Let’s go open-source with digital patterns making

Susan Spencer Conklin is a networker, she’s not a programmer, but knows about programming, she’s not a designer but knows how to sew and in the last months she’s been giving presentations to invite developers to help create a suite of open source software to produce and modify clothing patterns in open data formats to match an individual’s body measurement and generate customized patterns as printable files.
Current applications for pattern making are infact proprietary and expensive, require proprietary operating systems, and on top on that they are not designed to interoperate or give not much control on the creation process. An open source-solution would enable individuals and small labels designers to enter the market with lower investments costs and local markets would flourish more easily being able to share and exchange knowledge.

And it’s not only a matter of business. Schools and educational environment would benefit of a software without paying multiple licenses and students would be involved in the open-source community from the beginning, being able to use it in different and more creative ways.

Some days ago Linux Magazine made an interview to her and this an excerpt from it:

” In today’s global economy, small, independent fashion designers are doing well. Better than ever, in fact. In order for these independents to grow their businesses to keep up with demand, they’ll need tools to expand or speed production, yet retain the high quality, good fit, and creativity that is the source of their success. If they sacrifice any of these characteristics, they may compromise their business. Open source tools are important for programmers, web developers and graphics designers in reducing costs and increasing creativity. It makes sense that open source tools could be developed for fashion designers and garment manufacturers as well. ”

” I’ve been in computer networking for 20 years. I’ve been sewing since I was four. Upon retirement, I decided to sew again, and realized that I wanted more creativity than I had used when I made all my clothes from patterns. Being an old person at this point, I knew I needed help. I looked at the available options and nothing met my needs. I began reading about pattern making, and realized the old ways were incredibly powerful and encouraged creativity, but I didn’t want to bend over a cutting table all the time. So I started talking to my husband about writing a program to perform the manual calculations to make patterns.
My husband [Steve Conklin, Ubuntu Kernel Engineer] mentioned it to one of his friends (whom some people know as Rejon), who thought it was totally cool and suggested I submit a presentation application to the Libre Graphics Meeting in Brussels last May. They accepted me as a presenter! ”

“At the moment, I’m creating Python scripts by hand. Each pattern is developed on top of a grid created in Inkscape using client data. I recently developed a procedure to generate the control points that an individual curve requires so that I don’t have to manually calculate them. Yay!
The goal is to create a program suite with a GUI for the designer and a GUI for the client, for the clients who meet with the designer. I would also like to create a web site version, which would allow designers to post their patterns, and for clients to log in, enter data, buy patterns, etc. I envision the designer GUI to be similar to Inkscape’s GUI.”

At Openwear we are very interested in this type of developments and we’ve also been working on finding some funds and partners to develop a workshop to support the current developments in the area of technical fashion design. The discussions and exchanges we had in the past months regarding a pattern software was focused on implementing it in a free and open-source Java environment called “Processing“ and put a special highlight on the parametric ( a method of linking dimensions and variables to geometry in such a way that when the values change, the part changes as well) potential of such a software. It would be good to have soon an international interdisciplinary meeting, we are working on it.

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