Modular Patternmaking

Sandy Hsieh

Modular Patternmaking is an approach to systems thinking for the design and manufacture of wearable technology. To achieve seamless integration between hardware and soft wear, it is essential to leverage patternmaking at the intersection of fashion design and technology.


Unlike fast fashion or PCBs, wearables are not easy to design or mass produce. The problem resides in the lack of communication and collaboration between two vastly different fields of expertise. Googling “wearable clothing” will return a myriad of IoT compatible sportswear and LED-enhanced garments that have failed to gain traction or acceptance in mainstream fashion. With limited understanding and access to what is possible outside of their respective industries, it’s proven difficult for fashion designers and engineers not to fall into the trap of designing gimmicky solutions for problems that don’t exist.

Modular patternmaking is my careful dissection of the anatomy of clothing to examine how each parts of a whole can be manipulated, segmented, and/or combined to assemble a garment with integrated technology. When significant form factors such as garment type, silhouette, fit, design details, materials, trims, and finishes for accommodating hardware are identified and taken into account, can wearables find a place in mainstream fashion?

For my thesis, I want to explore how modular patternmaking can be leveraged within the framework of product design to develop wearables of higher value, support the integration of electronics, and be scaled for mass production. The goal is to start my own consulting studio that specializes in product design and integration solutions for wearable technology.

To demonstrate and test the viability of modular patternmaking, I designed a case study where I conducted qualitative interviews with over 35 people about their style and how they envision the future of wearables. A thorough analysis and aggregation of common themes and insights led to the ideation of ‘Timepiece,’ a leather motorcycle jacket that explores gestural commands for everyday carry items as a wearables solution.