thesis collection: sketching, fabric choices, and final edits

by gilda rêvasseur on October 23, 2009

after all that thinking and narrowing down of the direction and inspirations i wanted to take with my thesis collection and also my market and customer, my next step was the most painful one. doing sketches and then editing them.

design croquis

well, sketches, or croquis as we call them, aren’t so bad. croquis are just different design ideas. what we try to do is to come up with several design ideas based on the inspiration, and then we do many sketches and variations of each idea until our brain screams “NO! NO MORE!” and we’ve exhausted each idea.

say for example, i think of a really interesting concept for a pocket. i can place it on pants, then i can try placing it on different skirts, or i could put it on a shirt, then put it on a coat, and try it on a sleeve, and oh wait, look it’s morphing into a hood?

sketching then colouring my croquis

sketching then colouring my croquis

some examples of my croquis

some examples of my croquis

i think i did about 150 croquis during my summer break. when we got back to school at the end of august, we were told that we would be given an extra week to do even more croquis, which i thought was completely ludacris. i mean, before school even started, our brains were already fried. when i met my fashion friends back at parsons, we were all already tired by the first day of school.

it didn’t help that we had to meet kids from other departments who whined about how short summer was and how they weren’t looking forward to being back at school. uhm!??! shut up bitches!! we had actual homework, ok!?

anyway, i had left some blank spaces in between my croquis in my book, so that i could go back into them and explore my favourite ideas even further. so when i had some energy, that’s what i did.

the important thing to know, and what took me a really long time to get used to, is that one does not need to stick to any design ideas. you can love an idea so much you don’t want to part with it, but by doing so, you are making yourself blind to more ideas that could have come along, if only you were open to receiving it.

in the end, we can sew as many pieces as we want to, but we are only allotted enough time to show a maximum of 6 looks to the judges. so basically, the idea is to not be crazy and sew 20 different looks, but choose 5 or 6 looks that are really amazing, that look good together, that tell a story, and make sure it gets made really well.

fabric choices

as important as our final edits, are our fabric choices. there’s nothing worse than an amazingly designed collection that’s made out of cheap-ass polyester and scratchy wools. my collection is basically an autumn/winter collection but it includes pieces that can be worn all year round.

i have a huge fabric library at home (ok not that huge, but big enough), and i collect all sorts of fabric swatches all the time. so when i went on a hunt for materials, i really had quite a good idea of what i wanted.

i knew i didn’t want any boring black and grey collection. hell-to-the-no. (is there even such a phrase?) i love black clothes and yes i do wear black sometimes, but you very, VERY rarely see me in all black. i think i would become a depressed nun if i wore black all the time. my life is about colour, and since i was basing my collection on enid blyton’s faraway tree series (if you haven’t read my previous entry, my inspiration is based on blyton’s famous childrens book series called the faraway tree), i wanted to make sure that the collection was really bright, colourful, and energizing.

i decided to use a mix of textiles, consisting of some amazing tweeds i found, and also a lime green raw woven silk, a gorgeous and colourful plaid ikat cotton, a teal cashmere, a super soft grey cashmere-cotton mix, some other wovens as well as jersey and black suede. i even threw in a liquid metallic black spandex in the mix to give it some sheen to juxtapose all the matte tweeds. it might or might not be a good idea, but it’s going to be there for now! haha!

fabric board and colour story

fabric board and colour story

when i made my colour story, i thought it would be awfully fun to name my colours after characters or places in the books. naming colours are so fun!!! don’t you think people at places like paint companies or nail polish companies, whose jobs are to name paint or polish colours, have the best jobs ever?

although i am also still currently exploring different fabric treatments, one of the last inclusions to my fabric choices was to design a type of print. over the summer, i had drawn this hot air balloon on a whim. i thought it was really cute and decided this was the perfect opportunity to develop this into a sort of print. i could have just used the whole hot air balloon itself and just printed repeats of that, but i thought it might turn out too childish (though i’d love it personally). so i just took the patterns i drew in the balloon and changed it digitally into something that could be made into a repeat and printed on fabric. what do you think? i kind of really love it! wouldn’t you wear a pair of leggings in this print!?!? (i’m so gonna make leggings.)


narrowing it down to my final edits

what i personally like to do is, i make a photocopy of all my croquis in black and white, and cut them all up. i could copy them in colour, but when i edit, i prefer not to let the their colours affect my decision. colours can be easily changed later. when i colour them in my croquis book, it is to give me an idea of how i want it to look, or what sort of fabrics i want to use. editing, to me, needs to be about the design.

