Modular Fashion

How amazing would it be if you could transform your clothes from a long sleeve to a short one, change the shape of your skirt or just add a few centimeters to your dress after the holidays. These adjustable garments are actually possible.

photo by Clara Davis

With modular designs that can be tessellated into patterns you could alter your wardrobe on the go.

Looking into the idea of making immediate trend and shape shifts accessible to everyone I was working on modules in 3 dimensions interlocking into a thousand product possibilities. At the end of this post you can find a file download to try it yourself.

The Design

Coming up with a simple design that can be laser cut and endlessly repeated in different sizes and combinations can be tricky.

I started of experimenting with circular designs and triangles. My favourite is based on isosceles triangles repeating the triangular shape and offering 3 slots to connect with one another.

Once digitalised in Rhino, I laser cut canvas samples to check the durability of the interlock and if it was possible to combine different dimensions of the same design to a fabric structure.

Advantages of this design

The great thing about this design is that

Crafting the design in Rhino — adjusting slot position for more stability
  • by having the positive and negative shapes on opposite sides, every triangle can fold up and connect to itself
  • having slots enables you to not only connect one but multiple positives to the same negative and create a dynamic web of modules
  • the dimension of the slots and triangles makes if possible to connect pieces of different sizes
  • by weaving parts through the triangular part in the middle of the design, different layers and rows of modules can interlock and replace darts — as garments made out of this module do not require sewing

Testing

Canvas tests of my modular designs for garment tessellation

All in all the test turned out very successful the only improvement I had to make was to move the slots in a bit to not risk the material to rip, once you connect larger pieces.

All in all the test turned out very successful the only improvement I had to make was to move the slots in a bit to not risk the material to rip, once you connect larger pieces.

I also tried replacing the rectangular slots with simple lines in Rhino, while assembling there is very little difference between the two versions. Which might be due to the thickness of the material (0.2mm).

Choosing the Fabric

For my final test garment I chose red felt structured polyester. The tight fibres creates structure and give the modules additional support.

In general also thinner fabrics that are less elastic and soft, could be used.

Production & Assembling the Modules

Laser cut modules in felt

All pieces were cut by the Trotec

Settings:

Canvas Test

Power: 30 | Speed: 0.8

Polyester Felt

Power: 10 | Speed: 0.6

Before I start mixing and matching different sizes of the module I created a kind of web interlocking different rows and checked its resistance to pulling and stretching.

The interlock can stand normal slight pulling and stretching the more pieces are connected the more the movement within the slots supports the pieces that are directly being pulled.

Conclusion

To provide a use-case for this module I assembled them to a top.

Final garment with detail views

Combining multiple pieces to the same slots enabled me to create a fitted look as if there were darts in the pattern. Adding more volume I twisted and turned larger sized modules near the bust and crafted a strap creating the illusion of the modules naturally growing up the mannequin’s shoulder.

Leaving hemlines rough and unchanged gives the top a modern look and adds additional movement to the final design.

The result is a futuristic top entirely made out of the 3 different sizes of the triangular module. It is wearable and thanks to the margin which allows the individual pieces to move within the slots, the wearer can move to a normal extend. For recreating the project I would suggest to use fabric that holds a bit of elasticity to make it more comfortable to the wear.

photos by Clara Davis

If you would like to create your own items using my modular design, you can download the Rhino files here.

I will be thrilled to hear about your experience with my design, to exchange comments and ideas.