Drafting Sewing Patterns

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

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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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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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