this editing process itself took me about 2 weeks. everyday i would spread out all the photocopies on my table, and just sit there staring at them while i finger my fabrics. what was my original inspirations? what kind of story do i want to tell? what’s going to make an impact? which looks go together? i have too many pants, but i like how they look; how can i change this pant into a skirt?

it’s important to think about questions like this while editing. you might have an amazing design idea, but if it doesn’t go along with your other looks, then you should take a deep breath and put it away and save it for another collection. adding a look that doesn’t go with your story, will only make the collection unbalanced and will confuse the customer. this is what it means in the fashion industry when we call a collection unfocused or without a point of view.

i make a “yes” and “no” group, then keep switching my croquis between the 2 groups until i’m happy with it. and then to me, it’s important to know what my friends think.

a good designer knows who their friends are, by the way. some people are not there to help you. you do not go to ask those people for their opinions. we all have different likes and tastes, but good friends will tell you their honest feelings about what you have designed. it doesn’t matter if we have completely polar opposite design aesthetics; the fact is that we are there to help each other grow and be better at what we do.

also, although my designs belong to a niche market, it is good for me to know what others think so that i know where i stand. it’s no use for me to insist on trying to be the next avant-garde mastermind, if no one is going to buy it. good designs need to not only be interesting, but also appeal to as many different people as possible.

editing down to 6 looks isn't easy

editing down to 6 looks isn't easy

the rejected pile of about 180 designs

the rejected pile of about 180 designs

final edits

i would have loved to have had another week to think about my edits, but the truth is that we all run on a deadline and when time’s up, time’s up. while this had all been going on, we have already begun sewing some samples in our methods class where the garments get made.

besides, we would be working on this collection all year. things are bound to change. so although i wanted to mull over it a little more, i stopped myself and just went ahead with it.

these are my final edits.

my in-class presentation

my in-class presentation

my final thesis edits

my final thesis edits

so there you have it! although some things might change, this is basically what i’m going to spend the rest of the year making! i’m excited. so far, we’ve made muslin samples of 3 of our looks, and i’ve been trying to perfect the fit on our fit models. but more of that story to come later.

what i want to know now is, would you wear these clothes?

ps: i had to add that even though i do have a lot of black and some neutrals in my wardrobe, i prefer to design and sketch them in colour. remember that all designs can be merchandised, like when you go to a store, you will usually find the same dress in a few different colours. if i end up selling this line one day, i will definitely make the same pieces in blues, greys and blacks too.

it is easier for a consumer to picture a colourful item in black, than for them to look at a black garment and think they prefer it in pink. likewise, when this goes before the judges, i want them to see it in colour so that it might spark something in their heads, rather than for them to just think, “oh, yet another black collection. boring.”

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashe Mischief October 23, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Where to wear them? Hip hop dance parties! I don’t know why–they just seem like they’d be comfortable for moving, get great air flow, and be colorful and vibrant.

I absolutely love this series, Gilda. It’s been an amazing treat to have this insight in to your school and designing experience. Your sense of style and vision are so rare so unique, that I can’t help but see amazing things coming from you…
.-= ♥ Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..IFB Presents: Links a la Mode =-.


mavis October 23, 2009 at 9:32 pm

goodness! i absolutely love the collection!!! 加油!can’t wait to see the final outcome. my fav’s got to be the first 2 looks from the left. drama!


WendyB October 23, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I like to see how it all happens. Nice post!
.-= ♥ WendyB´s last blog ..Reminder: Sample Sale Friday and Saturday =-.


Karina October 24, 2009 at 12:02 am

I love your color choices! I am a big fan of spring green & aqua and your choice of a steel grey is excellent. I’m looking forward to the final outcome!
.-= ♥ Karina´s last blog ..Bon Iver & St. Vincent’s “Roslyn” off the Twilight: New Moon Soundtrack =-.


Darren October 24, 2009 at 12:48 am

Yes, yes, yes! I would wear them haha PLEASE make a men’s line. These are by far your best designs (I’ve seen) and I think you made the right decision in the editing. Amazing!


maz October 24, 2009 at 5:17 am

oooh pretty! i wud wear the hot air baloon print u made as the dress! ooh and to make it fit better on me, if i had a ribbon tie of the same fabric, i wud tie the ribbon a lot of layers around my waist, unless i see that the sleeve is attached to the sides, might be a different thing. i see your designs are all so assymetrical, new!

i love the way you’ve accomplished things! its totally avant garde! on the chirpier note!
.-= ♥ maz´s last blog ..Vintage camisole – Tailor made to fit (and about darts) =-.


