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Is design or construction more exciting?

VictoriaNorth | Posted in General Discussion on

What excites you more in a garment—design and silhouette or crafted construction?


  1. Ceeayche | | #1

    oooh that's a tough one.  they are so intricately linked.

    I get energy looking at pretty design, but something well constructed/flawlessly executed can get my passions a flowing!

  2. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #2

    For me, crafted construction, hands down. It is pure joy to see well-constructed garments and garments that FIT. Truly FIT and wear well. That flies in the face of the current mindset of throwaway fashion and the trendy bits of poorly made fluff we see on runways and in collections these days, I know. That said, I think most serious sewers are designers by default.

    While I wholeheartedly agree that knowing couture techniques makes one a better garment maker, it doesn't necessarily have to be couture to be well made. I love reading about and practicing couture sewing and do so regularly.

    Recognizing the qualities of and appreciating a well constructed garment is something I am striving to impart to my daughter-in-law and two granddaughters.

    1. ecovalley | | #3

      Oh, definitely design and silhoette!But then, that is what I like to wear. I tend to like the natural drape of fabrics, so I usually work with simple shapes to minimize interference. I'm sort of a deconstructionist, I guess. There are some innovative silhoettes in ready-to-wear these days! Like knits turned sideways and extended in front, so the fabric scrolls or hangs down vertically like a scarf. And tops and dresses cut straight out horizontally from the bodice, so they fall in handkerchief points. I have a silk jacket that is almost like a huge circle with sleeves attached. It drapes beautifully. The experimental aspect of these shapes inspires me! I like to modify or expand on an idea. I sometimes like raw edges....sometimes even frays....and sometimes (though less often) assymmetry. But I'd be the first to admit......these are not to everyone's taste.

  3. Cherlyn | | #4

    I love to alter designs for ready made patterns now that I'm more comfortable.  I have my own tastes that I enjoy expressing. 


    When I design Christening gowns, I try to take into consideration the parents, the family, the church the family attends (beliefs) so that I can persoanlize the gowns.  I like to use different church symbols and the family name or monogram is someplace on every gown. 



  4. Ckbklady | | #5

    Hi there,

    That's a fresh, new question - what fun! I hadn't really considered it before. I had always lumped the two together as "sewing time", but now that you describe it that way I can see why I'm always impatient to get through the pattern drafting/altering stage. That's just the "thinking" or "set up" stage (like "mise en place" in cooking -  the assembly of tools and ingredients).

    It's not until my Kais snip down on the fashion fabric that the fun starts - THAT'S the best part. The sensual aspects of handling the materials and the great machines are why I sew. I would never be happy simply as a designer.

    So put me down for "Door #2 - Crafted Construction".

    :) Mary

    Edited 4/21/2009 7:55 pm by Ckbklady

  5. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #6

    Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I need an interesting design to get me started, and the whole construction of a finely crafted garment gives me the thrill during the process. Afterwards, the satisfaction of wearing the garment, knowing I have done it myself, and knowing "it is good."

    Even a simply styled garment with a simple style line, completed with good construction looks great. The whole process of making it fit well, sewn well, and having it look that edge above what is common, makes it all worthwhile. Cathy

    1. sewhappy1221 | | #16

      While I love the design/drafting process, it is the construction & finishing, even of very simple garments or accessories, that leaves me feeling fulfilled.
      I have just perfected four pants drafts - scrubs for each of my 2 DD's, capris for my good friend, and a master yoked-pants pattern for myself. Now I am feeling the satisfaction of watching the stack of complete garments grow, knowing how happy everyone will be when they receive and wear the new clothes. I feel like I send a little bit of my love along with each garment.
      I have nephews, now in their 20's, who asked for replacement bathrobes as teenagers when the originals I made were worn to bits. My Mom loves to wear the fleece jackets I make, she says they make her remember me when I travel far and often.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #17

        Thanks for the gentle reminder. My nephews and nieces love the pj pants I make for them, and beg for new ones when the old ones wear out or are out grown. They also ask for the matching pillowcases and jamma bags and light blankets that I have made for them over the years from the scraps. I know their Mom's like them, as they long outlast the purchased ones they had, even under tough little boy conditions. Cathy

  6. Tatsy | | #7

    For me, it's definitely design, the emphasis on style, shape, color, and texture that makes a garment stand out.  Assuredly, construction is important to the finished garment, but if there's no panache why bother?

    1. Ralphetta | | #8

      I agree. No amount of fine finishing can correct a poor choice of design.

      1. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #9

        You are right, of course, nothing can help some designs. By the same token, no amount of design can overcome slipshod sewing. The point for me is not necessarily fine finishing, just quality sewing. I think, and note this is only MY opinion, if a garment is well constructed it shows in how the garment fits and wears. I wish all beginning sewers could have the benefit of learning the basics of good sewing, not couture necessarily, just plain good sewing techniques.

