Learning Pattern Drafting

Learning pattern drafting is actually fairly easy.

I am not meaning this to imply that it is easy in any way to create a good professional sewing pattern. The practice required for professional level skill takes, well, professional-level work. You have to design to a wide range of body types, making a sewing pattern that will be flattering on the largest range of figures possible.

I don’t know how to do that.

Professional design ability also means that you know how to create a very wide range of design elements suitable for not only current fashion trends, but in encouraging other fashion looks.

I don’t know how to do that, either. I am not by any means a professional clothing designer.

What I can do is take a set of measurements, make a sloper, and then design something relatively basic from that. The results are so much nicer than a commercial pattern (custom usually is) that fancy design elements are almost unnecessary. Never underestimate the beauty of well-fitting clothes.

The thing is, I’ve noticed that people who are used to commercial patterns will sometime freak out at dart width and placement on something they’ve created for themselves, especially women who wear quite a large cup size, or have a bust measurement a great deal larger than the waist measurement. If you’re used to the two inch dart on a commercial pattern designed for the “average” B cup young woman with perky breasts, that seven inch dart for the F cup designed for the woman of a certain age who hasn’t resorted to surgery looks downright freakish when drawn flat on the fabric. It’ll make you scared to cut the pattern out.

But after you sew it… Ahhh, what a thing of beauty a custom designed pattern is. Narrow shoulders? No problem. Ever had a armscye hit exactly at the shoulder joint? It really improves the look of the garment. A bust dart that actually shapes the fabric to your body and ends where your nipple actually is? It makes a much smoother line. A garment that has the waist where your waist actually exists, and flares out appropriately to the real wide point of your hips?

You can’t get that stuff in ready to wear, and even have to do a lot of pattern redesign to get it in a commercial pattern.

The book from which I learned how to do this (Patternless Fashions) is unfortunately out of print. Part of this is because the styles in it are dated and the instructions really aren’t as clear as they could be. But since the point of being able to draft one’s own patterns is that you can add any fashionable design details you want to, the fact that the drawings in the book look a bit 1960 doesn’t matter but so much.

If you like to sew and you like to make your own clothes, I can’t encourage you enough to learn to draw your own patterns. The fit is amazing.

Cultural Expectation Hilarity

I taught a class today through a company that serves lunch as part of the class day. We go to a local place that serves pizza, sandwiches and salads.

There were four of us who went – me and three men.

Now when I go I always order a BLT because I love BLTs and this is my chance to have one. I don’t know why particularly that I don’t make them at home, but I don’t.

Now, the company I teach through puts in the order before we get there to give us more time to enjoy our meal. It’s rather nice, and the restaurant knows us by now. So, we just come in and sit down, then have our meals served.

Today the order included three sandwiches and a salad. Remember the demographic of the group? Three men and a woman?

The waitress, without asking who ordered it, put the salad in front of me.

I think it was more about the fact I am female than being not slender, but I did roll my eyes internally at ingrained cultural ideas.

Final SWAP Piece

I make most of my own clothes, as I’m sure my readers have gathered by now J.

Last year, I bought enough fabric to make a purple capsule for my wardrobe, and I’ve finally gotten around to making the last piece – a jacket with kimono sleeves. It’s really easy to sew, but I’d been stalling about making it. Partially, this is because I just have been slammed with other projects, but it is partially because there’s a part of the sewing process I absolutely despise.

You see, I hate to cut out patterns. Always have. Don’t ask me why. It’s not like it’s difficult. But I don’t like it. I’d actually sew more than I do if I could get out of it in some way and still be able to make clothes. I have a plenty large surface at a good height to cut things out, good scissors, chalk and anything else you’d need to cut out patterns comfortably – even one of those dangerous pizza cutter type things the quilters use! Even so, I still I don’t like cutting out patterns.

What’s spurred me on is that I really want that purple jacket so that I can put together outfits more interchangeably. When you do a combination wardrobe and find yourself with a hole in it, it really starts to cramp your style when putting outfits together for the week!

The next thing I’m going to make is a black broomstick skirt. I have one that’s a bit too narrow at the hips and too short. I want a proper full and long one. I tend to keep black fabric on hand, because I do wear a fair amount of black, and well… it goes with everything!

<sighs> I like my interchangeable wardrobe, but I still miss my salwar suits. Damn, first impressions…