Updated: Mar 1
After coming back from the winter break, I feel more confident and content in my work than ever before. I feel my work has meaning to not only myself and my partner but I feel the emotion and personality of this dress is growing every single day. The fact that I also got engaged this past Christmas also helped the fact that I feel more confident in saying that this dress is my wedding dress. Where before, I didn't really like stating that fact because I didn't want to jinx anything.
The theme of my work is still consistent with culture, individuality, and connection; bringing me and my fiance's interests, backgrounds, and love for each other into this piece.
Coming back into the new year and new semester, I wanted to try and get a head start on the progress of my thesis work. I find I work really well with a set of instructions and a schedule. Making sure I get at least 2-3 items done on my to-do list per day, otherwise, I could have a day that's off the rails.
Designs and Illustrations
One of the first things coming into this semester was working on finishing my wedding dress designs that would be devored onto my fabric. I got a head start working on my designs by starting on them the week before school. I found it helped with getting back into a productive mindset and furthered my work to help me get a head start. By the time I came back, I had finished 3 out of the 5 panels, and the panels I had finished were-in my opinion- the hardest ones to complete.
I worked with tracing paper and a 4H pencil to quickly draft a design that I liked, then going over it with an HB pencil to harden the lines. I only wanted to focus on one side of each panel because I knew I'd be mirroring it on the other side. So, to save time, I decided to only finish certain aspects of each panel. So, I started drawing out the design in Sharpie.
Side note: When I originally graduated in 2015, I could recall being able to use a sharpie on mylar and having the design coming out pretty nicely on a screen for printing. Fast forward to 2021 and I realized that this wasn't the case this time around. The design below was my first screen shooting sample.
Fig. 1 First drawing on mylar using Sharpie-testing line width with shown markers.
Fig. 2 Shot screens using mylar sample-I shot two which was unsuccessful.
Fig. 3 A close up of my first shot screen-the detail never got captured on the light table.
Fig. 4 Another close up of my second shot screen-more detail visible but took longer to wash out.
When I was testing sharpies and the markers in my Kit, every time I shot them onto a screen, it would barely wash out. At first, I wondered if it was the emulsion and then the number of emulsion layers I was putting on. Then realized it was the markers I was using! After asking a few questions and getting some insight, I decided to try 2 new markers suggested to me by fellow students. The First was the Pentel Arts Colour brush with Pigment Ink. The second was Sharpie-Oil Based pigment paint marker.
Fig. 5 Pentel Fine Art Ink Pen- my first purchase after some research.
Fig. 6 Sharpie Paint oil based marker- my second purchase after some research and a recommendation from another student.
Fig. 7 My examples and the linework shown on mylar once used-the Sharpie paint marker seemed to work the best. The Sharpie exampleson the bottom all came from different pen thicknesses from Sharpie paint marker.
When I tested both markers, they were both different in their own way. The Pentel Arts brush was alright, but it didn't stick to the mylar the way that I hoped it would. However, the Sharpie pigment marker was a lifesaver! I never realized how dark I had to get the colour, but I basically couldn't have ANY form of grey showing. Even if the marker ink eases up in one area because it wouldn't shoot properly! After a few more tests, I realized that this was the marker that was going to get me the best result. It's waterproof, it dries quickly, and it handles beautifully with 3 different pen sizes to choose from!
Sewing and Dress Prototypes
After finishing my first sewn prototype, I knew I needed to perfect my work further. I started working on the second prototype and got 90% of it complete. The last 10% was the insertion of the zipper but after trying it on and it not fitting the way I wanted, I didn't want to waste any time. So, I made my adjustments to the pattern and started on my 3rd prototype. This time around, things worked really well. There were some minor adjustments I'd have to make going forward but I can honestly say that I'm happy with the final prototype!
Fig. 8 First dress prototype out of muslin with zipper.
Fig. 9 Second dress prototype out of muslin with lining and no zipper.
Fig. 10 Third dress prototype out of muslin with lining and zipper.
Following the direction of the acting Textile Head, Thea Haines, she suggested that I actually try a prototype with the actual fabric I wanted to use. Of course, I fully agreed with that sentiment. However, I quickly realized how precise I'd have to be working with velvet and after some research and help from our Textile sewing instructor, Saskia, these steps became necessary in order to ensure the best possible outcome.
Cut the pattern you want in the same direction: Velvet has a nap ( or pile) and if one piece is in the opposite direction, you can see it-just like would grain on the wood.
Cut pattern pieces with velvet facing up: A lot of sewers had suggested that you sew with the velvet facing down, but it likes to move, making it way more difficult to cut the proper pattern piece.
Work with a walking foot on your sewing machine: I used a regular presser foot for a few samples but noticed a huge difference with the walking foot because it added extra grip, making sure all the fabric would move at the same time.
Hand Stitch you're pattern pieces in place: Before machine sewing your pattern pieces together, hand stitch them so they stay in place!!! I can't stress enough how much this helped keep me sane. Although I have short patience, I knew I wanted to take this slow and do it correctly, rather than doing it fast and making mistakes.
NEVER IRON YOUR VELVET: always steam it! ironing your velvet can actually crush the pile, creating some sheen to your velvet in some areas and not others. Use a steamer and run your fabric against the heat. As an added note, you can lightly iron your fabric, pile side down against another piece of velvet (velvet pile facing velvet pile). This creates almost a pressure relief for the velvet, helping the pile stay intact.
