Jazzing up Ready to Wear

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geniebird wrote
on 1 Jun 2009 5:40 AM

My mother recently gave me a full length, unlined, denim duster style coat she no longer had room for in her closet.  Mom is a very young 80, with an eye for style and a good bargain so I never turn down her hand-me-downs because they are usually classic designer brands she found at below discount store prices. 

When she showed it to me I looked at it for a long time and then she said "are you going to paint on it?" My answer was either that or something more like painting with fabric.  That was several months ago and I wore it a few times this spring, but now it sits in my closet -- just like it was when I brought it home.  I also have a plain denim jumper I've been wanting to "jazz up"  for several years.

So, what's the problem?  Well it isn't really procrastination -- it's more like fear.  I really like that coat and I don't want to "ruin" it if something goes wrong.  Same with the jumper. 

So does anyone here get artistic with ready-to-wear?  How do you get yourself to just jump in and do it?

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mandi7 wrote
on 10 Jun 2009 6:16 AM

I do this with my own clothing. Sometimes I do it before making a garment, even a very simple one. The best thing to do is make a sketch of your jacket. A "flat" is what we called it in design school. Just draw it as if it was laying flat. Nothing fancy, but include your seams and style lines. On a separate paper, possibly tracing paper if you want to work at the same scale to start, make quick sketches or doodles of whatever inspires you. I'm big into swirls and flowers, so my sketches usually start there. 


Then you can take those ideas and start putting them onto tracing paper overlaying your flat sketch. Make changes here and refine it. Then you can chose colors and finalize the design on your original sketch. It doesn't take long to do this process once you get going.

Also be aware that as you work you need to step away from the garment and look critically at it for all of your basic design principles, and be ready to make changes from your design if it's necessary. This isn't a flat piece, like a quilt, but wraps your body, so it's likely that changes will need to be made to work for the garment.

Good luck! You'll have a great time, I'm sure!

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geniebird wrote
on 10 Jun 2009 6:56 AM

Thanks Marti -- I think I'm going to start with the jumper.  It's a little less indimidating than the coat.  I want to change out the buttons and have some on hand I want to use.  Also want to add pockets -- nothing too threatening.  Once I get started more ideas will come I'm sure.

Right now I'm having trouble finding the time.  I've got a lot of "stuff" in the works right now (mostly not quilting/art related) that is keeping me much busier than I like.

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mary j3 wrote
on 16 Jun 2009 11:50 PM

Wow Geniebird,  A full denim duster sounds like quite a canvas!!  Yummy!!! If you are fearful, perhaps sew on fabric pieces (baste even - but your forum site work looks like you have a handle on art).       I 've done a few chambray shirt makeovers. I add novelty fabric to the yoke, make new cuffs, replace pockets, change to colored or cutesy buttons. Small changes really, but they light up the overshirts. Big applique pictures on the back? sometimes. It's easier to change the cuffs, collar, pockets, later, without a permanent applique. Choose your own colors, theme, fabric to fit the kind of occassions where you'd wear it most often.

It isn't wrong to "sit on it" for a year, because quilters need time for just the right inspiration to hit.

good luck, mary j

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geniebird wrote
on 17 Jun 2009 6:09 AM

Thanks Mary.  I just couldn't turn down that duster.  I couldn't believe she was giving it to me.  She also gave me a beautiful red raincoat I wore a lot earlier this spring.  I'm not touching that one.

I went ahead and did some work on the jumper.  Actually it's fnished for now -- but who knows about later.  I pretty much did what you described --  new buttons, I added a pocket (salvaged from old blue jeans) then added some "trim" cut from a southwestern print fabric I had on hand.  The fabric design was kind of in "stripes" so I added a fairly wide band around the bottom, a band at the top of the pocket a small piece at the waistline and a bit at the neckline.  It certainly looks different. 

Your suggestion about letting the duster sit for awhile is a good one.  Right now I'm seeing something like wild horses running across the back and on the sleeves, or a beautiful sunset on the back and carrying the colors into some "trim" -- maybe covering the collar and lapels,  creating "faux cuffs" etc.  But who knows what I will actually end up with.

I'm at my most creative in the winter so maybe I'll come up with something when the snow is flying.  Thanks again for the encouragement.    -- Genie

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