Monday, April 8, 2013

Prints Charming

Photo print A-line dress.
A former student of mine, Georgia Hardinge, is doing very well as a fashion designer in Great Britain. The other day, she shared a link to her newest venture, a special line of digitally printed garments for River Island. It is a very simple dress with a print that from a distance, gives the impression of a carapace or scales. As I searched for the store online, I discovered an entire line of "Bodycon" dresses with interesting graphic motifs.

This as well as the current issue of American Elle magazine which features a very attractive picture of Nicki Minaj wearing a second-skin body suit emblazoned with a larger than life face over her torso, inspired me to explore the "digital printing" for the doll with the help of iron-on transfer sheets sold at office supply or crafts stores.

The idea photo prints in fashion is not new. Back in the 1930's, surrealist couturier, Elsa Schiaparelli shocked the hushed world of haute couture with her trompe l'oeil prints including fake pearls and newspaper prints worked into the clothes. In the 80's French designer, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, made his mark on Paris fashion with silk dresses splashed with oversized portraits of famous people. Today, British designer, Mary Katrantzou is internationally known for photo printed fashions. What all of these people have in common is that beneath the photo prints are ultra simple silhouettes.


Pack your patience. The most important thing to remember is to iron on the prints BEFORE you stitch up the garment. You cannot use clothing with darts. Think simple as in T-shirt dresses, shift dresses (sheaths without darts), the backs of shirts or jackets, the hems of flared skirts, for example. Do not iron over seams. Use the bodice sloper but leave the darts open. In fact, for this project, I used the sheath dress, but did not stitch up the darts in the front.

The fun part is selecting an image....art, photography, advertisements, architecture, cars, flowers...the sky is the limit. You could create a "trompe l'oeil dress by copying the body of a dress in a photograph then printing it on a simple shift dress or T-shirt. Or create your own print or collage on the computer then transfer it onto the dress.

Before you print on the special transfer paper, do a test by printing out on regular paper and then check the scale against the doll. For your inkjet printer, use the "Matte Paper" setting as well as "Mirror Image."

After you have printed out your images, cut as close to the image or motif as possible, then place it on the flattened fabric. Iron on a cotton or hot setting for about 30 seconds, moving the iron back and forth so as not to scorch the fabric. Then (very important) let everything cool completely. Gently peel away the paper away from the fabric. Keep in mind that the transfer paper leaves a thin plastic film. So the larger the image, the stiffer the silhouette! If the image pops away from the fabric, place the paper backing back on (waxy side to the print) and press again. Nonetheless, have fun in the knowledge that something so easy to make is the height of contemporary street style!

White cotton sheath dress. Illustration: Richard Vyse
All text and photos property of © Fashion Doll Stylist. 2013 Please do not reproduce without prior permission.

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