Fabric Samples

A friend pointed me in the direction of the company Bags of Love, as they digitally print on fabric.
I ordered a sample pack from here. They have a lot of different fabric types but the dress pattern I picked asks for chiffon, jersey or charmeuse. Bags of Love have a few different types of jersey and one type of chiffon.
To show what each fabric really looks like, I’ve photographed it on a dark and light background, and shown a detail shot.
Jersey:
“Dye sublimation printed jersey fabrics you design. Our many jerseys vary in weight and stretch, to ensure you are able to find your perfect jersey fabric to suit your requirements. We have 9 different jerseys, all of which can be personalised to feature your designs.” Here
This fabric is definitely too thick for the dress.The print is a bit fuzzy and not very detailed, so this is definitely not what I will be using for the dress.

 

This swatch has a good feel to it, it’s very soft and the print looks very crisp. I think this fabric might be a little on the heavy side though, and I don’t think it would be suitable for the dress.

 

This fabric is really detailed and the print looks amazing. However, the weave is a little big so you can see the tiny holes in the fabric which detracts from the print a little. I do like the stretch to the fabric and it’s quite lightweight.

 

I didn’t like this fabric at all, I felt that it looked very cheap and the colours looked almost yellow-ish. The fabric feels very odd. the colours are nice and bright but I think the dress would look quite cheap if it were made from this material.

 

Chiffon
“Our stunning personalised chiffon is a real essential for fashion designers. With its beautiful, floaty and lightweight finish, our gorgeous customised Paris Chiffon can be personalised with your photos and designs. We will print your images onto the chiffon, to create a bespoke piece of fabric. Ideal for dressmakers and for delicate blouses and lingerie.” Here

 

I liked this fabric the best. the fabric was lightweight and floaty, which would give the desired effect of beautifully hanging drapery like vanitas paintings. The colours are more muted/subtle which would work really well for the design. The fabric is slightly transparent which will give the dress a layered look. The detail is really incredible for such lightweight and transparent material.

 

Dress Patterns

Based on some of the ideas I had for the dress pattern, I looked online at a few different patterns. I won’t be able to come up with my own as this isn’t a skill that I possess, so it was suggested that I buy a pattern to give to a seamstress.
I picked these dresses because I need something with drapery to create movement.
From here.
I picked this for the neckline, but I think the length is a little short.
From here.
I love the asymmetrical hem and the back, but I think the front might be a bit too tailored looking.

 

From here.
I’m not mad on the neckline, but the draped, asymmetric hem is perfect.
From here.
I loved the shape of this one so much, but the fabric for this one has to be really heavy which takes away the drapey, floaty look I wanted.
From here. 
I love this style, but it isn’t as drapey as I wanted. The fabric isn’t as heavy as the last dress, but it’s still perhaps a little too heavy for what I want.
From here.
I’m not crazy on the belt for this one but i think it could be removed or made without one. The fabric is light and floaty. I’m just not sure if the style is exciting enough.
From here. 
This one has a great silhouette. The neckline is a little boring, but the bottom of the dress is perfect.
From here. 
This dress is really interesting, the neckline is unusual and the fabric is perfect and floaty. This dress was my second choice.
However, the one I chose in the end was this pattern:
From here.
The neck and backline of the dress is very flattering. The dress isn’t that drapey but the length and type of fabric will give it the floaty feel I wanted. The length of the dress is perfect because its a lot of space for the pattern/print. It also will suit the print I designed as it’s in portrait.
“Lined dress has close-fitting, bias front, draped (overlapped front) bodice with stays, gathered skirt, and elasticized back casings and invisible zipper.
Chiffon, Matte Jersey, Charmeuse.”

