3. Circular fashion

The topic of this week was one of the most interesting and inspiring topics for me. It is focusing on the concept of modular open source fashion and its impact in making the fashion industry having minimal or zero waste to the environment.


Circular fashion concept was defined for the first time in 2014 based on the concepts of circular economy and sustainable development. The main focus is to produce fashion in ethical way that is designed with high longevity, efficiency, non- toxicity, biodegradability and recyclability (Refer to the link).

Circular fashion = modular fashion = eco-friendly and recyclable

1- Modularity: the design is made based on some geometrical patterns with a technique for interlocking or connections to join small pieces together and to make one textile with no additional stitching or sewing. Those sub-components of a textile can be disassembled or separated as desired to reshape the design which can be considered as a material recycling.
2- Produced with non- toxic, high quality biodegradable materials that can be easily recycled. 3- Produced using a new method to minimize the waste generated from textile production processes which consequently minimizes the need to the extraction of new raw material.

Interesting Examples for Modular Design

Indian textiles that use stitched pieces of fabric of different styles and designs to make one artistic piece of textile that can be used as a table sheet or wall hanging poster.

My mom is a big fan of the circular fashion for home decor, the following picture represents one of her work pieces using leftover material of textiles. The nice thing about these designs is that the single module is indulged along with other small modules to build a unique artistic piece that can be open ended.

Promoting Circular Fashion

I became interested in learning about circular fashion when I knew about some garments’ recycling campaign that was announced by H&M stores.


I am inspired by the Islamic design for patterns. The islamic patterns are very special due to the fact that they are developed from gemetrical polygons. It is very interesting to see how simple gemetry can build interesting artistic pieces.

Islamic Culture Geometry


A tessellation of a flat surface is the tiling of a plane using one or more geometric shapes with no overlaps or gaps. There are regular tesselations and semi-regular tesselations (refer to the link). .

Here is very interesting simulation tool to draw different tesselations (Tesselation Artist) to produce artistic patterns.

Regular tesselations especially the squares and triangles can be used as a grid to help in sketching the irregular tesselation which will make designing patterns very easy. The following video is explaining how the grid and patterns work together.

Interesting Research

The Assignment of the Week

The assignment of the week is to design and fabricate a modular prototype using different interlocking techniques to make a Fab Textile. First, the interconnections concept need to be tested with a paper and scissors and once the interlocking strategy works to join pieces in a good way, the pieces need to be cut with the laser machine and assemble the pieces to make a garment.

Used Softwares, Tools & Machines

  • Rhinoceros 6 Software
  • LaserCut Software
  • Silhouette Studio Software
  • Silhoette Cameo 3
  • Gweike LC 1390S Laser Machine
  • Colored Cardstock Paper
  • Scissors
  • Colored thick felt (2mm)

Work Process

I have followed this guide to understand how to obtain sophisticated patterns using a compass and a ruler.

1- Defining the modules of the pattern: I find the star with 8 vertices and the octagon very interesting design.

2- Defining the technique for interlocking the modules. There are several techniques for interlocking the pieces; however, fastening joints of the pieces is one of the most interesting techniques -shown in the figure bellow as number 1-. Also weaving srips of a fabric can give very nice technique as shown below.

The Design

1- First I started with simple design using the paper and scissors to make simple models as shown below.

Finally, I came up with the interlocking technique.

2- I have used Rhinoceros software to design the 2D models for the pattern.

The first 2D shape: the octagon.

The second 2D shape: the Islamic design star with 8 vertices.

The third 2D shape: the sharp star with 8 vertices. Since the star should be aligned with the other star, I designed it over the previous shape to have the best results.

3- Defining the interlocking technique.

I have tried two different interlocking techniques; however, after testing, I could decide the one that will work better.

The first method:to have two slots at the octagon and to use them to woven the edges of the sharp star. This did not work properly and after cutting did not give good fitting.

I tried another way using the slot and its negative to fasten the two peice together and it worked perfectly :)

4- Exporting the file. Finally I got the desiered design as follows and exported it as a DXF to be cut with a computer controlled cutting machine.

Cutting the 2D Design

1- Text 1: Using paper and Silhouette Cameo 3

I have used the Silhouette Cameo 3 to cut the modules and to see how the interlocking and the general design will look before cutting the actual felt material. The experimental setup was as follows:

  • First result:

The problem with this design was the method for interlocking. The slots that I have designed well and after assembly the general design does not sustain the details of the Islamic pattern. Therefore, I have changed the slots to be at the edges of the octagon to get the desired Islamic texture.

  • Second Result:

I was quite happy with the design but it was as a chain while I needed the design to grow in different directions as a matrix to achieve modularity feature. Therefore, I have added few slots to the design to allow interlocking with other modules. I have modified the design in Rhino software to be as follows.

I have also modified the interlocking slot to have a better fit.

  • Third Result:

2- Test 2: Using felt and laser cutter.

The first step before using the material was to know how many pieces will be needed and what is the area required to optimize the material use. To do this, I first measured just under the neck and above the chest of my mannequin where the collar is usually placed.

The measurement was 65cm = total length, since I am interested in designing a collar then the total length of the piece should not be longer than 65am. Given the dimensions of each shape, octagon (L=10cm, W=10cm), the Islamic star with 8 vertices (L=10cm, W=10cm) and the sharp star with 8 vertices (L=12cm, W=12cm), also for each three set of stars there is one octagon. This relation can help to estimate the optimized amount of material to be used.

2-1- Cutting on the laser machine:

One challenge was to nest the pieces in a way that will cuase minimal losses. I have used LaserCut software where I have nested the modules manually and to prepare the cutting settings for the material (felt).

For the settings to cut 2mm felt, the power should be 30% and speed should be 100%. Also, it was important to prioritise the cutting with by colors -Refer to Digital Bodies assignment for more details-. I colored the inner cuts in black and the outer cuts in green and I gave the priority to the black cuts as shown below.

Finally, after downloading the laser files to cut the different shapes, I have placed the material. However, to maintain the stability of the felt while the laser is cutting, I sticked the material over a scrap cardboard sheet.

The machine started with the inner cuts and then the outer cuts.

Finally got the pieces ready for assembly!!

2-2- Assembly of the pieces:

Final Piece :)

Future Improvements

  • First, I need to work more on the design especially the symmetry of the patterns as some of the shapes were not symmetric which made the assembly quite challenging.

I re-designed the parts with symmetry by coping while rotating around a circle.

  • Second, I need to work on the material efficiciency to optimize the use.
  • Third, the interlocking joints need to be re-designed with symmetry.

2D Models

Check the Drive Folder to download the 2D models. Also find the download files in (OS Circular Fashion)[https://oscircularfashion.com/project/-M-y5Dkr319r_55JutIc]