Drafting Sewing Patterns

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Shortening a Pattern

Shortening, or lengthening , a pattern which doesn’t come with ‘shorten here’ lines.

First, obviously, you have to decide where you and the measurements the pattern maker used part company.

This is easy when they helpfully provide a full measurement chart.  DP Studio has a chart which gives you a real chance to compare your individual shape with the standard their pattern maker is using. Not many compnies seem to do this. A crucial bit of information is often missing, Centre Back Nape to Waist.

The Burda magazine I used for my cocoon coat only indicates height, a bit taller than me. I’m doing a rerun of this pattern, making a few changes. I’ve dropped down a size, and want to shorten the bodice a little. I’m happy with the armhole depth, so all the changes are going to be made below that line.

I’ve drawn parallel lines 1 cm apart at right angles to the grain lines at the same level on each piece where it stitches together to form the top part of the garment. (The pattern seams were ‘walked’ against each other to get the position right on each subsequent piece.)

It’s not a big alteration, but added to the height reduction by size I think it’ll be ok.

The balance mark top right is on the lower part of the armhole. I’m retaining the fit of the sleeves.

The plan for this version of the Cocoon Coat is to make it reversible, in two colours of silk duppion, a burnt orange and black. Things are going rather slowly, sewing time being limited by dog nursing. Our Springer leapt over a wall onto some glass, which cut his leg badly, severing a ligament and artery. He doesn’t think he needs to rest anymore, but the vet says give it a month – a recipe for chaos. They are not a breed that understands keeping still.





Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Cocoon Coat

My 300 metres of fabric includes some lengths purchased by daughters, and then abandoned. The heavy natural cotton with a detail of woven slubs and tufts I pulled out for August Burda 117 is one of those.

Burda 08/2018/117

I’ve wanted to make a cocoon coat for a while. The fabric looked like a good candidate to try out the pattern and get a summer top layer with a bit of an ethnic vibe.

Tufty Bows

The woven slub/tuft effect can be seen on the left of the photo. The tufts tied to form bows through the top stitching on the front were added. (Threads of the heavy slub pulled out, top stitching run over them, knotted and trimmed)

Followers of this erratic blog will know that I frequently draft my own patterns, avoiding the dreaded fit problems. I  ran into them this time.

The short version of this tale is that it’s a great pattern in so many ways, but has ease beyond your ken. The fit on the model suggests a slightly relaxed fit, but no hint of tent. Someone on The Sewing Place forum suggested that Burda may have performed their special magic of  a bulldog clip in the garment back at the photo shoot. They could be right.

I cut a 40. Per chart it’s 6 cms smaller than my bust size, but after a brief dither I eschewed the FBA. Luckily, as it turned out.

Pattern measurements taken too late show there’s almost 10 inches of ease at this level. That’s mighty for a summer coat, open front, 3/4 sleeves, worn over a summer dress strolling along the shore at dusk.

Measure Pattern!

Enough griping. The pattern is well thought out, they’ve prioritised easy assembly.No nasty surprises lurk in seams not matching or balance marks forgotten. The Burda way with flap pockets gets a re-run.

Pocket in Seam

They’re set in a seam. You don’t have that nail biting moment of slicing into your perfect front piece whilst crossing fingers  that you got left and right matched and the stitching channel absolutely spot on.

Cotton Cocoon Coat

If you get the size right it’s a winner, the shape is good. I especially like what they’ve done with the sleeves.

Great Sleeves!

They’re cut in two pieces, the fit is similar to a dolman sleeve so that the armhole is easy, the shoulder seam and top seam stitched in one pass, the cuff edge faced back.

Sleeve Seam

The back is shaped in at the hem with pleats.

Back Pleats


Save stress, do a toile!






Posted in Sewing Patterns | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Once More into the Stash Dear Friends

I’ve arrived at a halfway house to full on Stash-Org Nerdery. There are now lists. The lists have symbols next to the items to designate colour group and potential usefulness for quick quick or slow projects.

It took time, but balance that against the time wasted rooting through heaps of fabric in search of something  surely bought a few years ago, only to find that the yardage was way too short, or the hand of the fabric was totally wrong.

DO you spend hours looking for stuff , or have you got it nailed?

Anyway, fully smugged up about my new found organisation skills I yanked out a piece left over from a previous project, knowing right off that a bit of pattern fandangling would be needed to get trousers out . How good that felt.

I only needed contrast fabric for pockets, waistband facing, turn up facing. The lists pointed me to the one and only choice. Yeah!

Ta Da! Keks in a zany cotton elastane print with black drill as contrast. Only a metre down in stash terms, but I’ll take that.

You will notice I go for a relaxed fit. I could have shaved off another inch, but nooooo. The grip quality of elastane gets a pass in the gym or dance studio, but should it cross into streetwear?

