What’s Cool in Southern California

“At 45 I got ‘a calling’ saying I was in the wrong profession,” says Joan McKenna, Associate Professor, San Diego Continuing Education, Hospitality & Consumer Science, Fashion Department. The teaching title may be long — and so is her enthusiasm for design.

After 29 1/2 years raising two children and working in retailing with a BFA in Costume and Fashion Design from Syracuse University, McKenna went back to school. “I got my California Teaching Credential in Fashion. At that point, I found jobs in teaching and I just didn’t stop.”

Of her past, McKenna says “I used to design costumes in Buffalo, New York, in the early 1970’s, for a children’s theatre company. This was when computers were just coming into the main stream. Today, I would use [PatternMaker]. Back then, they didn’t have such programs.”

Embracing computers when they became available, McKenna reflects that “I learned computer pattern making on AutoCAD. I have worked with Lectra. These programs are way too expensive for the average household. I love the CAD tools in the Patternmaker program. There is always something for me to play with in the program. I have used this program now, for at least 15 years, if not longer.”

In teaching, McKenna includes PatternMaker in her courses. “My students have a grand time with it,” she says. In her 2013 class “The students did all kinds of designs on it. I was thrilled! I use it when I teach toile, draping, designing, and collections.”

For example, she took her students through an exercise with PatternMaker. “I made a 1/2 size tailored jacket with 27 pieces. I had my students plot this at Kinkos, Staples, or OfficeDepot. We all made the jackets as a prerequisite to making a full-size jacket. This gave the students pratice. Printing out a pattern at 54% with PatternMaker makes the patterns fit a half-size, size 12, Wolf dress form. I distributed the PatternMaker half-size tailored jacket as a PDF. I had my students plot 36 inches wide.”

When they were ready to plot, McKenna had her students use the free program CutePDF to read and print the PDF file. “Of course, the full-size patterns made in PatternMaker need tweaking. A lot of this is taken care of when the original sloper garments (a basic bodice and pants) is patterned and plotted with once inch seam allowances.”

McKenna’s enthusiasm is reflected on her web site SewAlongWithJoanie.com. Look for her very useful glossary.