Interview with Stuart Anderson from Pattern School Online
Posted on May 01 2021
The person behind Pattern School online is Stuart Anderson. Follow this interview where we got to know a bit more about Stuart!
Who is Stuart Anderson? (how do you see yourself)
I'm just someone who loves making patterns and solving problems of geometry. I enjoy the intellectual challenges of research and the simple pleasures of being creative. I'm happy to just sit on the floor and make things, whatever they may be. If you wanted to know what drives me most, I'd say I just follow my heart wherever it leads ... and that's always somewhere interesting.
Where did you learn how to design patterns?
I did a Fashion Design Diploma at TAFE in Australia way back in 1985. During the course, my pattern making teacher volunteer me to go and work with a swim and active wear company in Australia when they were having trouble with stretch fit patterns. I'd shown a big interest in aerobics gear and appeared to have a natural affinity for pattern making. Back then pattern making for stretch was a trial and error affair based on woven pattern making rules. My teacher wanted my to work out a better way to make the basic blocks for stretch.
So I got permission to leave college for a month and went to work on researching stretch fabrics. The company concerned gave me full access to machinery, sample makers and all the fabrics I could cut up ... for a student it was the opportunity of a life time, not to mention huge fun.
Admittedly it took me a while because I, like everyone else, was still thinking about just making woven patterns smaller. I had started noticing that many of the one piece swimsuit samples that fit were consistently the same amount smaller than the close fit blocks they were made from, not by an increment, but by a percentage. I applied that percentage reduction to body measurements and made new samples which fit perfectly every time. With a little bit more effort I was able to work out that the ripples in swimsuits were related to excessive tension in certain direction and could be removed by changing percentages in certain areas. This was the basis of negative ease. I documented the method and presented it to my college teachers who sent it around the country to all the other colleges. It became the basis of all stretch fit pattern making taught today.
I received many offers over the next several years to develop specific techniques, which I incorporated as a part of further education in universities in Australia, the UK and France.
Where did you start? Did you go directly to the stretch fabrics world? (yes or no, if no where did you start)
I think this is part of the previous question
During your career what's your favorite pattern (made by you)?
Difficult question. The artistic side of me changes favorites almost daily :P ... but I probably have the most fondness for monokinis: in particular a CB seam, slightly cheeky bottom with long panels going over the bust in a halter neck. It's a timeless classic that can be represented in so many ways.
What was the most challenging design/pattern you’ve ever made and why. 1case if possible.
In all honesty the most challenging pattern was in fact the very first blocks I mentioned before. There was no basis for starting that I could see and I lacked the experience to know how to do anything more than trial and error. But once I knew how to make those initial blocks everything from thereafter became a simple matter of procedure ... indeed more often than not I find it harder to come up with the design than to do the pattern. Once you have a set of reliable blocks and know how to manipulate them, making patterns isn't very difficult at all. This is the basis of how I teach pattern making ... first create your blocks, then manipulate them into various styles made up of simple design elements one lesson at a time, building each lesson on the last ... when you know how to use a block, the rest becomes easy.
Hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did here at Bikini Design Club!
He is the best!