Drafting Sewing Patterns

Another sewing blog, with an emphasis on making patterns for garments.

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Drafting a Larger Block (aka sloper)

Last post I touched on a possible approach to drafting a block in a size larger than the given size chart in Aldrich.

Size 12 is used as an example in the instructions, here’s the 12 with the 30.

Blocks 12 and 30

Blocks 12 and 30

The 12 has the bust dart moved to the underarm position. There is an increase in height built in to the size increases, one element that might need changing for an individual. Changes in height are relatively easy to make, usually distributed between the length from the nape to the underarm line, and the underarm to the waist.

Aldrich size charts have an addendum for ‘short’ and ‘tall’, giving a plus or minus 2cms for nape to waist, a plus or minus 0.8 cms for scye depth. Individuals might choose a different arrangement to keep the armhole at a comfortable depth.

See how the larger sizes also have more length in the front bodice above the bust? This is a frequently needed fix. Here’s a toile being sorted by the fantastic mrsmole. Scroll down for where more fabric goes in above the bust. Only the toile stage of a personal block can guarantee to sort all fit issues, ( putting fabric in where it’s needed and taking it out where it isn’t), but taking measurements on the body and comparing them to the draft gets you some of the way.

Aldrich is a good system, but the instructions are on the terse side and the explanations minimal. A problem for many working on their own is measurement taking. The armhole depth, back width and back nape to waist are critical, but hard to get right on your own. It can help to work a ‘standard’ block first.

Lets look at what a size chart above 30 might look like.

difference per size
bust + 5cms                                 132 / 137/ 142/ 147/ 152/ 157
waist + 5cms                               112/ 117/ 122/ 127/ 132/ 137
Hips+ 5 cms                                137/ 142/ 147/ 152/ 157/ 162
Back Width + 1.2                        45/ 46.2/ 47.4/ 48.6/ 49.8/ 51
Chest + 1.5                                  45.5/ 47/ 48.5/ 50/ 51.5/ 53
Shoulder + 0.3                            14.9/ 15.2/ 15.5/ 15.8/ 16.1/ 16.4
Neck + 1.2                                    47.6/ 48.8/ 50/ 51.2/ 52.4/ 53.6
Dart + 0.6                                    12.4/ 13/ 13.6/ 14.2/ 14.8/ 15.4
Nape to Waist + 0.2                   43.6 / 43.8/ 44/ 44.2/ 44.4/ 44.6
Front shoulder to Waist +0.5   46/ 46.5/ 47/ 47.5/ 48/ 48.5
Armhole Depth + 0.7                 26.3/ 27/ 27.7/ 28.4/ 29.1/ 29.8
Waist to Hip +0.2                       22.9/ 23.1/ 23.3/ 23.5/ 23.7/ 23.9/

It’s extrapolated from Aldrich , using the size difference between 28 and 30 to create more sizes. There’s inbuilt fudge in this approach, because maybe the average increase in, say shoulder length, isn’t the same for 30-40 as for 28-30. As we know average and personal measurements are rarely the same. When there is a big difference between a personal measurement and the standard, the drafting system could give a result that still doesn’t work well. The back shoulder is drafted onto a line one fifth of armhole depth measurement minus 0.7. If you use a much shorter shoulder length this results in a sharper slope, which might not be useful.

Shoulder slope

Shoulder slope

You can, of course, input the bespoke measurements right away and draft from those. If you can take those measurements accurately in the right place and level and understand how they relate to the draft this could be your choice. I like to look at a ‘standard’ block in an appropriate size first,which helps to throw light on wherethere are individual differences .

My diagram is in half scale, measurements from my extended chart bust 157 cms, which is around 62 inches. Aldrich drafts the bodice to the hip line, which is pretty usual for drafting systems. It relies on having the ‘standard’ difference between waist and hip. For many figures, it’s actually easier to work the bodice to the waist only.

Size 40 Bodice Block

Size 40 Bodice Block

The bust point in the Aldrich drafts is placed 2.5 cms or about an inch below the armhole depth line. Often this needs to be moved, similarly the balance between the front and back block may need changing, for different cup sizes. Sometimes, just taking a standard block in a bust size a little smaller than the personal measurement and doing an FBA results in the right fit. Next post, how this would look on the 40 Bodice.

 

 

 

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More Scraps and Bigger Block Drafts

Real Life is still curtailing sewing here, so I contented myself with using scraps for bags.

