Michelle Tonta is a printed textile designer expecting to graduate from Winchester School of Art in June 2014. She has previously interned at Zandra Rhodes, Jane Carr and Mirjam Rouden and takes inspiration from designers such as Peter Pilotto and Hermione de Paula. We have loved printing Michelle’s lively, vibrant designs! Another talent sure to do well as a textile designer. All pictures are copyright of Michelle Tonta.
“My love of both detailed and loose hand-drawings and paintings informs much of my work. I then translate these drawings into designs using digital manipulation whilst also trying to retain the painterly feel of my hand-rendered imagery. I also juxtapose these drawings with photographic elements by hand and CAD, experimenting with different composition ideas to get the best effect.”
“Colour and pattern play a huge part within my designs and these emanate through my work. My design process results in vibrant and eye-catching prints for both fashion and interiors and I aspire to keep producing such dynamic and captivating prints.”
I love digital fabric printing. It is so quick! You can have however many colours you want! You can make your design as complex as you want! You can print your sewing shapes along with your decorative pattern! It’s genius. And I have had a lot of fun today designing a top, printing it, and sewing it together, in a matter of hours. This is what I did:
I did a search on google for images for a simple top. I just wanted a basic outline that I could fill in with my own pattern design. I found a very basic, simple, image, and I cut and pasted it into Photoshop.
I cleaned up the image a bit. This included copying the half a front and half a back so that I had a whole front and a whole back – I will be printing the entire piece, not cutting out on a fold as this pattern intended.
I looked at what was the widest point of the outline, and measured my own width at that point. Then I scaled up the image so that it was a couple of centimetres bigger at the widest part than I myself measure at that point: a couple of centimetres for the seam allowance.
Next I made a pattern design. I wanted to do a design that started to use the particular capabilities of digital printing, which I think I achieved to some degree. Designing the pattern took a LONG time, even though I based it on the “Nesting Girls” motif that I have worked on before.
Next, using the Photoshop paint bucket, I filled the inner of my sewing pattern shapes with my new pattern design.
Actually, then I did some more fiddling with the design, to add bits that weren’t just repeated all over, because you can do that with digital printing. I added flames at the neckline and a fur print around the bottom.
I printed the fabric. I needed 70cm of 110cm wide fabric for my design; I used cotton sheeting because it was new and I wanted to try it out.
I cut out the pattern shapes.
I sewed the darts for the bust and the darts for the back.
I pinned the two pieces together and tried it on. The neck was WAY too small, so I had a lot of fun snipping away at it until it was right.
I traced the neckline onto a spare piece of fabric and cut out that shape. I pinned the right side of that onto the right side of the neckline, and sewed them together around the edge. I turned the fabric the right side out again, pressed the neckline, and top stitched around the edge. I thought of the Great British Sewing Bee very much as I did that bit!
I sewed the back neck with a rolled hem, using the machine rolled hem foot.
I pinned the two pieces together and sewed the side seams and the shoulder seams.
With the rolled hem foot I sewed a rolled hem around the armholes.
With the rolled hem foot I sewed a rolled hem around the bottom edge of the top.
I pressed the bottom edge of the top in, and then top stitched from the right side, all around the bottom edge.
That’s it! It WAS sort of easy, and I am now looking forward to taking on more digitally printed sewing projects which specifically use the awesome capabilities of digital fabric printing!
Please excuse the poor quality of our photographs here! Of course, no flash is allowed within the museum, where some of the displays are additionally in rooms with very diminished light.
We enjoyed a trip to the Fashion and Textile museum in Bermondsey last week, the first time we have made it there. What a great area! If you go there we can highly recommend Borough Market, where you will find no end of sumptuous, wholesome, foody treats, and a really cool convservatory area, planted with olive trees and furnished with slatted wooden seating pods, where you can go and eat them.
Made in Mexico Exhibition
The Made in Mexico exhibition focuses on the rebozo, a woven scarf with a particular significance within Mexican culture, which is often given as a special gift, or handed down through generations. Very versatile, and ubiquitous – it is worn as part of the wedding outfit, as well as being employed for many other uses including swaddling babies.
The rebozo was traditionally woven by women using back strap looms, which remains the predominent method of construction. The ends are left to create a fringe, which is hand knotted by specialist artisans – empuntadoras. However, the time consuming process of weaving rebozos is practised less often these days, and wearing of the rebozo is diminishing as a result.
Mexican Fashion Design
In a separate workshop students were busy learning how to construct clothing without using patterns, rebozo style?
Megan’s soothing colour schemes compliment wonderfully the natural world she is inspired by. I really enjoyed seeing how her work transforms from watercolour to fabric. Thanks for writing this interesting article for us Megan, and good luck with your future as a Textile Designer, we are sure you will go far!
Megan McCutcheon – BA Graduate in Textiles for Fashion & Interiors
All pictures and text in this article are the copyright of Megan McCutcheon
My name is Megan McCutcheon and I am an emerging creative designer and recent BA (hons) graduate in Textiles for Fashion & Interiors. I have a huge passion for all aspects of textile design, from tactile creations to digital design, and enjoy every moment of the creative process.
I have spent the past 8 years studying Textiles from GCSE level to undergraduate. My time spent at Cardiff Metropolitan University has been incredibly important in the development of me as a designer, and I have been fortunate enough to explore a multitude of textile techniques such as digital and hand print, stitch, embroidery, laser cutting, and digital design.
The natural world is a continuous inspiration to my work; being a lover of the outdoors and living in the Welsh countryside for my entire life has enabled me to access beautiful surroundings. My most recent collection which featured in my degree show takes inspiration from the stunning patterns and shapes revealed in aerial landscape photography. My designs focus on the contour lines of the land and intricate patterns of vegetation and rock formations.
I have an immense passion for colour which plays a very important role in my work, particularly in my current collection. It is a longstanding belief amongst psychologists that colour, in an interior environment, can effect ones mood. My dissertation investigated these theories, with fascinating results.
Findings suggest blue and green can evoke feelings of calm and tranquility, whilst orange helps to create energy and excitement. With this in mind, I have designed two collections: ‘Tranquil’ and ‘Energise’. Introducing soft blues and muted greens, ‘Tranquil’ aims to help create a calm, cool, fresh and relaxing environment, whereas ‘Energise’ aims to create an uplifting, invigorating and vibrant environment.
I envisage my designs to be used for interior products such as sofas, cushions, and curtains, but their versatility means they can also be applied to stationery or fashion accessories.
Previous projects include a ‘Pond Life’ themed greetings card collection, which was part of a University module working alongside gift packaging and stationary specialists International Greetings.
Plans For The Future
Now that I have finished University I will focus on developing new and exciting designs for fabric (printed by Liberty Press, of course!) to be made into products to sell. I have already set up a small business based on Facebook which I also intend to expand! More information and images of my work can be found on my website.