Cotton Trousers

Have you ever calculated how long a project has taken? Me neither. In the interests of getting a handle on stash-hours – Simple Trousers Time and Motion Study  – feel free to skip.

  1. Stitch, turn, press and finish zip guard 7 minutes

    Zip Guard

  2. Mark, stitchand press back darts 5 minutes
  3. Stitch zip to RS of right front,face down, lining up zip tape to centre line 3 minutes

    RS ZIP

  4. Press a line 5 mm away from CF line on left front, 3 minutes

    Left Front Prepared

  5. Stitch this to the other side of the zip 3 minutes

    2nd Side of Zip Stitched

  6. Trim left side to 1 cm from zip edge, finish edge, attach zip guard 7 minutes

    Zip Guard

  7. Press fold along CF line on right front, stitch part of crotch seam  keeping zip guard free 5 minutes

    Crotch Seam

  8. Bring CFs togehter, keep zipguard free, topstitch fly 7 minutes

    Top Stitch Fly

  9. Face back pocket opening with pocket piece 5 minutes

    Face with Pocket Piece

  10. With WS together stitch side piece to pocket piece along curved edge taking 7mm seam allowance, snip into curves, trim to 3mm, turn, press,

    Stitch Pocket

    and stitch round enclosing turnings in a french seam, 12 minutes

    Snip Curves

    French Seam Pockets

  11. Stitch across the waistline and side to hold pockets 3 minutes

    Secure Pockets

  12. Finish edges of all main pieces 10 minutes
  13. Stitch side seams and press to the back 6 minutes
  14. Top stitch seam to heart’s content, or not 10 minutes (includes time for checking the stitch/thread ccombo looks ok)

    Top Stitch Side Seams

  15. Stitch inseams, double stitch crotch seam, stitch down pockets for 25mm 10 minutes

    Top Stitch Pocket Tops

  16. Stitch CB seam on waistband and waistband facing, interface, stitch top edge RS together and snip curves 15 minutes
  17. Stitch band to garment, grade turnings 10 Minutes
  18. Stitch waistband ends and turn, finish raw edge of band, stitch in the ditch to hold band facing in place, top stitch. 10 minutes

    Stitch in Ditch

  19. Turn ups, join fronts and backs along side seams 3 minutes
  20. join inner and outer turn up pieces along top edge, turn and press, top stitch side seam to match garment side seam 7 minutes
  21. Finish lower edge, stitch turn ups to trouser legs, thread mark fold line 10 minutes

    Attach Turn Ups

  22. Turn up hem and stitch, press turn ups and catch stitch between the turn up facing and garment at the side and inner seams 7 minutes
  23. Attach fastening to close waistband. 10 minutes

Comes out under 3 hours. That’s not too different from my best guess, two and a half hours for trousers not rushing, and confirms my feelings about sewing waistbands. Anyone else find these a pain? Just when everything is telling you you’ve almost finished, there’s a bunch of processes needing accurate stitching. Ugh!





Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Thanks for Not Guffawing

Gentle Readers, when I flagged up my intention to sew through the not terribly special fabrics in my stash by the end of summer, you made generously supportive comments. Not a single scoff, knowing smirk or ROFL appeared in the inbox.

Turns out I am delusional. I’ve just done an almost complete inventory. It took the best part of three days. Funny how little space almost 300 metres takes up isn’t it?

Let’s try to translate this into projects. Some would need less than a metre, others might take four and a half. To get a ballpark figure, does 150 projects sound about right?

Translate those projects into hours. Also difficult. Cut out and sew a simple pair of trousers, skirt or top you’ve made before, and know fits – 3 or 4 hours on an average day? But, tailor a jacket, fiddle around with embellishments, I don’t get much change from a two week slog, do you?

For the sake of my brain, is 7 hours a project on average reasonable?

Ergo, I have enough fabric stashed for, say, 1,000 hours of sewing.

How about you, in or out of control?



Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

McCalls 6555 Shirt

Further to the summer Stash Attack, I’ve used a length of lightweight white poly crepe making up View A of a pattern I must have bought in the mid to late 70s. View A is top right in the artwork I found on Google images.

McCalls 6555 vintage

My pattern envelope is in tatters, but basically it offers 3 styles, the fourth just being like A but sleeves not rolled up. I vaguely remember making the version top left, which has the sleeve cut in one with the front bodice.

The pattern pre-dates the era of multi size and there’s space for the stitching line to be printed and plenty of additional information. I made this up per envelope, no measuring or fitting of the pattern or garment. The fabric wasn’t precious and didn’t merit a toile.

