Design Process

The other day, I was out walking with Sydney, and I saw this tree I had never noticed before which has crazy fingers:

Araucaria Heterophylla

Araucaria Heterophylla Fingers!

My first thought was, what is it?  But then I put that aside and thought of an idea for a skirt using my remixed tee crochet/knit technique.  The images I had in my head were pretty immediate, as in, I knew exactly what I wanted to do but not exactly how.  In order to show you how the development of an idea comes into play I put together a time-lapse of my prototyping process:

So I took a picture with my ever-versatile iPhone 4 and collected a leaf from the tree.  Many of the leaves on the ground were already brown and crackly, and I lucked out and got one that was still flexible.  It feels a little like one of those giant silver chains you see sold with Tibetan or Nepalese products– a veritable vegetable viper.  Being with Sydney, I had to be careful not to break it on the way home.  It doesn’t look that durable, but it was coiled in my pocket for a good hour, and it didn’t break.

Then when I got home, I looked at what sorts of T-Shirts I had available.  Someone had just given me some cast-off black polos and white polos.  Although the process in my head said: you want to make a skirt or a dress, it made more sense to use the materials at hand to make a sketch since my skirt idea will take at least six t-shirts, and at two bucks a pop, that is a lot of material to waste if it doesn’t work.  Recycled material or not, I hate to waste it!

So I sat down with the image of the tree, and the veritable vegetation viper in my hand, and began to contemplate.  I drew the leaf, and then I thought a minute or two how to apply my skirt idea to the current maquette.  You can see this is a very rough sketch, but it was nice and quick to get down on paper.  First the body outline, then the clothes on the body, ink, erase, color.  Still have to sketch out the skirt idea, since it was so clear in my head, it’s hard to sit down and draw it, I’d rather just make it.

Then I fold-measured the materials to determine the size of the cuts I needed and referenced the sketch to decide on a number.  Here’s where, since I was filming myself, I made some mistakes.  Originally I was thinking I’d have to sew the white parts into the black part, so I cut the fabric accordingly.  But as I started working I realized two things: first, that it was going to be bumpy sewing if I knitted first, so it was going to make the whole process a lot more complicated than I thought; and second, that one of the wonders of this slash and knit technique is that it can be used to create no-sew seams.

So I scratched the first idea I had about construction, which also meant that I needed to improvise a solution for the places where I now had _single_ lines of cuts because they would no longer hold the cloth as I thought they would.

At this point in the process, the iPhone 4, though a wonderful device, had crashed enough times that I thought I’d give it a rest.  So I stopped the maquette (now sitting in a bag waiting to be solved, since I hate waste!) and took off for the thrift store where I bought six T-shirts to hack up (5 of them 1/2 off!).  Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have photos of the finished item and a few more process shots of the assembly.  And maybe by Sunday there will be an Etsy listing of the maquette and the finger-conifer skirt.


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