Welcome

You've found pattern school online - the best resource on stretch fit pattern making available. Together with our Facebook Group we try to answer all your questions and even some you never knew you had. We are constantly playing with new ideas and concepts in order to grow and develop our Ready to Wear knowledge ... why not join us?

This website has a science of stretch section open to the public and a whole stack of pattern making lessons (membership) that will teach you exactly how to make your own blocks/slopers and patterns from scratch ... while we focus on swimwear, you'll find most things apply to dance and other stretchwear ... knowing how to make and use a block means never having to buy patterns again! The site is aimed mainly at fashion school students and assumes some basic knowledge, it may still be appropriate for home sewists wanting to learn stretch fit pattern making.

We even have an eShop with ready made blocks/slopers and patterns if you just want to get straight into it. And lastly of course there's the blog below where we highlight some of the discussion topics from the Facebook group.

What's New

So what do we know from out discussion yesterday? There are a few important observations that come to mind immediately, but let's summarize first. People do really like the idea of adding certain features to their swimwear; namely pockets, zips, hoods, belts, leggings and unzippable components (this last one is key to everything I wanted to discuss). The choices are all utilitarian ... I never mentioned utilitarian but every addition is functional (or can be). Swimwear is technically a functional garment ... it has a single function ... to enable you to swim.


There are many purely aesthetic options in fashion that we could have considered but they didn't seem to rate a mention .... probably because aesthetic options are all people ever do consider to enhance swimwear. Which leaves me with the question as to why we are deliberately leaving out the non-aesthetic options ... I'm thinking this is the real question.


Try to imagine a utilitarian swimsuit. I bet the first thing you think of is a one piece and not a bikini. I'm going to almost guarantee you're not thinking about something showing lots of cheek, but more likely something with square leg holes or even leggings .... I automatically seem to imagine a sleeveless catsuit ... a one piece with legs.


Let's go with that for a moment. Say we put a belt on that ... and maybe a center front zip all the way down to the belly button, maybe to a few inches below the belt. Let's add not just two pockets below the belt line but maybe a couple of chest pockets to ... maybe with flaps? But what about a hood too .... with a draw string just about where the CF zip stops. For some crazy reason I'm seeing camouflaged prints ... maybe I've watched too many action movies ... or maybe because we were talking about neoprene a few days ago ... or maybe because of all the apocalypse fashion talk everywhere. I'm not sure.


OK where am I going with this? In two of my design groups I've been noticing something slowly happening, but recently it's become extremely pronounced. Previously very cohesive groups have become divided into polar opposites. One side thinks that after a limbo period everything will be business as usual and the other side believes that the design world has been forever changed by Covid/2020. While they don't state things as categorically as I just did, this seems to be the underlying belief from which all their opinions now form. I'm sure you've seen similar comments during the year on multiple sites. People saying things like virtual fashion shows will be the way of the future, for example. But there are also other things, like an abnormal non-seasonal surge in sales of outdoor camping equipment and clothing at a time when people aren't really in a position to go travelling. My design groups have gone from trying to predict trends to taking apart abnormal market anomalies. One side completely dismisses the anomalies, the other saying we need to recognize that the world has changed.

So the design world is split down the middle. Pantone just released a cheerfully disgusting yellow to be the colour of 2021 ... but half of the design world is hesitating and discussing everything in terms of black, camo, black chrome, carbon fiber and pure utilitarian.


We've seen a move to turn away from fast fashion, a move towards sustainable technology in textiles, a huge movement towards buying second hand clothing and thrift stores, and a renewed interest in redesigning/modifying second hand clothing (changing zips and buttons in old jackets with new colorful ones for example) .... a new version of 'Make Do and Mend'. This isn't always the cheapest option either considering fast fashion can be extremely cheap, so it's definitely a well supported ethical belief. This movement was there before the train wreck that was 2020 and will continue forward along with the rest of the environmental movement and is indeed scaring the design industry because second hand is possibly set to outstrip new!!!


https://theconversation.com/secondhand-clothing-sales-are...


This movement was always going to happen, but then a global health crisis occurred at the same time. Bare with me for a minute with a little fashion history lesson. In World War Two there was clothing rationing.


https://www.iwm.org.uk/.../how-clothes-rationing-affected...


