Drafting Sewing Patterns

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

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Beautiful Couture

What can I say.

Chanel

I’m sending my sewing machine and stash to Coventry.

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Dhoti

Mulling over the comfi trouser question brought me to the Dhoti pattern in a draping book I bought some years ago. The natural white jersey used in the zebra top seemed like the ideal fabric to try the pattern out. There are three versions in the book, I decided to pick the simplest, least fabric hungry.

The instructions for drafting this pattern, I’m sorry to say, are pretty dire. How they want the crotch curve drafted is left to the imagination. ‘Swing an arc from the centre back’ isn’t a lot of help when CB hasn’t been established. Where on it you’re throwing the arc from is left to guesswork. Positions for the points the arc is supposed to go through aren’t given, so that’s no help. That said, there’s a diagram with some minimal information . I decided, for better or for worse, to use the crotch curves from my trouser block, and wing everything else based on what it looked like in the diagram.

In a break from dissing the instructions I googled and found a plethora of Dhoti pant tutorials  and videos. Here’s one. There are some differences between the Silberberg:Shoben pattern and most of the tutes I found.

Dhoti Pattern

Dhoti Pattern

There’s a hole cut for the ankle across the point of the triangular folded piece of cloth (bottom left). The others leave a space at the bottom of the seam. That would throw more cloth into a drape above the ankle at the outside of the leg and make the ankle area look pointier. This rtw version shows the effect of leaving the bottom of the inseam open instead of cutting the point off.

Using Inseam

Using Inseam

The S:S one curves the waistline – the aforementioned arc, going from back crotch, top left, to front crotch, bottom right in my photo.  The others cut the waistline straight, one with a piece cut out at an angle at the top outer corner where the side seam would be positioned if there was one.

Making up is very simple. You stitch the inseam and stitch the front to back waistline from the side fold a little bit. The pattern draft suggests 15cms, I took an extra 8cm. This part drops forming the start of the cowl like folds, so my 23cms makes a bigger drop and eats up some of the waistline.

What was left was still a waistline that would fit round an elephant. It’s about 100 inches, so roooooooomy!

Elephantine Waist

Elephantine Waist

The instructions for pleating this were on the vague side too. As my fabric is stretchy, I pleated it to a bit less than my hip measurement. I’m not wild about a lot of gathers bunching at the waist on me.

The S/S draft has an elasticated waistband. Many of the tute examples had deep bands giving a smoother fit over the hips, with all the fullness falling below that level, possibly resulting in webbed legs as it must drop the crotch level. For this trial, I decided to use a very stretchy piece of black jersey, folded double but not elasticated, so it could be worn at the waist or folded down yoga-pant style.

Black Waistband in Jersey

Black Waistband in Jersey

They definitely fit the comfort bill. In a nice silk jersey, with a little more tweaking they could be stylish in drifting round the patio glass in hand mode. I’m in two minds about whether to class these as wearable or unwearable toile. You could definitely sleep in them, and they’d be ok for yoga if you don’t do headstands. You could slob-out in these on the morning dog sortie without raising too many eyebrows.

Dhoti Worn

Dhoti Worn

(See how the cowl forms at the side from the waistline seam?)

There were many style variations on internet. It would be nice to try them out, but how much dreamily drifting out to admire the sunset clutching a martini shaken not stirred do I do?  Here’s a couple:-

Butterfly such fun!

Kite could be chic!

Styles cut from Western trouser blocks with side drapes have a similar look to some of the versions I found. The advantage of the Western method seems to me a greater control over where the drapes fall, but perhaps it’s just down to experience.

Does it strike you as funny that so much sewing discussion reverberates around fitting jeans to get the ideal shape posterior, with no drag lines, and these Indian styles completely bypass the question of hip fit –  going for an exaggerated pear shape, with lots of fabric gathered or pleated at the top, narrowing sharply? When I was shopping with someone for  Diwali party gear I snooped the cut of a trouser style with very narrow, tight fitting legs and a big baggy gusseted top, made in lightweight cotton. To a Western pattern drafter these looked almost like a caricature of pants, but I guess they are actually very practical in a hot climate. The rapid googling I did threw up information on many different regional styles of these garments, which seem to go by a variety of names. I also found a page of style advice. What’s a banana shaped body? I could only think of Dowager’s Hump, a Dhoti for my Dotage.

 

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Bag

Favourite Bag

Favourite Bag

This bag is a winner. It’s not the easiest pattern to put together, being full of subtle curves, but it has a smooth logic and creates a great shape, large enough if you pick up a few bits of shopping, or want to carry your lunch, a paperback and that scrap of crochet you’re working on, but it’s not cumbersome. The handle is a continuation of the curves in the side shapes. It fits neatly over the shoulder, but doesn’t drag on the ground if held in the hand. Perfect.

Side Panels

Side Panels

I load the lining with pockets of various sizes, at least one zipped, a phone pocket, a pen pocket and a spare, and include a key holder. You can keep the essentials to hand even when you’ve filled the interior with shopping, a significant advantage over most purchased bags.

