Today I'm showing you the possibilities of making and easily changing sewing patterns in Rhino 3D. I learned this technique in the course Textile Academy in October.

Many of you might know Rhino for its 3D shapes and drawings, but you can also use the programme to make 2D drawings. We used Rhino for digital pattern making because it’s very precise software. Most pattern design software is very expensive and is only affordable for large companies. If you're an independent designer or pattern maker, this process could save you time and resources.

We started by constructing a basic dress pattern in Rhino using our own body measurements. On the left you see 1/2 front side and on the right 1/2 back side of the dress. The top and bottom part are split. These patterns need to be cut from double folded fabric, otherwise you would have a seam in the middle.

So far, so good. But the excitement starts here: with a digital pattern it is easy to change the darts of a garment with just a few clicks, creating a new pattern.

No paper waste, no waste of time, just some data loss

To change the location of a bust dart on the top front part of the pattern, we can rotate it in any direction, starting from the bust apex. To close a dart, we first have to open/cut the ‘fabric’ on the opposite side. So here you see an animated example of how I shift the front dart to the side:

  1. I draw the new desirable horizontal dart
  2. I split and rotate the bottom part until it fits the original dart we want to remove
  3. I do the same for the top part
  4. I close the bottom part
  5. And finally I remove the old dart lines

You can do this with any dart, as long as you rotate them starting from the apex. But darts can also be decorative instead of just being a construction seam. By closing a dart at the top and leaving it open at the bottom for example you create a pleat. You can also use it as a decorative stitching line.

The only thing missing now is the seam tolerance. We can simply create this by using the command "offset" and create a tolerance of 1 cm around.

The one thing I find really amazing is how you can create a different garment from a basic pattern with just a few clicks

We used a vinyl cutter to "print" the pattern. The vinyl cutter is meant to create stickers, but it works like a plotter when you replace the knife with a drawing pen. It draws the pattern segments on paper within seconds. This is a good way to test if the pattern fits, before you cut the pattern out of fabric. An easy and precise way to cut the pattern out of fabric is by using a laser cutter machine. Your local fab lab or makerspace usually offers the use of vinyl cutters and laser cutting machines to the public.

Used commands: split, trim, explode, join, rotate, offset

If you're interested in learning techniques like these and many other textile skills, you can register for the new and improved Fabric Academy, starting September 26th 2017.

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