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by Portia Smith 3 months ago in designers

The Denim Story

Hello, my name is Portia Smith, and I am a traveling designer based out of Atlanta, Ga. In 2019 I was in Baltimore, MD, working out of an industrial space for makers called “Openworks”. During the time of this transition, I recently closed my design studio to do some research in the fashion industry and to further develop my brand. Custom pieces and upscaled vintage clothing were the only projects I was committed to, which allowed me to flourish in pattern and fabric manipulation. With the education I obtained from master tailors and seamstress throughout the indusrty I began to think about the fabric that I had left over from my studio. This brought me to an idea to begin a denim project, I wanted to make a crop top and a skirt out of some denim I had in storage in Atlanta. Immediately I got my mom on the phone and I asked her could she send me the denim. She sent me a package immediately. What I thought was the continuous few yards of denim, ended up being scrap fabric leftover from previous projects. My mother mistakenly sent me a whole bag of the scrap denim I had left over instead of the folded whole fabric. I was devastated for about two days; at the time I didn't have a car in the city of Baltimore because I conveniently created a short commute from my house to work so I would not have any other distractions and there was not a fabric store in a close radius of the city. So, I began to sit and think.

Believing in the quote " There is no Testimony without a Test" my inner creative kicked in and my mind started to wonder, literally I had a light bulb clicking moment. I surged each edge of the pieces of denim in multicolored thread. Thinking about brand image and knowing that my logo was transitional colors of the rainbow I felt like this small detail which eventually grew into a large detail would be a great fit. After I surged each individual side, I began to piece the fabric scraps together like a puzzle. Piece by piece laying each scrap as close to perfect I could get so the majority of the fabric was used. Quite naturally some pieces overlapped each other where others were a perfect fit. Being that it all been completely cut up I laid them right on top of the matching edges. I then began to pin them down in sucha a way so the fabric would stay in place. After the pinning they were sewn down to create what ended up being approximately three yards of patchwork denim fabric. This process had to be done in a quarter yard and a half of a yard increments so the pins could stay secure during the transition from the cutting table to the sewing machine. The security of the position of each piece was very important.

Once the fabric was finished, I had to create a flat pattern from my personal measurements I took for the skirt. I already had a previous pattern I was using for the top. Once the pattern was drawn out and scaled on paper, I cut it out and applied it to the patchwork denim. I then pinned the pattern to what was now a complete piece and cut it out so I could begin to make the garment. It took maybe a month from start to finish to complete this entire process; I was very pleased. Have completed many projects in the past, this one was a different type of satisfaction. To watch my vision grow from literally scaps, then fabric, to a complete garment showed me how my growth in the industry had progressively transitioned.

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Portia Smith

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