Beginning of term is an exciting time at the studio as we are starting to prepare the new projects and patterns for the autumn and winter season. We have looked at all the catwalks and scanned the big designers AW2013 collections for styles, colours, patterns. It does feel odd just as the sun comes out to brainstorm styles and outfits 6 months in advance… And one could argue that this is not the best way – indeed we have recently come across a discussion about the seasonal cycle in the fashion industry with suggestions for a more organic approach http://www.ecouterre.com/can-designers-afford-to-ignore-the-traditional-fashion-calendar/
However, for us at Little Hands there is one compelling reason for starting on to prepare 6 months in advance… We construct most of our patterns for new garments ourselves, make samples and then grade and copy patterns in four different sizes. After all that is done we are writing instructions which together with hand drawn diagrams will help students to make the new styles for themselves. This is not a process in a direct line, often samples get changed, patterns have to be tweaked, things don’t turn out as planned and we have to go back to the drawing board. And all that takes time! However, over the many years of running Little Hands we have learned that the better prepared our courses are the easier the students learn and more amazing the things they make look!
And of course at the same time all current classes are running, students are making this season’s new projects – and again that means going back, changing details on the patterns and instructions after observing the first students battling their way through the dress or top of the season. Sizing is a particular issue when you design for kids and teens – heights and bust in particular vary so much more than for adult patterns.
And then one of our teenaged students comes in and says: “I would so love to make a skater skirt – they are in all the high street shops, but I have not got enough pocket money and my mum says I have too many clothes as it is! Can we not make it?” We love when they do this as there is no better motivator to learn new skills and having fun with your hobby then making something you really want to have! So we try to work with the student to design a pattern and then grade it and name this project after her. You come into the studio and will notice many projects being called Zara’s waistcoat, Rosie’s dress, Zelda’s top…. Named after one of our young designers!
And while the dressmaking experts in the team are busy with the new and current clothes making projects – our textile designers are going through a similar process with the new set of arts&crafts projects. Here our inspiration comes from various sources – we go to the graduate shows and other exhibitions to see what new research they are working on, we look at well-known artists and their current work, at current trends in the interiors market, we search on-line for hot topics amongst the craft communities and last but not least we are looking at what materials we already have in the studio waiting for creative ideas! After the initial brainstorming making samples is also the first step always thinking about making things at different skill-levels to cover the wide range of ages and dexterity of our students.
At the end of week four all the clothes and crafts samples have to be completed for the photoshoot! Together with short texts for each project these pictures are then downloaded to the website and listed with lost of ‘whats on’ directories.
The whole process takes more or less the whole term with the preparation of materials and fabric completing the cycle. The last couple of weeks are then used for brainstorming, trend searching to start the next season’s cycle but also to evaluate and discuss things which may have not worked as well throughout this process and new ideas of how to prepare for our courses.