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CUSTOM PATTERN MAKER

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Let me talk to you as one pattern maker to another. (Yes, this is rather long, but it may save you the cost of a phone call.) Suggestion.... you may find this easier to read if you print it out.

We are all looking for that magical patterning software:

  • one that is affordable by a costume or custom made clothing designer - maker,
  • that will run on your current computer
  • and that will let you put any pattern into it easily
  • and then resize it, just by typing in a new set of measurement.
     

 
What Custom Pattern will do:

I have negotiated a deal with AutoDESK to be able to make CPM available at a price that some one working in custom-made and costuming could afford.

With CPM you can make very accurate fit patterns that accommodate all sorts of odd body proportions and postures.

CPM will run on standard "win/tel" "PC" machines. The underlying AutoCAD® software "engine", ensures that it will run with all standard plotters, digitizing devices, and cutting machines, as well as any software that works with AutoCAD®. Its file formats will import to any other industry standard 2D drafting programs or grading programs and 3D modeling programs.

Any existing pattern can be digitized into it. There are software interfaces available (used mostly by architects and engineers) that will "scan" patterns into it. You can put patterning into it from historical pattern books and easily scale them to full size and resize them manually.

All the things that you do in flat patternmaking you can do more quickly and easily in CPM. I've spend years fine tuning on the user interface to make sure it facilitates the working process. I've written an instruction manual that follows a step-by-step format.

You can do really accurate grain-placement cutting layouts in the computer and then plot them out full size. If the fabric is laid out square on the cutting table, all you need to do is match the edges up and cut.

but...........

Custom Pattern Maker only does automated resizing of the basic fit blocks that are programed into it.

You can resize patterns:
  • that you have digitized into it

  • or patterns that you have developed form the basic blocks using flatpattern design
but..........

you will have to use your brain a little bit and "manually" resize the pattern pieces to new measurements.

Using the commands and methods that are made into CPM makes it a whole lot easier than doing it in real time and real space with paper, pencil and drafting tools. (OFFSET and EXTEND are almost magical)

In my way of thinking, it doesn't make sense to dismiss CPM as the tool you will use just because it hasn't yet reached that "holy grail" of computer pattern making.

CPM still makes patternmaking soooooo much easier and more pleasant. It would be foolish not to take advantage of what it can do while you wait for us to achieve the ultimate goal.

One reason that most of the garment industry software costs so much money is that it is very expensive to develop the complexity of programming that is needed to do what it does.

So far the big software companies have not seen it prudent to try to accommodate the additional complexity of our special needs and also make the software affordable for us.

I know I will get CPM to the ultimate goal. It is the sales that will underwrite the programming needed. Why wait? The upgrade will be a reasonable price.

 

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An attempt to explain about computerized "automated" drafting and resizing.

There were many times, since 1985 when I first began to "tilt against the windmill" of accurate-fit pattern making software, when I would have happily let CPM disappear into cyberspace if some one else came up with an acceptable software.

I have rushed to look at and evaluate every one as it came out, in hopes that I could just relax and buy it to use. But each time the new software flunked either "accurate fit" or the "affordable" test. Most of them flunked on both counts.

There are now a number of software programs out there that profess to automatically custom resize any pattern you have entered or created in the program. Most of these programs are extraordinarily expensive and aimed at the mass production garment industry. None of them do a good job of accommodating really oddly shaped bodies or postures.

  • For a computer to automatically resize any patterns, the software needs to have the drafting algorithm for those patterns programed into it.

  • The expensive drafting programs that say they do automated resizing of patterns all come with libraries of pattern styles that have been programed into them.

  • They expect that the patterns you make will be created by starting with one of these patterns and then altering it through flatpatterning methods.

  • These patterns are all based on garment industry drafting systems.

  • Garment industry drafting methods, which are devised to produce patterns that fit the "industry standard" sized bodies, go askew when measurements for bodies with not average proportions and/or not average postures are used with them.

  • (Keep in mind that garment industry "fit-models" are paid very well because bodies that are really the "industry standard" are rare indeed.)

You may have noticed that it has become fashionable for clothes to fit badly. This is an inspired marketing concept to easily solve the problem of getting garments made from woven fabrics to fit the the wide range of body sizes and shapes that exist in the real world.

This marketing ploy may be working for the mass fashion industry, but it is not acceptable for the custom-made trade. We have to make sure that our clothes fit correctly. That is one of the reasons customers come to us. Additionally, when one is making a costume, character definition comes through fit as well as through style.

Garment industry oriented patterning programs do not use drafting systems that ensure an accurate fit for tailored woven fabric garments by accommodating the angle of the shoulders and the neck on the torso.

The majority of them use proportional formulas to establish some crucial measurement points that should be the actual measurement of the client. CPM includes a couple of those drafting methods in its set of basic drafts, just for the sake of illustrating this.

 

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Why I created CPM and what it means to me as a costume pattern maker.