I have several of these, left over from when I tried an esty shop, so this one is for a daughter. I had to recut the pattern. My original is hopelessly lost in another black hole.

This time I’ve made the side panels and handle in soft black leather with the front, back and bottom panels in black denim, jazzed up with tucks.

Tucks

Tucks

The lining is a quite tough silver grey poly fabric which I used double, chosen because everyday, carry to work bags quickly get wrecked inside. The leather has interfacing fused to it,  The bottom panel is stiffened with a mesh.

Seam allowances need to be accurately cut and getting the handle to line up at the corners where it joins the side panels is a bit tricky. With several interior pockets, working steadily but not flat out, it takes five or six hours. A nice, no fitting involved project.

 

 

 

 

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Zebraic Equation Grapples with Stash Black Hole Mystery

And Liberates Birds For Jungle January

Someone set the drums beating again

Drums: “Hey, what’s cooking?”

Me:  “Can’t find my JJ fabric.”

Drums: “So you can’t rustle up something with this black and white?”

Me: “Er, like what, zebra? ”

Drums: ” Yup, and  check this out. Subtle”

Fawn and White

Fawn and White

Me: “Sweet! yet no fawn jersey. And my white is flimsier than my black”

Drums: “Just use it double?”

Me: “OK, but how do a zebras stripe? ”

Drums: “We’ve googled. Each one is different. Just pick a photo and crib a slice”

Time passed as I googled over baby zebras ……….

Not for Hearthrugs

Not for Hearthrugs

Me: “My white isn’t brilliant it’s…”

Drums: “Natural? Naturellement”

and so finally this happened…..

Looks Better on a Zebra

Looks Better on a Zebra

Me: “It looks a bit c**p. Especially that chunk at the side where I tried to get away without piecing in another black bit.”

 an awkward dithery pause….

Naff Bit Needs Black

Naff Bit Needs Black

Me again crossly: “It needs ripping out and fixing, but there’s no time. Its Five to Flippin’ February already”

Drums: ” Er… our advice, don’t let the herd see it”

Me: “Wait, there’s a drawer in the black hole (aka hallway)”

and whilst churning frantically through pieces of suiting, lace, scraps of velvet, and the odd long forgotten rayon print or two with a flurry of fluttering, this happened …

Free at Last

Free at Last

Me again hysterically: “The birds! The birds! They’re here! In the Black Hole! Who knew!”

Birdie Top

Birdie Top

 

Drums: ” If only you’d done the  jeans in the natural denim you bought last year, you’d have an outfit”

 

 

 

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Nightwear Nightmare

The fabric came from the  East End market I occasionally haunt. I bought enough to make a top. Luckily, I didn’t start it. The fabric went into stash.

It’s woven, with a permanent crinkled texture,  printed in pink and black wavy stripes on white ground, probably polyester. I bought a yard and a half, but as often happens when that store makes its cuts, it’s wonky by six inches. Very cheap, it seemed ideal to make up speedily as pyjamas which might be mistaken for daywear from a distance, when I stagger out in the early hours towed by a desperate pup. Dog walking pyjamas.

(The same dead easy pattern used for the silk shorties, with the addition of pockets for biscuits in case the force of my personality isn’t enough to distract the mutt from terrorising the wildlife cowering in the vegetation.)

Dead Easy Pattern used again

Dead Easy Pattern used again

 

I cut the pants on cross grain because the crinkle texture gave oodles of stretch lengthwise and not much in the width. Everything went swimmingly until it came to sew the turning for the elastic channel at the waist. The quick project then ate into a couple of hours as I tried to get a proper machine stitch in the horizontal direction (actually warp grain).  I checked the threading, defluffed under the feed dogs and checked the bobbin race for bits of thread, changed the needle for a microtex, changed the needle for a ballpoint, changed the needle for a finer microtex, switched to a different machine, switched back, tried a zigzag, fiddled with the tension, and finally cut some strips of pattern paper and put them under the fabric. That sort of worked, about ninety percent of the stitches formed, with a few skipped bits. Then I spent a happy hour picking out the bits of paper stuck in the stitches.

On the plus side, the fabric doesn’t fray. I’ve taken the decision to chop off the hem allowance. It’ll get a baby hem if someone comes up with the perfect solution to stitching the beastly stuff. Or it won’t.

Pattern and Construction Notes:-

I chose the ancient pattern as it emerged from the heap before my pj block, but for these kind of pants almost any trouser pattern will do as a starting point. You just need to give extra ease in the hips and half an inch or so of extra crotch depth.  Looking for comfy enough to sleep, these look promising and rather elegant, and I’m tempted to try this design from Lily Silberberg and Martin Shoben’s book.

Versatile Wardrobe Addition?

Versatile Wardrobe Addition?

Pockets can be added to the side of a pattern by drawing the shape onto the side seam instead of cutting separate pieces as I did here. It takes a bit more fabric, adding to the hip width, but avoids a stitching stage.

