• The Disruptive Designer

3D & 4D Draping

My research is unique in that it explores and challenges the interrelationship between 2D flat pattern cutting and 3D/4D draping and their positioning within the design process. My approach to garment design differs in that it begins with the creation of a 3D or 4D seemingly random forms overlaid with traditional 2D garment pattern pieces and then subsequently cut out to reveal the negative shaping. The creative is then encouraged to sculpt the newly created form intuitively over a body shape generating endless “Intuitively designed” possibilities.

This approach repositions the making and design aspects of the process enabling creatives to make and design simultaneously, thus generating outcomes that would have been impossible to conceive using traditional 2D design approaches.

Traditionally, draping is the process of transforming a clothing design into a three-dimensional form by pinning and manipulating the fabric on a body or mannequin. Many fashion designers over the last century have made this process the hallmark of their practice and signature style. One main disadvantage of draping as explained on is that this method of working on a stand often produces bodycon outcomes. They suggest by experimenting with the process “happy accidents” can create exciting outcomes. Over the last decade, there has been increasing interest in research around this process, particularly in its relationship to pedagogy, design and sustainability as creatives attempt to produce innovative and original outcomes. Several pattern cutters/ designers have become synonymous with specific types of creative draping. Shingo Sato and Tomoko Nakamichi are often accredited with Transformation Reconstruction (TR) method exploring seam displacement and shape creation by using volume and 3D forms within flat pattern cutting, resulting in a recognisable “Japanese Origami” aesthetic, while Julien Roberts subtraction pattern cutting utilises the negative areas created by flat pattern cutting shapes, its manipulation of and its relationship to the body, creating a recognisable “Asymmetrical Deconstructive” aesthetic. Several pattern cutter/designers have used both these methods to investigate their sustainability potential, that of zero waste cutting and seam reduction, David Telfer, Timo Rissanen and Holly McQuillan to a name a few. Lesley Campbell’s, Alien Body concept is an example of a “happy accident” as the process of draping is challenged and questioned. Lesley’s work aims to create volume within student’s design work by starting with a distorted (Alien) mannequin, then combining with (TR) cutting before finally removing the shaped mannequin allowing the resulting outcome to create a “happy accident” when worn on a regular shaped body form. Like my research, Lesley’s approach removes the over reliance of technical knowledge, measurements, thus turning its back on traditional pattern cutting models and approaches.

My research stemmed by the necessity to empower the lvl 4 fashion design students to pattern create with confidence, without fear and to see the benefits this has on idea generation. Fashion design students at SHU typically arrive on the course with little or no prior technical pattern cutting knowledge. The key fundamentals of pattern cutting are taught through flat 2D block adaptation and include the key technical principles such as dart manipulation, pleating, cut and spread etc; Students new to pattern creation often struggle with the technical challenges this brings as they find it difficult to cut 2D while visualising 3D. Consequently, conceived and drawn design concepts are often deemed “safe” as students either consciously or subconsciously design within their own capabilities and fail to associate 3D making as part of the early ideation stage of the process. Too often we only see front views of designs drawn on paper, with little or no consideration to the back, side and top silhouettes. My research aims to break this pattern allowing risk taking to take place throughout the creative process, building student self-confidence and an intuitive mindset.

Like Lesley Campbell, my research also expands further upon Julien Roberts, Shingo Satos and Tomoko Nakamichi’s work by evolving the draping element (Nakamichis, wearing a square) into 3D planes and 4D inner shapes (Wearing a cube and a cube in a cube.) Combining this with traditional 2D flat pattern cutting and 2D subtraction cutting (Roberts) allows the cloth to be cut on w, x, y & z axis, enabling the space (void in between) to create volume, form and structure while the inner shape can act as a lining or become the outer shell. Like Lesley Campbell, my practice also questions the starting draping shape, moving away from the flat 2D fabric into 3D form. Draping 3D and 4D generates a multitude of outcomes very quickly and allows for the creation of innovative design ideas, enabling the designer to sculpt the top, front, back and side of the garment simultaneously.

I have trialled early stages of my 3D draping process with lvl 4 students and the outcomes created within a short time frame (15 minutes) where not only impressive but inspired the students to think critically and creatively not only about the outcomes but also about their own approach to design, pattern making and the relationship between the body, movement, aesthetics and form. Ultimately this process encourages risk taking and intuition, with satisfyingly quick reward and encouragement.