About This Blog

This blog is aimed, specifically, at teaching students of fashion design how to make close-fit stretch-wear patterns. While the public can certainly learn a lot from reading the blog, they may find they need the added guidance of an "in class" fashion teacher ... I'm not going to provide this level of instruction.

Everything you need to design women's swim or dancewear patterns is already here. By combining the various elements of each lesson a design student should be able to create any number of designs. I will not be adding new patterns unless it becomes necessary for one of my classes.

If you'd like to keep in touch with like minded creative people then feel free to add me as a friend on facebook ... I love to see what others are doing ... just type Pattern School as the message and I'll know to add you.

My experiment in alternative fashion can be seen at Itty Bitty Evil Kitty ... please drop by and add your opinions and help shape the experiment.

Who's Online

  • 0 Members.
  • 52 Guests.

Swimsuit Of The Week

On March 26th 2011 Thailand had it’s Miss Universe event and Chanyasorn Sakornchan was crowned the winner … don’t tell me how I missed this, but I did. I accidently came across the photos today and had to kick myself having just spent 2 months in Chiang Mai! Ok the event was in Bangkok but its only a quick flight! Anyway, while looking at the photos I found something incredibly obvious that’s very important for Western designers to look at … body shape. Young Asian women generally have a small bust and hips … as such their waist (although equally smaller) doesn’t appear to exist because their body length is also very short. As such, in a one piece swimsuit they look like a cylinder … not so in a bikini however.

If you take a look at the rest of the photos there are individual shots of each of the girls and it’s clearer to see than in the group photo. This is a perfect example of how demographics plays a very important part in sizing … know your market. so many times I’ve heard of Western designers trying to sell their range in Asia without changing it to suit the Asian figure type … the photos in that link should demonstrate how short sighted this is. Then of course you have variations between countries in Asia … eg; Japanese women generally have even smaller waists, Chinese women have longer body lengths with respect to leg length, Burmese women have shorter body length and leg length than most Asian Women and Thai women have a deeper arch that makes it look like they have a bit of a tummy. OK these are all generalisations, but they are reasonable considerations when it comes to designing for a particular market!

All that said, the majority of Asian women don’t seem to know how to swim!


Swimsuit of the Week?

Hi everyone … I’m back from my 9.5 week journey of Asia … I saw Thailand, Laos, Burma and China … and I’m going back as soon as possible. I’ve been well and truely charmed by all things oriental … without doubt my favourite is Thailand. Anyhow, to keep things going along here I thought perhaps it’d be a nice idea to post a picture each week of a swimsuit I’ve come across … so here is the first.

This is a Keva by Keva J swimsuit from the Cyber Haute Collection … I love the use of asymmmetry in this collection … shows that someone is actually trying to do something different … I’m not sure about the rather bold use of colour blocking in something asymmetric however … something doesn’t quite hit the mark there annd makes me wonder who the target audience is … but from a design point of view it’s fun!



Away From Keyboard … Mostly

Hi everyone! I’m currently in China on my second trip through the orient. Internet is very hard to come by and extremely slow/filtered when you actually find some. I’m trying my hardest to get through the emails and questions in the little time available so sit tight … we’ll get there eventually.


Need Help With A Stretch Fit Pattern?

Hi Everyone. If you hadn’t noticed I don’t check on this blog everyday any more.

If you do have a question about pattern making, or a particular problem you’re trying to fix, please remember it helps if you can send me either a scan of your paper pattern (or photo) or your CAD file so I can see what you are actually talking about … also a photo of the garment where the problem is. As much info as you can send, the better … I won’t be offended by too much! What is annoying is when someone sends a question reading something like this one ….

Hi Stuart i can’t get the pattern for for boy shorts right what am i doing wrong?

Yes this is an example of a real email, cut and pasted! I mean how am I supposed to answer that? I love helping people, but I won’t make a huge effort to help someone if they aren’t prepared to even fill me in on what the problem is. I need to see information people, exactly where you are having the problem, at what step of the way your wheels fell off, the exact shape of the curve you are using somewhere … otherwise I’m just sending one guess after another and it takes an awful lot of time! I am happy to help … in fact I love helping believe it or not … but you need to help me to help you first. Gather up all your information, and attatch it to the email or comment … you can attach images to the comments you know … then we can all learn from each other. But most of all … I need to see the pattern you are having trouble with before I can advise you … no pattern, no advice OK?

Another thing I need to remind people of is that I’m in Australia. I don’t know many pattern makers, suppliers, wholesalers, machinery shops, etc. overseas … so it’s really hard to answer those type of questions. Again please do ask them in the comments in the hope that those local to you might be able to answer them.

Really, everything you might think to ask (that is within the scope of stretch fit pattern making) has already been answered … you just need to find it on this site.


