Archive for April 9th, 2014

Before I even set pencil to paper to sketch out stitch patterns I had many concerns about my latest design project. The item goes by many names, baby sleep sack, baby cocoon, baby bunting and the designs are as boundless as the names. It’s not a piece I would choose to design, nonetheless the work of designing it fell into my lap and I need to complete it.

While the item goes by many names my research revealed it easily fell into three categories.

First up: Uncomfortable. But then I’m not a newborn. And, where’s the diaper? Frankly, I wouldn’t leave a baby without a diaper any longer than it took me to change it.

Next up: How did you stuff the baby in there? And, where is the diaper?

Etsy Accents and Art

Etsy Accents and Art

The final category: Why would you do this to anyone?

At that point in my research I would have walked away from the project if it had been only my idea. But I didn’t have that choice. I am designing it for a company. I think it speaks to my resilience in the face of 21st century madness that although the research took me almost a week of looking at pictures like those above, my migraine didn’t start until the fourth day.

After 24 hours in a dark, quiet room with a cool cloth on my forehead I went back to researching. I had gotten beyond the questions that had battered my cranium up to then: Why and who are using these items? How are they using them? How do they get the baby inside them? Are they stuffing the child through the hood opening? Babies don’t like things going over their heads. Does anyone use diapers? Are there any out there designed to be used with diapers? What is art and what is child abuse?

So my inspiration for the sleep sack I am designing started out with written pages of what I would not include, examples of what I didn’t want it to look like, and examples of how I did not want it to fit. I had a ton of don’t bees and no do bees, which for me was a strange way of beginning a design. Usually the sky is the limit, everything is possible and I scale it down to the elements I really like.

When a project is in a negative explanation loop whereby I speak about the project in terms of what it is not or will not be like I am in trouble. I have to intentionally move my talk to what it is to be and what it will be like and how it’s use neatly fits the design like an egg and an egg shell. To do that I research the history of the item through the ages. How past items were constructed, what fibers, hides, cloth, etc were used. I document main use and other uses especially when it crosses cultures. If the item changes with time I track down how and why it changed.

Often I find initial design inspiration in the historical background of an item. That’s what happened here with the baby sack. More on it’s history and how I’ve grown to enjoy the making of my own baby sleep sack in my next post.

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