Apparel Design Show Poster Research

Past posters/postcard designs for the show
Past posters/postcard designs for the show

New Assignment: make poster and companion postcard for Apparel Design Show, themed “Apex.”

Today, some people from the program at Seattle Central Community Collage Apparel Design came to tell us about who they are and what they do. They brought material, specs, technical drawings, a couple of mounted presentations, tools of the trade and pattern swatches. Along with the creative brief, they talked about how the focus of the program is on technical excellence so the graduates are “employable right out of the gate.”

The focus is commercially viable clothing. They gave us insight into what they do, explaining the importance of the pattern and technical drawings and spec packages, which are spreadsheets with the specifics of the garment. One woman commented, “This is what you’d send to China.” The importance of this technical, standardized communication is paramount because time costs money and if one little thing goes wrong, managers have to be brought in and production halted– or worse, it goes unnoticed and you have 1,500 mistakes.

That’s why they must measure. They are precise. Their tools reflect this need. They have rulers for the hipcurve, the armhole. They are specific to 1/32 of an inch. Pattern grading is some kind of mathematical formula performed to create different sizes. Their tools: zigzag scissors, awls, pinkwheels, with beautiful wooden handles or shiny steel. They take care and pride in their tools. Apparently, the best tools of this type come from Japan.

The theme is Apex, the highest point on a pattern. One of the women showed us using paper how to make a dart. A dart is cinched fabric creating a point. A 2D object becoming 3D. All of us graphic designers oooh-ed at this obscure magic. (Considering that we stare at 2D creations all day, it’s quite refreshing.)

The women presenting told us not to take the theme too literally, because sometimes the apex on a pattern (the highest point on a bust pattern) is the nipple. I think every industry has their little inside jokes but I am curious if that theme was chosen especially for the little nudge nudge wink wink to all of the pattern makers.

Though the focus is technical excellence, there is a design component to the program and it’s during this final line show that they can truly express their individuality. One of the women executed a bomber jacket, limited by the assignment parameters of it having to be a modern bomber jacket with zipper welt pockets and an inspiration from the 50s, she had created a beautiful design line with the plaid pattern. It is important to sew with consideration to the bias of the fabric. And it’s beautiful when a garment is constructed with conscious manipulation of the pattern.

An example of garment construction using the pattern to create an interesting composition.
An example of garment construction using the pattern to create an interesting composition.

“The bias direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as “the bias”, is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.”

via Bias (textile) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The poster: the client recommends that we emphasize modern, clean and technical, but implying creation, manipulation, “touched by the hand.”

I’m very excited to see how apparel design can be translated into graphic design.


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