On September 12th, 1Granary was invited by Patrick Lee Yow himself, a respected Associate Lecturer on the BA Fashion at Central Saint Martins College, to attend a private view of the Innovative Pattern Cutting for Graduates and Professionals course, which runs for 9 weeks during the summer since 2000. The course “provides an innovative and relevant training programme for potential and practising pattern cutters and designers who need to expand their experience. It is designed to enhance creativity and provide a supportive postgraduate learning environment for personal and professional development.” Long story short…the Innovative Pattern Cutting course, led by Patrick Lee Yow, challenges the attendees to think ‘outside the box’!
The private view was held on the MA Fashion floor where all students’ works were presented; extremely well made garments on mannequins stood by the side of each pattern cutting table, which were covered with white pattern paper with the actual patterns placed underneath – clear and simply put presentation. The outcome of the course was that each student had to recreate one garment from their chosen designer’s collection, most of the garments being extremely complex. Many students chose to closely study famous designs of the prominent CSM alumni such as Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Phoebe Philo at Celine and even recent graduate Jackie JS Lee. But there were also garments recreated by students of many other amazing designers like Junya Watanabe, Gianfranco Ferre and others. The atmosphere was wonderful as the tutors and students got together to celebrate the completion of the course with Champaign and strawberries.
1 Granary had an opportunity to chat with some students from this year’s class and let them speak of their chosen designer, the garment and what made them to attend the given course.
Also, Patrick Lee Yow has kindly answered some of our questions below.
- What do you enjoy the most in teaching the course?
The students. They enrich the course. They learn from each other and I learn from them.
- What are the main challenges that you face as a tutor?
Trying to get my students to think ‘outside the box’ whilst enhancing their skill as well as achieving and maintaining excellence. Of course there are the never-ending issues such as course budgets not keeping pace with ever increasing costs. Let’s not go any further on this topic.
- Please tell us more about this year’s class and when did the first course start?
Many of this year’s graduates have the potential to become exceptional pattern cutters if they obtain the right industry nurturing and continue to practice. Do remember that not all of our students want to become pattern cutters. Many are designers who want to improve their cutting skills in order to inform the creative process. The one thing they all share in common is the chosen subject of study.
The Innovative Pattern Cutting programme was launched at CSM in 2000 and was the brainchild of Toni Tester, Senior Lecturer on the MA Fashion course. Toni had become quite concerned that many of the UK’s skilled pattern cutters were retiring from the Fashion Industry and Education, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to recruit cutters who could realise 3D shape/form through using a variety of pattern cutting techniques. After consulting the Industry, practicing pattern cutters and Industry Bodies course was developed and launched. And here we are in 2012 still delivering a quality course.
- What is the most important/crucial rule in pattern cutting? And what is “MUST NOT” in pattern cutting?
Heavens! There are so many according to the theorists and pattern cutting books out there, which in a way is part of the problem for many of our students. You know, the pattern is successful if when it is linked/sewn together, the resulting garment/shape is what you want to achieve. What is the point of creating a pattern that for all purposes appears accurate and perfect if the resulting garment is not what you wanted to achieve?
Take time to plan your approach, in fact, you should consider a variety of approaches and plans. Avoid tackling the whole garment at once. Break it into manageable elements and then put these together to form the whole. Never expect to get it right the first time.
Toni Tester always reminds the students to ‘bake the cake first and then decorate it’. Basically, this means to get the shape, proportion, fashion block sorted first, and then add the decorative bits such the collar, pockets, etc.
Professor Louise Wilson, Course Director of MA Fashion at CSM, describes many students as being institutionalised, and this is perhaps why when faced with a problem to solve, students revert to what I call ‘factory default setting’ and consult with one of the many cutting books published. They follow the instructions faithfully, not realising that these instructions are just basic guidance. They will not necessarily give you the results you want.
I have always found that students know more than they think they do and can eventually find clever solutions to problems. They lack confidence in themselves, and the confidence to transfer acquired knowledge and skills to the situation in hand. Thinking out side the box.
- In your opinion, who/which are the designers/houses that use the most innovative pattern cutting?
They all do in their own various ways. At one end, you have the likes of Iris van Herpen and at the other Celine. Do understand that complexity of cut or shape does not necessarily equate with innovation. Even the cut of budget priced garments can pleasantly surprise.
Thank you, Patrick!
And special thanks to Stephen.