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Behind the Scenes: Spring/Summer 2017

by Emily DeLong

13 March 2017

As we work on putting the finishing touches on our website in anticipation of our Spring/Summer 2017 collection release, I thought I'd share with you a bit of what's been going on behind the scenes. This is the first collection of mine so far in which I haven't run desperately behind schedule, and the extra time (and serenity) allowed me to focus even more on the little details. All the elements of SS17 are more unified this time, the fit is improved, and I managed to put roomy, functional, un-bulky pockets on every single piece (well, except for one top, but tops don't really need pockets, right?).

Below is a peek inside what the Margu studio has looked like during these past few months of sketching, sourcing, drafting, cutting, and sewing.

First, the infamous board. I pared down the number of styles in this collection (only eight!) and limited myself to a total of 22 pieces. Limiting myself like this helped me create a much more cohesive collection — rather than go crazy with design elements, each design element in the collection is intentional and is mirrored in different ways throughout the different styles.

The picture above is a look at my board and my notebook from the early days of planning out the collection. That 37" dress in the notebook never made it past an unfortunate-looking prototype (fortunately).

Pattern drafting, my favorite part! This is an early draft of the Sawyer Pants.

More patterns. I try to leave myself detailed notes on each pattern piece (as well as on each pattern card I make that goes along with the patterns) so I don't forget anything. I've noticed that if I don't remind myself of every little detail in writing (such as hem allowances, button placements, construction order), I will almost always forget when it's time to sew!

Then it was sample cutting time! I always enjoy the complex puzzle that is arranging pattern pieces on a piece of fabric to minimize waste. That puzzle becomes extra tricky when you're cutting on stripes and plaids (both of which are in our SS17 collection, of course).

After I cut out pattern pieces, I often have to transfer markings from the pattern pieces to the fabric for things like darts. The picture above is of the darts I transferred onto the Soleil Skirt with a piece of chalk.

I sew lots of things in batches, and the way I work is that I lump all the fabric for each garment-to-be into a pile as I work on them. As they become more and more complete, the garments-to-be move from piles onto hangers.

That's a picture of a semi-complete Picnic Dress (with a few more semi-complete garments behind it). That piece in the front with the Margu tag on it is a collar.

Bias tape, the unsung hero of my studio. I make all my bias tape by hand out of fabric scraps and use it in so many ways in each collection, from binding seams to necklines to armholes to hems.

I had to take a picture of these zippers because they are so pretty and yet they did not end up in the collection! Originally I was planning to make the pair of pants in our SS17 collection with a zipper closure, so I dutifully dyed some organic cotton zippers a beautiful shade of blue. But then my indecisive nature got the best of me, and I decided I instead wanted to go with a nautical-inspired button closure, and the beautiful zippers no longer had a purpose! I'm sure I'll use them for something at some point.

A lot of designing a collection is making decisions on hundreds of teeny-tiny details. Case in point: these buttons. I wasn't sure if I liked the bigger, yellower buttons or the smaller, whiter buttons with our Cream Stripe fabric better, and it was tough deciding. I finally went with the smaller, whiter ones.

Here are some garment-in-progress photos. I love how gnarly and frayed unfinished garments look before they're all neat and finished.

If you look closely in the above picture, you can see how I ripped out the pockets and re-positioned them a bit higher up on this sample of the Sawyer Pants. Getting the pocket placement just right on a pair of pants is harder than it seems!

Here I am doing some final pressing on a Thea Dress before it's complete. My iron and I spend a lot of quality time together in the studio when I'm sewing.

You can take a look at our SS17 collection here.

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