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Ancestor Skulls

I felt that my design needed an extra level of research/concept. Based on some of the research I have already done, I found some information about the ways that certain tribes honour their dead.
THE DAYAK, IFUGAO, AND NAGA HUMAN SKULLS ARE HEAD HUNTING TROPHIES. THE
 ASMAT, VANUATU, AND PALAWAN HUMAN SKULLS ARE CONSIDERED “ANCESTOR”
SKULLS. THE DIFFERENCE
IS; HEAD HUNTING SKULLS ARE ACQUIRED FROM ENEMY
VICTIMS WHILE
ANCESTOR SKULLS ARE COLLECTED AND VENERATED TO REMEMBER”
DECEASED FAMILY MEMBERS. THE IFUGAO ALSO COLLECT BONES OF DEAD RELATIVES,
WRAP THEM IN TRIBAL TEXTILES, AND STORE THEM IN THE RAFTERS UNDER THEIR
HUTS. HUMAN SKULLS AND SKULL CAPS FROM NEPAL ARE RITUAL OFFERTORY
VESSELS THAT ARE USED AS DRINKING CUPS IN TIBETAN BUDDHIST CEREMONIES.
SEVERAL CULTURES HONOR HUMAN SKULLS IN A VARIETY OF WAYS, BUT THEY ALL
CONSIDER HUMAN SKULLS VALUABLE ENTITIES THAT ARE
WORTHY OF PRESERVED COLLECTIONS BUT HUMAN SKULLS,
IN SOME CASES, HAVE BECOME A TRIBE’S PREOCCUPATION!” (Tribal Art Asia)
“The Asmat Tribe, from Irian Jaya Indonesia, collect and worship ancestor skulls to remember their deceased family members. The tribes all decorate the skulls differently, in this case the Asmat Tribe use feathers, seeds and carved sea shell rings to decorate their skulls.” (Skull Appreciation Society)
The Dayak, Ifugao and Naga human skulls are headhunter’s trophies. The Asmat, Vanuatu and Palawan human skulls are considered “Ancestor” skulls. The difference is; head hunted skulls are acquired from enemy victims. Ancestor skulls are collected and venerated to remember deceased family members. The Ifugao collect bones of dead relatives wrap them in tribal textures and store them in the rafters under their huts. Human skulls and skull caps from Nepal are ritual offertory vessels that are used as drinking cups in Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies. Several cultures honor human skulls in a variety of ways, but they all consider human skulls valuable entities that are worthy of preserved collections but human skulls in some cases have become a tribes preoccupation.(Museum Oddities)
“Today, about 70,000 Asmat inhabit the area. Despite their horrific preceding fame, these people developed a refined art and are skilled wood carvers, drawing the inspiration from their religion. The most famous are the Asmat totemic poles, made of human figures and bodies which lean and continue each other, in an endless “chain of life”.
Asmat live in a land of mud and mangroves; the presence of so many water flows and canals forced the Asmat people to build palafitos, houses raised on posts and connected to each other via bridges and gangways. In fact, the configuration of the water covered surface in the area constantly changes.
Beyond the mangrove forest, forming a barrier against the sea waters, the muddy beach can stretch for kilometers. In this environment, the Asmat world configured the presence of spirits, invisible for the Whites, but visible for them. The Asmat give these spirits a carved shape. The spirits can be friendly or evil, intervening during the tribal conflicts.” (Softpedia)
“The Asmat, once a very belligerent people on the south-eastern coast of New Guinea, had a distinctive skull cult. The skulls of important and honoured ancestors would be decorated (like the present example) and kept within the clan, to be venerated and publicly presented during special ceremonies. Occasionally these skulls were also used as a pillow for sleeping or as a neck rest by the ‘reigning’ family head. These skulls were called ‘ndambirkus’.
The eye sockets and nasal cavity are lined with beeswax, with red and light grey seed capsules pressed in as decorations. The red pods are so-called ‘abrus beans’ (abrus pecatorius), while the grey are ‘tears of Job’ (coix lacryma jobi). The lower jaw is attached to the skull with rattan wickerwork. The nose has a large nasal ornament called a ‘bipane’, just like the ones Asmat warriors usually wear through their pierced septums. This ‘bipane’ consists of a seashell, divided into two parts, with the ends curved inward into spirals and connected with cord. Round rings of rattan wickerwork hang from the left and right cheekbones, with pendants of Job’s tears and feather tassels as purely ornamental elements. A carefully braided decorative cord headband spans the entire top of the skullcap from cheekbone to cheekbone. It is studded with a row of interwoven Job’s tears, with the rear decorated with a wreath of white feathers.” (Dorotheum)

 

Flower, Fruit, Vegetables and Insect Meanings

I wanted to put a bit more thought into the specific imagery that I use within the print and how they relate to the Vanitas theme. I don’t simply want to portray them as rotting, decaying or otherwise, I think it would add an extra layer of depth for the objects themselves to have a meaning.

