The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Prints – What’s New?

Ok – so with the advent of more feminine looks the inevitable prints emerge, but there’s always a fresh take on prints and this return of prints is no different.  The part that’s important to those of us who want to make something practical, yet modern, fresh, but age-appropriate but new, is always a dilemma, but looking at the new looks we can begin to detect some common traits and take away from designers what their expertise and knowledge can provide. This is from the latest “The Cut” issue which is chocked full of some good F/W 2016 stuff!


So the first thing to remember is that a lot of times designers put print combos together that aren’t even close to what we would wear in real life.  They do this for 2 reasons:  1.) It gets noticed (in fashion the outlandish and over-exaggerated can make just as powerful statement as the extremely gorgeous and classic can) and 2.) It shows off as many of their designs as possible.

Magazine editors and the fashion intelligentsia know this.  We lay people not so much, but it’s important to know that the designer really doesn’t mean for us to wear these items ver batum as it were.  Here are two perfect examples.  The gold/green jacket on the left is fabulous with black or a solid color to complement it and would make a stunning piece on it’s own.  Do notice however that it does not not match in front (here’s a larger picture to check that out), and you do need to match it….if you can’t (not enough fabric or other good reason) then do a center front seam and zip up the side so it doesn’t show.  But matching is one of those in the know looks that if folks realize and see it, then they are part of the fashion intelligentsia too, and note who that is.

The outfit on the right is a wonderful hodgepodge of several prints and it’s very sophisticated and if this sings to you, go for it.  I have a couple of strong clients who could wear this because they understand it.  If I had a young little ingenue come see me and want this, I would be really testing her with why’s and what’s and when’s before I would do it for her.  Most likely it wouldn’t work.  I’ve done that before and talked myself out of a job, but better than make something that’s inappropriate or doesn’t reflect my good style and taste.  That way clients know that they aren’t going to look like a fashion victim when they leave my studio!  I feel the same way about my students when they want to make something horribly outlandish that doesn’t work at all for their size, shape and style.

So look at these pieces separately.  What the first shows is a while print – almost Fauvish in a skirt that’s longer…all that’s worth noting and taking in.  The second says floral prints in a big way….got a yearn for floral prints – now’s the time to use ’em!




This one is easy!  White ground with multi-colored print, but what’s special is notice the size of the print – small on top and large on bottom. What’s to learn here is putting the small where you want to de-accentuate, with the large the part to accentuate.  So if you have large hips, put the small print there, and if you have large chest, put the small print there.  In this case, where the model is pretty even top and bottom, the skirt is full (again, notice skirt, not pants), is and full of the large print.


On these two styles, monochromatic (one color with different intensities) or two-color palettes are so very common and very effective….if you’re having trouble matching prints, keeping in one or two colors can get you to a great matching point with prints.  Or even keeping to one print in different intensities of that color.

Remember from the newsletter on color that hue is one thing (like red, blue, green) and intensity is different (red intensities would be pink, wine, cherry).  Intensities are the same hue while intensity means dark or light.

So this is a very common look, there are 2 distinct things working in this print: 1.) size, 2.) complementary opposites.  Working with red (shades of red, pink and a bright and light side of magenta) and green.  The colors are not only opposite on the color wheel (red and green oppose each other), but they are also distinctly opposite in intensity (light pink and dark green).  This kind of match of color is very effective, and a go-to combination…so when you’re looking for a stunning print, looking for opposites is always a safe bet.

Secondly is the size of the print, again, the larger skirt is a larger print while the bodice is a smaller print.

Last takeaway:  it matches in front, actually it’s more than that, the print is centered in front showing great care (and most likely not an economical cut in fabric).  This denotes care and attention to details, and as a result the price is going to sky rocket.  This is on silk organza from Alexander McQueen for only $8,000-ish.  Now if you were to make this – how much would it cost?  Can you value your sewing time now?….which is another takeaway…noticing the pricing of these garments you can begin to put a more realistic value on your skills and time.

Another favorite palette for designers is one that uses adjacent colors on the color wheel.  Can you see how just knowing basics of the color wheel can be an invaluable tool when picking out fabrics?  In this case yellows, oranges and reds, with a black for contrast.   This is easy-peasy and very effective.  So how do you combine these colors?..same intensity?….different intensity?….how do you distribute them?…what becomes accent/what not accented?  All of these can be answered here within this design, and these are the questions you can ask yourself when picking out fabrics for an ensemble.  The lessons and takeaways here are invaluable, and since this is from a well-know house (Gucci for around $7,000), you know it’s going to be well-thought out and professional.

Now obviously we don’t all require a ball gown every year….but what happens if you take this color palette and use the bottom for a skirt (full or at least full-er) and gold waist, and black top for the office….excuse me, but this would be very effect, scream happiness and professionalism, be appropriate for many ages, and classic for many years…..see how works?

OK – have your eyes untangled yet?…this isn’t one of those magic eye pictures, although it can make you think it is, but shows how effective over-all print can be.  It also shows how powerful it can be.  This is for a very strong personality and someone who can carry it off without looking silly or like a fashion victim.  From the neck to the shoes, everything is print.  This isn’t normal for most people, but keeping this in the back of your head, for a very mild or neutral type print, is worth a look.



Prints don’t necessarily have to be a design stamped or printed on fabric.  They can easily be otherwise put on the fabric like woven in the case of these two examples…the lace (on the top and netting on the bottom), both are very effective, and a lace or sheer overlay can be a gorgeous look.  It’s a strong look, so for a classic or more usable piece in a wardrobe, a small piece would be best, a belt, a shell, in a strong fabric like this can really add just a splash of pizazz that works beautifully.



All of these are designer looks with designer prices, and as such are meant to be strong and stand-out designs.  But because they are strong and stand-out-ish, doesn’t mean we can’t use what’s in them for our own use.  Taking just a small part or one idea or concept away from a look makes it just as inspiring as taking the whole look.  I would love to have that skirt (at the top), midi length, in a great rayon to wear with a color to tone with the copper or green as a great classic look.  Taking away parts is just as valuable as well as causing us to think outside the box.  Sometimes looking at these looks, can cause us to work out solutions that we never thought about before.















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