There are a lot of ways to make a pattern for a garment. Some talented tailors and seamstresses can draw a pattern based on an existing garment. Some individuals can even make garments without patterns. But in the garment industry, making mass-produced clothes, pattern-making is somewhat different. Everything has to be scaled up. It’s not just drawing something on some newsprint. Patterns have to be easily replicable, and they have to work across a number of sizes.
In the same way that computer software has changed architecture and furniture design, it’s also impacted the world of fashion. The way garment patterns work at the industrial level is in some ways similar to the way artisans make garments. However, it’s also very different. As with all industries, technology has affected the way that the garment business works. Technology allows businesses to store vast archives of patterns, and databases full of tweaks for garments. These programs allow companies to try out infinite design possibilities before finalizing the pattern for a garment.
These days, most patterns for the garment industry are made with CAD software. These programs store thousands of changes that can be made to garments. With a few clicks, a designer can try out different options for pleats, ruching and other modifications. They also allow for patterns to be easily modified and sized for smaller or larger people. In addition to traditional computer-based designs, there are also digital tools that mimic the traditional pattern-making process. These allow designers to work at a table, designing life-sized work. This is a more intuitive process for many designers.
Before a design goes into production, it’s still traditional to use a flat block pattern to cut pieces, and muslins are still typically fitted on mannequins or fit models. The muslin or toile phase is very important. This allows designers to see how garments will fit a real person, and how they drape on a body. Having a three-dimensional mock-up also allows designers to think about the hanger appeal of a garment. Sometimes, the way a garment looks on the hanger can impact its sales more than the way it looks on a body. At the level of mass production and fast fashion, this is a very important consideration for manufacturers.