Drafting Sewing Patterns

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

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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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Magazine Patterns – Tracing the darn things

The list of pattern types I’ve used in order of preference, Self drafted, Marfy, Envelope Patterns (Vogue et al), Pattern Magazines, PDFs.

Not everyone has the same preferences. I like to make my own patterns because though it takes time, it saves fitting time. Marfy have subtle drafting, lack of instructions, layout, yardage doesn’t bother me. Envelope patterns are a reasonable deal despite the ease hiccups, if only because they have all of the pieces, including lining and facings. I put Magazines way ahead of pdf’s because I don’t get free printing in the lunch hour courtesy of an absent employer, and sticking together a zillion A4s isn’t my idea of fun. They’re especially handy if I’m going to be sewing away from home and don’t want to cart my blocks with me, but many people are put off by trying to trace off the patterns.

There are two easy methods. If you don’t mind the pattern sheet being punctured you can wheel through with a tracing wheel. You need the spiky sort, sometimes called a needle tracing wheel. Don’t bother with the other kind. If it draws blood when you run it over your finger it’s good for the job. You also need something under your pattern paper – a sheet of thin foam around 3mm thick is ideal. This is extremely quick, but gives you a net pattern. Seam allowances must be added after the tracing, on the paper, or around the pattern on the cloth.  Here’s a couple of gadgets that chalk them in (the red one is old, but the best).

Add Seam Allowance

Add Seam Allowance

You can also buy or make something to stick on your shears to measure as you cut.

Or

A way of tracing patterns with seam allowance

You need to arm yourself with a large sheet of carbon paper, a knitting needle or propelling pencil without a lead, a ruler and flexible curve or home made or purchased seam allowance guides. I could only get A4 carbon when I first did this, so mine are stuck to A4 sheets of computer paper. I keep this folded with the mag pile.

Carbon Paper

Carbon Paper

If you’ve never traced a mag pattern before, you might not have spotted that there’s a pattern piece number at the edge of the sheet (this one’s a Burda, most mags do something similar).

Piece Number

Piece Number

It lines up with a number on the piece itself, a great help in finding it. The number is red, like the pieces.

Piece 3

Piece 3

Once you’ve eyeballed the shape of the piece, line it up over your carbon and pattern paper, leaving a bit of space round it for seam allowance and hem if needed. Weight it to hold it steady.

Weights Keep Pattern Sheet Steady

Weights Keep Pattern Sheet Steady

Then you can start tracing, I do the grainline first.

Grainline

Grainline

Then I put in any internal dart or tuck lines, and any balance marks. You can also write info on the piece with your pencil or knitting needle.

 

Dart Marked

Dart Marked

Next, the perimeter curves of the pattern can be marked with seam allowances added, by lining up a gadget such as a flexible curve around the curved edges. The stitching line can be drawn if you like, which gives you the level of information you used to get printed on envelope patterns.

Curve Marked

Curve Marked

I made some straight and curved measurement strips for different seam allowances, and there are now commercial versions if you’re feeling flush.

Homemade Seam Allowance Gadget

Homemade Seam Allowance Gadget

Straight edges can be ruled of course. Here, my size is represented by the small regular dashes and the ruler is placed the seam allowance width away.

Straight Edge

Straight Edge

This takes a lot longer to write than do. The tracing by this method isn’t quite as quick as wheeling through, but the pattern is complete and the pattern sheet undamaged. It beats trying to peer through the tissue.

 

 

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Nap6 Progress Report

I’ve been cutting an experimental full size pattern for the Nap 6 challenge dress. It’s been a rush job (nothing to do with challenge deadlines, RL issues). Reasoning that if anyone wears it as a finished article, it’s likely to be a daughter for whom I don’t have a dress stand, I picked the nearest (padded to a 12 Aldrich standard block) and pinned out a few lines for the bodice. Others have mentioned a difference between the right and left princess lines in the original dress, but I can’t see these on my screen, and am sticking with identical lines for both sides, except for the dropped waist.

Bodice lines roughly planned

Bodice lines roughly planned

I’ve not found a back view on the net, but changed it from my half scale to echo the front more closely.

I used the lines on the stand as a guide only for positioning them on the pattern. This is cut from what I hope will prove to be a block close to her actual measurements.

The picture of a crumpled part done front might give an idea of where I went with it. Can make out the position of the lines? Darts moved obviously.

