For my final project, I created this purple sweater. It has a mock neck and peasant sleeves, which were both things I had never sewn before.
Durign the process of making this sweater, I learned a lot about using certain seams, such as the benefit of a zigzag stitch over a straight stitch. I had a previous version fray entirely too much due to the nature of this fabric and using a straight stitch. I also learned about giving volume to sleeves by using a paper pattern, and the different tensions I would need when working with such a fabric (this is a lightweight flannel). If I were to work with this project again, I’d like to continue adding embellishments and possibly make the length of the sweater a little longer.
The project idea I decided to go with is a “Good Luck” sweater, building on my previous idea of making a sweater for myself. I plan to use delicate embroidery on the cuffs of the neck, waist, and sleeves to depict “pastoral” scenes made of different good luck symbols as a charm for myself. Bunnies represent my birth year in the chinese zodiac, and different symbols are mixed in. Narcissus and green-leaf clovers are symbols of good luck themselves, and groups of 3 or 8 are also symbols of “life” and “prosperity.” While the neck and waist cuffs are more pastoral scenes, the sleeves will depict a water scene with fish and lilies in groups of three and eight as well. The fish will be in colors such as bright orange and gold, another symbol of prosperity and luck, while lilies and lilypads represent “enlightenment” and “birth.” I hope that this sweater will be a source of comfort and joy when I wear it, and the silhouette choice and embroidery details arebased on that idea.
For my digital repeat pattern, I ended up with these two bright colorways.
Although I had more neutral tones in some of my iterations, I decided that bright colors would be the best way to match some of the excitement in the pattern, with its wavy lines and splashes and floating fruit.
This pattern was created out of objects in my environment, and curated to make a sort of “teatime” pattern, with drinks and snacks. I also imagined how it might look like in use, on an an armchair.
For the digital repeat pattern assignment, I chose to go with theme 3, of my environment. I sketched out some objects that were on my desk. While sketching, I started to notice a theme, so I ended up keeping some of the objects, such as earrings and a hairtie out of my pattern. I ended up doing two color variations- one a more neutral colored, and one being an almost complementary blue and yellow theme.
Some things I had the most trouble with were adding color to my sketches. I had some trouble selecting in between spaces, which influenced me to create a colored linework pattern instead. In addition, by using linework, I feel that the pattern develops two different scales from being viewed from further away or from a closer distance. A big challenge was definitely coloring certain areas and not others. This may be easier if I started out with a sketch with entirely closed lines, but I really wanted to keep the lightness of the sketch by using broken lines. Moving forward, I might want to add more objects to my pattern, in order to fill up some of the emptier spaces.
For my patterned cloth from the past, I chose Sarah Lipska’s textile design. This sample is a piece of embroidered cloth by the Polish artist, originating from 1927.
I was interested in this design mainly because of the interest created by the repeating pattern of lines. The choice of color also allows the pattern to pop. While the pattern is just something as simple and continous lines, there is depth created by turning them in right angles. When we look closer, we can notice that there is an intention in whether the threads cross over, go under, or intertwine with the other threads.
“Featherlight” is the pattern I chose for my contemporary pattern reference. It has a similar color scheme to the previous pattern, but the blue is even more striking due to the sheen of the materials used.
I was especially interested by this pattern because of how it doesn’t even seem like a repeating pattern. The pattern has a sense of figure-ground, and the way that they overlap each other also create a sense of depth with the black background. When looking at the pattern up close, it can easily be seen that they are feathers. However, when looking from further away, the pattern becomes more of a pattern of colors and makes it harder to distinguish what the objects are.
For my encoded cloth, I was inspired by the idea of freedom quilts on the Underground Railroad, and the idea of hiding a secret in plain sight. I chose to use embroidery for this project, and traditional motifs of flowers and greenery that are normally associated with women. My vision of 2030 was pessimistic, and I was frightened by the idea of womens bodily autonomy being even more limited in the future. This handkerchief / neck scarf that I “brought back from the future” is part of a movement by women in their local communities to help spread information and news to women who may need help.
At first glance, the handkerchief is quite plain. I was inspired by the idea of whitework to create it this way. The white threads are actually a map of my neighborhood, with the chain stitches being avenues and the straight stitches being streets.
The lavender flowers symbolize healing, meaning that this handkerchief shows information related to medical help and doctors. The little red flower in one of the corners is a nod to the red arrow on a compass that traditionally points north. It is part of a code meant to help other people part of this community understand the map. Red points east, so the map would be quite hard to understand without prior knowledge.
