Magic Drafting 2

I’m living in the three Tee shirts I made recently, and love the fit. They don’t pull under the arms, rise up awkwardly at the front, develop a diagonal fold from the side seam to bust point, or dip and sag in the back. I’ve resisted making Tees because they’re so cheap to buy, but its definitely worth it.

Which brings me to the point of this post – stretch fabric patterns. In ‘Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics’ you have a set of 3 blocks in the back. They’re drafted in Japanese sizes, but apart from that, are like most ‘stretch’ blocks – undarted. If you like working from this kind of block, but need to add height or size up, that’s not too much of a problem.

cut on pink lines and spread

You just need to cut through the block mid armscye and at rib level and spread the sections to get enough height, usually putting about a third or a quarter at the armscye and the rest at rib level.  Sizing up should be fairly simple too – the blocks are printed as a nest, so you can strike grade lines through key points, and make a larger version – (or smaller, is anyone smaller?) .

Dartless blocks and clothes cut from them seem to work fine for that section of the population whose front and back measurements are not very different. That’s not the majority of us though. Its nice and easy to draft from them, but not much fun to fit the pattern afterwards. You don’t have to be super endowed to need a bust dart in garments made from stretch fabric either. C cup and above, the patterns fit better if they’re constructed using shaped blocks.

Changing a block or pattern made for wovens to one for stretch can be as simple as just removing the ease. The Pattern Magic blocks in the book are zero ease, which gives a nice relaxed, not skin tight fit in most stretch fabrics. As a point of comparison, Stuart of Pattern School makes his swimwear blocks for 2 way stretch fabrics at 88%. So, zero ease is going to be 12% looser than skin tight, and is a good basis for a test garment.

dart moved to CF

I usually start by moving the bust dart out of the way – somewhere like the CF for example. Then slice off a bit from the CF and CB lines, up to 5mm in each place, and a bit from the side seam, again up to 5mm,  folding out the rest in a vertical through the pattern. My standard block has 5cms of ease at bust level on the half pattern.

remove ease

I check that I haven’t tightened up the hipline too much and adjust it if  necessary. You can do a similar exercise with a well fitting sheath dress pattern if you haven’t got a block constructed to your own measurements.  I’m using the dartless blocks for my half scale tests, but would choose one with darts to make anything in the book in my size. I did this to make the pattern based on Loophole B, reviewed recently.  I think Sharp and Snappy B would work fine with a darted block with minimum changes, putting a dart in an unobtrusive place in the bodice side seam, or small neck darts.

I tried top stitching the points for emphasis, and to get them to stand out more. (Black was just what was in the machine, and sorry about the thread nest!). The neckline is pulled into a different shape, not stitched. I like the slightly balletic look this gives it.

Then I tried reducing the point on one side, and giving it an asymmetric neckline. Fiddling with the neckline curve here could get it to echo the fold to the point at the side, which might be good.This is what the pattern would look like altered to have less of a point on the garment left, or almost no point (2 green lines).

The next post in this series on Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics will be Stingray, hopefully coming up in a couple of days.

I made a pattern a while back for the ‘elephants’ cotton jersey bought in Shaukat, London. Getting this volume of the Pattern Magic collection reminded me to get it made up. My pattern has a sleeve detail a bit similar to ‘Apple peel’ on page 54. I have the ruching along the wrist dart line though.And here are a couple of similar examples from that oldie but goodie of pattern cutting tomes Hillhouse and Mansfield.

Photographed deep in the jungle. You might not see the ruching too clearly, but its there!


About jay

I design and draft patterns
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6 Responses to Magic Drafting 2

  1. The ruching looks great, though hidden amongst the elephants. Anything to jazz up my terribly boring Ts is a good thing and would work pretty nicely in merino. Must get some more before winter ends and the selection reduces. I have also put Hillhouse and Mansfield on the books to check list – wonder what the chances of the local library having it!


  2. bela s. says:

    Thanks. Your posts are so helpful and the apple peel is one of my favorites. I like your sleeve variation.


  3. What is your opinion on bust darts in stretch fabrics? And if you need to draft a bust dart in stretch, do you reduce it?


    • Pella says:

      Hi Lena. I do use bust darts in stretch fabrics when the fabric is not stretchy enough to do the job in hand, and usually keep them at the size they would be for a woven, at least as far as the toile stage. The problem is that stretch can mean so many different things. A two way stretch lycra is really different to a stable double knit. The range of figures which a knit will fit without darts is usually greater the greater the stretch, don’t you find? Darts are in the block, but might be changed to something like drapes or pleats or gathers in the style.


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