Design Review Detailed Plans: Ultralight cycling jacket or maybe jersey?

For our main project I went back and forth on what to make. It is truly the hardest decision in this class…

I really wanted to make something for my van, since I am working on building it out. Some of the ideas included making a custom roof rack with a deck and slide out beam to support hammocks. This was a cool idea as I would have to learn to weld, which is a skill I intend to acquire this semester. The aesthetic would have been “van-life.”

Figure 1. Van-life

The other two ideas I had involved electronics. One was a car horn with custom sounds for my van. The other one was a led car window display that would be programmable to say things like, “oops, I’m sorry,” or “get off my tail!”

Figure 2. LED display

But after thinking really hard about what I wanted this project to be, and discussing it with my wife, I went a completely different direction. I decided make something for one of the things I am most passionate about, cycling. The reason for this decision was not only because I love cycling (and I also coach for a local bike team), but because I have hopes to work in the bike industry after graduation. So I wanted this project to put me out of my comfort zone and do something I haven’t really done before, yet it is related to cycling. So I landed on making some sort of clothing article for cycling. What I have in mind is a very light weight and packable wind/rain jacket. And sure, there are plenty of companies that do this and have great products, but I want to go through the whole process of making this on my own, and expanding my skills set. Below are some images of the inspiration for this product I chose to pursue.

Figure 3. Packable in size.

Figure 4. Ride in all weather conditions.

Figure 5. Recognizing fabric patterns.

I spent all my initial time of the project thinking about the fabric patterns and how to stick them together. When it came to my aesthetic for the project, I was stuck. I initially thought of doing the “roadie” aesthetic, as you can observe below.

Figure 6. “Roadie” aesthetic

But I’m really more of a mountain biker, so I thought of doing the “mtb” aesthetic, since after all, I’d be the one wearing it. Here are a couple of images that show the mtb aesthetic with flannels, fox t-shirts and knobby tires.

Figure 7. Downhill MTB.

Figure 8. Flannels for trail riding.

And while searching for an alternative aesthetic, I ran into this.

Figure 9. 80’s vibe!

Wow, talk about an eye catcher. I thought this would be a really fun aesthetic to implement into my project, the 80’s, man!

But even still, I wasn’t convinced. It even dawned on me to switch project entirely, but through some guidance from professor Hertzberg, I search for a unique aesthetic to make this project my own.

I explored many aesthetic movements and found the two that I will focus my project on. My chosen aesthetics will be “Action Painting” and “symbolism.” Symbolism is the art or practice of using symbols to express something invisible or intangible such as feelings or meaning. You can see an example below. Action painting, which is sometimes called “gestural abstraction,” is the style of painting in which the artist uses dynamic movements to splash or dribble paint onto the painting surface. An example of this is shown below.

Figure 10. Symbolism: “The War on Peace.”

Figure 11. Action Painting

Okay, so now that I had determined to go forward and knew the aesthetic I wanted to pursue, I began looking at what fabrics I would use. I learned that for a rain/wind jacket, I needed some type of synthetic fabric that blocked water and wind, such as nylon. I looked at what the high performance fabrics for sleeping bags and camping tents were made out of and found out it was some sort of Pertex fabric (which is a nylon blend). Below is an image of this Pertex fabric and some facts about it.

Figure 12. Pertex Quantum Air fabric.

This fabric is expensive but well worth it. There are some competing fabrics in the market which are comparable in performance and cheaper in price that I might look into.

After figuring out what fabric I would use, I circled back to my aesthetics of symbolism and action painting. I realized that this fabric I would have to use to achieve the wind/rain resistant and packability might not take fabric paint very well, which is what I was going to use to paint the designs.

Since my aesthetics are a very important factor to this project for the class, I think I will have to move away from the wind/rain jacket design (for the class project) and do more of a mountain biking jersey/shirt to ride in, that will incorporate my aesthetics. This rain/wind jacket is something I really want to make, so I will continue to work on it on the side. Below is a picture of the design for the jersey, front and back, and the fabric patterns I will sew together.

Figure 13. My mountain bike jersey design patterns

To get started, I began by practicing with some cheaper fabric and making a shirt for my dog. Here are some images of how the first prototype turned out.

Figures 14 – 20. Sequence of making a shirt/vest for my dog.

UPDATE (3/28/20):

Here is the video of my Zoom presentation:

For my next post I will discuss the logistics and timeline of my project.

Thank you for reading.


Image References

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Figures 13 – 20. All taken by me (Ben Robles)

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • I love how you took the reader through your thinking from start to finish. I thought it showed the complete design process and let the reader better understand what your were making and why. I love the aesthetics that you were inspired by I don’t typically find those types used in engineering and think it will be interesting to see how you complete that look. Question: What will you choose to paint with as a suggestion there is fabric paint you can get at a Micheal’s or Hobby Lobby. Though they usually come in a container that it hard to work with.

  • Benjamin Chang
    March 24, 2020 12:41 pm

    Hey Ben,

    Hope this comment isn’t too late, but I just wanted to say that I really like the change of direction you made in your project, I appreciate your interest in creating something that requires you to learn a new skill. I also really like the aesthetic choice you made in terms of fabric and color. I don’t know if you have made or have detailed plans on what patterns you want to do, but using a bike tire to create tracks can better ellude to the theme, and maybe even cause some fun laughs on the trails. Overall though, I like the concept of portability, versatility, and just fun nature. I hope the project turns out and its fun wearing on the trails!

  • Patrick Bodine-Ellison
    March 16, 2020 12:46 pm

    I really appreciate how much thought you have put into the aesthetic of this project, specifically the dynamic art on the back of the shirt! It’s extremely fortunate that you have all of the equipment you need to continue the project at your house! I think with some thing like fabric, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with it, making rapid prototypes and iterating on them is extremely important to get the right fit so I think you’re on the right track with making these shirts for your dog.

  • Abdulrahman Nashawi
    March 15, 2020 4:05 pm

    Hello Ben! I really like how detailed your description of your project is. You went through your design process step by step without leaving anything out which is very informative. I like your aesthetic, but if I may add something, I would suggest you make it slightly more complicated which will reflect your personality more and more. I was slightly confused about your choice between a jersey and a flannel since you went back and forth between them. What made you go with the jersey instead of the flannel?

  • Jackson Hootman
    March 15, 2020 2:24 pm

    Hi Benjamin! Statements of meaning: it’s great to see that you have carefully considered your aesthetic and I think you landed on a really interesting idea for your final artifact. Neutral questions: why did you choose to combine action painting with symbolism? In what ways do these aesthetics overlap/interact? Permissioned opinions: I would start with an iteration using cheaper fabric. This way, you can refine the technique and design before utilizing the more expensive fabric.


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