Evolution of a Design

by Lesa Berryhill

I recently had the honor of having my original couture design featured in the Construction Zone at IWCE in New Orleans. The design competition theme, The Academy Awards, was sponsored by the Custom Home Furnishing Academy. The guidelines provided for special consideration to those designs utilizing minimal fabric usage. This was the driving force behind my design! I hope that you will follow along as I take you through the design process from inspiration, frustrations, and realization!

My Inspiration! The Academy Awards 2009 Jennifer Aniston

This is the actual freehand drawing that was submitted to the judges.

 The above photo showed the design elements that would be utilized along with a small mock up of the finished couture technique.

This is the actual pattern that was drafted to scale on pattern paper using Phi, also known as the Divine Proportion or Golden Ratio. Thank you Gillian Wendel.

This is the pattern transferred to a medium weight tulle with a Sharpie marker. This pattern was placed over the silk and traced with a light chalk to apply the pattern to the silk. This is a common quilters trick that I discovered with a quick internet search!
 
The rattail cord was laid along the chalk transfer and stuck in place with a million silk pins! Then there was the gluing!!! Yes, glue on silk. A toothpick would have been the perfect tool, but we opted for tack strip instead!

Next, the sheer overlay, cut on the bias, was attached with another million or so silk pins!
Then finally to the machine….. where I was faced with what was the biggest frustration of the design. Using a twin needle and metallic thread sounded like such a great idea. The thread keeps breaking and shredding!! Thanks to Ann Johnson, a CHF instructor, my design was saved! The secret was silicon spray on the spools of thread!
Surprise! The original design was modified to include a sheer panel with a silk band and rattail cord along the banded edge.
This is a closeup of the silk banded heading with 2 inch tucks to accommodate the drapery pins.

This is Jennifer on display at IWCE in New Orleans. She was accompanied by an incredible slipcover that was created by Jeanelle Dech of Adaptive Textiles. The fabrics and hardware were graciously donated by Trend Fabrics. The Sherwin Williams wall color is Raccoon Hollow, or as we call it here in the South, “Coon Holler”! Holla Judy P.!

There are so many to thank for the success of my design … Terri Booser, the school director, thanks for putting up with my failure to choose the appropriate fabrics the first time. In all fairness though, have you ever tried to choose a sheer fabric from a website? All that I can say is DON’T!

A Huge thank you to Susan Woodcock, editor of  Drapery and Design Professional, who spent three long days working by my side dealing with my OCD behaviors!! Couture is hard tedious work.

A final Big Thanks to the instructors of the school and the supporting cast for the laughs, the Ah Ha Moments, and the lasting friendships that were fostered during this incredible weekend of fun! If you have ever considered entering this competition and hesitated due to lack of skills or self confidence please do yourself a favor and jump in head first. Who knows, it might be your design on display next year in Vegas Baby!!! See ya there!

Lesa 

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