Rollergirl October 24, 2009 at 5:20 am

Wow, completely fascinating! Firstly, I LOVE Enid Blyton, secondly, your fabric board and print design are gorgeous, thirdly, the collection looks brilliant. Will come back and read the rest of the blog later.


missmilki October 24, 2009 at 6:33 am

I love the Faraway Tree series! I still read it every so often! :) Naming the colours after the characters is a great idea. I’ve really enjoyed reading about the design process. I’m not sure how much of the collection I would actually wear, its not really my style but there are pieces within it that I’d definitely wear – The dress under the long coat looks really interesting and the balloon print dress I’d definitely wear! Good luck with the year I hope you continue to blog about the process – Its really interesting! :)


Lauren October 24, 2009 at 7:35 am

Woe. As always, the designs are both absurd and brilliant and talented and beautiful! I especially had my attention caught by that grey and burgundy croquis!
.-= ♥ Lauren´s last blog ..Semi-Daily eBay | Trashy Diva 100% Silk Obi Dress =-.


Cindy D October 24, 2009 at 9:12 am

Great post! By the way, you might like this site:


Poochie October 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

It all looks amazing. I can’t wait to see the reality (I especially loved your green jacket from last year)! Oh and I love the balloon fabric you drew.


y October 24, 2009 at 11:49 am


Gilda you are heaps talented! :)
.-= ♥ y´s last blog ..Bunny necklace! =-.


Julia Mathias October 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

I really LOVE the dress with the custom print, and the rest of the collection is also very cool, and I would totally wear it, if I had the money to buy it.


Styletastic October 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Wow, really cool stuff, love how you showed the whole process! I also like the balloon print dress, but my favourites are the plaid dresses!
.-= ♥ Styletastic´s last blog ..Photo Couture =-.


Lactose Intoler-Art October 24, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Wow Gilda! Haven’t caught up with you in awhile, both been super busy, but I am truly amazed not only by your blog, but by the tremendous potential you have.

I’m glad that you have not strayed from what you’re great at, and your vision in design, but still pointed out that it has to be somewhat marketable! This is something I’ve had to tell myself lately too!! (haha)

Also..As far as this post goes, and the designs, I think they are amazing! So professional..I’m really excited about your future. The creativity just flows from these posts…And I love the color palette too! Have to say that my favorite is probably the peice 2nd to the right..Like you were mentioning that if you did some more neutrals, I think this one would be nice in a solid dark color option, like navy or black!

Thanks for writing about the process too..Its really interesting for me and I’m sure other people who might either be considering doing fashion design or just want to know more about the creative process(I’m the latter..haha)

Keep on going! You’re doing GREAT! I LOVE YOUR VISION!
.-= ♥ Lactose Intoler-Art´s last blog ..Jitensha! =-.


Necole October 24, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Wowsers, you are truly talented!!!

First off, I love your fabric choices. I love that you are mixing textiles and adding spandex is a fab idea!

Your final thesis edit is wicked! I am in love with the balloon fabric dress. I cannot wait to see it come to life~
.-= ♥ Necole´s last blog ..I *Heart* Polaroids! =-.


julia October 25, 2009 at 11:06 am

Good luck with your thesis!! I know how seemingly impossible it can be sometimes.

And in response to your comment about the Diana being in A.P. I was pretty surprised myself, more about the choice of colour than the camera being there. haha


queengilda October 25, 2009 at 10:36 pm

hey guys, thank you so much for all the positive comments and critiques. i’m actually a little surprised there weren’t more negative ones haha. it’s encouraging to know that many of you actually love the colour, although of course if these go into being manufactured, there would certainly be a more toned down palette for the majority of the people. still, i’m glad to know that some of you might actually wear some of these things! haha! yay!

it’s also really great to know that so many people actually loved enid blyton as much as i did!! i guess it depends on which countries we’re from. none of my friends from america know who she is! what a pity!

i would SO love to know a mens line one day. i love menswear!! one day i will!

thanks! i have heard of spoonflower and have also used their services before. they’re great!

i definitely wanted my collection to be wearable, but it would have killed me if it weren’t interesting. we still need to try working on our collaboration… one day when we’re both free! haha.


The Greyest Ghost October 26, 2009 at 1:18 am

I love the color choices of your final edit! It’s really interesting to see the whole process from start to finish. I do photography and some times get teased by clueless friends for shooting “too much”. It seems like fashion, and all things creative really, is the same. You start with 150+ ideas and narrow it down to 5 or 6. I guess people who aren’t creative don’t understand that. It’s great to see posts like this of how other people work though.