Back from the Orient

As some of you might know, I’ve recently spent some time in Thailand researching Oriental clothing and textiles. I’ve only just returned so I’m way behind in answering comments and emails … forgive me for this and I will answer as much as I can. To answer a number of questions with a single answer, I’m no longer adding new patterns to this site … all the basics for making swim and dancewear at a student level are already adequately demonstrated. More advanced work is really outside the scope of my intention here. I do encourage people to help to answer each others questions. I cannot help people source components or fabrics  or provide pattern making services … I teach ready-to-wear pattern making for students and really that’s where I want to leave things or I won’t have a life … this is a free service! I’m also persuing more exciting interests (at least to me) … in trying to Orientalise an alternative fashion sub-genre called ‘steampunk’.

I will keep a close eye on this site and keep it maturing, but still stay within scope.


Swimwear Spring/Summer 2011

As the snow begins to thaw out across the Northern United States and bright green blades of grass peek through the soggy dirt, you should be reminded to think about the coming Summer’s swimwear and how to get rid of the excess celebratory season’s weight, toning up and maybe even think about attacking that bikini line. To give you the motivation, here’s a little eye candy!

During this enthralling series of what’s considered the latest in fashion, take note of how many monokinis we still see today … a style I first did in 1989 and everyone said it would never catch on because one piece swimwear was over … and young girls would never wear them! Ha!! Oh yeah … and for the love of God can we please get models to stop walking like a backward tilting,  uncoordinated giraffe trying to hold a cherry between its butt cheeks … it’s just plain wrong!









Never Believe What Your Told!

For the last month there has been a bug somewhere in the Lazy Person’spatterns section that has been driving me nuts because no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it to happen for me. Sometimes the patterns would work and sometimes they wouldn’t … but it would be different patterns for different people … at different times … and on different (but all) browsers … and it only occurred about 1 in 20 times. There was no common denominator … everything worked perfectly up until the 30th of November.

I re-uploaded everything … sent it off to another programmer to check … ran the scripts on other servers but no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it to fail. But sure enough I could see the failed results people were getting. I checked to see if my host had changed anything but their only response was that if something was happening only occasionally the fault was going to be somewhere in my scripts … you see, computers only do what they’re told.

Today as I prepared to take the whole lot offline I checked my email to find a new update from my host telling me they’d changed their system such that when the servers were under load another server would kick in and take up the slack … this was to make my site more reliable and wasn’t I so lucky they were doing this for me … oh … and it kicked in on December 1st. Keep in mind that I’ve put over 50 hours into trying to work this out … I’d even asked them if anything had changed after November 30th and they had said no. All so that those who can’t be bothered to learn can just point and click!

I wrote back to them and asked if the back up machine might have a permissions problem (you see now I knew what to look for the problem was only occurring when the second server kicked in). They wrote back an hour later to say no. An hour after them saying no, the problem stopped … it just stopped … the second machine was suddenly doing everything right. Go figure.

I’d like to blame Network Solutions for their absolutely pathetic customer service, but I can only blame myself for using them in the first place.

Anyhow … problem fixed people … knock yourselves out … and Happy New Year!




Direct to Textile Digital Printing

A short while back I did a post on both Pattern School and IttyBittyEilKitty on digital printing and I made a big mistake! … yeah it happens and I’m man enough to admit I don’t know everything! I mentioned a company called Think Positive Designer Prints as part of a discussion on sublimation printing.

Sublimation is a fantastic process by which you can apply a digital image to a textile by using specialist coatings, specialist dyes, specialist printers and a whole stack of heat and pressure. Sublimation literally means turning a solid into a gas without going through a liquid stage. I’ve talked about the process before so I won’t go through it again, but needless to say it’s really only possible on polyester fabrics because of the high temperatures involved. My mistake was that I assumed Think Positive was a sublimation company because the artwork was a digital quality image. They do not do sublimation … they do something even better!

Think Positive Designer Prints can print any fabric with a direct to textile printing process (that I don’t completely understand as yet). That’s right … they can even put a digital image onto natural fibers like silk, linen and hemp! The process alegedly produces a higher quality, deeper colour print than sublimation that won’t rub off over time (not that I’ve known this to be a problem). They don’t print on polyester because the cost of DTT (or DTG) is greater than sublimation so there’s not much point in competing.

The great step forward and the real point to this post is thus … now we can print on NYLON lycra! While stretch polyester textiles are improving all the time, they will never match the softness of nylon lycra … so our choice of textiles is much greater than I originally thought. This is a major step forward because it has implications for other lycra blends.

DTT doesn’t eliminate the need for sublimation. Sublimation is cheaper … much cheaper. Ready to wear manufacturers may still consider DTT technology too expensive for their average printing needs but there are high end manufactures who are doing it in order to achieve a better result. I’ll soon be sending some artwork to Think Positive to get a decent sized sample printed … I’ll let you know how it comes out.



