In one of my classes, we’re making cell phone pouches recently. On Monday, we looked at some fabric iPod cases on Flickr, and then they made sketch models with paper and tape. Sketch models are a very quick model that allows you to see what the design will be before committing lots of time, expense, and materials to the design. The sketch model allows you to hold the idea in your hand in the fastest turnaround possible. They had about 20 minutes to make theirs, which placed an emphases on speed over perfection, which could come later.
Students next transferred the measurements to the computer and cut the shapes with the laser. On Thursday, some started cutting t-shirt fabric on the laser. A couple of students are sewing with hand but fabric glue is faster. As a finished product, glue probably isn’t the best, but it allows quick feedback on the design’s measurements. One student wanted to photo on to his design, so we managed to raster an image onto the fabric. This weekend, I scored a free sewing machine and associated gear, which should open up some new possibilities.
A few weeks ago, I came across a half dozen or so fabric sample swatch books that look like they came from an upholstery shop. These can be used for smaller cuts. In looking for more formal material, I picked up a thrift store leather jacket that can be parted and used for leather cases. Since the leather will be more scarce, it will be used only on more finished designs.
After working with denser, thicker materials on the laser for years, I am thrilled at the speed of iteration with thin, light materials. Getting students through the cycle of designing, fabricating, and testing so quickly allows for the revisions needed to make a polished final product.