The Design Toolbox
If I had a child and he/she wanted to learn the “biz,” this is exactly what I would teach. These are my favorite tools for designing that I’ve used throughout designing for clients and now teaching students.
Start with the Elements and Principles of Design (with Color). This package contains all those parts of art that make up a good work of art. The Principles tell us how to put together all those parts. Color is one of those Elements but it’s such an important part, that I wrote a complete whole resource on color and the importance of getting the right color for your complexion.
Next are the guidelines for Proportion. There are two to learn: Golden Ratio and Rule of Thirds. Both can serve you well and are meant to be a guideline, not a law. Face it, nothing in art is a law, but you do have to know the rules before you break them! Both the Golden Ratio and the Rule of Thirds give you excellent parameters within which to start. Without these guidelines, hems, proportions, lengths, and who knows what sort of design red hell an artist can get lost in. That sounds funny, but it’s really true. Look at the preponderance of ugly clothing out there. Clothing is supposed to be flattering, comfortable, and above all beautiful. We, sewists, don’t have to wait for the store buyers, designers, trendsetters, and Instagramers to find that out, we can do that now!
Finally a new addition. The rules, guidelines, and knowledge are all fine and dandy, but how do you apply that. You have a vision (and believe me we all have one, sometimes more than one!), and you’ve wanted to do it up for a long time, but 1.) the pattern wasn’t out there, 2. ) it seemed too hard, 3.) the styles might not be right on top of this design so no one is showing it, even in the store. Here’s the step-by-step to go from a vision to a sketch, to a drafted pattern, and from there you sew it up. This requires your core pattern so that you know that the look is going to fit and flatter and be comfortable, and from that core pattern, you can take yourself into some magical places. This last technique is one I’ve used for 40 years to design and make clothes for myself. I always like something that’s different, unique, my own look, but at the same time, I’m not Flash Gordon saving the universe. I live in the Southern Plains and want to look responsible not frump, modern, but not weird! I love this technique and in this package, it fits beautifully!