 

Flowers
In Floristry, specific flowers and colours can have different meanings. I know this because my mother used to be a florist herself.
Begonia – deep thoughts
Carnation (white) –  remembrance
Forget-me-not – remember me forever
Chrysanthemum (red) – sharing
Geranium – comfort
Pansy – loving thoughts
Peony – healing
Poppy – consolation
Tulip (pink) – caring
(About Flowers)
Red and white flowers represent ‘blood and bandages’ (Source)

 

Fruit and Vegetables
Pomegranate
“The pomegranate was popular in antiquity. The fruit and its seeds were often associated with female fertility, and was considered sacred to Juno and Venus. Contrastingly, the overwhelming symbolism often and still attached to the pomegranate would be its reputation as “the fruit of the dead”. One of the most famous myths including the pomegranate is the story of Proserpina and Pluto. After seeing Proserpina, Pluto stole her away to the underworld and from her mother Ceres. Ceres’ distress of losing her daughter caused the land to wither and grow cold. It was a rule of the Fates that if one would eat in the underworld they would be kept there for eternity. ” (Source)
Onion
“Egyptian mummies set out for the afterlife with a stock of onions carefully wrapped in bandages, looking like another little mummy. Ancient Egyptian leaders took an oath of office with their right hand on an onion. In ancient Egypt, the onion symbolized eternity because of its circle-within-a-circle structure. Paintings of onions appear on the inner walls of the pyramids and in the tombs of both the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom.” (Source)
Apple (苹果; píngguǒ) – wisdom, peace
Lychee (荔枝; lìzhī) – close family ties (Source)

 

Insects

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(Source)

 

Beetles
“Beetles aid in transformation, metamorphosis, resurrection and rebirth – rebirth of the soul to a new spiritual ideal and renewed devotion. This animal teaches harmony in the coming changes by utilizing your intuitive abilities and teaches discernment where you need it the most. Beetles have a protective quality that will aid in the ability to socialize and communicate effectively by illuminating problems and situations in the correct perspective. Are you eating correctly? Now is the time to examine eating habits. Can you identify which stage of development are you in egg/larva/pupa/adult?. Is it time to fly or walk in life? Beetle will teach persistence with charm, trust in the process, proper movement and actions which allows the regeneration of your spirit to prosper.”
Cicada
“Cicadas aid in your emergence of You and understanding who you are by uncovering hidden truths and secrets that have been long forgotten. Usually this knowledge is just below the surface so listen to Cicada for he will teach where and how to look. Cicadas will help in the phase of birth, death and rebirth. Which part of the 13-17 year phase are you in? Cicadas will also teach the art of the communication using song or the written word. He will aid in transforming your own voice into an amplification of your heart and your desires to sing your own light. Are you living each moment in the “Now”? Are you to ready emerge from the illusion into the light of truth and understanding? Cicada will teach much if you are patient.”
Moth
“Moth teaches sensitivity to touch, smell, taste, intuition and physical/spiritual awareness, along with heightening sound and vibrations in this world and in others. Moth aids in the metamorphosis of your being. Which stage are you currently in; egg, larva, chrysalis or flight? Moth will help in each transition and show how to adapt to the new surroundings. He will teach you to find your own light as a beacon in the direction you should go. It is time to pay attention to your feelings to clarify your movement and discern what is real and not. Are you listening carefully to verbal and non-verbal cues,to what is and is not being said? Are you sensing the world around you? or sensing too much? Moth will teach how to be still, rest and listen and balance your being. In finding your own light clarity in the moment of darkness will be found and your sensitivity to Spirit increases.”
(Source)

Repeat V. Placement Prints

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(The Fundamentals of Printed Textile Design By Alex Russell)
Repeat Print:
“There are different styles of creating repeat prints, but all are designed to seamlessly repeat and artwork along a length. In some repeats you can clearly see where the “tile” of artwork is and in some it is nearly impossible to decipher the intertwining elements of the print. Depending on the end use of the print all methods of repeat are relevant for a particular purpose.
Ensuring a repeat will work as you desire, you must set it up as a perfect tile ready to duplicate along the fabric.
Full Drop:
image-12

 

Half Drop:
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Mirror

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Seamless Repeat

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(Next State Print)

 

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(The Fundamentals of Printed Textile Design By Alex Russell)

 

“As the name suggests a repeat print is designed to be repeated endlessly next to itself to create a seamless overall pattern. Rather than creating incredibly large screenprints which encompass the whole design to be printed, and are large enough to cut your garment pieces out of, a repeat print works by creating a square of a design which can be repeated over and over so that fabric can be printed as a continual piece. We take it for granted that this is the basis behind the printed fabrics which we see rolled in fabric stores.
The actual square which holds your design is referred to as the “repeat”.
So if you imagine a square filled with a pattern, the edges of the square must always match to itself. If you put the squares side by side, or above and below each other, the design would be seamless and there would appear to be no break lines.

