Favorite Garment of 2013

I have been a quiltmaker for more than a decade and a seamstress (loosely defined) since the age of four, but I only recently started to design my own garments. I tell myself, I don’t know what I am doing, but that shouldn’t stop me from trying.

I study books, dig for information on the internet, and experiment in my studio.

Part of what makes my designs interesting and also puzzling is that I use repurposed materials as my textiles.

I am not using yardage, so even if I am using a commercial pattern as the basis for my design, I have to add additional lines and seams to grow my fabric into a garment. Here is my stash of felted wool sweaters filleted and ready to be used as fabric.

Maria Shell Wool Fabric StashTo create my patterns, I use an assortment of methods. I like to find garments at the thrift stores that I can cut up and draft patterns from. I used this method when designing Sarah’s sweater.

Sarah LeonardI like to use simple vintage patterns as slopers.  I then add new seam lines to create the final garment. I used this method to make the Spring Frock and the MOD Sweater. Here is the pattern the Spring Frock is based on.

Pattern for Spring FrockAnd here is the result.

Maria in Spring FrockHere is the pattern I used for the MOD.

Sloper for MODAnd here is the MOD sweater.

The MOD by Maria ShellAnd sometimes I take complex patterns and see if I can stretch my “fabric” to create the design. That is what I did when I created my favorite garment of 2013.

It is based on a vintage Pucci coat pattern. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Vintage Pucci PatternI picked my palette which usually consists of at least five to seven filleted sweaters of contrasting colors.

I build the jacket piece by piece.

Maria Shell Wool JacketMaking fabric decisions as I go.

Maria Shell Wool JacketI will audition several fabrics for each area of the jacket.

Maria Shell Wool JacketIt is like a quilt in that it is patchwork. But because it is a garment, it is 3-D and you have to be thinking about things from all angles.

Maria Shell Wool JacketI decided to piece the waist of the jacket out of smaller bits of fabric. I pieced it in the same gentle curve as the pattern tissue.

Maria Shell Wool JacketI created a collar out of a sweater edge. Using the edges of old sweaters as the edges of the new garment tends to work really well. The finished edge is sturdy, and you don’t have to hem it.

Maria Shell Wool JacketI got to dig in my vintage button collection to pick a favorite.

Maria Shell Vintage ButtonsHere is the final design on my new dress form.

Maria Shell Wool JacketAnd on me.

Maria Shell Wool Jacket

The back side.

Maria Shell Wool JacketFor the past year, this has been my garment of choice for special occasions.

Maria Shell Wool JacketI will be wearing it at this year’s Object Runway. Now the big question is–what will my models be wearing? I better get down to the studio and figure that out.

This entry was published on January 20, 2014 at 9:26 AM. It’s filed under ArctiCouture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

12 thoughts on “Favorite Garment of 2013

  1. Wow, what a fabulous sweater! Love the back!

  2. You are simply amazing, Maria!

  3. Love this sweater!!

  4. I love how you tackle the world! Very nice sweater, good luck on the runway!

  5. Rock on, Maria. Rock on.

    I am not sure I would want to take that sweater off. Love it!

  6. Kerri Green on said:

    You rock Maria! Can’t wait to see your other runway creations!

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