Using Seam Allowances to Support Silhouette

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Robert Wun, “Burnt” Collection, 2012.

In a bid to remove bulk from garments we often try to create patterns with less seams and less seam allowances but there are also times where the positioning of seams, and their seam allowance values, can be used to reinforce the shapes and silhouettes that we want to create.

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Naoki Takizawa Design Illustrates Use of Notches

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Naoki Takizawa, SS11, “Mode & Science III – Anthoropometria”.

This image shows a garment by the designer Naoki Takizawa that was part of his Spring-Summer 2011 collection. The image provides a great way of seeing how pattern notches are used to join different shapes of fabric together to ensure that the garment puzzle pieces will join together correctly when sewn.

In the case of this image, the notches are seen as small black lines which illustrate where the seams need to meet each other. Notches are not normally seen on the finished garment and for this reason it can sometimes be hard to show examples of notching in contemporary fashion, except in cases such as this image where the process of making the garment becomes a visible and aesthetic part of the design.

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Drape Analysis of a Balenciaga Jacket

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Balenciaga, AW13, Paris.

Sometimes it is worthwhile focusing on some of the more subtle pieces of a collection and understanding how they are formed in order to learn from the way they are constructed. The following example diagrams deconstruct the pattern shapes that may have been used for this Balenciaga jacket to examine how the careful draping has been formed.

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Surreal Motifs at Christian Dior

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Christian Dior, AW13, Paris.

The recent Christian Dior collection for Autumn-Winter 2013 used an array of solid and elegantly draped silhouettes in combination with sparse embellishments seen in the form of painterly watercolours and illustrations borrowed from Andy Warhol»

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Comme des Garçons Shows How Ribbon Roses Are Done

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Comme des Garçons, AW13, Paris.

There is always a certain generosity in the way that the Comme des Garçons garments are created, more specifically a generosity of volume. This means that when Rei Kawakubo does a take on ribbon roses, then we are not shown mere puny, silky roses but are instead shown large masses of fabric that seem to grow from oversized tailored garments.

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Balancing Proportions at Chanel

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Chanel, AW13, Paris.

In the recent Autumn-Winter 2013 collection for Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld made the high thigh area the erogenous zone of choice, creating layered garments that focused on a narrow rectangle of skin that appeared just above thigh high boots and just below flared skirts and jackets.

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Framing and Peeling at Chalayan

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Chalayan, AW13, Paris.

The recent collection from Hussein Chalayan for Autumn-Winter 2013 used different techniques and details to frame the silhouette and create layered garments that at times had the ability to transform on the catwalk. The overall effect was to combine both the sensational with the understated to create garments that were ultimately completely wearable.

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Structured Tailoring and Ornate Textiles at Kenzo

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Kenzo, AW13, Paris.

Cleverly crafted tailoring details were nearly obscured by the ornate prints and embellished textiles that were used in the recent Kenzo collection for Autumn-Winter 2013. The collection by Carol Lim and Humberto Leon also experimented with layered looks of nearly identical textiles that made the most of a rich yet muted colourway laced with metallics.

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Clever Shaping at Miu Miu

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Miu Miu, AW13, Paris.

The recent Miu Miu collection was a careful study in how to push a single design idea to the limits, with careful developments of cuts and colours evolving over the course of the show. These ideas were supported by key construction details that supported a variety of silhouettes.

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Counterchange at Proenza Schouler

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Proenza Schouler, AW13, New York.

Black and white is a timeless theme that is often used by designers for the graphic qualities that can be induced in garments simply by placing the whitest of whites and the blackest of blacks side by side.

The recent collection by Proenza Schouler for Autumn-Winter 2013 however did not rest on easy graphic monochrome, instead exploring counterchange down to the smallest levels of embellishment.

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Honeycomb Details at Alexander McQueen

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Alexander McQueen, SS13, Paris.

The recent Alexander McQueen collection was intensely detailed, with minute fabric layering and honeycomb peephole details. The Spring-Summer 2013 under the reign of Sarah Burton centred around the idea of the bee hive, and the concept was the driving force behind structural and textural details as diverse as exquisite mesh, bee brocades and over blown flowers.

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Cosmetics and Surgery at Antipodium

Antipodium, SS13, London.

The Spring-Summer 2013 collection by Antipodium referenced cosmetic surgery and fleshy skin tones through creepy placement prints and a variety of textures that worked with the curves of the body. The placement prints came in the form of single colour line work that was reminiscent of cosmetic surgery markings.

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Graphic Movement at Issey Miyake

Issey Miyake, SS13, Paris.

In the Spring-Summer 2013 collection for Issey Miyake, Yoshiyuki Miyamae used vibrant colour, bold graphic lines and incredible disintegrating pleating to fill the sculptural clothing with movement.

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Louis Vuitton’s Checkerboard Counterchange

Louis Vuitton, SS13, Paris.

It was all about the graphic use of counterchange at the Spring-Summer 2013 show for Louis Vuitton. A checkerboard design was used in a wide variety of scales, with minute details to match.

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Twists at Celine

Céline, SS13, Paris.

The Céline collection for Spring-Summer 2013 combined texture plays with slouched silhouettes to create garments that felt simultaneously luxurious and effortless. There was a certain gravity to the collection, created in no small part through the use of large twists that folded heavy satins across the body.

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