I went up to see Sharon today, samples and coat muslin in tow. I brought along the coat muslin because, even though the pattern pieces were too wide for my fabric, I loved that doggone collar and wasn’t quite ready to let it go.
And I didn’t have to!
Here is a sketch of our planned design:
The right side will have a mix of bright autumn colors – gold, orange, red, burgundy, purple. The left side will be a mix of darker colors – burgundy, purple, and brown mostly.
The collar, which I had originally intended to be a deep green (silk or velvet), came out looking garish in the sketches, probably because the green doesn’t relate to any of the other colors – oranges, reds, and warm purples/browns. It would work better if there were more blues or blue-purples. So instead, we substituted a purple collar, which provides both color and value contrast with the top of the front – adding considerable interest and drawing the eye upwards, towards the wearer’s face. (In the sketch it looks rather garish, but see the photo below.)
Here is a drape of the sample over the coat, showing the color sequence and the contrast collar:
Both the purple and the yellow lean towards red, making the contrast much less garish than, say, acid yellow against violet – enough to be interesting, but not overpowering. The purple collar fabric is actually the reverse of the sample fabric, with dark wool leaves and lighter silk background. I like this effect and may use it, but I’ll have to monkey with the design first, as there are unsightly floats on the reverse face.
Here are two of the designs we tossed around en route to the one we liked:
We tried this design in hopes of avoiding an unsightly center-back seam. Because the panels are individually hand dyed before weaving, there’s no hope of getting the color changes to match perfectly. A center back seam would make this super obvious, and of course there’s no way to cut the entire back out of a single piece if you can only weave 22″ wide fabric! The idea was to contrast the bright panel against the darker colors, so the non-matching colors would be clearly intentional.
The reason we rejected this design is because the color imbalance is distracting. The sleeve matches the adjacent panel on the left side, but not on the right side, and I didn’t like the alternation between light to dark to light. And, the colors at the shoulder seams would not match.
And here is another one with slightly different construction:
This one wasn’t quite as distracting as the paneled design, but I felt it was badly unbalanced – light colors and warm colors tend to dominate, so the large amounts of gold, orange, and red in the top right section unbalance the design. I wanted something with more of the darker colors, that wouldn’t look quite so garish. (Also, the shoulder seams would still clash, with gold meeting purple on the left shoulder.)
And here, just as a reminder, is the one that was Just Right:
This is much better, for many reasons:
- the asymmetrical theme/energy of the front is echoed in the back
- the greater “strength” of the bright colors is balanced against a larger quantity of dark color
- adjacent panels in the body are different colors, so seams don’t need to match
- shoulder seams are compatible colors
- diagonal line in back adds movement and interest, important since this piece is about autumn, the season of change, leaves drifting down on the air currents.
The little circles on the sketches represent falling leaves. I was planning to silkscreen leaves directly onto the fabric using my new-to-me thermal screen printer, but am now thinking that I will silkscreen patterns onto a different fabric and applique the leaves to the main body of the coat. This has the dual benefit of allowing me to see/arrange the materials on the finished coat, and reducing the chance of costly screwups. I’m not an experienced screen printer and have zero experience with thermal screens, so am terrified of screwing up while printing onto my laboriously prepared blank.
One final (and encouraging!) note: this may take far less time than anticipated to weave up. I had been expecting to weave twelve 54″ panels for a princess line design, but with only six panels in the design, and a shortened length of about 48″ (40″ plus extra for hems, etc.), it should go much quicker.
Off to knit the first blank!
What a project you have taken on again! The proposed end result is going to be stunning. Thanks for sharing your journey in this.