Shopping Bag

Shopping Bag

This shopper (cut last week) is also from Sew Serendipity bags, more or less made up per pattern. The differences were to shorten the body by two inches because of limited fabric, and lengthening the straps so that it can be carried over the shoulder. Its made in a scrap of furnishing fabric, lined in African wax cotton. The front pocket is gathered at the bottom and elasticated at the top. The pocket is cut double so that it can be turned inside out. That’s what you do when you fold this bag into itself for storage between shopping trips. The sides are turned inwards to form a pleat. The bottom of the bag is sewn last, both layers together with the bottom of the pocket caught in the seam. This has to be a french seam, hard work in my fabrics. It would be easier in a couple of quilting cottons or old sheets. Once done, it’s good. It had a trip to the supermarket yesterday and holds a good amount. I guess my obsession with shopping bags has something to do with the fact that my house is on a hill with the ground floor one storey up from the garage.

A daughter eyeballed the scraps from the scrap which made the previous shopper and bagged it (sorry), for a simple shoulder pocket.

Bag from Scraps Left from Bag from Scraps

Bag from Scraps Left from Bag from Scraps

Two rectangles, facing, lining with  a couple of pockets, long straps to go across the body, all simple and quick stitching.

On a roll she eyeballed the scraps from my cloqué skirt, for a simple make up bag.

Cloqué Make-Up Bag

Cloqué Make-Up Bag

I made this by drawing round an olive dish for the base circle, and cutting a rectangle for the rest of it, circumference by height plus two inches to face, then cutting a lining (height less facing depth). It has a channel to thread the ribbon through, but could also be done with eyelets and cord, or an elastic closure. Christmas gift projects anyone?

Bigger Blocks.

In  keeping with my scrappy sewing, here’s a scrappy run through of some issues in drafting a block for larger sizes. Everyone has their favourite method, I’m going with Aldrich for the purposes of this post.

RTW often makes a hash of bigger sizes, basically because when government surveys of women’s sizes were carried out to try to help clothing industries cater for populations, they went for averages. Faced with choices like should you cater for taller and/or wider they picked the ‘and’, figuring to fit both groups that way.

How well that worked can be judged by the number of people who started sewing because they couldn’t find rtw fit. Some gravitate towards trying to draft their own block, because they can’t reconcile existing patterns with their shape.

When learning to draft, I think it helps to draft a standard block first. Most directions are given for a fairly small size. It’s still useful, because you get the feel of how the draft works without having to fuss about the maths.

The next step can be drafting the nearest standard block to your size, and for this you need a measurement chart. A good drafting book will include one of these, as well as a diagram explaining how the measurements are taken.

Here’s the largest block (30) you can draft from the measurement chart in my edition of Aldrich ‘Metric Pattern Cutting’.

Size 30 Bodice Draft

Size 30 Bodice Draft

(Front has several sizes marked on it, look at the outline shape)

Size wise it’s roughly the equivalent of size I in Vogue’s Today’s Fit. Their range goes one up to J. There’s no reason though why you shouldn’t use the drafting run through in a size 12 and the measurement chart to take a draft up more sizes if that’s what you need.

The important bit is the difference between measurements from one size to the next.  Bust sizes in Aldrich go up in 5 cms per size, roughly two inches.  Use this measurement to figure out how many extra sizes to add, and increase each measurement by the appropriate increment by checking the difference in sizes in the chart.

Despite my bad photo, you’ll notice that the front block is longer from the neck point than the back block. Aldrich gives increases in height here for larger sizes to reflect the need for more length as well as more width over the bust. There are some differences in the measurement of the armhole curve as well, but the overall shape is not substantially different from the shape of a size 12.

Next post on this topic I’ll look at some of the places where an individual often differs from the closest standard block.

 

 

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French Patrones and Scrappy Sewing

Sewing time is still in short supply, I made a couple of bags scrappily. The first is from a really nice fabric remnant gifted to me, combined with some furnishing fabric left overs.

Fabric Gift

Fabric Gift

Insert

Insert

Bag Closed

Bag Closed

This pattern was made up on the hoof. The criteria were internal pockets to fit passport, phone, cheque book and airline or train tickets, glasses case and kindle, with enough space to carry water, crochet, a sandwich or to pile in bits of shopping. Key holder essential. Strap long enough to use on the shoulder, but short enough to carry in the hand. I made it on a pointed oval base, with an insert to widen the top.

Base

Base

It has one zipped pocket, and closes with a magnetic catch. The interior is made in a strong double faced fabric – drill on one side, a slinkier jersey on the other.

Interior

Interior

The second is in remnants from skirt made for DD, lined in recycled drill (DH’s trousers) and trimmed with recycled cotton dress fabric.

img_2448 This pattern is in Sew Serendipity Bags, though you probably wouldn’t buy the book for this alone. It’s basically two rectangles with a pocket, and strong handles. I’ve made a couple of these, and one other style from the same book as shoppers. Both styles fold up neatly.

