Students develop the skill to engineer (design, plan and construct) patterns for exclusive Couture or mass produced (ready to wear) garments to appropriate standards.Students begin by learning the basics of measuring and to apply this to a basic block pattern which is then manipulated into any garment style, fabric type, figure shape, size, gender and age
Students learn to compile and follow pattern specifications.
Grading (sizing) of patterns forms an integral part of this subject.
Taking a pattern from a completed garment and combining existing patterns also forms part of intensive pattern classes.
Pattern Theory Includes the language and set rules of patternmaking in an academic format, as opposed to the practical application. It includes all the standardizations of measurements used to draft patterns. (For example: standard widths of collars and buttonstands). This theory also aids in quality management.
Although Marlene, as inventor of the X!act Design Patternmaker™, believes that this is an excellent tool for furthering skills in pattern making, she is still of the believe that students should be taught to think and solve problems without falling back on solutions handed out by lecturers.
Says Marlene, “A pattern is a solution to a problem, and problem solving (not only relating to patterns) is an underdeveloped skill in South-Africa”. Her concern is that some of the institutes are ‘skipping over’ the crucial elements of pattern making.
“With our recent market research, whereby we focused on tertiary training institutes to include the X!act Design Patternmaker™ in their syllabi, we found that so many colleges have excluded the drafting of basic block patterns from their syllabi. This came as a very huge shock, and I’ve discovered that learners who have qualified from these institutes are themselves frustrated as to realise that they do not know how to draft the most crucial part of a pattern. ”Pattern making requires a technical approach rather than a creative one. I say this because, in clothing design, our object of study is actually the human figure: To dress the figure. This is the technical aspect, as we’re working with a figure that is a 3D form, but the pattern is a flat form. Our aim is to dress the figure, firstly to cover it (the technical aspect), then to dress it in order to beatify it (the creative aspect).
With drafting basic block patterns, we create a replica of the figure, taking into consideration the shapes and forms of the figure. To develop this technical aptitude students have to analyse and study various figure types and proportions to really understand standardised sizing and the distribution of size. Ultimately, if at the stage of basic block drafting, they develop the skill of size analysis, the tuition of grading (sizing) of patterns becomes easier. When we omit the basic block from training, we are not developing the technical process. A pattern is a solution to a problem, and with no technical ability or frame of mind, the student cannot solve the first and most crucial problem, which is the fit. The next problem is to ensure the style of the pattern result in a garment that is made according to the original design. Adding the style lines and flair to the patterns is the creative part, which is the easy part.
Marlene has also found that lecturers supply students with complete templates of basic block patterns, already drafted to a standardised size. “From these templates, students add the style details, learning and practicing thousands of style combinations. The problem is that again, they’re not relating to the figure, only to the style of the garment. Institutes that do however instruct students on drafting the basic block pattern, do so by letting student draft block patterns according to their own measurements. The style patterns are then practiced using these blocks. The student then only develops the fitting criteria based on his/her own figure. By the time they qualify, they’ve only learned to solve fitting problems for their own figure type”.
Whenever Marlene raised this issue, she gets the same response, that basic blocks are not used in the industry. “Indeed”, she says, but notes that industry is not only made up of the large manufactures. “Any person who makes and sell a garment for profitable gain, forms part of our industry. Not all design students end up working in factories, many of them become self-employed and their pattern making (fitting) abilities are crucial to their professional reputation. Should a student not have learned to develop patterns, constantly keeping fit, form and function as focus, they would not be able to develop successful style patterns with a perfect fit. This affects sales figures, because the costumer is firstly attracted to a garment due to its style, but if the garment does not fit, the sale is lost. This applies to mass produced and exclusive garments “.