Existing Product Research
Designers research existing products to see how other designers have coloured, shaped and styled their products. The examine which fabrics and components have been used, which decorative techniques have been employed and how the item has been constructed. Size and special features can be noted and labelling, price, quality, and packaging considered. The designer may have access to sales data for the product or may use it to test the opinions of the target market.
Designers take an interest in a wide variety of textile products seen in daily life as well as those that are specifically researched for a project. They will note fabrics, finishes and decorative techniques, which create colour, pattern and texture in the product, and the components selected for appearance as well as function and performance. Designers also examine how the product may have been assembled. They consider the probable order of putting together the separate pieces to make the item and how special design features may have been added.
To help understand how a textile piece is made, each section of the item is examined closely, or it may be scrutinised and actually taken apart. Both methods are known as disassembly.
Disassembly is a very useful research method. It not only given designers some good ideas to try out but also helps build up their understanding and knowledge of textiles.
Starting a Disassembly
- Small, sharp scissors
- Seam ripper
- Sketching equipment or digital camera
Methods of disassembly
- Record the front, back and inside close-up views of the product, as appropriate. This could include packaging, if new. Make written notes.
- Unpick the main seams, cutting the stitch but not the fabric. Remove care labels and nay lining sections. Record and make notes about how each main section was joined, the type of seam and if there is a hem.
- For each section, unpick the additional parts, such as pickets, belt loops, interfacing and trims, fastenings, labels, and other components. Note possible methods of adding these details and record results.
- Identify colouring methods and decorative techniques and at which stage they were applied. For example, try and work out if the colour is added to fibre or yarn or during fabric construction, or by dyeing the fabric. Or, is the colour printed, painted, stitched, or bonded on to the fabric. It can help to refer to books or the internet or ask an expert to help you to understand how the product has been made.
- Present your researched information to explain how the product had been made. Label the photos/sketches with the detailed annotation to record the results of disassembly.
Developing a Pattern from Disassembly
The fabric pieces that result from taking apart a product can be laid out on paper and drawn around to make a new paper pattern. This can be the actual paper pattern or the basis for pattern modification/development for a new product.