Use a Temporary Adhesive: to help prevent the velvet from slipping and sliding against other materials, using the adhesive spray can help when tacking on fabric to another piece of fabric when sewing it. Because it's temporary, it will eventually go back to normal without leaving any residue or yellow marks.
Put another layer to get rid of translucency in the fabric: Between my white silk velvet and my organic cotton sateen, I put silk organza as an extra layer. This stiffened up the dress pattern slightly, giving it a better shape, and helping with the translucent look of only 2 layers.
Photos of sewn velvet top samples:
Fig. 11 My first velvet sample using washed velvet, no lining and ironing it-not knowing better.
Fig. 12 My second velvet sample using non-washed velvet, adding a silk organza lining, and having had steamed the fabric beforehand.
One question I get a lot is why I'm using velvet for my final dress. The answer I normally give is...because I love velvet! At the end of the day, when a woman picks out a wedding dress, it's because she loves it or has an emotional moment in it! I've loved velvet for quite some time, so why not use it for a wedding dress that I hope to wear for my wedding day. Of course, I have been asked if velvet is significant in my research and to that, I would say yes. I've found velvet to be a well-known luxurious fabric between the 1700s-1900s. It was a fabric that only high-class individuals could afford. If you owned velvet, it meant that you were regal. And that's exactly how I want to feel on my wedding day.
Being able to use velvet and bring in that added depth of devore using screen printing will be a great exploration of design and scale with my patterns. I'll only be taking the designs up to about the knee area on the dress, leaving the top half crisp and white.
I started sampling with how the velvet's appearance changes before, during, and after the process of sewing it together, screen printing with devore, and washing it. There were some points that I realized the velvet would possibly change colours slightly when washing it, which could make it difficult to match the bottom skirt with the top half of the dress. But for the most part, it didn't change it enough to have to reconsider the velvet.
My Final Thoughts
I think the most interesting aspect of my project is how I want to interpret and show my identity, culture, and connection to my partner in the dress. I want to be able to tell a visual story that is intricate in personal detail but is also a beautiful piece of wearable art and fashion. One podcast that recently came to my attention through my professor was called "Wedding Dresses: Articles of Interest #12", described below.
"Articles of Interest is a limited-run podcast series about fashion, housed inside the design and architecture podcast 99% Invisible. Launched in 2018, the show encourages people to rethink the way we look at what we wear and what it says about us." (para 2)
After reading this statement, and listening to the Season 2, Episode 6 podcast, I realized how differently people see the wedding gown, how it's evolved over time, and things people think about today. One line that really resonated with me was, " Not only are you navigating your desires with the desires of people around you, but you're also considering the desires of people who came before you" (Articles of Interest Podcast, 13:24). Although multiple lines stuck out to me, this one in particular really stayed in my mind because this line is really the gist of what my dress was going to be about. It really made me think harder about the meaning behind the dress and what my whole thesis is about. In whatever context, my dress will turn out to be, or however people might perceive it; I know what the dress means to me, and that's what matters the most.
. . . . .
So, After some exploring, momentary panic, a long patient sewing process, and some podcast listening, I feel comfortable and ready to start screen printing and sewing my final dress. Although I'm definitely going to be taking my time, considering how important this thesis project is to me, I'm really looking forward to how this dress turns out.
Trufelman, A. (2020 June 9th). Wedding Dresses: Articles of Interest #12 [Podcast]. Season 2, Episode 6. https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/wedding-dresses-articles-of-interest-12/
Glenn, H. (2014-2021). A Beginners Guide to Sewing Velvet. Seamwork. https://www.seamwork.com/magazine/2016/12/a-beginners-guide-to-sewing-velvet
Fig. 1 Trotter, J. (2021). Sharpie on Mylar [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig. 2 Trotter, J. (2021). Screen Shooting: First Photo [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig. 3 Trotter, J. (2021). Screen Shooting: Second Photo [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig. 4 Trotter, J. (2021). Screen Shooting: Third Photo [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig. 5 Gettycrafts_aus. (2021). Pentel Arts Color Brush Pen-Medium Tip, Black Pigment Ink -FP5-MBPA [Photograph]. https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Pentel-Arts-Color-Brush-Pen-Medium-Tip-Black-Pigment-Ink-FP5-MBPA-/224078251667
Fig. 6 HandmadeCraftSupply. (2020). Sharpie Paint Markers Set of 3 Black Markers Fine Point Oil Based. Drawing, Packing and Shipping, Sharpie Arts Crafts [Photograph]. https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/209800650/sharpie-paint-markers-set-of-3-black
Fig. 7 Trotter, J. (2021). Pen Sample on Mylar [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig. 8 Trotter, J. (2020). Full Dress Prototype 1 [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig. 9 Trotter, J. (2021). Full Dress Prototype 2 [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig.10 Trotter, J. (2021). Full Dress Prototype 3 [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig.11 Trotter, J. (2021). First Top Prototype [Photograph]. Oakville, ON
Fig.12 Trotter, J. (2021). Second top Prototype [Photograph]. Oakville, ON