Pattern Puzzle: pick one

Annie Jackson posted a link to designer Geneviève Sevin-Doering. She leaves me speechless in two ways. First, I don’t speak French (help?) and second is her work. Here’s just two samples of her patterns lain flat, you won’t be able to pick just one.


The red on the left is rather obvious -or maybe not. The one on the right is another story entirely. Any guesses as to what these (or any others on her site) look like on the body? Normally I’d think these would keep you busy well into next week but you surprise me all the time. It would be wonderful if someone could provide some back story, I’d love to know more about this designer.

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  1. ken simmons says:

    These are facinating pattern pieces but I wish I could find a picture of them on a body on the designers website. I hope some surface.

  2. Brina says:

    I did some searching. I don’t think what these flat pieces make up into 3-D is obvious. Although I don’t read French I was able to parse enough, plus find a few sentences in English, to learn that Geneviève Sevin-Doering is a theatrical costumer who has worked since the 1940s or 1950s. She may have done some designs herself, but often made up the designs of others. There are a number of folks she mentored or just inspired that are making one piece garments. I also found some images of some of the designs made up. The garment names on her site should help folks figure out if the piece is a dress or coat or such.
    At this point I don’t want to be a spoiler–plus I may try my hand at the blue piece–but will happily divulge my sources when the puzzle is solved, or not, as it were.

  3. April says:

    This is a quick translation of some of the more relevant parts of her “Origine” page.

    Geneviève Sevin-Doering enrolled at l’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne at the age of 16. She later worked in couture ateliers in Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland. in 1948 Geneviève Sevin-Doering met Nadine Cassandre, Première d’atelier/Director of production at the couture house Lucien Lelong, who introduced her to the world of the stage and of Haute-Couture, and she became her student. Her husband and collaborator, Reinhard Ubbelohde-Doering, is “a theater color specialist?” Each of their pieces, of which there have been many, is a pretext to resolve the specific problems linked to theatrical costume design by technical innovations that revolutionize the ways of seeing and doing. In 1967-1968, Geneviève Sevin-Doering went even further and completely split with the classical approach to clothing which, according to her, restricted the actor’s need for liberty of movement and the imperatives of “scene changes?” Thus began her long development of the system of cutting in one piece. She honed the concept over the course of several years and applied the new concept with success to ‘town clothes’ and contemporary dance.
    In 1978 she left Paris and moved to Marseille, where she work with numerous companies and private clients. She also teaches to a tight circle of students and young professionals.

    I can translate the genesis of a concept, new concept, and applications sections tomorrow if anyone is interested- or you can just use an online translator.

  4. Susan says:

    I’m going to take a stab at what they are before reading the post. The red I think is a top or short dress with a circle skirt. The Blue is a princess bodice w/some sort of peplum-I’ll have to study more. Now I can read what you all thought.

  5. Britannica says:

    I think the red one is the most obvious, so I’ll tackle it first. The hole in the middle is the neckline, and the split up of that is the center back. The hooked vertical sides form princess seams in the front, and the insides of those curves form the armholes. The left curved area is the left part of the skirt, and it extends to the center back. The right curved area is the right part of the skirt, and it ties around in the back as this is a wrap dress. Also, we know that it is a wrap dress because the back opening does not continue into the skirt part.

    I hope that makes sense.

    The second one I think is a woman’s coat or possibly an overdress.
    The vertical inside curves at the bottom remind me of sixteenth century clothing because there were no darts, so the center front had to have curves. The diagonal slits look like shoulder seams to me, the inside cut-out semi-circles like a neckline, the vertical slit like the center back, and the two large semi-circular areas like they curve around to the front to form a sort of skirt. The rectangular areas on the sides could be part of some sleeve thing, side back pieces, or perhaps some sort of overlay in the back. I think I would need to make a physical form of the pattern to figure out how it fits together though.

  6. Brina says:

    I rethought my holding out on more information–so here’s some of what I found:

    Travaux des 2BAMA3 autour des modèles de Geneviève Sevin-Doering. A project taking the one piece garments and using computer imaging on them. There are a number of flat then 3-D illustrations.

    Emm magazine, issue 10–on page 47 there’s a story on Sevin-Doering with photos of a dancer in one of the garments. In French.

    The business Corpus Thalis of a former student/mentee who makes one piece garments/stage clothes with a partner. They talk about their design process. In English

    Another mentee, Fred Sathal–one garment image. In English

    le-retour-d-ulysse: A blog on sewing/cutting projects with images, many which are take offs on the one piece garments of Geneviève Sevin-Doering. In French

    A clip from documentary on Sevin-Doering called “Dans l’armoire du monde”. There’s a image at the top of the page showing the flat cuts and the garment–part of an exhibit. In French

    on the video production company site Groupe Copsi shows the doc under production. in French

    There are some other sites I found interesting and did not list. Hope this is helpful to getting at how these flats translate into 3-D.

  7. Brina says:

    April said:
    Her husband and collaborator, Reinhard Ubbelohde-Doering, is “a theater color specialist?”

    He was a theatrical dyer, doing the dying/coloring of the fabric/garments.

  8. AJ says:

    I can’t help but notice none of the F-I whiz kids have posted their sketches :P

    Note: I have never posted a sketch so I can rightfully make fun of you because I already know I can’t do it ;)

  9. Britannica says:

    Yay! I figured out the second one! It is so cool- the designer is pure genius! I printed out the pattern shape and played around with it for hours. It’s like a jumpsuit with an overskirt and ties in the front. The tape can’t hold mine together much longer (it was falling apart as I assembled it), so I’ll have to draw a picture.