Part Done Bodice

Part Done Bodice

With the bodice roughed out I started on the skirt. One way of making it would be direct draping, possibly starting with a circle. I decided to flat draft. There’s little space in my sewing room, I’d need yards of mull or fine calico, as well as a stand in the right size. This skirt is developed from the part of the bodice block sliced off below the lowered waist. I drew the basic skirt by dropping the lines from the hip, cf and cb, finishing it at mid calf.

Slashing and spreading, inserting wedge shaped pieces at intervals round the skirt, I settled on a medium amount of flare, ( about 55 cms addition to the hem width on each of the back and front pieces.)

Next came the tedious job of adding in for the pleats, marking the fold lines, trying to position them similarly to the inspiration example and taking a stab at the depth of pleats. To get the pleats right where they appear to fold towards the front, I needed to move part of the front skirt into the back. (Back or side views would have been handy.) Consideration was also positioning the seams where they’d be buried in the back fold of the pleat.

I pinned this tissue into position on the stand. The dropped waist seam doesn’t match exactly as the stand isn’t the right size, but it’s close enough to get an idea. I thought this full enough, and kept it as my starting point.

Skirt Pattern Pinned to Stand

Skirt Pattern Pinned to Stand

Next step was roughing out the uneven hemline.  I decided to cut a double skirt and have the points of the dipped hemline a little offset for more interest.

Skirt Started

Skirt Started

The underskirt was cut from a quarter circle back and front, marking the dropped waist on it, and hem facings were drafted. The bodice neckline was changed from the inspiration piece, and a couple of possible sleeve versions tried and rejected. I used a CB zip in the bodice, not carrying it into the skirt.

Mock Up of Nap6

Mock Up of Nap6

This is it with cap sleeves. The other sleeves I tried were a fitted sleeve, to seam in at the underarm, with a point replacing the sleeve head, and a point at the wrist – also rejected.

Abandoned Sleeve

Abandoned Sleeve

The toile is in some left over black woven poly and a poly organza which was very cheap,  rather nasty to sew and even worse to press. It’s a fair mimic for floatiness though.

There’s been discussion about the amount of stuff in the skirt – the designer of the original said 8 metres I think. I bought 10 and wasn’t left with much. Here’s one part done skirt pattern on my cutting table (made from a varnished door).

Skirt pattern

Skirt pattern

If I had more cutting space I could probably have economised, but each of four skirt pieces took close to 2 metres, and the hem facing fitted from the side scrap twice, but twice came out of the remaining length. My underskirt pieces didn’t come out of the organza. We had a flying visit from DD, and it turned out that my guesses on size weren’t too far out, just a bit to remove from the back hip. A plan was hatched to make a proper version sometime, probably using dip dyed silk organza and some kind of brocade or embroidered fabric for the bodice. I’ll probably make the hem facings a little deeper than in the toile to make a stronger statement about the shape.

This dress isn’t an exact copy of the original, there are changes, but I’m happy to report that the flat drafted pattern worked out well. The pleats seemed a little mean before the underskirt was in, but I like them now. A deeper pleat might add too much fullness at hip level and a bouncier skirt. Fabric changes have an effect, so I won’t be sure about this before I’ve tried it in silk.

Meanwhile, daughter brought this eye wateringly lovely printed silk crepe to become a simple long skirt. That pattern should only take a moment!

Printed silk

Printed silk

If you have questions about the pattern, or thoughts on the version, please comment.

 

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A Homesteader in Europe

The Brexit vote has knocked me for six. Like so many others amongst the 1.3 to 2 million living in Europe, I was not allowed to vote. Do I need to spell out what fears about our situation we have? Healthcare, the right to stay, income, relations with our hosts, and more. We hear scraps of reassurance from the Brexit gang, promises they can’t promise to keep because a big part of what happens to our rights will be in the hands of the partners they no longer want. I could swallow this if I thought that prospects for my family still in the UK would improve, but, seriously, how on earth will they? As the news of the loss of our triple A rating comes in, and the brexiteers renege on their promises, whitewash their website and redo their sums, the only consolation is that Brits do gallows humour pretty well. We have, in our long history, had lots of occasions to practise it.

I’d planned a long post, but it’s all been said. This is just howling at the stars.

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Linen Trousers

The trousers (a bit crumpled after an afternoon sitting in the doctor’s surgery).