For designs such as stripes or checks this is relatively simple as long as the lines are created at perfect right angles to each other. One of the challenges in doing this for patterns which are quite organic and asymmetrical is to create an even flow so that when objects are placed to appear at random, you do not get some areas where the pattern is more condensed and some where it is too spaced out. This can only truly be tested by putting the designed square into repeat and looking at the positioning of the objects within the pattern. Then through trial and error, learning how best to arrange the design, constantly reminding yourself of the squares which will be above and below it.” (The Cutting Class)

Placement Print:
“Placement prints can be printed before or after the garment is sewn together depending on how the print interacts with the seam lines. Most often a piece such as a t-shirt would be made as a garment first and then screen printed, or possibly the print could be added using a transfer process.” (The Cutting Class)
“A placement or engineered print is the controlled position of an artwork within a product.  A placement print relies on artwork done to the scale of a product and then being cut in a particular position to control the placement of a print.
In Textile design it is a good idea to make sure you know the size of the product, let us say a dress, before you begin the file set-up. In a perfect situation you would be able to fulfil the following steps.
  1. Have a completed pattern/template of the final product
  2. Create the artwork for printing based on the scale of that product
  3. Print the artwork on selected fabric
  4. Use the pattern/template of the product to engineer the placement of the print, ready for construction.
Many designers have asked me about printing the artwork in the shape of a pattern, I don’t tend to recommend this (unless the pattern is a square or rectangle) as it allows no room for error, what if your pattern ended up being larger than the print, you would have an unprinted gap in the seams of a garment. Further to that placement prints rely heavily on quality cutting to get the position of the print correct. Cutting can be both a timely and costly process and minimising that will assist in the overall manufacture of the product. Individually cutting multiple copies of pattern pieces is best to avoid where possible.
I always recommend keeping placement patterns within the shape of a square or rectangle. This means you can cut a large volume of the shapes out and stack them on top of each other before cutting the shape of the pattern. It will also allow for a printer to maximize the use and economy of the fabric.” (Next State Print)

Miss Havisham

In reference to the previous post, I was thinking about the juxtaposition of glamour and decay (the main themes of Vanitas art.) The visual look of the Charles Dickens character of Miss Havisham in the novel Great Expectations sprung to mind. Miss Havisham, left at the altar many years ago, still wears her wedding dress and has left the house as it was on the day – complete with rotting wedding buffet and cake. The grand surroundings left to rot, coupled with the sense of loss and tragedy that Miss Havisham feels fits in quite nicely with the themes I want to portray in my garments.

 

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Helena Bonham Carter – Great Expectations (film) 2012

 

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Gillian Anderson – Great Expectations (tv) 2011

 

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Mulvany & Rogers – 2015 Kensington Dolls House Fair

 

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 John Galliano  Spring 2010

 

Christian Lacroix Spring/Summer 1996

 

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Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2007

 

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Mario Testino for Vogue Germany March 2014

 

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Vogue Germany April 2014

 

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Eva Van Oosten

 

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Sven Fennema
Unknown abandoned houses

 

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Valerie Hagarty

Decaying Fabric

Fendi Spring Summer 2011

 

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Giles Deacon Fall/Winter 2012

 

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Shirley Buchan

 

Alexander McQueen

 

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Chalayan Fall/Winter 2014

 

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Elie Saab 2011

 

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Unknown

 

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Unknown

 

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Anselm Kiefer

 

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Chiharu Shiota ~ “After That” (1999)

 

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Vilte Kazlauskaite

 

I’ve been looking into other ways to portray decay through garments – whether its prints that resemble decay, fabric with special textures to also resemble decay, or fabric that has actually been decayed over time. Although I will probably use normal fabrics, I’m thinking about how I could illustrate a more decayed texture to suit the rest of the imagery.