And I would definitely buy pieces from your line. I don’t think it’s possible to ever have too much teal in your life.
.-= ♥ The Greyest Ghost´s last blog ..CMJ: The XX at Apple Soho =-.


Valencia Lia October 26, 2009 at 1:48 am

Wowwww !! Its so amazing how everything is coming together !! And of course I would wear these designs out :)

And I love that your collection has so much colors ! Ohhh man,you’re really so talented <3


meredith October 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm

OMG, i would totally wear your clothes and i would buy your illustrations! i love the color choices!


Young Werther October 26, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Wow… there is so much work involved. Looking good !


Sheena October 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I love your final presentation and I can’t wait to see how it looks once it is brought to life. This is all so interesting to me. Looks like a lot of work, but it must be so much fun to let your mind become so creative.
.-= ♥ Sheena´s last blog ..Sustainable Chicago: Vert Couture Fashion Show =-.


Manhattan October 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Have you ever considered doing a sweatpants collection? I wear gray sweats every day and I could use some variety. There’s probably a lot of fun things you can do with all the elastic too. They’re probably the most underrated piece of clothing in existence.


jennine October 28, 2009 at 4:20 pm

i love everything here! particularly the green top with the harem pants… it’s just kind of where i’m at… i’d wear them everywhere!
.-= ♥ jennine´s last blog ..Guerlain Imperiale Holiday Collection: Review and Makeup Lesson Video =-.


Beatrix October 28, 2009 at 8:35 pm

These posts have been a really fantastic read! Thank you so much for such a detailed insight into the whole process! It was brilliant to see how you put together a presentation for a collection. Loved it.

I’m also digging the balloon print dress and the combinations of the ‘moonface’, ‘silky’ and ‘dame washalot’ colours.

Thank you SO much for this series!
.-= ♥ Beatrix´s last blog ..Weekly Resolutions =-.


Zakuro Yugo(ZY) October 30, 2009 at 2:45 am

Just Professional Work!!:)
I like your fabric board and color story,,,somehow dreamy.
.-= ♥ Zakuro Yugo(ZY)´s last blog ..I’m a Constructive Beauty ~Viveka Bergström~ =-.


Kiki October 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm

i love it! Your are really great! cuts & design and your choice it amazing … i would wear the third from right straight away for my daily style!


Jen October 31, 2009 at 10:33 am

Love this! Your sketches are amazing!


queengilda October 31, 2009 at 7:08 pm

thanks again for all your comments, everyone. this collection is a bit harder to make than i imagine! haha! my favourite piece is the one that’s 2nd from the right; the balloon print dress. i’m currently making that now, but because i want it to have several different ways to be worn, it’s taking me so long to really think through the process!! i hope it’s worth it in the end and really works out!

+the greyest ghost+
oh i’m sure fashion and photography is pretty similar!! fashion photography, for example… i know some shoots that use like quite a few gigs on just a couple of looks. and in the end you are looking for that perfect 1 shot. i suck at photography although i love playing around with my lomo camera. i usually only get like 2 photos i really love in 1 roll of film! almost wish they had a digital version of the lomo camera, but i guess it’ll never be the same without film; there’s no way to get that sort of effects and colours even on photoshop!

haha. i wonder if i will be able to sell them when i go back next year. i’ll make them in these colours plus in more neutral colours and am planning to go to some stores to see if i can get the collection sold!

YOU WOULD BUY MY ILLUSTRATIONS!?? really??? wow that’s like such a great compliment. thanks!

i don’t own a pair of sweatpants so i guess i never thought of it. it sounds like an interesting idea to play with though!! :) i’ll give it a shot in the near future.


Jenny November 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm

That was a great essay, super interesting to read. And yeah, the balloon print dress is also my favorite!


min November 3, 2009 at 9:21 am

love the balloon print and the plaids!
make the balloon print dress for me please :D
looking fwd to how your collection will turn out.. :)


Nikki Dee February 9, 2010 at 1:44 am

I think they are beautiful! You have a really cool style of illustration…and i LOVE the hot air balloon. A lot.
Good luck with your collection! I’m a freshman at Parsons, looking to major in fashion design so reading your blog is fascinating! ahh!

And i totally agree that the garments would be perfect to wear to HIP HOP DANCE PARTIES!
.-= ♥ Nikki Dee´s last blog ..Valentine’s Day Outfits and Radical Self Love =-.


Crystal February 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Wow I just found your blog and I think it’s very inspirational! Thank you for sharing. Your designs are really cool. I graduated as a graphic designer but have been wanting to try more fashion/costume design things.


Jaine D. June 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm

i LOVE your illustrations! i really like the baloon print. i wish my croquis looked like yours!


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