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Pattern for success

Last update - Sunday, December 1, 2013, 15:18 By Tolu Omoyele

Hailing from Bray in Co Wicklow, fashion designer Jacinta Pritchard specialises in made-to-measure, day-to-evening occasional wear for women. All her designs are individually produced and tailored to the client’s requirements. She is also a pattern drafter for one-off pieces and for manufacturing. With over 20 years of experience in fashion, Jacinta spends her time away from the studio with her three kids and enjoying Bray’s beautiful seafront…

Hi Jacinta! Please tell us a bit about you.
I have a Higher National Diploma in fashion design with 2D computer-aided design (CAD). For me studying fashion design was the natural thing to do after I did my Leaving Cert. I have worked in design studios in London’s W1 which was an amazing learning experience, and I would recommend any newly graduated student to do the same because the fashion design industry is huge in London and Paris, and you would have a better chance of getting the experience you need. A good place to start is as a design room assistant, as this will give you experience in all areas of design to become a professional fashion designer.

What is the fashion industry like, in your opinion?
No doubt about it that fashion is an extremely competitive industry, and you have to be very determined and stick with it. But it is great when you see a design on paper come to life and become a wearable garment.

What is it like working for yourself?
Working for yourself can be very rewarding but you have to be very self-driven and optimistic. When I returned to Ireland I worked for some of this country’s top manufacturing companies; from this experience it gave me the confidence to start up my own business.

You draft patterns for manufacturing – is manufacturing for fashion still a big industry in Ireland?
When I returned to Ireland I worked for some of this country’s top manufacturing companies. Ireland once had a great textile industry and it employed a lot of talented people; today there are a tiny few manufacturing businesses in Ireland, which is a shame because we are losing these garment manufacturing skills and we need to get them back and bring all this work back to Ireland from Eastern Europe.

What is your most favoured part of the design process?
My favourite parts within fashion design are pattern drafting and choosing fabrics for new designs. I have a huge selection of the best luxurious silks, satins and lace for clients to choose from. When I show my dress designs at fashion shows I feel extremely nervous, excited and privileged to show my work and grow my label. It also makes you realise that all the hard work was worth it.

What does the process of pattern drafting entail?
I like to work from a sketched design, so if a boutique sends me a sketch of their design, a fabric sample and the client’s measurements, I make the first patterns, and then I make a toile or sample for fitting and design details.
I then alter if needed, and the pattern is finished, which must be very precise. For me at this stage a computerised pattern-making system can be used; it speeds up the design process and is very efficient when grading your pattern.

What is your design process like?
When I’m creating a design I want it to be a timeless piece that will complement the body. I love seeing people wearing something I have made and them feeling and looking great.

Who or what inspires your work?
I am inspired by Audrey Hepburn styles by designer Givenchy: these 1950s pieces that have a feminine, romantic, simple and elegant silhouette with full circle skirts, fitted pencil skirts and A-line shapes, all of which are used very successfully today.

Do you have any words of advice for fashion students or newbie designers?
If you are thinking of becoming a fashion designer, develop your drawing skills, get an eye for colour and texture in fabrics, practice sewing and cutting fabric and go to college and get a diploma or degree in fashion design. This will give you a excellent understanding of the industry and it will help you decide which area you want to specialise in: womenswear, menswear, knitwear, bridal wear, whatever you like.

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