Folded

Folded

Here’s the other style from the book I’ve used, cut out ready to sew. This one has a pocket sewn on the front into which the bag folds.

img_2449

I can’t imagine why I ever used those nasty plastic bags that supermarkets now have to charge for. Five or six home made shoppers take care of a bootful of groceries, look and feel much better and don’t cut your hand or threaten to split. All that, and the happy feeling of not using something that could end up wrapped round marine life.

Couture Actuelle

Can anyone resist browsing and buying patterns even if you end up drafting your own?  I found ‘Couture Actuelle’ in the papeterie section of a supermarket.  I believe it’s a French print version of Patrones. I had Patrones on order from Spain for a couple of years, but isn’t it nice to pick and choose from a rackful of magazines? The styles are well presented, all smart basics with a twist this time.

Style Page

Style Page

I like the collar on this jacket.

Jacket

Jacket

This blouson looks good.

Blouson Jacket

Blouson Jacket

A good wardrobe staple.

Tailored Jacket

Tailored Jacket

A great style in plus size.

Plus Size Dress

Plus Size Dress

There are also a couple of children’s garments to sew and a cute top to knit (top right on the style page).

 

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The Best Laid Schemes

2016 is going down as the reality check year. Another month of lo-sew, a few bits were completed in between real life emergencies and damage control efforts, but the big plans of turning the fabric stash into lovely projects are definitely shelved. I came back to France the slow way this time, via Brittany ferries. If you’ve never used them, consider trying it, if only for the on board restaurants. Travel food is usually pretty dire, but their facilities are a far far remove from motorway service stations and the dismal little trays airlines offer.

One piece of stored silk, a Thai duppion in silver grey, was used in London to make this rerun of a dress for dd, first made in navy poly a few years ago. I hadn’t saved the pattern, so it was redrafted. The original also had a large pocket at the front hem, but in the silver silk it looked over the top. The buttons came from John Lewis and the belt is from H&M.

Neckline Closed

Neckline Closed

Neckline Open

Neckline Open

The skirt part is a slight A line, there are double waist darts shaping the waist, the cuffs are fairly deep and shaped so that they can be worn down or folded back and the front fastens with one visible button at the top of the fly front and two buttoned tabs to fold the neckline closed.

 

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Bits and Pieces

Burda Jacket.

Burda Jacket

Burda Jacket

The idea of doing a step by step account of this pattern was abandoned when I took the cut pieces with me to London. Sewing there was like taking a step back in time – basic machine balanced on piano stool with the edge of the bed serving as a chair. Patterns were drafted on top of a chest, and fabric cut on a teeny bit of floor space.

Those front pockets are faced back with lining only. I’m not sure how they are intended to be closed between the bottom of the opening and the hem. A few options suggested themselves to me. I didn’t want top stitching and settled for slip stitching them to the jacket body. With a free arm machine, I’d have tried stitching inside the pocket. That might work, and would give a neat strong finish with no visible stitching. In some fabrics, cutting a facing might be a good finish to the opening and avoid having the lining peeping out when the pocket opens in movement.

The collar didn’t sit as well as I’d hoped. I blamed the  fusible, perhaps a softer finish would be better. It’s pretty wide, coming right to the shoulders. On the plus side it looks good turned up.

Fabric – Owning Up.

Stash reduction looks like a busted flush. Just pretend not to notice.

A length of linen look fabric and some heavy wine red satin came from a store on Brick Lane you could visit for the experience of seeing The Most Fabric Crammed into the Least Space. You’d find it on the Whitechapel Road end, right side if you walk from that direction. It’s not for browsing. You can hardly squeeze in through the door in single file. Rolls of stuff are piled up to a height of what could be two storeys, each side of a foot wide passage. The lady proprietor has an enviable ability to recall what she has stored where. Ask, your fabric will be found. Prices are reasonable.

Further up I popped in to Crescent Trading hoping to land on bright green habotai, but actually bought a length of red twill silk and one of cerise, both at £8 pm. Do you know how that happens, seeking green and buying red?

Turning on to Bethnal Green Rd what should there be but another fabric shop! I bought a remnant, actually a printer’s sample I think. The pattern called out seductively to my credit card. There’s not much of it, ideas vague up to now.

Print Sample

Print Sample

There are some nice tweedy looking fabrics in this shop, but not much else. It has a boutiquey feel, with prices to match. They give you a fabric bag to carry your stuff home in.

