It could be said that patterns are the architecture of fashion, to the extent that they are geometric constructions based on the measures of the body that are used as forms in the production of garments; in other words, they are two-dimensional pieces that reflect the three-dimensional nature of a garment. Each pattern consists of all the pieces that go into a garment, and the larger the number of pieces the more complex the composition of the design will be. For example, the pattern for a jacket will include the pieces for the back, the front, the sleeves, the collar, the pockets, the facings, and the lining, thus qualifying it as a rather complex garment to produce. It is important to keep in mind that all of these pieces are part of a unit, and as such if one piece is modified this will affect all the others, which, in turn, will require modification as well. Preciseness in patterns is fundamental to arriving at a well-made garment that feels good to wear.
There exist basic design patterns for skirts, jackets, pants, etc., which, in order to obtain new volumes, can be taken as a base and with the application of pleats, cloth inserts, and reductions of cloth, can be played with to create garments that are much more innovative and elaborate. It is striking how the variation of small elements sometimes can change the image of a garment completely. A simple example of this is the skirt shown in the image, which with the insertion of godets and some pleats, goes from being a piece with a totally straight silhouette to one with volume and movement. Patterns are generally drawn on paper, preferably paper with a certain amount of resistance but also easy to cut. Some people prefer semi-transparent paper in order to be able to modify the drawing with greater ease.
Once the pattern is finished and any modifications deemed necessary have been carried out, the pieces are then cut individually. As a reference for knowing where to join one with the other, or where to make a mark or fold in the cloth later on, small holes are made in the cloth.
To transfer the pattern to the fabric, it is necessary to have washed the cloth—to avoid possible deformations such as shrinking—and ironed it. It is then positioned upside down, and the pieces of the pattern are set on top of it, keeping in mind the orientation of the motifs or, if present, the texture of the fabric, as in the case of corduroy. In such cases the pieces can only be placed in one direction so that they look right when joined together, which perhaps prevents taking advantage of the entire surface of the cloth and will require that more of it be bought than if the cloth were solid and without any printing on it.
Once they have been used, patterns are stored in envelopes or hung from hooks, in order to avoid wrinkling.