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In the world of fashion, a garment sample is considered an important element. It displays one’s skills and knowledge, often acting as a mirror to its creator’s imagination and creativity. However, the design process in itself is not bound by any rules. While certain steps can be stated in order, they usually serve as a guide for the designer.
A garment sample is a piece of cloth, cut and sewed together according to the specifications of the designer. Thus, it can be considered a tangible aspect of the design process. But what a designer also needs to take into account, something intangible yet extremely important, is imagination. As a design student, it is crucial to be able to give form to one’s imagination. Sometimes this can be as simple as understanding the structure of a dress or even working out what goes on underneath the structure. This can help in bringing one’s imagination onto paper. Usually, when creating clothing samples for fashion designers, rough sketches and first drafts can serve as the basis for design.
This brings us to the next step — the design concept. Be it following a particular theme, style or cultural inspiration, the design concept needs to be laid out in advance. A concept helps to bring a sense of harmony and purpose to the design. While having a concept outline, in the beginning, contributes towards ease of pattern creation and so on, it is also true that inspiration can strike anytime. It can be something as simple as walking down the road or seeing that one simple image, style, texture, color, and it is enough to inspire a designer. Keeping this in mind, a concept can sometimes serve more as an outline for the designer.
Here are a few technical details as we get started. The first one can be creating a Tech Pack. A Tech Pack usually serves as the main document when designing any garment. It contains every information about the design sample ranging from the sample size, measurements, technical sketches and other construction details. A Tech Pack is a necessity for fashion designing students as it helps in giving order to the sample details while keeping track of any changes made to the sample over the course of production.
Once a detailed Tech Pack is created, an estimated budget should be worked out to ascertain the project’s cost. This can include material costs, cost of the machinery (if required), tools, etc. At times, budgetary constraints can end up affecting a design project if funds are not allocated for different stages of sample production in advance. In the case of students, instead of creating a comprehensive budget plan, a basic budget outline can be done as the project is still in the early stages of production.
We can now work towards pattern creation. Garment patterns are usually first traced on paper. The tracing can be done on plain drafting paper from scratch or on a pre-drafted pattern sheet that can then be used and modified according to the needs of the designer. For fashion design students, garment patterns are usually hand traced. The pattern is then cut according to the seam lines. This is then pinned against a mannequin to visualise the shape and design the pattern ultimately takes since any pattern created is simply a 1D drawing on paper. A designer can make changes to the pattern at this stage before it is traced onto the fabric, to create a 3D form.
A pattern is not just considered the blueprint of any design but is also a great medium for the designer to express themselves through outlines and silhouettes. Working on patterns can turn out to be a time consuming process, but once done properly, it becomes an important deciding factor towards creating the perfect garment sample for fashion designers.
Once the pattern is traced, fabric selection can be done, though there are times when a designer has pre-selected fabric according to the concept. Usually, fabric differs based on the complexities of design, color availability, the scale of production and procurement channels.
Once this is done, the fabric is then laid out and the garment pattern is traced onto the fabric. The fabric will then be cut along the seam lines. It is recommended to have expert supervision to further facilitate the process, especially when it comes to cutting fabric for fashion students. Cloth cutting tutorials are also given when studying fashion design.
Once the fabric is cut, it will then be pinned against the mannequin again in order to make sure proper cuts are made and the fabric is looking as expected.
As this is done, the fabric pieces then need to be sewed together . Usually, different types of machines are used for different types of fabrics and stitches. Fabric can also be hand sewed if necessary. Fashion design students need to make sure the right machinery or method is being used. Alternatively, small pieces of the same fabric can be sewed together first to make sure the correct stitches are being made before starting with the actual cut fabric. Stitches are made only along the seams without fitting the fabric. Then, after consulting the Tech Pack, the fitting is done. The garment sample will be fitted according to the size specifications.
At this stage, the designer finally gets a glimpse of their creation as the garment is draped on the mannequin. Draping is done to maintain size accuracy as when the fabric is being cut and stitched, it is done on a flat surface. This also helps to ensure that the size and other measurements are correct and looking as expected before the final stitches are made. There are times when design changes are made during draping if the outcome is not in line with the designer’s expectations.
After the garment is fitted, the final round of sewing and fitting is done. Apart from fixing seams and fitting the fabric, trims such as buttons, zippers, hooks, etc. are added to the garment. If required, another round of fitting is done.
Now comes the time for some final touches. Clothing samples for fashion designers can either be selected and given for mass production or showcased in exhibitions. Fashion design students usually have final year projects that require them to provide samples to demonstrate their learnings and a customary showcase is held once these samples have passed through a round of scrutiny from the faculty/mentors. When this happens, if necessary, the samples need to be fitted according to the model who will be wearing the garment for the showcase.
While there is always a baseline through which a designer can start their journey, sometimes it doesn’t just end with the final stitches. Even after completion, a garment can still be subjected to changes due to several factors within or outside of a designer’s control. Recent times have only served to make the design landscape even more dynamic.
So, when in doubt, it is good to consult a professional. Institutes like IIAD (Indian Institute of Art and Design) offer different levels of design courses with up-to-date curriculum and best in business teachers and mentors. So whether you are a beginner or an experienced designer, it is never too late to learn. Students can also avail placement opportunities at renowned fashion houses and brands.
So what are you waiting for? Get started and design your perfect garment sample with the best of the best. Happy designing!
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