Clothing rationing essentially meant that you had to more seriously consider what you spend your coupons on. It had to cross seasons, be more functional, it had to be able to be re-purposed, etc. Young people who like thrift shops will recognize this as the slow fashion mantra ... but this was just a practical response to a crisis. The link above is important because it warns us of a very important human behavior .... even when people weren't involved with the military, the war effort or support services, they still preferred to wear clothing that was fashioned to look like it .... and designers tried to equally make utilitarian designs seem more fashionable. In a time of crisis there is a feeling of comfort and safety in wearing clothing that appears to be utilitarian even if it isn't. Oh really? Why do you think outdoor camping clothing has seen a non-seasonal surge at a time when very few are really going camping? Why do you think millennial second hand clothing flippers are switching to utilitarian?


For those who don't know, clothing flippers are people who go around buying up the best of second hand clothes, modifying or repairing it and reselling. This is not the big new American thing they make it out to be ... it's something that originated in Japanese occupied China times. Chinese people who didnt have work would help sort out what was worth repairing and what wasn't and resell it to others who were working and had no time or skills and little money. The first American flippers in the 70's (yes it's a 50 year old thing) were all in China Towns across the country.


The irony ... young Americans are trying to get away from the fast Chinese fashion born out of the necessity of poverty caused by western economic policy and do so by flipping second hand clothes to each other.


I'm sure most of you know Poshmark already.


Now I'm going to hit you with another thought. We all know that things like denim and black, for example, never go out of fashion. But how many ever stopped to consider that utilitarian is a basic underlying style that also never goes out of fashion ... ever. Think about the millions of interpretations of army jackets ... not enough? ... what about camouflaged print? ... if I told you the sales of camouflage prints are nearly as high as leopard print you might hesitantly believe me ... but how many of you would be shocked if I told you camouflage actually outstrips leopard three to one!!! What??? Utility print out selling animal print? NEVER! Camo isn't sexy right? Tell me this can't be true! Sorry folks, but it's been true for more than two decades now. But your question should be "why?" ... the answer lies in something more animalistic than animal print itself ... the need to feel powerful, safe, protected, etc ... something we think utility gives us. And right now half the world's designers are saying we've crossed the threshold in that need once more.


I'm now seeing a revolution inside my design groups. Half are going against all the traditional style and function forecasters and looking to a bleaker focus for design inspiration. It's quite possible that utilitarian (at least in style) may be the new thing for 2021 onwards .... now I'm just waiting for the Zombies to show up.


Think about this long and hard .... what's more likely next season? ... yellow and fringing ... or camouflage and utility? Come and join our Facebook group to get into the discussion.


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Throwback Thursday is going to be my reflection on the year that was .... How I saw this year ...

Well it's the last day of the train wreck otherwise known as 2020. I've never seen the world hurting this much before. I've seen an environmental awareness growing over the years, yet people still thumb their nose at our home. I've see the absolute worst in politicians scattered across the world this last few years. I've seen racism and hate at it's most socially acceptable. I've seen conspiracy theories in virtually every platform and community I'm involved in. This year I've seen my own community, based on tourism, literally die ... forever. I've often felt like screaming out "stop the world, I want to get off". And with half the world still in lockdown, most of my own industry closed or gone, and many without the capacity to even pay their bills, I think 2021 isn't going to fair much better ...

But in my community I've also witnessed people helping each other when things got really bad ... people who previously ignored each other. I've seen my local government creating short term jobs rebuilding pavements, filling pot holes, planting trees .... anything to justify giving money to the community and something to do while there's no tourists for their regular businesses. I've seen people voluntarily forgiving debts. I've seen a new respect for the poor small sized farmers who grow the food that others now depend on for their lives, because the bigger food companies are gone or closed. People are starting to look more closely at where things come from and what's really important. But I live in a third world nation where the contrast is far greater. I can only imagine what things are like in the US or the UK or Australia (my old home).

I consider myself lucky that even with a few health scares in my family this year, we're all still doing ok, we're all currently healthy and most of all we're a very loving and happy bunch ... and at the end of any day, that's really all that matters.


This year I re-opened pattern school ... after ten years of hiding under a rock. My goal was to try and provide a little online education for fashion students who were no longer able to get to classes. I missed doing fashion things outside of the direct industry and felt like I was going stale.


We recreated the website on the free Wix platform until I was able to get enough money together by selling patterns using PayPal and email so that I could buy a domain name ... then a little bit more to get the most basic automatic shop. I honestly can't believe how many little steps it took to get to where we are now, but slow and steady wins the race every time.

So many people who followed me from 2005 to 2012 on the first site, found me again and many have joined us in here .... and the most rewarding thing for me this year is to have seen the profound effect the first site had on so many people's lives and businesses since. Those simple, really basic lessons were the start so many needed to get a perspective on stretch pattern making. This year I've expanded all that original content and added so much more, which together with the Facebook group has become the single best resource on stretch fit pattern making available today. After only 8 months we've reached an average of 14.4K unique hits a day and the #1 position in Google for all the relevant search topics.

