Pattern cutting is traditionally written about, taught and treated as distinct from fashion design, with most pattern cutting created in response to a sketch or an idea expressed another way (McQuillan and Rissanen 2016). In this separation, pattern cutting is rarely seen as a creative activity that generates the idea, and whilst being acknowledged as a sophisticated skill, it is nevertheless considered subservient to design.
I propose that in order to integrate pattern cutting within the design process, one must be conscious of how it activates design. This project investigates the relationship between pattern cutting and culture to show how the tacit knowledge of a practitioner may interact more fully with fashion design practice and theory. Specifically, it explores how pattern cutting and its cultural ramifications, which are often part of a designer’s tacit knowledge, can be made apparent within the design narrative.
The origin of clothing begins with a rectangular piece of cloth. According to anthropologists, in all known human cultures, the ubiquitous nature of dress seems to point to the fact that dress or body adornment is one of the means in which bodies are made social and given meaning and identity (Entwistle, 2015).
Culture is so deeply embedded in pattern cutting that one of the basic patterns almost all fashion students are taught is the “kimono block” (Aldrich, 1996). In Soul of Things, I use the rectangle as the basis from which to explore the merging of traditional clothing forms with modern sensibilities, combining flat and form cutting techniques while also constructing spatial and temporal meanings in relation to body and identity.
This design approach engages the mind, body and material in a creative process that cannot be replicated simply by sketching, leading to an outcome in which the processes and techniques of pattern cutting achieve a presence, allowing it to be discussed and appreciated as a integral part of the design process.
Futurescan 4: Valuing Practice Exhibit
University of Bolton
23-24 January 2019
Photographs by Tony Radcliffe and Di Downs.