  10. Brina says:

    Agreed, Britannica, although I didn’t get the ties in the back for the blue. Here’s my sketch and a photo of the flat cut with notes. I also made a small muslin and fooled around with it. Also my taped together mess would not stay together either. From the start though I thought there were pant legs–I saw the crotch–I just wasn’t sure how they were configured. If you look at other Sevin-Doering designs you’ll see she likes to leave pieces of skin exposed. That’s where I figured the sleeve happened. Also in the documentary I mentioned above shows Sevin-Doering looking at illustrations from Max Tilke’s Oriental Costume (
    anyway here’s my take:

  11. Britannica says:

    That’s interesting. I interpreted the slit as being a back dart, and the rectangular pieces as some sort of tie. Perhaps the pattern got a bit distorted when I printed it out, but I didn’t have enough length in the skirt to wrap it all around, though perhaps that’s due to my back darts. Because yours meets in the back, I think you’re right.

  12. Brina says:


    I assume there would be either seam allowances or the pieces sewn together some way.

    I’ve obsessed about this so that while I was in the shower I thought that the little heart shaped place at the front center waist might be darts to bring the overskirt to the front a little. Otherwise the overskirt pulls mainly to the back. Also it’s a place that the front waist of the pants can attach to the front bodice. I will probably change my drawing to reflect this.

    I tried to visualize the back darts and how that would work.

    I think one of the things that makes this kind of puzzle so challenging is that it’s hard to figure out scale. I thought about that a lot while I was studying the drawing. Then I thought well the red robe is pretty straight forward so I will just assume that the rest of the garments are to a similar scale and work from that for the blue. That seemed to be a good assumption since the mock-up ended up about the same size.

    Anyway I love this kind of thing. Probably spend much more time that I should have.

  13. Britannica says:

    I love this sort of thing too- mind-bending, hands-on, three dimensional puzzles, are you kidding me? :D
    It’s never a waste of time, especially when learning is involved (for me at least, but then, I’m on break).

    If you look closely at the keyhole at the front, you’ll notice how if it were to be sewn closed, the very front part of the skirt would have to be gathered; however, due to the shape, wouldn’t the skirt part be pushed even further back or cause odd buckling at the waist?

    Scale was definitely my difficultly as well- I had no clue of the scale so I was really surprised at how small it turned out to be.

  14. Brina says:

    Britannica said
    If you look closely at the keyhole at the front, you’ll notice how if it were to be sewn closed, the very front part of the skirt would have to be gathered; however, due to the shape, wouldn’t the skirt part be pushed even further back or cause odd buckling at the waist?

    Well, I think the extra could be eased in. On my muslin, admittedly very small, it pulls the center front of the over skirt forward. The longer bottom edges of the key hole are on the true bias or very close to it (as are the sleeves and back) so I think it should ease in nicely. The front of the pants needs something to anchor to and the top of the key hole is not long enough. Another thing–this was made to measure so the person who wore it could have had a little tummy or something that would make it work.

  15. Britannica says:

    I was wondering about that- the tummy I mean. It seemed to me that the front part was pushed forward. Definitely not a woman’s garment methinks. I think that’s where I was going wrong- assuming that it was for a woman.

  16. Brina says:

    Hum, I don’t see that the front is pushed forward–what part do you mean?
    The pants have a weird shape flat–but I think the bumps are to accommodate a backside and kind of a built in gusset in the crotch–even though the bump shaping is in the side seam. is that what you mean? I don’t know that that is particularly for a male in that you’d need that kind of shaping for a pant to allow movement–especially dance movement.
    I have a pants draft from a 1970’s magazine that looks similar to this. I think that’s why I recognized the crotch right away.

  17. Britannica says:

    Well, there’s no room for a bust, so I am doubting it’s for a woman. The shape (at least in paper) is not quite straight, although I suppose this is because the front waist of the pants aren’t attached to anything.
    I wonder if this was for an acrobat for someone who would have to bend backwards at the waist?
    Oh, and when I say tummy, I don’t mean extra that is all beneath the waist (which would affect the curve of the front crotch). It seems more like overall posture that is over-erect and pompous if you know what I mean.
    Or maybe it’s just my paper.

  18. Brina says:

    You are so right–I got a pretty erect posture muslin as well–not sure about the pompous, ;-). The flat cut is for a dance costume for a ballet called Torana 7, choreographed by someone named Yette Resal. Some female dancers don’t have much of a bust so it could work for either male or female–that part I don’t know. I used to do costumes professionally including the cat suits for CATS, (really) that were cut in one piece except the sleeves. I think that’s why I was able to work the flat out–I’m used to seeing the shape of dance costumes or garments made for a lot of movement with a minimum of pieces, which sometimes means weird shapes where, how do I say this, the pattern is distorted in order to accommodate the cut.

    I’m going to work out some of the other flats because I am obsessed and it’s better than jigsaw puzzles. I’ll post the solutions on my Flickr stream. I’m looking at Orphee and Romeo now. And I’m thinking that the dying on Orphee will help me solve the puzzle.

    Glad to help

  19. ClaireOKC says:

    Kathleen, I think these are my favorite posts….the pattern puzzles….and I’m dying to get to them – why do you have to put them up when I’m so busy with my clients/students?!!!! Why do I need to sleep at night!!! This is like offering wine to the alchie!!!! Keep ’em coming!

  20. sandra says:

    I saw this and remind me of this guy: The principles of Julian Roberts system of Subtraction Cutting. It is the same technique?

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