Reservist

Uniform 2019

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Clothing Design Technical Office (Research + Development) Alison Mack-DiIulio, a clothing designer for the Coast Guard Clothing Design Technical Office, has been at the Army Research Facility in Natick, Mass., for 32 years, originally with the Army in the fabric testing lab, then the Navy in the dress clothing area. In fact, when she got to the CDTO, her first project was creating the untucked ODU. Even seeing a set of them at the dry cleaners makes her think, "Hey, that's mine." The CDTO employs a handful of designers like Mack-DiIulio who develop and maintain the uniforms Coast Guardsmen wear. Everything from zippers to pockets to fabrics gets tested, prototyped, and evaluated as gear and uniform items are improved. The CDTO is part of the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center, which conducts research and development (including fielding and sustainment) of food, clothing, shelters, airdrop systems, and other service member support items for the U.S. military. However, the CDTO's primary focus is to develop and maintain uniform items throughout their service life. For example, the untucked ODU was developed by the CDTO: the research, the pattern, the specs, the prototypes, the fit test and the evaluation are all done by Mack-DiIulio and her colleagues. It's a long-term process, which can take up to two years to complete from inception to procurement. But their work doesn't stop at the roll out of the new uniform piece; once it's procured, they still have to maintain quality assurance, testing the products on the shelves and following up on complaints about uniform items. They even work on the smallest details, like buttons that fall off when the thread isn't the right kind to secure them to the garment. Being located near the other services' researchers means the Coast Guard has access to trials, tests, equipment and specialists the DoD services are using. "It's very collaborative there," said Mack-DiIulio. "We do use their testing facilities if we need fabric tested, or if we need a prototype made we can go over to the Navy pattern room. It's good that we're all there together, and I think it works." The newest item the CDTO is working on is a lightweight ODU. "Our ODU can be pretty hot and humid," said Mack- DiIulio."We have a lot of people who said it would be nice to have something a little more lightweight. You've got to be comfortable when you work. People are in places that are so hot, and you just can't put it on and expect to be comfortable and do your job." Giving people that comfort feels rewarding for Mack-DiIulio. "You listen to what the people in the Coast Guard want, and they get it, and that feels good," she said. "That's what we like." THERE ARE VARIOUS STEPS TO THE UNIFORM MANUFACTURING PROCESS. AT LEFT, A WORKER ATTACHES A SLEEVE TO THE PARKA. TOP RIGHT, A FLEECE LINER IS MEASURED TO ENSURE UNIFORMITY OF SIZING. BOTTOM RIGHT, A SIZE LABEL IS ADDED TO THE GARMENT. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROB EVELYN UNIFORM DISTRIBUTION CENTER. Uniform Issue • 2019 � RESERVIST 15

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