more fur as I went.

Since the fabric was a simple rectangle, I was expecting to create some kind of wrap, but I did not know how the final result would look like.

 

Finally, I decided the position as a wrap coat and cut  armholes. I finished all the edges neatly and attached some hooks for closure.

By the way, I am holding a fringed bag on my right hand. That may look like a part of the design, but it is not.

It is a linen wrap sleeveless coat but the little fur attachments give me warmth. So I could wear this in winter as well as other seasons.

Scraps can be useful for an interesting effect so it is a good idea to keep some of the good ones for the future use.

Best,

Chiggy

 

 

Pleasure of Draping

In the previous post, I explained my appreciation for draping. Draping is a method to create a design with fabric straight on to a dress form. By doing so, you could get a rough idea how your imagination would be manifested on a human body.

In this post, I want to share one of the simplest approaches of draping for people who would like to create clothing on a dress form, but you do not know how to proceed.

What I can say for a beginner, you do not have to think too much about the rules of draping. Instead, just try playing around with fabric on a form. Find some lightweight fabric that drapes well so that it is easier for you to deal with. Then you can simply start pinning the fabric on a form using a design you would like to try and wear.

 

Again, draping is a creative way of expressing your vision on a dress form and it needs a lot of practice and skills to master. But it does not have to be always technical and difficult.

The beauty of draping is that you can train your eyes and sense of balance as you pin the fabric on the form. You can acquire the knowledge of the space between the fabric and the body. You will also cultivate the understanding of the relationship between the fabric and gravity. You may have to make many attempts in order to fathom the depth of draping. But if you are willing to pursue it, in the end, you will be able to express your individuality and uniqueness with draped clothing.

The photo above is a simple draping method I applied for this trial. I just pinned some fabric on an old singlet and stitched the draped part on top of it. It is simple but you can create a special garment for yourself.

Happy expressing your creativity!