Free Bag

Free Bag

In John Lewis I bought a liquid gold crepe backed satin. This actually had a purpose. Most of my sewing in London consisted of altering garments for one who has shrunk two sizes, which means my admiration for mrsmole’s patience now knows no bounds. I never want to see another zip in need of ripping out, but one job was more up my alley. A trouser suit with a Chanel style jacket trimmed with gold binding had lost its blouse to a klepto friend. The satin from JL was perfect and I squeezed out a skirt using the crepe side with satin accents. The jacket was ok, the trousers became a skirt, so two outfits from just over a metre purchased. At that time JL had some coloured laces on sale, which I only just resisted.

In Berwick St I bought a pale green habotai to line a long skirt made with that fantastic green flower print silk dd bought in a Joels sale.

Printed silk

Printed silk

The habotai scraps look as if they’ll fit with the printers sample, making the Berwick St price for basic silk lining just a teeny bit easier to swallow.

At the other end of the scale I bought some fabrics in Shadwell for £1.50 pm.

Back home in sweltering heat yet another pair of comfy trousers seemed like a good use for one of these market lengths. The inspiration for this pair came from some seen on stage in The Truth. (A funny play, the perfect distraction from problems).

Trousers in Truth Mode

Trousers in Truth Mode

The style was less baggy and narrower in the leg than the last pair of lightweight elastic waist trousers, below.

As Finished as They'll Ever Be

As Finished as They’ll Ever Be

I used a standard pattern, omitting the waist darts, adding inseam pockets, and making a waistband elasticated from the position of the front darts. I kept the side shaping.

The whole world seemed to be wearing a variation on boiler suit one piece styles in London. I’ve enough left of the fabric to make a matching top to fake the look without  bathroom inconveniences should my waistline ever come home to Mama. Who am I kidding? Matching separates might be a good idea though.

Animal Pandemonium

An ongoing spinoff of those curveballs life whizzed my way is this lovely little one year old, now desperately needing a permanent home.

George

George

It’s not practical to bring him here because –

Open Plan Living

Open Plan Living

the yearling in residence is from hunting stock. When not remodelling his quarters, he lives to chase.

Other distractions I found time for in London were the Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective and the Mona Hatoum exhibition, both at Tate Modern. I think the last day of the Mona Hatoum is tomorrow, if you’re in London I recommend.

 

 

 

 

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Absentee

Life threw a couple of curveballs, I’ve been in London and uncommunicative for three and a bit weeks trying to field them, or whatever one does. The navy jacket with the interesting pockets is done. There should be a photo of sorts on my camera – details next post. First I’m going to catch up with my favourite bloggers.

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Fusing a Fifties Jacket

The pattern I was busy tracing last post was a Burda jacket, from one of their extra magazines. burda vintageIt’s a rerun of a 50s pattern. The pieces are cut and I’m fusing like fun. Well, no, not fun. My relationship with fusible interfacing is a not so much a love – hate one as a tolerate resentfully – hate one.

Here’s the jacket, and the reason I’m making it – see that curved seam forming the pocket ? Who could resist trying that out?

Burda Jacket

Burda Jacket

btd

Fusibles come with so much false promise. “This’ll be quicker than classic tailoring”  you kid yourself, forgetting that the sole plate is tiny, not a tesselation friendly shape, and needs to be held to the piece for a few minutes each press. The instructions have all the peplum pieces, the front piece and it’s facing fused, as well as little underarm pieces.

Ann Ladbury has these wise words – “Cut to shape and size using the section of garment as a template, especially if alterations have been made to the pattern. Trim about 2mm from the outside edges to prevent them sticking to the ironing surface”.

The problem with following her advice is that garment pieces notoriously distort after you take the pattern off. A garment piece used as a pattern, needs much checking and shifting to get straight lines straight, and check curves haven’t grown on the outer edge and shrunk on the inner edge. My jacket fronts were in firm woven fabric, but it took much time trueing them to the pattern before interfacing.

Fusible’s second falsehood is that it will actually stay stuck.

Ann Ladbury also advises catching the interfacing in a seam because it will inevitably work loose in time and with laundry.  I feel this is more realistic than advice about buying only the best and following the directions to a T. Is your gear good for applying constant temperature even pressure over the whole surface of large pieces of fabric?

Then there’s the bulked up seam allowance to deal with after stitching. Some like to cut the fusible to the net size, not catching it in, or add only a couple of millimetres to the perimeter. I’ve tried this technique, but you have to be fearsomely accurate to avoid gaps, where your stitching and interfacing wander off in different directions, and on some fabrics it never seems to bond properly.

 

 

 

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