Sewing large print fabrics? Why Marni’s Consuelo is so clever…

I’m a huge Marni fan.  It wasn’t always that way though.  Before we were able to see the close-up photos, I liked Marni’s clothes from a distance but failed to fully appreciate her cutting genius.  Now that I’m able to enlarge screens and peer at the detail, her cutting is a revelation, and she’s had a huge influence on how I think about projects and my own approach to cutting.


What is her approach? 

I was reflecting on Marni’s particular cutting genius when I was posting the big autumn flowers silk, a few posts under this one, and how perfect her approach would be with this fabric.

Well, Consuelo keeps fairly simple silhouettes, but she manages to introduce interesting and unusual seams in such unlikely ways that even the most basic garments are elevated from the mundane to the high-fashion.  The hobby sewer equivalent is to take a big 4 basic pattern to a completely unique bespoke creation with just a few deft and confident seam and cutting lines.

The dress above left – let your eye follow the fabric grain-line and you will pick up that the skirt has 3 different horizontal panels from the midriff seam.  The middle top – ignore the side seams, a half-circle arcs from the centre back to the front side seams.  The top on the right – an upside down “U” shape has been cut at the bottom hem, and there are other unusual seams that can’t be picked up all that well in the image. (Photo credits Matches and Far Fetch).

And this is why Marni cuts big scale prints so well.  You never feel as though you’re looking at just one big expanse of fabric, like a big chintz sofa, or a tablecloth.  And while you have (deceptively) simple garments, you wont be making a garment with 3 main pieces and standard seaming, so simple it is a look that can go wrong.  The way Consuelo cuts into things, the big scale prints are chopped up in totally unique ways to create these rather unique, bespoke touches.  No-one does big prints better.

This technique also works brilliantly with graphics, like tumbling blocks, checks etc.  Consuelo will cut unusual seam lines, and she will often also cut off-grain, to deliberately skew the graphic.  After spending so much of my sewing life being completely retentive about achieving an exact grain when cutting, it is completely liberating to learn about such an approach.

In this image below, the same cut is applied to single colour and print dresses.  The red dress shows the seams quite well.  It is because of all these unique cutting lines that the large-scale green print version works just perfectly.


Image credit: Net-A-Porter, Far Fetch, Matches

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