Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

Image from “Free Cutting” by Julian Roberts.

Many garments are created from flat pattern making methods, or from drape methods, but a method of “hollow construction” has been created by fashion designer Julian Roberts». This pattern cutting technique known as “Subtraction Cutting” makes the most of the negative spaces that can be opened up in fabric and falls somewhere between traditional pattern making and drape resulting in experimental garments that break the boundaries of the usual garment shapes.

This is a pattern cutting technique that Julian has shared with many around the world through lectures and demonstrations of the subtraction cutting method. A pdf of his book “Free Cutting” is now available to download for free from the link below, and is a must read for all fashion students or adventurous home sewers. 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO ACCESS AND SAVE THE FREE PDF ON SUBTRACTION PATTERN CUTTING:

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

The techniques often build from the shape of an initial flat piece of material. This initial material is then sliced or opened up with holes, allowing the material to be twisted upon itself, fed through itself or enlarged with more pieces of fabrics.

“This is a subtraction method of cutting, because the resulting shape is created by the removal of fabric, not the addition of fabric. This removal creates space for the body, but also controls how the fabric falls around the body.”

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

“Subtraction cutting is DESIGNING WITH PATTERNS, rather than creating patterns with designs”

The resulting garments make the most of the volume of the fabric and often look incredibly complex. Individual garments are often very reminiscent of the work of Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto and can also often be worn in more than one way, using the placement of your body and limbs to change the shape of the garment.

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

The potential for different garment designs that could emerge from this subtraction technique are endless. This is because the different sub methods that Julian lists in the book “Free Cutting” can be used either with careful consideration of the subtractions in terms of placement and size, or alternatively, you could use the methods in a process of completely random experimentation.

If you have ever experimented with draping fabric onto a mannequin then you may have found yourself inadvertently using similar techniques to twist, displace and feed fabric back on itself. The great thing about the book that Julian is offering for download is that some of the core principles of subtraction cutting are broken down into different individual methods that you can use to approach your fabric with more awareness of the types of shapes you may be trying to achieve.

An example image taken from the “Tunnel” technique:

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

An example taken from the “Displacement” Technique:

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting ClassThere is huge potential for these processes to be combined with traditional pattern cutting and drape techniques to achieve really beautiful results. Below is just a single page taken from the book where you can see the forms of traditional bodice blocks have been used to help to create the holes in the fabric.

Subtraction Pattern Cutting with Julian Roberts | The Cutting Class

Feel free to distribute and share the book with other people that you think will be interested in this technique, as Julian is generously offering it for free, and with no copyright restrictions on reproductions.

Visit Julian’s website: http://www.julianand.com/

In the following post we explore some Inspiration Images for Subtraction Pattern Cutting»

Further Reading:

Recent Articles

21 Feb 2016
Pattern and Print at Emilio Pucci
Emilio Pucci, PF16. Historically, Pucci is a brand that is synonymous with print. By looking through the Pre-Fall 2016 collection by creative director Massimo Giorgetti, you can see some of...
04 Jan 2016
Thinking Like a Designer
In this final round-up post about the articles from 2015, we’ve gathered together some food for thought if you are about to become a fashion designer, or fashion design student...
29 Dec 2015
Finding the Balance for Casual Luxury
Part of what has been interesting about 2015 has been watching as designers continue to use construction details as a way to strike a balance in their collections. An underlying...