A little more than 30 years ago, the international world was rocked by the arrival of the Japanese designers who brought with them, a new sense of aesthetics. "Interesting" replaced "pretty" as fashionistas were introduced to unorthodox textural fabric treatments ranging from irregular pleating to ripping, stenciling, braiding and the like. Though Mariano Fortuny, known for his permanent embedded pleated silks used in the couture salons 60 years prior, it was designers like Issey Miyake who brought pleats, bubbles, wrinkles, rips to the wardrobe of the average person.
Today, I pay homage to Issey Miyake, best known for his experimental garments which are never dated. And, who is best known for his Pleats Please line. Today's exercises combines super simple silhouettes with twisted silk. Using this technique, we take a flat surface that would otherwise require darts or seams for fit, and we transform it into a 3-Dimensional material that naturally stretches over the body's curves. There are two ways to approach this project depending on how simple or complex the garment is you wish to create.
For my first gown, I take a rectangle of pure silk. China silk is best because it is fine. However stay away from polyester blends as they will not hold the pleats. Wet the silk thoroughly. Make tiny pleats by gathering your fabric back and forth with your fingers until you have a wad. Then twist and twist and twist this wad, allowing it to curve into a ball (left photo). Secure using string or twist ties. Allow to dry. When it is completely dry, carefully unravel (right photo).
|The dress without the scarf.|
|Pleated silk has a very vegetal look and feel.|
The second garment is a tunic, worn with silk pants and a kimono. It is a simple tube. After pleating the fabric, fold in half and make one stitch.
|A simple twisted silk tube can be used for a variety of garments|
However, if you want to make more complicated garments, refer to the second technique. Here, I've featured an oversized shirt. I wanted the shirt to maintain fairly "normal" proportions. So I took my original pattern, added 1/2-inch to each front pattern and 1/2-inch on both sides of the CB. You are not obliged to do this if you want a skinnier fit.
|The garment is assembled first, then it is pleated. Here, I've added a matching skirt.|
|I've altered the pattern by adding more fabric in the yellow areas.|
Put together, sew and finish your garment FIRST. Next, twist the sleeves into knots. Then, beginning on one side of the shirt, pleat the fabric as describe above. Then twist the entire shirt into a ball. Secure with ties or strings. Allow to dry. When dry, carefully undo the twists. You can do an all over "pleating" or apply this technique in areas, according to your design. An all-over pleated look might not be to your taste, so I've included a photo showing the shirt belted, and worn over the one-piece pencil skirt, here cut in tangerine leather.
|Sew the garment first. Begin twisting the sleeves.|
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