Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Creating Columns Through Value Rather Than Color

Short post today. I like to watch the Fashion, Style & Wardrobe board over at the Stitcher's Guild forum. As the name suggests, this forum attracts all types of needle-wielders. The Fashion, Style & Wardrobe board has some great threads on wardrobe & capsule planning so you know it's like heaven to me. The Fabulous Doctor Elizabeth has run the various seasonal 6PAC sewalongs for years now. The idea is that if you sew along to the suggested 6PAC formula, six easy and coordinating pieces every three months, at the end of the year you will have a fabulous wardrobe of solid basics to complement and support all of your fun 'frosting' and 'dessert' pieces.

The Autumn 6PAC 'recipe' reads:

"Here is the autumn recipe:  pick a dark neutral, a light neutral, and a colour.  These should all work together in a way that pleases you (be it with minimal or strong contrast) The way we define neutral, after much discussion, is "a colour you would wear a pair of trousers in".  Thus, if you would wear bright pink trousers, bright pink is a neutral for 6PAC purposes!  However most people find more success with traditional neutrals such as black, brown, navy, stone, taupe, olive, plum, cream, or white.Sew up as follows:1 - a jacket or cardigan in the dark neutral.  In my opinion, you should sew this first as it sets the tone of the whole collection.2 - a bottom (trousers or skirt) in the dark neutral3 - a top in the light neutral4 - a bottom in the light neutral5 - another jacket or cardigan in the colour6 - a top in a "linking print" or the colour"

In this 6PAC's discussion, many semptresses brought up the whole 'matchy-matchy' idea lurking in this formula. The implication is that you'll make a third layer and bottom in the same excat color (possibly the same exact fabric), then a top and bottom in .... the same exact color, possibly even the same exact fabric....and a lot of posters opined that this would be (excruciatingly) boring to sew as well as too 'matchy-matchy' to really feel modern.

How to get the outfit cohesion and visually lengthening effects of wearing 'all the same same' without, well, wearing all the same same? And having to look at the samesamesamesamesame...... while sewing? By choosing fabrics all in the same value, while varying texture and hue. "Hue" is the actual color (red, charcoal, acid green, etc.) while "value" is where the fabric falls on the light/dark range. To illustrate this principal, which i've relied on for decades, i put together a few outfits illustrating this idea.

You can see that i've pulled all the color/de-saturated the hue in each look as well, which helps to make this aspect easier to see. You can do this yourself in any photo editing program (insert the name of your own photo editing software instead of GIMP, which i use). edited to add: Carol in Denver left some great techniques for 'seeing values' from the quilter's perspective in the comments: "Quilters look through clear red transparent film to see differing values, or take a black and white photocopy of a group of fabrics to discern differing values." Thank you Carol, both techniques would work great with outfit photos as well, and you could use the red film with your mirror. end edit.  You can also just stand back and look at your fabric or outfit through squinty eyes, through your eyelashes. Or, take a look at things in deep twilight, or at dawn's first light, when there's just enough light to make things out but you can't see any color. Like with any other skill, practice makes improvement.

Outfit details from top left, top to bottom in each look: Navy lightweight linen, charcoal cotton ribknit, heavyweight black linen; navy lightweight linen, charcoal cotton ribknit, dark wash denim; black/white stripe light weight cotton, black/grey print with taupe/grey embroidery in lightweight cotton jersey, mid wash coton denim; light sage silk broadcloth, stone cotton bengaline. 

I hope this illustration gives you some ideas on how to create 'columns' that are more exciting to sew, and fun to wear, than 'all the same, all the same'.