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Student Success

Fashion Design Students Utilize Computer Aided Technology to Virtually Simulate and Fit Garments 

A model wears an athleisure set and stands posed in front of a tree. The top of the suit is orange and red striped with buttons down the front, a collar, and white piping around the arm holes and bottom of the crop top. The pants are blue with an elastic waist.
Athleisure look designed by Caroline Emma Diaz for FTD 419.

By Elyse Boldizar

Computer-aided design (CAD) technology is quickly becoming an essential tool in the fashion design industry. CAD software allows designers to sketch ideas, make patterns, model garments and adapt them for specific body types and applications. The future of CAD in fashion design makes room for more inclusive and environmentally-conscious designs. 

Students studying fashion and textile design (FTD) in the fashion design concentration at the Wilson College of Textiles get valuable hands-on experience using CAD in their Fashion Design Level Two course (FTD 419). 

Five images are arranged in a collage. Three images show digital mock-ups of athleisure designs: blue pants and a matching shirt along with a peach-colored jumpsuit. The last image shows a model wearing the finished products against a brick backdrop.
Caroline Diaz, a senior studying fashion and textile design, titled her project “Making Waves” and developed looks inspired by ’70s athleisure.

FTD students take FTD 419 during the fall semester of their fourth year in the program. This studio course allows students to practice using a wide range of virtual design and fit technologies before embarking on their capstone Emerging Designers Showcase in the spring.

Designing Differently

“I want this to be an opportunity for students to really explore different ways of creating a garment,” Assistant Professor Chanmi Gloria Hwang says. “That includes creating garments for a broad range of body types and using a variety of different computer-aided design tools that are available in our department.”

Hwang introduces students to advanced technologies such as digital pattern making and 3D simulation fitting, computer-controlled cutting, digital textile printing and laser cutting among other 3D visualization softwares. The course challenges students to solve apparel problems such as limited fit ranges and impersonal style options using virtual fit simulations that allow designers to customize for an array of body types and incorporate consumer preferences. 

Semester Project

During a semester-long project, students in FTD 419 develop garments for a target consumer they know in their real lives. Treating this consumer as if they were an entire market, students survey this individual’s lifestyle, measurements and preferences. The designers then use visual simulation software — Clo3D and Gerber — to draft garment patterns, simulate, and cut the garments, which they ultimately print into five wearable pieces using a plotter. 

The students’ collections must include two knit tops with all-over and engineered digital textile printing, a pair of pants that incorporates elastic variations in the design, one piece with either laser cutting or etching using recycled material and one final piece of their choosing.

Three images arranged in a collage formation against a black backdrop. The first image displays a 3D visualization software mock-up of an outfit: a boxy black tee shirt with “NPC” printed on the side on top of a dark gray sweatshirt, lighter gray jogger pants made from a sweatshirt-like material. The next image shows a flat, white pattern of jogger pants. The final image shows the garments in their completed form, worn by a person. There is white text at the top that reads, "Everyone is a character in their own life, but at the same time an NPC in someone else's life."
Jarrell’s NPC: Non-Player Character project, from the original mock-up design on Clo3D to the finished product, worn by her consumer.

“One thing that stood out to me was getting the feedback from my consumer,” Sarah Jarrell, a Master of Textiles student says. “Every time I designed a piece, I’d send them a picture asking if they liked it and they would give me feedback. It was very much like a designer-client relationship where their impact really meant a lot to the project.”

Jarrell titled her project, NPC: Non-Player Character and used software like Adobe Photoshop and Clo3D to design a graphic tee shirt, knit hoodie, jogger pants, a leather sling bag and a button down shirt for her consumer.

Access to Resources

While FTD 419 is a required course for all fashion design students, Jarrell said she would have enrolled even if it was not — highlighting how the course taught her about valuable resources in the college.

“Dr. Hwang exposed us to a bunch of different technologies and resources that we have within the Wilson College that we didn’t really know about before,” Jarrell says. “She’s really been able to bridge the gap between technology and fashion design.”

A group of students gather around a screen displaying a powerpoint that reads “FTD 419”.
Students in FTD 419 visit the Dyeing and Finishing Lab in the Wilson College of Textiles for their first project.