Dressmaking Techniques for Pneumatic Forms

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Melnyk, Virginia Ellen
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This paper explores a process for digitally designing doubly curved geometry out of flat textiles. The development of computational modeling techniques, such as NURBS and sub-division modeling, has made it easier to create complex curvature in the computer. Yet fabrication methods and materials are still catching up on the ways to fabricate these types of complex geometries, particularly when working with woven textiles that have little or no stretch. These doubly curved surfaces are typically achieved by complex panelization patterns that can closely approximate the curvature. For this research, complex panelization is exchanged for more simplified patterns and articulate sewing techniques as a new way to create curvature. Inspiration for working with shaping textiles is drawn from the traditional craft of dressmaking, in which two-dimensional fabrics are cut and sewn in different ways to fit around the curvature of the human body. These techniques from dressmaking also allow for other decorative qualities to emerge from the fabric manipulations. The project uses computational modeling software from the fashion industry for its integration of these sewing techniques into a three-dimensional digital design environment and seamlessly output patterns for production. This project explores the possible use of these programs and workflow for architectural pneumatics design. The results are compared to the computer designs to better understand the deviation between the digital and physical models. Three prototypes are created, that each explore different techniques as a test set. They use various manipulations of the techniques to study their possible advantages to create shaping. The goal is to adapt the techniques and computational tools from the discipline of dressmaking, developing a new workflow to designing complex curvature on architectural pneumatic membranes.
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