Pattern Experimentation Week One:

by BOB

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I apologise for the extreme lack of posts on this blog but I feel like I’m finally back in the game.

I officially started my second year(!) at University just at the end of August/the beginning of September and my timetable (although it seemed like there are no classes) has been chock-a-block. I am taking this ‘reading week’ to post a step-by-step of the last SIX WEEKS of my PATTERN EXPERIMENTATION course that takes place on a Tuesday morning.  So, to give you a bit of an over view here is the brief written in the third person and technically in past tense because I’m describing my methodology behind the creation of the garment. This was asked for by the lecturers and will be assessed when presenting my garment.

The Brief:

‘The task set for the designer was to create a garment that hung from the shoulders, would be easy to get in and out of and to be created with only six triangles of an equilateral and right triangular angled shape.

Once the triangular shapes were decided upon and cut, the garment then had to be created directly on to a mannequin stand. The fabric given was a light weight calico in which only two and a half metres were to be used in the final garment and an extra half metre for fabric experimentation. The calico was to be manipulated in a way as to not look like its original state, this could be done through painting, dying, laser cutting, printing, embellishing etc. Restrictions were in place, the triangles could not be cut to change their form, as in no corners could be cut, however the designer could cut within the shape but making sure that the triangle kept its three sides. However the triangles could be manipulated to make different shapes though pleating, gathering, folding etc. The designer was given 5-6 weeks to create this garment and could use different fabrics to embellish and line the item of clothing with.’

When I first read the original lecturers brief I am not going to deny that I was overly excited, but also cacking myself. I couldn’t help but think ‘Six triangles?! That surely won’t be enough to make a garment!?’ and boy-oh was I wrong. I used the whole two and a half meters to make my six triangles and I had waaaay more than I expected. Here is my layout plan:


I measured the material then scaled it down into cm’s so I could figure out the best lay plan. I decided that THREE equilateral and right angle triangles would give me enough material to work with. Also it would give me enough uniformity to make my garment ‘symmetrical’.

Now, I live to work from the mannequin it’s how I’ve sort of worked since going to sewing classes at the age of 15/16. I mean, I worked with patterns BUT in the end I would always end up sticking my garment on a form to get an exact fit which would alter the style of the original pattern piece. I like properly fitted clothes. Ha, I think you could say I’m a tailor at heart…

As the brief stated we were only allowed to create the garment on the form, there was to be NO initial ideas, no drawings, no ‘Oh well, I think I’ll design this’. This whole garment was to be created from a spur of the moment ‘I like how this looks, let’s roll with it’ kind of idea. The thought of having so much creative freedom scared me because I was thinking ‘Ah! I haven’t done this for so long and my creativity is out of kilter. Fingers crossed my work isn’t monotonous’. I think what I created in the end was very interesting and quite sculptural.

BUT! I’m not here to talk about the end result! Over the next few days I shall be uploading the each stage of my creative process, so to begin with here is a picture of the material I was given:Image

You MIGHT have seen this when getting a ‘sling’ for your arm. Calico is a cotton material which hasn’t been chemically treated and can be very sensitive, if you wash it IT WILL SHRINK by 5%. Which might not seem like a lot but it’s enough to alter your garment completely, so dying should take place BEFORE you cut your pattern. However I didn’t use dye. I had HALF a METRE to experiment with the fabric:Image

These were a mixture of Gouache Paint, Burning, and Waxing.Image

I apologise for the terrible quality of this photograph. But here I was manipulating with the weave of the fabric, pulling, de-threading more burning and waxing. In the end I went down the Paint and Wax route:


(The wax comes a little later in the process).

In the end I enjoyed painting it far too much, it was basically a blank canvas. I used gouache paints on the original samples… unfortunately the paints are overly expensive and there is always never enough so being a typical student I had to settle with poster paint when ‘dying’ the final garment. However the poster paint added to the rigidity and that helped when creating a ‘structured’ look.

Now having chosen my preferred method of manipulating the fabric I got cracking on the mannequin.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next step!