I begin with either the fabric or the silhouette. If it is the fabric that has captured my imagination, I drape it over my mannequin to see how it hangs--lengthwise grain first, but also cross-grain and bias. Often, I design to fill a void in my outerwear offerings. If this is the case, I start with the silhouette and choose a fabric that can carry out the function I've set out to achieve with the garment. When the proportions are right, I grade the pattern and experiment with fabrics.
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