In addition, there are red beads attached to the underside of the handkerchief. They will be concealed with a second thin layer of fabric and hemmed with an iron-on adhesive. When the handkerchief is dry, all you can see is the white textured lines and the traditional flower motifs. When wet, however, the red beads show through and show relevant locations for women who are looking for help.
This concept, while controversial, was mainly based off of my support for women’s pro-choice and the fear that accessibility would be greatly limited in the future.
In 2030, people will be experiencing the destructive effects of climate change. Forest fires will burn hotter and for longer, and certain places in the world will become uninhabitable due to drought. Natural disasters will be an increasingly common occurance, with tropical storms becoming ever more powerful and sea levels rising at a level where infrastructure cannot keep up. The ocean has acidified from all the pollutants released into it. Fresh water and air will become an even more valuable resource for the general population, while corporations take the bulk of resources for themselves.
Technology is improving, but not at a rate where it is fast enough to keep up with the demands of the population or to reverse the devastating effects of climate change. Wealth inequality has not stopped growing since the 2020s and the idea of the government is a thin veil for the megacorporations actually doing the controlling.
Humans may have moved to living in places they don’t normally live to try and escape natural disasters and flooding. Coastal cities are largely in danger, with seawalls fighting back to hold on against seasonal hurricanes. An encoded cloth might show the conditions and how people are “fighting back” in 2030. It would be like a secret manifesto to organize people in 2030 who still believe in fighting for the future.
Dragon robes during the Qing Dynasty were used to denote a person’s ranking at court. There were strict edicts dictating how court officials had to dress. These garments ranged in various colors, with bright yellow only being allowed to be worn by the emperor, empress dowager, empress, and first-rank consorts. Golden yellow, orange-yellow, apricot yellow, greenish-yellow, and a brown/plum shade for worn by other nobles of varying ranks. Other colors, such as blue, were made for lower-ranking court nobles.
The robes shown above are from the Qing Dynasty, China’s last great ruling dynasty which lasted until the year of 1912. Although many of the robes we have today only date back to the 18th century, these garments have an extremely long history. Depictions of court officials in them were found as far back as the Tang Dynasty, from 618 to 907 AD. Throughout the years, the dragon robes have gained even further meaning. The pictures shown above express how the detail and opulence of these robes have developed from the Tang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, with greater amounts of handwork, trim, and precious items.
Color was not the only way to denote ranking on these garments. The Twelve Symbols of Sovreignty, dated all the way back to the Zhou Dynasty (1050-771B.C.), have long been used on clothing as a symbol of authority. These symbols include: sun, moon, constellation of three stars, mountain, dragon, pheasant, two goblets, seaweed, grain, fire, axe head, fu symbol. When put together, they express the ability of the emperor to lead the country justly with his dignity, virtuosity, and capability. This reason is the why only the emperor is allowed to have all twelve symbols on his robes. Other officials were allowed to use some symbols, but never near the full set of 12.
In addition, dragons were used extensively on this type of garment. Dragons with five claws called “long,” were exclusively for the emperor- while his sons were able to wear dragons with five claws called “mang.” His grandsons and nobles (down to the seventh rank of the court) would wear dragons with four claws, also called “mang.”
The people responsible for making these robes would be imperial court weavers. They typically reside within the palace walls, at a designated working pavillion/hall. Silk was used for two ceremonial robes per year, only for the emperor. The rest of the court robes would be made of satin and gauze. Chief dyers would be responsible for the bright colors of the court, and guarded their recipes fiercely for fear of theft. Some dragon robes were embroidered, while others were woven with the patterns. Pearls and thread made from precious metals were often additions to the robe. Texts from the Ming Dynasty mention dragon robes having to be made on looms up to fifteen feet high, with fabric being made so fine that the knots could not be felt or seen.
What is most special about the tradition of dragon robes is that they’ve survived the changing customs and history of so many of China’s dynasties. From the Tang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty alone is a span of 1294 years. Throughout those years, the form of the dragon robes, the way they’re made, and who is allowed to wear them has changed but the idea still remains greatly the same.
I chose to research this because while these robes are something I’ve seen a lot in old chinese historical pieces, I’ve never actually looked into their significance. I was always interested in the luxurious hanfu that the noble women of that time wore, while these robes faded into the backdrop for me. It’s interesting how a garment that took so many resources and so much time to produce could so easily fall into the background for me. I think it speaks a lot about the opulence and power of the ancient chinese dynasties.