Sunday, October 26, 2008

Open source tailoring

I came across a fellow blogger AstoriaUnderground, who put in a nice mention about visiting Sleevehead. In one of her recent entries, she also mentioned Burdastyle, which is a site dedicated toward "open source sewing" and patterns for women's clothing.

This is an intriguing and brilliant idea I think. It's a mashup of the open source concept that originated in software development with the world of patternmaking and pattern cutting. The idea is to assemble a forum and community of designers and patternmakers of women's clothing to create new designs and inspire new ones. One of the side benefits would be a common language of patterns.

How might this concept benefit men's tailoring specifically? Bespoke production is highly skill dependent and labor intensive. As we know, the supply of skilled cutters, coatmakers and tailors of men's clothing is very constrained, at least in the US. And the costs of bespoke production remain extraordinarily high. If there is a way to a create a standardized language of pattern cutting, this could potentially make it easier to educate and train cutters and tailors and lay the groundwork for affordable, high quality garment production.


Monkeytail said...

Nice point of view. I'm a college/highschool-educator, tailor (not 'active') and - frontend - webdeveloper in The Netherlands.
What do you mean by 'standardized language of pattern cutting'. Could you give an example how an open-source pattern could evolves in time.

Toad said...

Two thoughts. I suspect the system you're imagining is exactly what is used in RTW now. Its a version of Cad/cam isn't it?

Second: If your imagining a make the pattern here, make the clothes there scenario, that too pretty well exists.

sleevehead said...

Thanks for the comments. My thoughts are around the application of a more standardized language of pattern cutting specifically for bespoke garment production. Of course, industry blocks and patterns have long existed for RTW. However, for bespoke tailoring, each tailor uses a different language and markings for pattern making and cutting.

Why is this a problem? From a training and production point of view, this is a system that does not scale easily. In economic terms, this typically means high costs. I'm not suggesting we standardize everything in bespoke. After all, "standardized bespoke" would be an oxymoron I think. However, in certain aspects of the production behind bespoke tailoring, I think an industry standard in pattern making and cutting could improve the preparation, consistency and execution of garment production.

Anonymous said...

Burda... hmm brings back my memories of 1970s and 80s. "Burda" was a very popular German fashion magazine for housefraus with obligatory foldout of sew-it-yourself project.

kathleen said...

I've worked in RTW suits for more years than I care to admit. Unfortunately, we can't seem to agree on verbiage either (I wrote two entries on the disparities which were very popular). But your point is taken.

sleevehead said...

Ahh, Burda I knew thee well. Always nice to bring back memories, isn't it? Thanks for filling in the blanks - I wasn't aware of Burda's origins.

Kathleen - Thanks for the comment. Your Fashion Incubator site looks very useful and comprehensive for folks in the trade. I already recognize one tailor's name who posted recently in your forum. Good stuff!