3. Circular fashion#

This week I made a skirt based on a tessellated pattern I designed.

Research and development#


When I lived in San Diego, I was enamored with the pinecones out there: they were unopened and exhibited a beautiful pattern unlike the pinecones in the Northeast. I wanted to recreate this pattern in my tessellation. (By the way, I learned in my research, that pinecones open and close in response to humidity). The design I was most inspired by is shown below:

Creating the tessellated design modules#

I started sketching my designs using pen and paper as originally advised in lecture, but I’m much better at using vector design programs, so I started making my design using Adobe Illustrator. I transformed a rectangle and turned it into a curvy diamond (see pattern on left of the following image):

I knew I wanted my tessellation module to have a “center” (the seed), and so I designed the module so that the interlocks would go through the center of the module. I designed this using Illustrator, as Illustrator allowed me to be really precise with where I was placing patterns:

Prototyping on paper#

To check the interlocking of my pattern, I cut my patterns on paper using my digital die cutter (KNK Zing). The patterns seemed to interlock:

…so I went ahead with trying to lay out the pattern in the skirt I wanted.

Creating the garment and laying out the tessellated modules#

I knew I wanted to make a skirt for this assignment, so I found a free skirt pattern from Craftsy. I had no idea how to work with patterns, so I had to watch YouTube videos such as this one to understand how to use the pattern.

Again, using Illustrator, I laid out the pattern for the skirt, and started laying out my modules on top of the skirt pattern as below:

As a result of laying out my modules, I realized that I wanted to design two more tessellation modules: one for the top band of the skirt, and one for the bottom. In total, I had three tessellation modules:

From laying out my patterns, I realized I needed the following quantity of each tessellation module:

Nesting the patterns to prepare for cut#

I started manually laying out the patterns I needed, and then thought: “OK, this is crazy. There has to be an automated way of doing this.” And there was! I found this open source program called Deepnest that allows you to input vector patterns into it, specify the quantity of each pattern needed, and it suggests different ways to place your pattern on the requirements you specify. Here are some screenshots of me working with it:

Homescreen: where you input all your patterns

The settings page. This page is important as I learned that the program was scaling my patterns in a funky way. Basically you need to find the right SVG scale factor so that when you export your nested patterns, the size is how you physically want it

How Deepnest suggests the different nesting patterns to you. I picked the nesting pattern that suggested the least number of sheets to use


For cutting, I used an Epilog CO2 laser (40 Watt). Before I cut my pattern, I did a few trial runs, cutting test squares from the neoprene textile I was going to use. From my trial runs, I found that these were the best settings:

Using these settings yielded the following results:


…was tricky!

I knew how to assemble my patterns on a small scale, and it was easy to assembly the fabric as I wanted.

Outside of skirt

Inside of skirt

When it came time to put the skirt on, I had a bit more trouble, and realized that I didn’t need as many tessellated patterns that I originally budgeted for.