Sarah Schofield, Fashion Designer
University student uses laser cutting equipment to enhance fashion design projects.
As any fashion industry expert will attest, designing apparel and accessories involves far more than sketching outfits on a piece of paper.
Fabric is the foundation of any piece of clothing, and cutting a variety of fabrics and materials for patterns, ensembles and accessories can often prove to be a tedious and demanding process - especially since each measurement and cut must be so precise.
I find the Epilog system so easy to use that I wouldn't use any other. It’s so easy to change the settings to create different effects and it’s able to cut such a variety of fabrics,” Schofield said.
In the fashion industry, designers can benefit greatly from new technologies such as small, desktop laser systems. The versatility and user-friendly interface of this type of equipment allows designers to achieve the precise cutting and engraving results they need to create the patterns and prototypes that will bring their designs to life.
While seeking a way to utilize the technology offered by The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), recent fashion design graduate Sarah Schofield discovered Epilog Laser systems helped her in many of the aspects of the design process. From cutting complete sheets of fabric to tracing patterns to creating unique acrylic sequins, the versatile systems allowed Schofield to complete amazing projects and hone her craft.
To take her fashion creations from concepts to realities, Schofield made use of one of the three Epilog systems at RMIT for many aspects of various fashion projects.
“We are lucky enough to have several laser systems for student use at my university,” Schofield said. “I was interested in laser technology, so I began to experiment with the Epilog 36EXT and various ways it could be used in a fashion context.”
Given the different types of fabrics and styles she works with, Schofield’s design range is diverse, to say the least. “I design a little bit of everything,” Schofield said. “My work is mainly a mixture of evening-wear, lingerie and corsetry. I also enjoy designing swimwear and currently am venturing into accessories, like gloves, shoes and handbags.
Schofield often works with very delicate fabrics like silk organza (a sheer, thin open weave fabric), and tulle (a very fine netting often used for wedding veils and ballet tutus), and her work on the laser is a testament to the very precise, yet powerful capabilities of the system.
“I use the Epilog system in two ways,” Schofield tells us. “I often cut complete sheets of fabric with an intricate design, which I then cut my patterns from by hand,” she said. “I have also traced pattern pieces with vector lines into Adobe Illustrator files and cut them out along with a decorative pattern. This is a great way to create pattern pieces with perfectly mirrored cutouts and create non-fraying soft-hems that don’t require a stitching line. It also gives me the option for me to leave a blank seam allowance around a delicate cut pattern piece which makes it much easier to sew and much more durable.”
Schofield also finds the laser’s capabilities expand far beyond working with natural fabrics. “Recently I ventured into working with man-made fibers like polyesters. Their thermo plasticity is a huge benefit when they are laser-cut because it creates the tiniest melted edge, which prevents fraying.”
Acrylic has also found its way into Schofield’s innovative fashion creations. “I recently used the Epilog system to create my own oversized sequins. I cut shapes from acrylic, and then cut tiny holes near the edges that allow me to sew them down to the garments.”
Like so many other universities, RMIT was quick to realize the value of equipment that has the potential to truly enrich the curriculum of its students.
“In my department of the university we have three machines, which are in use almost 24/7,” Schofield said. “People use them for an amazing range of different projects on different materials. The creative possibilities seem never ending.” Schofield plans to continue experimenting with different fabrics and different types of projects with the laser system.
“I find the Epilog system so easy to use that I wouldn't use any other. It’s so easy to change the settings to create different effects and it’s able to cut such a variety of fabrics,” Schofield said.
Since graduating with honors and receiving her bachelor’s degree in fashion design from one of Australia’s original and leading educational institutions, Schofield’s creativity and innovation have served her well.
In addition to owning a small fashion label, she’s the recipient of many fashion-related awards, and was recently honored with an invitation to participate in L’Oreal’s Fashion Week.
As she embarks on a journey to Paris to begin a course in fashion and accessories at the Institut Francais de la Mode, Schofield hopes to continue her experimentation with the laser systems.
“I really hope when I move to Paris I’ll still have access to Epilog equipment,” she said. “I’ve focused so much on cutting, but I’d really like to start experimenting with etching fabrics very soon. I think it is one of the most interesting techniques yet to be explored.”