It’s her habit to draw with soft graphite pencils. The stains of graphite on her hands and face are a manifestation of the inspiration that roams through her mind. Sitting in her house in the south of Milan, Minna listens to the birdsong and the people chatting outside the bars and coffee shops in the city square, and lets her imagination run wild. Lines turn into shapes and forms.
Originally from Finland, Minna moved to Milan, the fashion capital of Italy; yet, she couldn’t find any clothes she liked. Not the fabric (particularly the widely used polyester), the color, nor the cuttings and details were to her liking. Eventually, she decided to make her own clothes.
She was studying industrial pattern-making in a local fashion school when she received a flyer about a two-day patternmaking workshop run by Shingo Sato, a Japanese pattern designer. Out of curiosity, she signed up, and since then, she’s embarked on a journey of patternmaking. She enrolled into the TR Cutting School and spent years learning and refining her skills. Shingo Sato’s origami design has been a great influence along the way.
“Although I really enjoyed classic patternmaking, TR was something else. More creative and you got to break the rules, too. You see, in classic patternmaking there are certain no-no’s you aren’t supposed to do. The more I learned, the more timid I became because I was always aware of the consequences of drafting a pattern in a certain way.
So, Shingo Sato in a way helped me to break free. I started to see patternmaking as something more limitless. with Shingo Sato’s teachings I finally found true creativity. You know, I’ve always been fond of costume design and Avant Garde clothes with really particular shapes and textures. Not to wear them myself, but just to admire them as they are, like works of art.”
“I had always had an idea that patternmaking is like engineering or something. That you need to be good at maths if you want to succeed. But that wasn’t true at all! Now I much rather associate pattern making with drawing, or art in general.
it’s my signature art form. I see my designs more like objects or fabric sculptures than actual wearable garments. It’s all about repeating geometric shapes and textures. I like to exaggerate and spend a lot of time on making a texture that fills the whole surface.”
Minna started her patternmaking project in 2016, and until now, more than 200 of her pieces have been showcased on her Instagram, shapesoffabric. Her teaching materials can be purchased online, and sometimes she shares tips on pattern making for free.
“When you’re just starting out, a good rule of thumb is this: Don’t bite more than you can chew. Meaning, don’t start from the most difficult patterns because that could cause you to want to quit before you really get going.
I recommend starting from skirt patterns, and work your way up to bodice, and then pants and jackets. The basic pattern block comes first, then you learn how to turn it into a myriad of different garment patterns.When you learn things in the right order, your journey is filled with feelings of accomplishment and epiphanies that will keep you going and wanting to learn more.
It won’t be long until you’ll find yourself scanning people’s clothes when you’re out and about, working out how to draft the pattern in your mind!”