Basic Pocket Pattern

Basic Pocket Pattern

Attaching the separate pocket pieces, you need to take less than the whole seam allowance, so that the seam is hidden, and understitch with the turnings pressed to the pocket.

Pocket Seam Set Back

Pocket Seam Set Back

Two tips.

When the fabric looks much the same both sides, it pays to check that you are stitching the second leg as a mirror image of the first. I still lay the pieces down on the table before sewing them. A minute doing this saves me an hour of unpicking one of two right legs.

Avoiding Sewing 2 Right Legs

Avoiding Sewing 2 Right Legs

When turning a channel for waist elastic, stitching the turnings of the vertical seams flat to the garment avoids the bodkin or safety pin getting stuck under them as you pull the elastic through.

As Finished as They'll Ever Be

As Finished as They’ll Ever Be

 

 

 

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Dead Easy

With silk left over from other projects I made a couple of  shortie pyjama pants for dds, same basic pattern, different sizes. There was a bit of cheating in the layouts to get the pieces out of the remaining fabric. I dovetailed the pattern on the burgundy satin, luckily it didn’t shade.

There are only two pieces to the pattern, with the waist folded over and elasticated. I used narrow french seams.

Burgundy silk shorts

Burgundy silk shorts

Pale Rose silk shorts

Pale Rose silk shorts

This would be an ideal beginner pattern. With extra ease in the hip measurement, elasticated waist and deeper crotch depth there’s not the same fitting problems as daywear . (Maybe made in something less slippery, tana lawn? )

When I’d finished these I had a waste not want not moment and squeezed strappy tops out of the teeny scraps, putting in some black satin to stretch the red.

Rose pink top

Rose pink top

Burgundy top

Burgundy top

There’s something therapeutic about working with silk isn’t there? A microtex needle, lace pins and it’s sorted.

(Sorry about the lousy unfocused pics. )

 

 

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Lace and More Lace

Yesterday I stopped shilly shallying over which bit of stash could underline my lace knit, and abandoned searching for the holy grail of a perfect match. Final choices were the satin side of a satin backed crepe in a bluey -grey or a similar colour in a lightweight jersey. Jersey won. It feels more companionable to the stretchiness and flow of the lace, and  it gives a more casual look to counter the MOB vibe of oodles of blue green lace.

I wasted some more time dithering around my original idea for the rest of the outfit. First thought was a dress with a skirt and top look. On someone else, an under sheath in jersey with the lace gathered together at the waist as an overskirt would be nice. The idea kept nagging at me. I almost got as far as cutting it out when reality kicked in. Sack tied round the middle adequately sums up waist gathers on short waisted D cuppers with no abs to brag about.

Fantasies out of the way, the skirt was plain sailing. No pattern, rectangles of cloth, one in jersey, one in lace, slight shaping at the side with long darts, double stitched and trimmed back, a waistband channel made with the lace turning the fancy edge to the RS, a firm elastic threaded through in case gravity won.

Skirt in Knitted Lace

Skirt in Knitted Lace

How do you calculate negative ease for your jersey projects? You can draft jersey blocks, – useful if you use a lot of jerseys with a similar stretch. Most of my fabrics come without pedigree. I don’t know until it’s on the table how stretchy it is. A very simple, minimum maths technique works pretty well – taking the width and draping round the hips at about the right degree of snugness, then measuring it. By comparing that measurement to the woven block measurement at hip level, you get an idea of how much ease to take out of your standard blocks.

When it comes to the stretch waistband , a similar trial and error effort works. Take the length of waist measurement and check if you can actually stretch it over the hips. If it’s too tight a squeeze, add a bit and pull it in with elastic. Some jersey’s have excellent return and make great waistbands without elastic, but this one needed a helping hand.

The cardigan has the shawl collar and hem trimmed with the edging cut from the selvedge of the lace which has a picot effect, and gathered cuffs, also with the picot edging.

Cardigan Front

Cardigan Front

Cardigan Back

Cardigan Back

Cuffs on Cardi

Cuffs on Cardi

Edging

Edging

I bound the seams inside this garment, but rather wish I hadn’t. The finish I used for the inside seam in the skirt was a row of zigzag close to the stretch stitch seam, trimmed to 5mm turnings. It looks more delicate. Will I bother to unpick the seam binding on the cardigan? Open question.

The skirt was so quick I made a stupendously slapdash pattern for a top and ran this up in the evening.

Pattern for Top

Pattern for Top

It has a front and back yoke in lace, neck and armhole binding in lace, and small tucks from the yoke for bust shaping.

Top with Lace Yoke

Top with Lace Yoke

I probably won’t wear all of these together, but reckon they will work as separates. Jeans with lace cardi, jumper with lace skirt for example.

The weather here has been getting revenge for the hot dry summer. The dykes surrounding our drive have become rapids, and the lower land is mush. Its not conducive to lathering on fake tan and strappy sandals and attempting to model, I’ve kept to flat shots. Please use imagination. Stash has been reduced by about four and a half metres by my reckoning. Onwards!

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