For centuries the solution to making custom-fit garments in an expedient manner was to create a custom-made fitting-form that matched the clients body shape, size and posture. It used to be, for instance, that in the Hollywood Costumers Union, there were people who were specifically designated as "form makers". With the cost of labor being what it is now, the expense of having a "French form" created for every client is almost prohibitive.

When I came into the costume business in the early 1960's, I was privileged to see the "old ways" still in practice, but just late enough be constantly told that, within 15 years the business would be very different. The cost of labor was one reason, but the other was that young people were not longer willing to spend the years of apprenticeship that was necessary to develop to the skill level of professional clothing artisan.

 
The traditional method of patternmaking went through multiple steps.

Patterns were created by combining commercial patterns and drafted pieces, resized to the clients measurements by slashing and spreading or tucking.

Some patterns were draped on a draping form, which ever size you had that was the closest to the clients measurement. (Maybe you wrapped a bit of padding on it here and there to be closer to the clients measurements.)

Patterns were next put together in a "muslin" mockup and fit to the body of the actual client.

Often times, neck openings and armhole placements would be so far off that radical remaking of the pattern would need to be done and then another "muslin" mockup and fitting would be done.

Only once an acceptable mockup was achieved could the garment be cut.

 

As a result, a good deal of my concentration during my career has been on finding methods and tools that would help speed "process" and to methods of teaching that could speed up the time it took for young talent to gain a masterly control over the medium of textiles and garment making.

As I began to understand the time that could be saved by starting with an accurate "fit block" when starting to create a costume pattern, I put a great deal of research into drafting systems until I finally arrived at a method that worked for every odd shaped body anyone could put in front of me. (The 5'4" 58" bust jazz singer, the portly fellow who was missing a lot of shoulder and chest muscle on one side due to an auto accident, etc.)

When I began creating CPM, my goal was to be able to skip the muslin mockup and cut straight into the fabric. I wanted to be able to hand over the creation of basic fit-blocks to students, non pattern maker staff and shop volunteers, instead of having to stay late, come in early, or work on weekends to be able to find the quiet time my mind needs for concentrating on drafting "the long hard way". It was pure gravy that I got more than that.

I looked on pattern making as a tedious task I could not escape. I am good at it, but it requires me to put my mind process into a mode of working that is not natural for me. It's very energy draining. Seam allowances, facings, linings, marking off hooks, buttons etc. all were tedious bores.

 
Now I can do all my flat pattern design on the computer. I think it's the best computer game around.

I do it sitting down.

I don't get tense worrying about being perfectly "accurate" in my drafting technique. The computer ensures that.

I almost jump with delight every time I add a seam allowance or make a facing because it is so easy.

I do my pattern layouts on the computer, sitting down.

Because the pattern pieces are placed accurately on the grain when they are plotted out, I can trust less skilled crew to lay out the fabric by lining the selvage up with the edge of the cutting table and then lining the plotted pattern edge up with the edge of the cutting table.

All my patterns are stored on computer disks. No more boxes of patterns to store or slopers hanging around.

I use the custom sized blocks to quickly customize draping forms to an individual body.

  • I cut a custom block out in heavy canvas-weight fabric,

  • put it over a form the closest to the needed size, but not larger than the clients smallest measurement,

  • and then stuff it out with all the discarded plastic dry-cleaning bags and shopping bags I've saved up.

What luxury!

Resizing a pattern is soooo easy with CPM, using the "resize" tools, in comparison to the old "slash and spread" process.

  • Chopping those paper pieces up, piecing new pieces in, taping them together. (Messy, messy.)

  • I can again, trust less skilled crew to do this work because of the mechanical accuracy of the computerized process.

I even use it to make period bias dresses and it's still accurate enough to cut directly in the fabric, with just fine tuning of the hang of the seams in the fitting.

 

The only part CPM doesn't do yet is the automatic resizing of any pattern to typed in measurements. This is my goal just as it is everyone else's.

I'm making CPM Available now to everyone because it already saves so much time and makes pattern making so much more palatable a process, it seems silly for everyone wait until the last ultimate goal is reached. Start using this wonderful tool now to save time.

---------- Stephanie

Volunteer Reference:
Professor Virginia (Gini) Vogle, the faculty costume designer at the University of Nevada, Reno, has volunteered to act as a reference for one and all who would like to talk with someone who has extensive experience using it. Call 775 - 784 - 1175 or Email

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OK.... enough of this "personal" approach.
Take me to the straight product marketing pages:

What is CPM? | Why AutoCAD®? | How Does it Work?

 

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Click these links for more detailed outlines of:

Cost & Equipment Requirements

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Front Page | Demonstration Slide Show
Can We Talk? | A Rare Commodity | Time Saver | Basic Blocks
User Friendly | Custom Programming | Style & Fit | Period Pattering
Measurements
| Measurement Chart | Block Drafting Process
Slash & Spread Process
| Cost & Equipment Requirements | User FAQ