Colour Blocking Pattern Blocking

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Céline, PF11, Paris.

The vibrant colour blocking that was a theme of the Spring Summer 2011 collections has spilled over into some interesting pattern combinations and contrast facings at Celine and Walter Van Beirendonck, and in a more subdued way at Dries Van Noten. Tailoring becomes uncharacteristically playful when these asymmetric colour combinations and patterns come into play. The clarity of the blues used in these collections is also especially striking.

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Images 1-6, Céline, PF11. Images 7-12, Walter Van Beirendonck, Menswear, AW11. Images 13-14, Dries Van Noten, Menswear AW11.

Despite the fact that these patterns and colours may sometimes look as though they were effortlessly thrown together from fabric remnants that were lying on the cutting room floor, designs like this (the ones that really work anyway) are usually a result of a careful editing process based on a period of trial and error.

It is more than likely that the designers will have tested the positions of the panels through sketching, then tested out various different colour combinations in small fabric swatches or on computer generated renderings of the garment. After this they may have tried out the contrast panel placement on toiles before readjusting the proportions and colour placements, only then transferring the ideas to garment patterns to then use to sew up a sample garment. And then it is likely that once the design is seen in the real fabrics the proportions and colours may be adjusted or changed before another sample is sewn.

If you are attempting to create looks like this yourself out of a set combination of fabrics you may be best to buy cheaper fabrics in similar colours to experiment on your toiles. If you are sewing up a pair of trousers for instance you could sew a basic pair of trousers in your base colour and then pin squares of coloured fabric on top, moving them around to see what works on the body.

You can then transfer this onto your patterns to ensure that you have a better idea of how your finished result will work.

Other points to consider:

  • If you are using different types of fabrics then they may react in unusual ways when seamed together. For instance, will both fabrics be able to be washed or ironed in the same conditions, will they pucker when stitched together?
  • If you are using different coloured fabrics what will you choose as your stitching colour? Also are there pockets or buttonholes which run across both panels, in this case can you use one stitching colour across both fabrics?
  • Also consider the grain lines of your panels especially if you are considering placing patterned fabric at different angles as this may cause seam edges to lengthen where they end up on a bias grain.

Images from style.com – Céline» , WalterVanBeirendonck» and DriesVanNoten»

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