Sketchbooks, why do I miss you so?

I’ve always been a bit of a crafty individual (to the extent that my mother nicknamed me ‘the factory’ as a child… I was a little over productive). Well before I started my lingerie brand, I made lingerie for the fun of it. I knew nothing about the intricacies of pattern cutting or how to apply elastic correctly… Quite frankly, whether I knew how to actually sew is still debatable.

The first pair of knickers I ever attempted; the construction is quite frankly embarrassing, but my lack of knowledge meant I dived into this headfirst. It would be years before I ever attempted something so complex again.
The first pair of knickers I ever attempted; the construction is quite frankly embarrassing, but my lack of knowledge meant I dived into this headfirst. It would be years before I ever attempted something so complex again.

That didn’t stop me from playing around with fabric in a totally unprecious and experimental way… Honestly, there was a freedom in my ignorance that I quite miss now. So much design is stilted by thoughts of ‘do I know how to do this’ now! I was quite pleased with a few of these creations and would share them on social media and on my website.  In fact, I used to blog quite regularly about my sewing adventures and university projects.

Unfortunately, last year my website made the leap from semi-functioning online shop-cum-blog to Serious Business E-Commerce Site. And so I had to say goodbye to my archive of blog posts as I moved servers and they were lost forever to the ether… And by lost, I mean I painstakingly copied over every post to this tumblr account.

An excerpt from my 2nd year university sketchbook - I'd tackle pages and pages of inspiration sketches and imagery before beginning the design process
An excerpt from my 2nd year university sketchbook – I’d tackle pages and pages of inspiration sketches and imagery before beginning the design process

Either way, my old blog got me thinking a lot about how university teaches design. There’s an awful lot of focus on cultivating inspirations, on first hand research and illustration. Designs have to be developed and teased out slowly, with all the processes painstakingly sketched.  I would often resent this at the time; all of that drawing and printing was time consuming and expensive. Yet now that it’s not a requirement, I miss it!

My current design process: vintage lingerie and fabric inspiration. There is no sketching in this process, only my internal imaginings...
My current design process: vintage lingerie and fabric inspiration. There is no sketching in this process, only my internal imaginings…

The fact is, in the industry no one has time for florid sketchbooks and reams of design sketches. Most designers don’t even bother with basic moodboards. Everything becomes functional. Even with my brand, I find that I simply design around what fabrics I can acquire: I rarely seek out inspiration and find materials that can be incorporated into that theme. Time is simply too precious.

I still occasionally find myself scribbling and sketching for the sake of it… Be it a beautiful garment in an exhibition or a particular pretty bit of nature. I almost wish that time could be slowed down occasionally to revisit the longer process of design…

Fellow designers: what is your creative process? Do you keep sketchbooks?

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