Eclipse Textiles

I love this company. I know I’ve mentioned them often before, but put simply, if you do anything with stretch fabrics in Australia then nothing beats these guys … nothing.If you haven’t dealt with them yet and you’re an ABN holder in the game here then you are literally not up to par. In the interests of disclosure, I order 95% of my fabrics through Eclipse Textiles (or at least I used to when I was manufacturing) … and nobody is paying me to say this. I’m a stretch fit pattern maker and I’d be lost without the technical support from Eclipse.

I’m bringing all this up because recently I’ve been looking for a very special technical textile for sublimation printing for my itty bitty evil kitty experiment… usually I choose nylon lycras but this time I’m going to need to use a very special high tech polyester for printing. This makes life really tricky when you’re trying to do lingerie … something usually made using a blend of cotton and lycra (assuming it’s stretchy). But I don’t like cotton blends because they just don’t last as well, they distort and they don’t have the specific feel I need. I’m looking for a 4-way stretch poly that performs as well as nylon lycra but feels like silk and I can use it for everything from undies to leggings … and sublimate it. Tall ask when I also want something really soft AND opaque.

Now this is why I like Eclipse Textiles. Over the last few days one of their reps (the lovely Anja – who really should be their president because she’s so nice) has assisted me with everything from swatches in overnight bags to offering large samples at no charge to requesting a 10m sample direct from Italy of the newest poly stretch technical textile that has never yet been brought into the country because it’s so new … all very professional, easy to chat via email, and incredibly patient with my often somewhat peculiar requests. That’s why I like them! Why can’t every company be this good?

Please note: their website has changed from www.etex.com.au to www.eclipsetextiles.com.au



Pattern Magic

I recently purchased Pattern Magic by Nakamichi Tomoko online at Amazon and while waiting for it to arrive I happened upon it at a local bookstore (at twice the cost) so I couldn’t resist looking through it. I have to say straight up that this book was so good I bought it there and then on the spot … so now I have two copies … it’s ok because I know who to give the other copy to.

I seriously recommend this book to anyone interested in achieving simple special effects in their garments by utilising what I can only call a cross between traditional flat pattern making and origami … easy to read, clearly illustrated and very inspiring. It’s not a stretch fit book … it’s all wovens … but to any pattern maker it’s pure gold. Buy it!


That’s the good bit … now for the bad and ugly bit ….

Something has been bugging me for a while and I can’t bring myself to keep quiet any longer. There happens to be a fellow out there professing to have invented almost every pattern technique ever known (ok that’s a slight exaggeration but give him time) … he knows who he is (don’t you Don McCunn?). When I first encountered him he claimed that by sticking bits of paper over a breast (what the actually qualified amongst us call draping) he could create a “3D pattern” … a technique he claimed to have invented. Wow … over all these centuries of draping it was apparently he who invented it! I found this the ultimate in arrogant and to me his tone was as if he were preying upon the innocent.

Later he seems to have claimed that by using more than one dart below the bust line you could get a betting fitting block/sloper … this second dart ended at the tangential corner of the front armhole … again something he seems to profess is his invented technique. Sorry to tell you Don but this is a corsetry technique going back to Georgian times. Now I know he knows he isn’t the inventor of such techniques but I’m stunned as to why he keeps claiming he is. Multiple darts are (and always have been) the bread and butter of close fit pattern makers. He does claim he did a costume history course so he should know this goes back at least a few hundred years.

More recently he’s invented a new thing called a ‘sling’ as an alternative to a bra … now you can listen to all the justifications for the benefits of this invention of his but of course what you are actually looking at is nothing more than a halter neck bikini top (he’ll justify why it’s more than that) … perhaps the fuller coverage is more reminiscent of Ms Monroe’s halters rather than a modern one, but it’s a halter nonetheless.  

Then to top it all off he’s invented this marvellous new concept of putting two darts under the breast instead of just one … really … his invention again? I’m not sure how many times I’ve used multiple darts over the last 20 years but it’s quite a lot … and I sure didn’t invent it … I think I borrowed if from the 5 tucked darts from the blouses in the 40′s. Again, multiple darts are nothing new.

I’m starting to think that every time he runs short of money by selling the established existing techniques that are already freely available on the net he must look up something from history that seems remotely interesting and claim that he invented it so he can sell it to even more poor gullible victims. I find this an appalling insult to all those who’ve actually done their study, the work and who’ve given recognition to those who’ve come before them. Don you are nothing but a thief peddling the wares of others. There … I said it … prove me wrong!

Gee I hate being negative but when is this guy going to stop claiming the work of others as his own and just teach the damn stuff for what it is …. well established pattern making. Perhaps if he actually did a recognised fashion degree he might realise what came before him … yet even without qualifications he’s trying to teach others … and misleading them. Disgusting.

Rant over. If he doesn’t like it he can sue me!