Linen Trousers

Linen Trousers

As well as the pocket detail and no side seam posted about last week, these have a curved waistband. This one is drafted with a centre back seam. The darts which shape the top of the trouser block and the shaping of the side seam are transferred into the band, making the curve. It also has the seam on the right side of the band moved to the inside band. The outer band and the inside aren’t duplicate patterns, a couple of inches of the inner band are added to the front, there’s a fold, not a seam on the edge. This gives a neater finish where the waist fastenings are set.

Waistband

Waistband

The fabric was easy to sew of course, as linen is. I pre-washed the piece to allow for the inevitable shrinkage, and finished the insides with zigag. The inside waistband is turned under and slip stitched, and the hem is slip stitched too on this pair. The pattern is drafted with a grown on fly extension and the zip set in à la Shoben and Ward. A blow by blow account of that method was in my post Jeaniac, May 2012.

 

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No Seam Trouser Pockets

I made a couple of pairs of linen trousers in 2012 and am fishing out my pattern for a re-run. It’s a fairly standard shape, wide legs but not elephantine, side pockets, shaped waistband set slightly lower than natural waistline.

The second pair in linen I made without a side seam, giving a casual look. This post is about how the pocket works without the side seam. I’m working in my new linen, before it festers in stash and guilt trips me about broken resolutions and the like.

Trouser Pattern

Trouser Pattern

The front (left) has a grown on fly, the side piece (top) extends across the front.

Overlap Seam Allowances

Overlap Seam Allowances

I pinned the pieces overlapping the seam allowances on the side seam, keeping the grain lines as parallel as possible.

Pocket Pieces

Pocket Pieces

The pocket pieces , left one faces back the front, right one includes the side and a piece supporting the front, remain unchanged.

The point where the pocket opening ends is marked.

Pocket Opening

Pocket Opening

Then the facing/pocket is stitched ending exactly at the point marked.

Pocket Facing

Pocket Facing

The side front piece is stitched to the back, ending the stitching exactly at the previous stitching. It helps to pin the seam allowance of the pocket piece out of the way.

Side Piece

Side Piece

This is how it looks from the wrong side. Then it’s snipped to the point of the Vee, in order to turn the pieces through.

Wrong Side of Work

Wrong Side of Work

The pocket piece is pressed towards the front and a line of understitching put in to hold the turnings in place and make a crisper turn.

Understitch

Understitch

The side front piece is pressed over the pocket, pressing the seam allowances to the back.

Side Pressed Over Pocket

Side Pressed Over Pocket

To stitch round the pocket, a guide is handy.

Stitch Template

Stitch Template

This is how it looks from the right side when finished.

Right Side

Right Side

The last pair made like this have lasted through wearing and washing without the vulnerable point of the Vee giving way, but it could be supported with some decorative stitching, a button or top stitching. This fabric is more slubby than the stuff I used for the first two pairs, it may fray at the point in wear and get a fix along those lines.

I like this style of pockets in trousers, and like linen trousers without a side seam. It occurs to me that a rtw garment without a seam could have pockets inserted like this, perhaps using a decorative contrast fabric.

 

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Fabric, Yes, More Of It.

Resolve weakens

Hoard Hit

Hoard Hit

So much for ‘not buying any more fabric until the stash is burned’ huh! I was dropped off in Myrtille to look for black satin backed crepe. They had none, and pick up would be at least an hour, and amazingly for this shop, sales ladies were in abundance and shoppers competing for attention sparse. There’s nothing near Myrtille except Decathlon. Ergo, binge shop for boring sweats and yoga pants or binge shop for fabrics. No contest.

Top left is a jersey, bought for dd because she liked it in their sister shop, but promptly went off it when I got it home. Tant pis I’ll make moi a top or dress. Top right is a brocade that used to be jolly expensive and was relocated on the bargain counter at 1euro 50, below it another which is a range of blues and light brown on a black background, richer than in the pic. The cerise/fuschia/pinky-red is linen bought because I want to replace some linen trousers in a similar colour, and with it a couple of balls of cotton in different shades. I’m kidding myself that I’ll crochet a top, but I crochet as slowly as I sew quickly so don’t hold your breath. Bottom left is one of those fabrics I can rarely resist, just because it’s different. It’s black and the surface is entirely covered in a long pile of a synthetic fibre with some lustre. Has it got a name, does anyone know? That was also in the bargain pile.

 

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