This doctoral investigation has explored innovative approaches to sketching millinery ideas in 3D using computer technology, the aim being to explore how traditional practices of paper and cloth can be transformed and result in the creation of a 3D sketch book. The research is situated in the field of millinery, a subset of the discipline of fashion. Millinery is core to my design practice, with the distinctly sculptural aspects of millinery designing and making having suitable structural aspects that link to other art and design practices. Millinery had its roots in the handmade and in craft and it is the field of ‘model millinery’ that has been the context for the study.
Through a series of digital and analogue experiments, I sought to discover how I could use 3D computer technologies for designing fashion and millinery; not just to make hats, but to explicate the sketching and design process that leads to them. Through a process of critical reflection integrated with observations on the practices of others and the literature, I have come to understand that the adaptation of the practices of designing and sketching is not a simple act of transition or translation across mediums. Rather, this study shows that the practices of designing and sketching are dialogic; there is an on-going exchange between designer, material and method. As one transitions in to the space of 3D digital technologies, the practices of the hand on paper continue to inform and transform what is known, made and discovered within the framework of an evolving practice.
Although computer technologies for fashion exist, these favour production methods and not the creative designing process. Computer software designed specifically for creating millinery as a sculptural and typically one-off artefactual practice does not exist. It is on this basis that the research has drawn on the creative 3D computer tools that are used in the fields of fine art, animation, and engineering and industrial design. The technologies and tools were used in a new context and thereby offered new knowledge to the discipline of millinery.