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Meet the Author: Digital Pattern Cutting for Fashion with Lectra Modaris


Patricia Grice is a visiting tutor at Arts University Bournemouth, where she was a senior lecturer for 15-years. Throughout her fashion career she has worked with many high street brands in design, pattern cutting and garment technology and is a digital pattern consultant. After compiling several Modaris step-by-step user guides she was encouraged to collate her Modaris expertise into a book. The result is ‘Digital Pattern Cutting for Fashion with Lectra Modaris’, which incorporates step-by-step tutorials to guide users through pattern modification, 3D realization, alteration and visual effects, leading to the completion of a finished production pattern.

Here FashionCapital talks to Patricia about the book, who can benefit from it, the future of pattern cutting and more. Published by Bloomsbury FashionCapital readers can take advantage of the exclusive Bloomsbury / FashionCapital Members Only area which features the latest fashion books and guides plus 35% Members Only savings. Click here to browse Patricia’s book and more.

FC: What made you decide to compile the book?

Patricia: As a senior lecturer at the Arts University Bournemouth, I was responsible for researching and implementing the Lectra Modaris pattern cutting system into the course curriculum several years ago. Over the years, I compiled extensive ‘Modaris user guides’ and relevant step-by-step handouts to go with the workshops I delivered. I was encouraged by colleagues and students to develop this work into a publication. Ultimately, my aim was to provide the essential skills required to become a proficient Modaris user and hopefully to offer an invaluable resource for all Modaris students.

FC: How important do you think digital pattern cutting is in today’s fashion industry?

Patricia: The use of digital technology in both pattern cutting and design has become increasingly important both in the fashion industry and education. For the pattern cutter, I would say, a good knowledge of a digital system is becoming essential and highly desirable in the job market. Today, digital pattern making software continues to grow and with the addition of 3D technology innovation makes this an exciting time, offering the opportunity to not only increase accuracy and efficiency, but to support creative and original pattern cutting.

Initially, the digital process was considered mainly appropriate for mass production to aid productivity, cost, time to market, and perceived as more pattern modification rather than a creative solution. Now, students are experimenting more and realising that this technology can support innovative and original pattern making, for example, drape experimentations can be reproduced on screen, in fact most manual pattern cutting process, with practice, can be performed digitally with the screen, keyboard and mouse. I have always maintained, however, that the computer is only a tool, it does not replace manual skills, and the basics of flat pattern cutting should be mastered prior to progressing to digital solutions.

FC: There are a number of software packages to create digital patterns available – how does a student choose and how do they vary?

Patricia: There are so many new offers emerging especially in 3D virtual prototyping and the addition of this technology innovation makes this an exciting time for students. My own experience is with the French company Lectra, who have always been committed to the training of future professionals, with more than 850 schools and universities in 60 countries benefitting from its expertise. Universities can become education partners, creating access to the latest technology developments, and to their fashion network, offering worldwide communication opportunities. Contacts with industry through competitions, seminars and internship programs are readily encouraged, this really reinforces support for the student, which is one of the reasons we went with their program originally. But I do think it is difficult for a student to choose individually, especially as most of the bigger companies offer licences, which have substantial cost implications. However, there are many UK and European universities now offering these programmes. Some of the newer companies emerging offer a free online trial. This is always worth comparing.

Overall, I would say, to keep an open mind to new developments and be willing to commit to learning and push the boundaries to discover exciting new challenges. Most software packages are linked to product development, and manufacture, but some more recent packages adopt a more design led approach to technology, so it is all about the research!

FC: Is the book suitable for a complete beginner?

Patricia: Yes, ‘Digital Pattern Cutting for Fashion with Lectra Modaris’ can be used both as a step-by-step guide for the beginner or a reference manual for the more advanced student wishing to explore 3D innovation further, and has been developed as a user friendly guide.

For the beginner, manual pattern cutting exercises are re-created on screen, for example ‘How to move a dart, how to add a facing etc.,’ It is, however, important to remember that in order to use any pattern cutting system effectively, the student would still have to be proficient in manual pattern cutting. The same rules and principals apply as in flat pattern cutting, the process is the same – the method of performing it is different. I would recommend a basic understanding of computers and general knowledge of software procedures and most importantly a good level of manual pattern cutting knowledge.

FC: The pattern cutter is often the unsung hero in the fashion design process is there anyone in industry that you admire for their pattern cutting skills?

Patricia: Many innovative pattern cutting methods and alternative approaches are emerging. One name who comes to mind is the Swedish designer/pattern cutter Rickard Lindqvist who has published his extensive practice based research on ‘an alternative approach that has the living, moving body as its kinetic foundation.’ He explores the body and its movement and applies this to pattern drafting.

The Japanese designer Shingo Sato, known for his ‘Transformational Reconstruction’ process holds workshops around the world for students. He shows how to re-create different shapes directly onto a toile, and then transforms the results onto a flat pattern. For the student, this is a highly effective learning process from simple ideas to very complex shapes.

I think Julian Roberts ‘Subtraction Cutting’ technique offers many opportunities to develop alternative shapes and is now taught in many fashion schools. But for technical expertise and creative pioneering, I would look at the 1970’s Japanese designers Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto who’s clever cutting techniques challenged many conventions.

FC: How do you see the role of the pattern cutter developing in the future?

Patricia: Pattern cutting is a highly creative and forward thinking activity. But also, fashion is fast paced and in order to keep up with the demands of industry, pattern cutting needs to embrace technology. This said, a good pattern cutter will combine manual methods with technology to achieve the best outcome for the task in hand. To this end, 3D prototyping opens up exciting challenges, not only as a tool to aid fit and alteration, but as an integral part of the progression from pattern to toile. By viewing the garment in a ‘virtual’ environment, it is possible to make design, colour, print and fabric decisions prior to toile making. It is worth mentioning that some companies have strategies in place to develop zero waste and sustainability, a challenging and exciting time for the pattern cutter. I think companies are on the lookout for the next generation of talent who are well-grounded in technology, but are also eager to learn and can offer creative and innovative solutions.

Thank-you Patricia.

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