Reality Check about 3 D pattern design – IACDE meeting in Bielefeld

16. February 2015 — 2 Comments

cropped-img_269811.jpgFor sure many of you have seen the new HoloLens advertising from Microsoft and we all remember the famous scene in Ironman II when Rober Downey Jr. ( starts at 3.30 min.) develops his hyper technical armour in an holographic mode. Who would not love to do things like that but too often these ideas still belong to Hollywood studios and not so much our real life.

With this in mind we asked 3 of our current CAD supplier members of the IACDE to do a reality check and clarify the current status of 3D design vs. 2D pattern making and physical prototyping. Now the task was to take the measurements of some of our colleagues and then build a garment based on these figures in both ways, digital and physical and then compare them in an open, uncompetitive way – no advertisement, no exiting fair presentation shows – just real life.

This was the outcome:

We started with some first explanations about Avatars versus real scanned bodies. Here we identified already the first challenges. Every human is asymmetric, with lots of personal specialties, the system’s Avatar isn’t. As we could see this creates some difficulties to think on and which are needed to calibrate, the real model vs. the digital one. We all know these discussions about a real personal fitting and a fitting on a fit model dummy – it never ends. One of the CAD systems was able to show the real scan of a colleague and then convert it into a symmetric Avatar. I must say that the second version looked a bit like sportsmen dressed in the tight wind-optimised suits during winter olympic games. But that for sure is a personal note 🙂


Besides the Avatar creation also every material has its own physical implications. Some are more soft, some more fluffy, some more stiff, some materials are thicker, some thinner – all that has to be put into the system to get a realistic result. Every CAD supplier has worked on that matter in the past years and so we could see a lot of progress compare to older versions. Basically all systems check the real material according to a set of tests and then assign it to the right “digital clone”. More will be shown at the Texprocess in Frankfurt in May.





After the theoretical introduction this the first model went “on stage” and we all saw a male colleague in a shirt and a trouser. He was a regular member of our german Chapter with nothing special. Behind him we could see his digital version on screen in the same two pieces and funny enough we could really identify him. Yes, you can argue that there were some different pleats and irregular fullness on the 3D version but the same was in reality when he moved and passed our rows.

male model 1


Another very important detail – real people move, they eat and change their posture during the day, they are never the same. The Avatar is fixed so far, but all CAD suppliers are working on this and very soon the Avatars will get a Skeleton and will be able to move or posture in different ways and surroundings.

The second male colleague went on stage and again, different brands for the pattern making, pant production and software, but still a very impressive result. When seeing this we started to discuss the further process – do we need prototypes in the near future, do we need both – who will do this 3D job, the current pattern designers ?



First up our professors of fashion schools argued that not all school tuition plans are aligned and so not all students learn about the new software systems and functions. Not even the professors have the same knowledge and mindset on that.

Next were the current pattern designers – the older ones have gone personally through the change form paper pattern to 2D software. Why not do the same from 2D to 3D. Others argued that you need other skills for this new world – maybe you need to study moviemaking or virtual arts. Also there was the discussion about the organisational structure. Is 3D part of technical design or part of creative departments and collection development.


Here we were reminded to the old stories that in 2D systems you can do pattern making and marker making – one is creative, the other rather technical, but both run in the same software environment. I am sure there will be many ways and trials to find the right setup once the 3D systems become more normal and used more often.

Finally we did a small podium discussion with representatives of all 3 CAD suppliers and one professor of a fashion school and talked about the near future and maybe 5 – 10 years ahead. It was a very intense discussion with a lot of questions from the audience about the next steps. A major outcome was that we somehow have to start to work with it and learn together with the software suppliers. It’s not a mature system nor do we have a mature process for it. But we felt was that it will be the next step in our industry to work with.

And it will change our way of prototyping and producing collections. Due to thousands of scanned customers and massive data of various countries we understand better and better what to develop and how to best fit the end consumer. 3D scanning becomes easy and achievable, see a very impressive example here. Some even said that in a few years we will be able to scan ourselves with a regular smart phone camera. More and more we see that consumer electronics will change our habits and push us further in professional life. Augmented reality is there, you can buy apps and transform your smart phone for a few bucks into a 3D viewer.  We, as CAD users, gave a hint to the software programmers. Why not hire “cracks” from the gaming industry to make our systems run easier and have a better user interface, easier to use and with more fun ? It was never easier to cross-innovate !

One fine example for this was the location of the final dinner – a revamped former protestant church, now transformed into a restaurant & bar. We loved it 🙂



After two days all participants ended the meeting with lots of energy and strong willingness to start to engage in this field.

How about you – are you already working with 3D systems or do you have hesitations ? Is it the next big thing in textile industry or do you believe in the traditional way of design in real D instead of 3D ?

stay tuned



2 responses to Reality Check about 3 D pattern design – IACDE meeting in Bielefeld


    I would love to see technology like this meet up with 3d printing so people with extremely unusual figures could get clothes made. I did some custom patternmaking and clothing for a friend who was extremely obese due to some funky endocrine issues (hips a full 6 feet around on while she was only 5 feet tall). Tricky and time consuming, but it was just impossible for her to buy anything at a store.

    I’ve also heard the occasional rant from parents of disabled children, who need clothing that opens in unusual ways (like zippers down the leg, for example) to accommodate wheelchairs or prosthetics, and it seems like this type of technology would be a good step towards making customized clothing for that market.



      Dear April,
      you are right, the more we engage in this field the more ideas appear to use the technology. There are scanners on the market now for less than 500 $ which are used for gaming industry and so I expect that there will be some other startups to make something out of it. In the Netherlands I found a colleague whom you can send your measurements and then he’ll send you back the revised block pattern with your personal modifications. It is still in Betaphase but I expect there is more on the way…


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