Testing Made-to-Measure Systems at Cornell
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Using technology available at Cornell University, students in an apparel design class tested the steps and technology needed to produce made-to-measure clothing.

CAD patternmaking software called FitNet (developed by Lectra, Inc.) was used in conjunction with the body scanner to generate patterns for a hooded rain jacket. The FitNet system begins with a standard graded pattern, provided by Log House Designs, a manufacturer of men's and women's outerwear which collaborated on the project.

Customized patterns were derived from the standard by making alterations based on body measurements. In planning the alterations, students had to make a variety of decisions based on the specific garment style, including:

  1. which criteria are appropriate in choosing the base pattern size, e.g., choose a pattern with the closest hip measurement;
  2. which alterations are critical to the fit of the style, e.g., jacket length, sleeve length, bust circumference, hip circumference, hood height, and wrist measurement;
  3. which body measurement to relate to each alteration; and
  4. which incremental and location changes need to be made to pattern pieces for each alteration.

The most important and difficult issue concerns the "ease" values -- extra fabric that allows for movement (wearing ease) and creates the desired silhouette (design ease). Charts that define this variable for each size and each body dimension were developed, tested, adjusted, and tested again. Then, Log House Designs made a set of 10 nylon custom-fitted jackets from the patterns generated by the class to test the fit on 10 clients.

A second critical issue arose in this custom clothing project: individuals have distinctive fit preferences. For example, several of the subjects preferred jacket or sleeve lengths that were longer or shorter than the standard lengths judged ideal for the jackets. Ultimately, fit preference issues must be resolved if mass customization systems are to be successful.

Results from the project were encouraging. Although the process of setting up and testing the system required many iterations, in the end a very good standard of fit was achieved. For seven of the ten subjects, the system created a jacket that fitted better than a standard ready-to-wear size, and for the other three the jacket fit just as well as the ready-to-wear size. Using advanced digital technologies, it was possible to create a working made-to-measure system in an acceptable amount of time.

Subsequent to the first project, Cornell students have experimented with several other made-to-measure products. Read about these projects in the current research section of the website.

The first step in the automated process is selection of the pattern closest to the individual’s size. Alterations subsequently made to this pattern are driven by the individual's measurements. (Image: Cornell Body Scan Research Group)

Technologies exist to create cost-effective mass-customized clothing. Questions that require further research include: Can automated CAD patternmaking systems successfully create patterns for closely fitted garments? How many consumers will buy mass-customized clothing? Will they accept body scanning technology to take their measurements?

Many decisions must be made about the fit of each garment type in the development of an automated custom-fit operation. Cornell students discuss the jacket style from Log House Designs. (Image: Cornell Body Scan Research Group)

Setting up the system required many iterations to refine the fit. Here a set of scaled patterns are compared to judge the effect of an adjustment to the system. (Image: Cornell Body Scan Research Group)

Aleta is taller than average and usually cannot find jackets to fit well. Her made-to-measure jacket is a perfect fit. (Image: Gary Hodges, Jon Reis Photography)