Fit is better than I expected, a bit long, but otherwise not too bad. The finish in the cuff is a continuous strip opening. The buttons are half an inch wide, and if you follow the directions for the cuff closure you only get half an inch overlap in the cuff. I like a bit more for that size button. Pockets feel a bit crude to me, if I made the shirt again these could be changed too.

White Shirt, 70s Pattern

There’s a tab included to hold the cuffs rolled.

Cuff Tab

The basic pattern is good, easy to assemble, if a little long winded with all the shirt details.


I also made a couple of summer cardigans (from my own pattern this time), using short lengths of jersey from stash.

The pattern is drafted as a batwing kimono. The first is in a lightweight navy jersey with good stretch and return.  There’s a small pleat at the shoulder in the front, and a continuous straight strip round the neckline, front edge and hem back and front.

Pattern Pieces

The front strip declined to work as I’d envisaged. The bolero style curve in the front pieces was too shaped to manipulate the strip round. The band’s width  meant that the outer edge was a lot longer than the curve it had to be eased in to. It needs a shaped band, or narrower band to sit flat. Not having any spare fabric I left it. As so often happens, what seems like a sewing fail when you first look it over, grows on you. It’s been worn several times, is light, easy and comfortable, in movement doesn’t look too bad.

Jersey Batwing Cardigan

The next is in a cream stretch jersey with a self coloured pattern knitted in. This time I shaped the band, finished it at the side seams, and gave it some flare on the outer edge. To keep it light, I cut this as a single layer hemmed. I also added pockets in the side seam. The other pattern tweak was moving the pleat closer to the neck edge. Again, not a garment I was totally happy with when finished, but which has been worn a lot and proved useful.

Cream Jersey Cardigan

The pockets sit in the side seam and are caught in the bottom band to keep them tidy.

Pocket in Side Seam

I lengthened and straightened the back piece and gave it a small hem.

Back of Cardigan

Flat on the floor you can see the basic shape better.

Batwing Shape

Brexit battles it’s batsh*t barmy way through Parliament and the news, and we’re still as uninformed about our fate as ever. We’re lucky enough to live a short drive from a working forest and took the dog for a long walk through the dripping canopy of green in yesterday’s long awaited downpour, enjoying the calm, quiet emptyness. Just us, dog, soaking rain and trees. Perfect!

Take Me Out!




Posted in Designed by me, Pattern Making, Sewing Patterns, Uncategorized | 3 Comments


I excavated a short yard of a heavy striped cotton jersey from the stash heap on Monday, and went for a sleeved cardigan. Some of the stripey madness that ensued was intentional, some a happy accident, some design by necessity.

The Pattern seen in this layout was done on the fly, hacking a deep cuff off the end of the sleeve, and twizzling the peplum pieces round to fit the available fabric.

Pattern Layout

There’s no seam allowance on the pattern. The back went on straight grain, the front on cross grain, working around the need to have the combined top bodice and sleeve pieces on the bias. The peplum went on the bias out of necessity, top right is the shaped cuff piece on straight grain, the 2 pieces sliced off the 2 sleeve pieces joined so there’s no top seam in it.

This is what the back bodice seam looks like pinned ready to stitch.

Shape of Back Bodice

The front bodice seam looks like this.

Front Bodice

Shoulder Seam

The cuff piece is stitched on after the shoulder seam

Cuff Shape

The peplum and the cuffs are faced back with a scrap of jersey in a wider stripe. There is a pocket under the peplum at the front each side.

Front Jacket

Jacket Back


Side of Jacket

Front is edged with bias strip.

Enough Already?





Posted in Designed by me | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Dead Easy Skirt

Continuing the assault on Stash Mountain, I ventured from base camp with a figured poly voile and Butterick 4136.

Butterick 4136

The pattern claims six possibilities, but really there are two, one with the flare starting higher up than the other. I used the version you see on the model, closer fit over the hips, flare kicks out from mid thigh.

The pattern has a facing piece for the waist, I added a waistband. The main change I made was to venture into hi-lo land with the hem. To do this I pinned the stitched up voile on the stand, and pinned a line where I liked the hemline. Then I took it off the stand and folded the garment to be able to mark and cut through both left and right together, tidied up the line and hacked the pieces off. I saved these to mark the identical line on the pattern and cut a satin lining to the same shape.

The seams in the voile are zigzagged 7mm from the stitching line and trimmed, the hem is stitched with a double needle and trimmed. The side closes with an invisible zip. Photos on stand as it’s in daughter’s size, not mine.

Front of Voile Skirt

The dots in this voile are a satin weave edged with a plain weave and trimmed round so that there’s a little frayed edge to them. I don’t know how this textile manufacture wizardry is done, but the effect is very pretty.

Hem Level Change

The result of making the hem higher in the front is to have a flatter look there and more swish in the back.

Lower Back Hem

I’m rather pleased to have found a good use for this fabric!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments