I read another interesting post today on fashion-incubator about getting patterns digitised (Kathleen covers all the good topics). It was about all the things you need to think about when getting your paper patterns ready for digitising … and it got me thinking too … why would anyone in industry still be working on paper? OK there are going to be those who are forced to use paper by old fashioned work places, those who can’t afford all the high end fashion software and of course those who are technophobes … and a whole host of other reasons … but surely these should be such a tiny minority by now. Being a pattern maker, I know they’re not … and that kind of frightened me a little.
Then I realised how narrow minded I was being. I’m a flat pattern maker. I can make almost any 3D shape in a very short period of time and have it fit pretty much perfectly first time. But I’ve spent 20 years getting to that point. I also work mostly with stretch-fit and close-fit styles. By flat pattern I mean I was taught how to take measurements and convert those into a pattern (via sloper/block) directly on paper. While many school’s still teach this (I certainly do), I’m seeing more and more people draping directly on to a dress makers dummy as their primary method for making patterns … and of course you can’t drape in a computer (or can you? <wink wink>). I wonder how this predominance of draping affects future students … especially considering the constant and increasing trend toward stretch fabrics.
There will always be a need to drape because designers are fluid, tactile people who need to physically see the creation emerging before them. I understand this although having dedicated myself to swimwear I’ve been denied that joy … instead I need to complete the garment, put it on the model and go back to the drawing board if it needs tweaking or fails. Is this evidence that draping is a better technique? Not at all … a far greater proportion of perfectly draped garments fail when put on a moving body.
It’s almost impossible to drape for close fit stretch garments but I have known it to be done. One lady I know does it regularly (she makes dancewear). She drapes her client in calico and goes about pinning every little tuck and curve, then draws, in pen, the darts she’s pinned and things like leg lines, neck lines, etc., while the drape is still on the body. She actually has a pre-prepared (is that such a word) set of calico templates that she uses in a number of sizes. When she’s finished she applies a preset amount of reduction in various places to make the pattern flat and lastly transfers her final pattern to computer (not to paper, go figure). As perculiar as this first sounded to me, she gets some amazing results.
The obvious problem with this is that it’s a dress-maker only technique … I’d be uncomfortable with pinning every nook and cranny on a live customer. I still don’t understand why she doesn’t have a set of standard garments to test on each client and tweak from there … but to each their own.
As far as ready-to-wear fashion is concerned, unless you have a nice standard-sized muse then you’re still stuck for a starting point. Stretch wear has been a continuous trial and error type evolution for most companies because (to be frank) they have no idea of the science behind stretch. And how many dress maker’s dummies have legs and a properly shaped bottom (is there such a thing?).
Hmm ok somewhere in there I started ranting again. The questions are:
why aren’t people designing their patterns directly in the computer? … I’d love to know peoples’ reasons
has anyone tried to drape for stretch wear and if so, how did you go about it?
does anyone mourn the gradual loss of flat patternmaking? … is it a dying art?
I often talk about the great advantages of pattern making in CAD and I doubt anyone is disputing the need for a final digital pattern in commercial manufacture. I’d love to see more students (and home sewists) trying to use CAD as the start point rather than the end point and avoid the whole digitising process by a third party wherever possible. With so many cheap CAD programs on the market (Inkscape is free!) that will export to DXF you really have no excuse anymore … if you can draw it on paper you can just as easily draw it in CAD … it just takes a shift in mind set.
I know I mentioned my experiment in alternative fashion in my previous post, but I’d like to mention it again as it’s becoming obvious there’s going to be a reasonable amount of overlap between this blog and that one. Itty Bitty Evil Kitty is the whole creative design process which (because I’m a pattern maker) includes all the considerations of developing something from scratch right through to, hopefully, manufacturing … this site instead only deals with stretch fit pattern making (and my occasional ranting and fashion observations). Please keep an eye on my experiment and offer feedback as often as possible … especially students!