Digital Fabric Design: Creative & Technical Exploration

Using CLO3D to visualize engineered garments

This post summarizes a customized undergraduate student project that incorporated an exploration into and experimental development of vector based surface design graphics. The new methods explored by the student were non-repeat yardage & engineered garment design.

The aesthetic goal of this project is to capture the essence of Hawaii. Water life, flora, and volcanoes of Hawaii are incorporated into the surface designs. Research was conducted to integrate the surface theme with the traditional sarong garment styling as well as develop engineered garments inspired by the sarong.

Faith Scheffer Moeuhane-Fabric-Design-II

The challenge was to first conduct a variety of research then develop a Hawaiian theme that is integrated with current color and print trends. A new method of print design for the student involved four very large lengths of silk fabric (four sarongs)  that did not contain a repeat. Another challenge was to explore and develop custom engineered prints for garment pattern design and construction. Garment patterns were traditionally developed and digitized into the OptTtex application. From there they were exported and then imported into Adobe Illustrator where the surface graphics were added. CLO3D was used as a 3D visualization aid for viewing surface graphic design placement.

Vector based applications are perfect for creation of either large width/length pieces of yardage or for developing graphics for full-scale garment patterns because vector files are resolution free thus the file sizes are manageable as compared to raster files. Vector files can be easily exported as a raster of any quality.

The wide scale  (42″ by 72″) fabric non-repeat design was easily created by the student in Adobe Illustrator. The silk fabric yardage was printed at Inkdrop Printing. Garment patterns for this project were  created using the traditional methods of flat patternmaking and then patterns are digitized into the computer. The full-scale garment patterns were then imported into Adobe Illustrator and surface designs were created directly onto the garments patterns. 3D visualization helps with design development. Fabric was digitally printed with the digitally embellished surface patterns at Spoonflower. The two garments are then constructed.

The resulting Moe’uhane, (which means “dream” in Hawaiian) collection consists of four sarong yardages and two Hawaiian-inspired garments. They were recently presented publicly at the BSCRUNWAY 5.0 annual fashion event sponsored by the Fashion and Textile Technology Program at Buffalo State College, USA.

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Link to Faith Scheffer student designer interview

note: If you are an educator and have a 2D/3D apparel/textile product development prototype project that either you or your student(s) created and would like to share with readers of this blog, please contact me at

copyright © 2012 by Elaine Polvinen all rights reserved.

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