That's all good of course, but there's some even better things. With the Miyumi dress form I learned a whole new 3D grading concept, and people are taking the pattern and doing things with it that I never intended ... it's developing a life of it's own. Then there's also the 12 different breast form wire sizes in three different profiles that can be edited and modified not just for the dress form, but for bra making .... and I have seen others using them for cosplay or latex.

At the beginning of this year I could barely get one person to accept that CAD was a better way to do patterns, and now there are so many of you regularly sharing various tutorials on how to use your preferred CAD package. It's like there's a huge paradigm shift occurring right before my eyes. People who once swore that everything had to be pencil and paper are now helping each other with CAD questions and projectors.

I've gone from solely swimwear for women at 12% ... to including women's dance at 8%, and men's, children's and teens blocks in body, arms and legs ... just wow ... I never anticipated things would grow like this. The website has taken on a life of it's own. I've take my guidance from whatever topic we're discussing, with a little push and help from my amazing moderators. This has truly been a group success.

But the greatest thing of all this year was your vote of confidence ... that so many have supported me and allowed me to just steer the ship in whatever direction I want, allowing me the time to be more creative and explore whatever inspires me at the time.

I've thoroughly enjoyed our discussion topics ... I do like to push boundaries and ask questions I probably shouldn't, but it's my job to challenge people and find out what's really going on. I'm also part artist so there's a lot of emotions and feeling in much of what I ask/discuss ... not just math and science. I truly believe anyone who likes to create things be they swim, dance, costuming or whatever, has to be part scientist, part artist ... it's sort of a pre-requisite. So likewise, don't be afraid to express yourself.

It may have been a tough year, but it's still had its fair share of rewards ... and hopefully there will be more in the year to come.

Many of the older items on my To Do List are still active and coming too. Here's a little of what 2021 may have to offer:

  • Vintage swimwear designs and patterns

  • Alternative swimwear tutorials. eg; pretzels and monokinis

  • Corset forms

  • Latex blocks & pattern theory

  • More advanced stretch fit pattern making tutorials

  • A special toolbox for use in Corel Draw

  • I'd like to get back into trend forecasting

  • I've been doing some repeating print artwork and would like to create some sort of library for people who want to do sublimation printing

  • I'm working on something big with Blender but can't say exactly what yet :P

  • I'm writing a trashy novel (I'm not really, I'm just seeing who's reading all the way to the end)

Another little project I'm working on is to try to put the "lazy peoples patterns" from the old website into Corel Draw scripts. It would work in a similar way ... the script asks your measurements and writes them to a file for future reference with a name ... you select the name and pattern you want (and how much negative ease you want) and the script draws a customized pattern that you can then edit into whatever style you like. A half way between generic CAD and fashion specific software but without the price tag. I'm hoping I can get someone to convert this and the toolbox into something that will work in Illustrator as well.


As always I'm open to suggestions too.

So please everyone stay safe. Be there to help each other, but don't take unnecessary risks. And let's work on turning 2021 into something that makes us forget the year that 2020 was.


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If you're a member of our Facebook Group you'll probably already know that I've been working on the missing link ... a Leotard Block for the teenage gap between children and adults. This is a very different body shape characterized mostly by a very long girth measurement ... or to put it better, teenagers grow up before they grow out. The blocks are have a proportionally longer girth than they do chest and hips, and a less developed waistline. I'm almost there now ... it'll be available as soon as it's been tested and approved. In other news I've finally managed to fix the problems with the menu bar on mobile phones ... I've also better optimized the positioning of everything for mobiles.


I'd also like to thank everyone for their support in the changeover to the voluntary subscription level membership ... I was worried some might be disappointed but I've been overwhelmed by the vote of confidence. This has already solved the messaging problem and given me far more time in the day to work on more constructive and creative things like the blocks above ... that would have taken weeks before, but this time its only been four days! For those who are already members, you'll notice the little Pinterest buttons on the images ... this enables you to automatically share them complete with link and content description. If you share a couple here and there it can lift my profile on Pinterest ... this is a far better way to search for appropriate content than Google could ever hope to be. You can also follow me on Pinterest if you'd like. If you haven't yet joined and want to know what the fuss is about you can view all the Science of Stretch section to get an idea of what we're about ... or join our Facebook discussion group for everything you ever wanted to know about stretch fit pattern making.


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