Exploring manual and digital pattern design methodologies towards the development of the design education offering

Scheepers, AnnelizeStadio



Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design


  • aesthetic fit, digital patternmaking, functional fit, manual patternmaking, pattern-design, physical fit


This paper considers the importance of preserving ‘hand-skills’ in fashion design education for students to acquire the ability to visualise the shape, proportion and fit of a garment instead of relying solely on a computer. In addition, the apparel industry requirement for patternmakers to be familiar with digital patternmaking technology to speed up the efficiency of the patternmaking component of the manufacturing process is of equal importance. Both techniques are examined and compared in the research.

The connection between manual patternmaking and computerised technology when constructing patterns for the fashion industry is explored through means of qualitative research and purposive sampling for this paper.
The theoretical framework that underpins the study is the System Theory, which also guided the methodology used in this study. The Inputs, as part of the system theory, include both computer-generated patternmaking and manual patternmaking systems to produce outputs in the form of garments. The transformation of a garment, during construction, is part of a system and usually requires an expert machinist. The output of a system for garment construction usually includes a mock garment that guides the evaluation of fit. The creativity and functionality in the physical fit, aesthetic fit and functional fit of both the digital and manual results are assessed.

The findings from this study reveal the important role of manual patternmaking, in combination with the digital capabilities that the industry requires from pattern designers. It is evident from the findings that alternative education approaches in fashion design courses should be considered. Such an alternative approach may involve consideration around, training time and the potential for inter or multi approaches by including both: manual and digital patternmaking techniques. Computerised pattern design approaches are an indispensable instrument to keep pace with the advances in the garment industry, but this research proves that it is necessary for the future generation, in a world of technology, to learn manual patternmaking skills in order to preserve a high standard of technical knowledge.

Applying both manual and digital patternmaking approaches to pattern design courses advance the continuation of manual skills, yet, includes a collective learning setting where students are involved in the progression of a career-orientated learning experience, preparing them for the technological world that they are about to enter.


DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (https://www.defsa.org.za/imagine).