Episode Two of That Sewing Blab
The second That Sewing Blab on Blab.im went a lot smoother than the first. The show was vastly improved as we managed to keep my co-host Alethia @sewmuchtalent on screen most of the time and by having our first person in the hot seat. We interviewed Laura Volpintesta about fashion illustration, sewing, and her fashion illustration courses she offers on her website, Fashion Illustration Tribe. She is a multifaceted woman who practically has creativity bursting out of her pores. She is an instructor, motivator, singer and creator of beautiful things. Having watched her Periscope broadcasts and seen how talented she is, she has even been nominated for the Best Teacher on Periscope Periaward, I couldn’t wait to interview her on Blab.im. She has even written a book, The Language of Fashion Design: 26 Principles Every Fashion Designer Should Know. Watch the Blab below to learn more about Laura Volpintesta, and check out her website to learn more about her Fashion Illustration Tribe. I am signed up for her next 15-week fashion illustration class. Stay tuned to the blog progress updates for some amazing illustrations.
Laura was very generous and also answered four further questions especially for this post. Please see the questions and her answers below.
I asked her what she wanted students to take away from one of the fashion illustration courses she teaches.
First off, I want to undo myths about how art happens and help them “undo” all the fear and get some real art skills that they can apply for the rest of their lives. Most who come to fashion have this seed in them and then this huge block that tells them they can’t do it, but the drawings we see have thinking behind them… I want to give them this thinking that informs the drawing and the PROCESS and tools that are built into sketching. Line weight, form, light and dark, shape, movement.
Secondly, I want to expose the process and the joy in the process of sketching for DESIGN! Using color to bring it to life, how to create a whole group of sketches when designing…. so you can get a lot of ideas out and then choose your favorites. I want to give them the skill of illustration- and of DESIGN illustration. So there is technical, and there is creative/mood and that both are supported here.
I want to make sure that they are learning all of this in an empowering way that doesn’t teach them to distort the body for “fashion” so we can get a move on creating art and fashion about our real, beautiful selves and bodies and design for our lives!
I want to give them the whole set of skills from using the pencil basics to drawing/building a standing figure, to capturing silhouettes and shapes in clothes, to seeing and showing the construction details, to capturing the colors and textures of the fabrics in their sketches.
I don’t’ want to give them a superficial skill- I want them to OWN it, I want my students to feel a transformational experience that takes them deep into the craft of making and the joy of creating fashion and fashion art.
I want to reinforce that connection from their hands and eyes to their hearts :0)
When did you start sewing Laura?
Really sewing at the machine? I think I was 17. I started with a classic shirt, I think.. cuffs, collar, patch pocket, placket, buttons, vent, etc. and some jersey stuff that was zig zag stitched (this was 1989 or so) like “Multiples”..remember that? Then I did some blazer by Issey Miyake pattern. My mother and her mother and my dad’s mom, they always made their own clothes, so I had a lot of support and belief in myself. When I was a kid my mother made a ton of my clothes, and they were all completely her vision and not in “fashion” at the time… I was so embarrassed. She was always avant-garde. Now I never buy patterns. I think the most liberating thing in the world is to learn to make a pattern because the store bought patterns can teach you to sew, but they keep you in the dark a lot about the simple truths behind the pattern. They do that, so you need them :0) I guess. My favorite thing is to copy clothes that I own and love that fit great, and then change them however I want. But I don’t sew a lot currently, too many kids and not enough space or focus! but I will again!
How can becoming a better fashion illustrator help you when designing or sewing a garment?
I’m not sure if being a better illustrator helps you become a better sewer, but it sure can help you be a better designer or develop your “vision” because it can put more ideas out of your head and into the world (or onto paper) for you to look at…it’s like “thinking out loud”.. you can easily take notes of ideas on paper before they escape your memory!!!
When you have sketching skills, you can come to a blank page and start drawing… without an idea yet, and open up a channel where ideas start to flow and flow and flow out of you onto the paper because you have that language. You can sketch out what you are thinking to show a client her options, and she can choose from your sketches. in a sketch you can “work out” the LOOK of your ideas until you are like YES!!!! THIS IS IT!!!
And even if you don’t LIEK THE WAY YOUR SKETCHES LOOK although I hope you will, with all my heart— the look is just one part. THE IDEAS are the best part!!! How many pocket shape I ideas did you have and where do you want to put them on that garment, and how many skirt length ideas for that dress and how would that look with tall boots, how would that look with pumps, what if the bodice was one fabric and the skirt was another… and then what if we reversed those?.. What does that outfit look like with a jacket, without? should we use buttons or an exposed zipper down he front of that coat? Tall collar or Peter Pan collar? Hm….?
it gives you a great opportunity to “SEE” you ideas outside of you … lots and lots of them… and show what you know. It gives you a chance to edit and review your ideas. IT gives you a chance to show people what you do and know and love before you even hit the sewing machine.
And at the very top of the mountain, their is that place where you start to see yourself reflected in your drawings, (which I already see in ANYONE’s work once they are actually producing sketches at all) is the STORY=- the unique point of view of that designer. The fabrics they tend to use, the shapes, the colors…. the WOMAN— what is the story about that woman? What does she love, do, where does she go, what is she about? OR for some it isn’t so much about the woman, it’s about the sculpture, the shapes, the forms, the adventures in details of the garments. Everyone has a different approach. I love when this light comes apparent and shines through. this is what we love about design! the way it looks and makes us feel. The emotion is at the top of the design mountain. Message, feeling, beauty, creation.
Do you have any messages for someone who is nervous about starting but wants to be a better illustrator?
It’s a busy world now, but if you want this, take the time to carve out to make this a priority for yourself. Just like sewing or knitting, the first row or two are the hardest. Then everything starts to move and build on its own. So it isn’t just learning the skills, it’s also a journey of faith and self-love. You won’t like your first sketch maybe. But you can’t get to where you want to go in drawing without giving yourself the chance to start where you are at, love yourself for that, and know that once you know where you are at, there is no place to go but UP!
Our culture is riddled with myths about artists and art. You can develop these simple skills by knowing basic concepts and getting some REAL INFORMATION that breaks it down and guides you. I built this class from so many of my A-HA things that I learned when I was in school. I used to doodle shapes on paper but never realistic ANYTHING. I was amazed how finally I could learn how drawing happens and that it was all new, surprising, and wonderful.
We think that we are supposed to start with these clean perfect lines. NO WAY! that is where we can end up, if we want, but we start “behind those lines”, learning how a drawing is born from the inside out. There is a process. One of the biggest parts of this is sketching lightly to map out our thoughts on paper before we get dark, and another is to ALLOW OURSELVES TO GET MESSY especially in the beginning. All of the beauty emerges from there.
When you sew, sometimes you make this awful mistake that “ruins the garment”. When you do this, you often learn a lesson that is big and powerful that makes you a better sewer int he future. The same in drawing. Likewise, the unique “mistakes” you make, as you correct them, create the unique flavor and techniques that are yours and yours alone=— your unique path! You know when you accidentally cut into your shirt and have to make up an ingenious way to hide the spot where you cut wrong and then everyone says “how did you ever think of doing such a cool detail there in that shirt????” and you are like “I never would have done that if I hadn’t accidentally cut right into the front of it by mistake!”. IT’S LIKE THAT!
My goal is to UNDO all of the fear and get you comfortable and happy and enthusiastic enough to be in the loving space where real learning and creativity happen.
Almost everyone has been traumatize by some jerk criticizing their work.
I want to be the place where healing happens and the student feels safe and supported to get to the beautiful space that is beyond their fear!