Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Prototyping - Going On Seventeen

I get really excited when customers ask me to create new and fun dress ideas they have. However, I've learned something about this that is sometimes detrimental to the first-time creation process, as this past week's experience has revealed.

I was asked to create the pink dress Leisl wears in the film version of The Sound of Music. Gorgeous dress.. wonderfully flowy, in that late 1930s style. I really wanted this piece to showcase, so I accepted the challenge not knowing how challenging it would become. (I suppose this is the reason not many reproductions of the dress exist, that I have seen.. done well anyway.)

There is a lot of gathering and aligning and layering of materials in the bodice. Chiffon is a tricky material to work with as well. It's very light weight, frays easily and tends to move or stretch a lot. Little about the construction was very forgiving the first time around ;•)

After many, many hours of doing and redoing certain elements, making the pieces work when the pattern shapes I created weren't quite perfected yet, here's my first prototype and first order for "Going on Seventeen," Leisl's dancing dress:

It's quite lovely.

But I've decided that prototyping orders is not necessarily worth the customer's time, depending on the order of course. I felt that my ability to spend hours and hours in trial and error was limited by a due date, which isn't entirely fair for myself or the customer.

For the time being, I will not be offering "prototype-is-the-order" projects that require totally new pattern creation (thus requiring a great amount of time to test it and get it wrong before getting it right). I'd rather do this on my own time outside of the order process. And I would rather sell things that I've had much practice with, so the customer knows they're getting something that has been worked out completely.

I'm not ashamed to say that trial, and mostly error, sometimes makes an artist temporarily question their abilities until they find the incredible value in such trials. I am very grateful for this experience though. I'm also thankful for an understanding customer, as not all of them may be so kind.

"Going On Seventeen" will be available for custom order on our new website, hopefully coming later this month!