        Isn't is fun to hear everyone's opinions on this topic?

        1. Ralphetta | | #10

          I agree that both are equally important. The question posed was...which is more exciting? I'm one of the people who get more enjoyment out of the planning rather than the execution.

  7. MaryinColorado | | #11

    Tough question!  I'd have to say the design process as it is the most creative part.  It often carries through the entire construction process as a garment comes to life.  Even a "mistake" in construction or an unnoticed "flaw" in the fabric or a "snag" can become part of the creative design process.  Perhaps a splash of color or topstitching or embellishment is needed to give it the right "something" and you don't know it until you've finished construction.  Perhaps the dress is too short and needs to be redesigned to make a top instead, or pants into shorts.  So many possibilities to explore right up to the final stitch.

    That said they are equally important and "you can't have one without the other".  Mary

  8. sewchris703 | | #12

    Construction in both garments I look at and garments I sew. I'm more of a conductor than a composer, to borrow from music. I love to sew how garments are constructed. The fun part of sewing for me is in the construction. I hate cutting out and after it is made, it's out of sight, out of mind. I'm ready for the next project.


  9. sewelegant | | #13

    This is really a tough question because I so much enjoy both.  There was a period of time when so many of the patterns were the same and very plain.  Darts were a thing of the past.  It was then when I turned to Vogue, almost exclusively, because I could find more style to the patterns.  I even bought the disigner ones and struggled through some not so explicit directions, but I always ended up enjoying wearing the garment more and feeling proud of my accomplishments.

    But... that does not make me a designer.  I rarely change something on a pattern but I do like the challenge presented with something unusual, so I guess it is the sewing construction that has always excited me more.  Well written construction sheets are a boon to the home sewer and are a necessity for the novice if she/he is to understand how to put it all together.

    1. Cherlyn | | #14

      I can remember those plain days in design and I started turning to Vogue patterns to get something more unique!  I wanted quality fabrics ----- well, one thing led to another.  I stumbled across unusual buttons to go on the fabrics!  Wow!  Then I learned heirloom sewing and some handsewing techniques and now I'm not as afraid to change patterns.  I rarely look at the directions anymore. 


      I still would love to take some advance garment construction classes, but I live too far away to do any of this.  So, I remain a self taught seamstress!  But having the credentials would be nice. 

      1. sewelegant | | #15

        I always wanted to learn more about heirloom sewing, but at the time it was so popular (I think maybe Martha Pullen was the reason) I was busy with family and working and didn't think I could afford pursuing it.  I never did see any of her tv shows but I did buy a book or two.  Like you, maybe, I have learned most of what I know through reading and watching sewing shows on tv.  I was going to make an heirloom doll dress but before I got around to it the arthritis in my hands made fine hand sewing very difficult.  My passion for cross stitch, esp. with seed bead accents, diminished to.  It doesn't seem fair that just when we have more time and money for our hobbies something else kicks in.  I do have the satisfaction though of seeing my handiwork in my children's homes and knowing they will appreciate it long after I am gone.  But, I still think I will some day make that heirloom dress for the doll that graces my bed.  She is desperately needing some new clothes.

  10. Cocopop | | #18

    Construction is my passion. I've never tried to design.

  11. Tatsy | | #19

    Design for me is a divine adventure. Construction is dealing with the constraints of reality. Right now I'm working on a series of outfits for my grand-niece (age 8). The anchor piece is a pair of pink denim shorts. The idea is glorious: a pair of sturdy, girly shorts with a wardrobe of mix and match blouses and button-on skirts that can be worn in any combination. Now I have to make it work. The shorts were simple. Sewing on a dozen buttons at the hips was TV work. Making the skirts work--Aieee!

    The first challenge was that I'd underestimated the amount of fabric it would take for each blouse/skirt combo. So I sat and stewed over that for two weeks. At a birthday party for one of my grand-daughter's friends, a girl was wearing a cute skirt with three rows of bias ruffles. So now the remaining half-yard is turned into yards and yards of 3" bias tape. Thank goodness for sergers and rolled hems. Then the dilemma of what to put the ruffles on since the denim for the shorts would have been too heavy. A trip through Beverly's turned up a pale pink percale for the skirt base. A scrap from the blouse was pieced for the waistband. Next a dozen buttonholes. (Hurray for Viking!) Now I'm still figuring how to attach the ruffles so they look girly-cute and not Victorian.  Then only three or four more sets to go. And they all need to be slightly different. Of course, they always are because something always happens in the course of construction to make duplicating the original next to impossible.

    No question at all. Designing is much better. 

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