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How to Do a Task Analysis in Textiles

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Have you ever thought about all that goes into creating a textile? In this lesson, we'll see how a task analysis can help you organize and plan out this process.

Task Analysis in Textiles

Take a second to look at what you're wearing right now. Have you thought about the entire process that went into making these or fabric and cloth products, technically known as textiles? Someone had to come up with the design, thinking about how the seams and stitches would hold the fabric together. Someone had to design the colors and patterns, and figure out ways to actually translate that onto the garment. Someone then had to create the product, then market it, find retailers, and then finally sell it.

How many different textiles make up this outfit? Each had to be designed.
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A lot went into the clothes you're wearing, and if that whole process seems a little overwhelming then you're not alone. There's a lot to do, so how can we begin to manage all of this? How about conducting a task analysis? A task analysis takes a larger task (like designing, manufacturing, and selling a garment) and breaks it into smaller steps. It's a way to help plan out the entire process to ensure that nothing is missed. Creating any sort of textile involves a lot of work, but it goes much more smoothly if we can take this one step at a time.

The Brief: Planning the Plan

A task analysis is a great way to organize a large project, but before we can get to the stage of breaking a task into smaller steps, we need to understand the task itself. That's why the first step in any task analysis is almost always to create a brief. A brief is simply an outline or description of the proposed project. What are you trying to achieve, what are the goals, and what is the basic idea for the design? A brief should be pretty straightforward. As the name implies, it should be, well, brief. Outline the idea for the textile, and get your thoughts organized.

Charting the Task Analysis

With a rough plan in mind, you can start actually mapping or charting the task analysis. One of the most common ways to do this is with a flow chart. Here's how that works: start by writing the textile name or design in the middle of the sheet, and drawing a circle around it. That's your central point. From here, you'll start to branch off of that, and break the project into smaller components.

An example of what a simple flow chart could look like
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So now you might be wondering: what are smaller components for a textile task analysis? For the sake of this lesson, we're going to start by dividing the single task of creating a textile product into three different tasks: designing, manufacturing, and selling. Draw three lines coming off of the central point, and write one of those tasks at each line.

From here, we just keep trying to narrow down the tasks further and further, getting as specific as we need to. From the design task, we can create lines to other tasks like deciding on an overall aesthetic and choosing materials. From these we can look at tasks of selecting color schemes, considering images or patterns, experimenting with cut and fit, associating it with a specific style, picking fabrics, adding decorations, utilizing dyes, and listing out all the other materials that would go into this design.

From the task of manufacturing, we can consider other tasks like creating the fabric versus purchasing it, applying dyes, transferring designs from paper to actual cloth, labeling requirements, laundering requirements, and health and safety concerns for both the consumer and the producers. Each of these tasks can be broken down into even smaller tasks to help us think about every aspect of each one.

One part of textile design is considering the actual processes of manufacturing
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