Behind The Scenes: Pattern Development

We are currently busy developing our second pattern, due for release early this summer. In today’s blog post we want to give you an insight into the step by step creation of one of our sewing patterns, from design to finished product. It is a fairly lengthy process because there are lots of steps involved to create a commercial product from a paper pattern. We design and pattern draft in house, but we have several helping hands along the way to then turn it into the product you buy from our shop. Read on to learn more!

From Drawing to Product

  • First is design development. We work on a design based on what season we want to release it, what we think is missing in the pattern business, what we would love to wear, or something we have been inspired by. Some of the design elements change during the pattern development, as we discover what works and what doesn’t and also for practical reasons: something can look beautiful as a drawing, but is it wearable?
  • Second comes pattern development. This a fairly long and experimental process, as we have to take a design to a functional, wearable garment through pattern experimentation. It also has to have the right techniques and skill level required to sew it for us to be able to sell it to our customers. Every pattern starts off with our block, that has been developed by us for our brand, and you can think of this as a pattern template to start from. From there we adapt and alter and develop our patterns flat, and then we try these different versions out in fabric, called a ‘toile’. This is like a design sketch but in fabric, as it’s much easier to see how something looks when it’s in 3D on a mannequin. This process goes back and forth, from paper to toile, until we’re satisfied.

  • We make up the finished toile completely to see that the construction works and that we are happy with the final fit in the sample size. We usually make construction notes and take pictures of this process, to be used for our pattern testing instructions.

  • We finalise the paper pattern and send it to our grading company, who scans in the different pattern pieces manually and then grades them to our different sizes digitally. We always provide the size chart and the grading increments.
  • We receive a hard copy of our new pattern in all the different sizes and we receive a digital file. The digital file goes to our graphics designer, who translates the factory-style, digital mumbo jumbo to a readable sewing pattern the way we are used to seeing them.

  • We send out instructions and a pattern to our pattern testers for them to make up the new pattern in their size. We receive feedback and thoroughly go through this to see which instructions weren’t clear enough, or if we have made a mistake in the pattern somewhere. It’s also good to see how the pattern looks on different body types, and what alterations testers had to make to achieve a good fit. Whilst we wait for our testers’ feedback we work on the pattern envelope and the instruction guide.
  • We make any changes to our pattern according to the feedback and then finalise the rest of the product: designing the front and back of the pattern envelope and the step-by-step instruction guide. Our graphics designer helps us with this.
  • The end! We make our pattern available in either digital format and/or paper format.

What makes creating new sewing patterns a longer process than creating a new fabric print, is the amount of trial and error involved in the pattern development, the testing process by other people, and the amount of digital and design work to make it into a product. All these steps also make this a really fun process, and playing with pattern development becomes something you come to incorporate into the process to really explore what it is you want to create. It feels great being able to create something you have dreamt up in your head and to use your inspiration and your knowledge to put together a product.


Team Selkie

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