THE DESIGN STUDIO: Patterns
Once you have your beautiful sketches, it is time to transfer them to fabric to make your dream a reality.
This process requires the creation of a pattern, essentially a paper map to the cuts and seams of the final piece. It is helpful when sketching if you already have an idea of hour to sew and how garments are constructed, but it is absolutely not required. It is important that you understand what the final piece will look like.
Many designers hire out their final pattern making or have dedicated staff for it because it is a highly intricate and detailed process. It is important to ensure that all of the pieces of the garment are going to align in the appropriate places and that the seam allowances (literally what it sounds like, the allowance in the fabric for the seams that gives you some room to make mistakes) are large enough for the proposed size.
You can purchase patterns for clothes that you like to get an idea of what a pattern looks like and what all of the instructions are. I generally do not create my own patterns (it is a pain and requires a lot of patience and butcher paper) but I will use patterns I have created in the past or find patterns from stores that I like and modify them to suit my needs. Ultimately, there are only so many ways that a column dress is created so modifying an existing pattern is an easy way to go.
Patterns need to be graded for multiple sizes if you intend to use them to make garments for multiple people. If not, ignore this point. If you are, however, it is a rigorous process to grade a pattern for multiple sizes, especially if you are going to do straight or plus sizes (think 0 - 24, which I like to do because women are beautiful at every size and I will make clothing for any women) instead of small, medium, and large.
Eventually, these patterns are tacked over the top of fabric and secured with sewing pins or dressmakers pins (don't actually use dress makers pins. If you have thin paper for the pattern, the dressmakers pin will literally just rip through it. I used them for these photos so that my enormous yellow pins would not be obvious but it is not a good idea.) In these images, the patterns are attached to muslin for the next step: prototyping.
If you are designing clothes, having knowledge of pattern making is not essential, but is is a good idea when trying to relate what you want to a pattern maker or manufacturer (think if you are doing more large scale runs. Not if you are just making dresses for your friends).
We will do a separate post later on about actually sketching and drafting a pattern as well as grading for manufacturing but for now, this is a good introduction to the use and creation of patterns to get you started and follow along in the process of The Design Studio. If you have not yet noticed, we are making a cape for fall because that is about the time when I feel like these posts will get all the way to the completion of the garment.