I draft my test patterns without seam allowances. I prefer patterns without seam allowances. Alterations are quicker, you can change the width of the turnings according to the fabric and where the seam is. Why cut out wide turnings round a collar, then trim it down? Make no sense. Why cut wide turnings in jersey and slice them off on the overlocker? Makes no sense. I’ve got a pretty good eye for the widths I use most, but its reassuring to make a quick chalk mark every so often.
I used to have a great gadget for this, made by Prym for Burda, who, as we know, do magazine patterns without turnings. It wasn’t elegant, but it worked, at least it did for several years until I pressed too hard down on it and broke the chalk wheel.
Sadly, Prym decided to replace it with this, which has won a design award. Some people love it apparently. I don’t. The old one started at one centimetre width. This one, 1.5. Straight away, its not so good. The old one was adjusted by moving a hinged piece across. Very simple, completely visible. To change the width on this one you have to tug at that dished wheel. Its hard to move and not very positive in a ‘have I got it in the right place or not’ kind of way. You had a clear view of where the wheel you need to keep on the edge of the pattern was on the old one. It was just a wheel shaped wheel. Looking down on it, you could see the pattern edge underneath. This one is dished and blocks your view. You have to contort yourself to see if you’ve got it just right. Performing contortions over the cutting table is just what your back needs, right? Here’s my plea Prym. Please, if you’ve got a stock of the old adjustable chalk wheels in a warehouse somewhere, would you swap one? Readers, try before you buy.
The whinge was on my mind as I drafted a pattern for this half done top to go with the beige linen trousers just finished.
I photographed the stages of moving a dart, in case it helps anyone. Swivelling the bust dart into different positions is basic to a lot of pattern drafting and alteration. On my block, the dart is drafted to come up by the side of the neck, where no-one would ever normally position it. It makes the shoulder draft simpler, and since you always move it somewhere else for a new design, it might as well be there as anywhere. I’m moving it to the bog standard underarm position for this top. The same simple method can be used to move it anywhere else, into a neckline, waistline, centre front line.
Then, jab the point of a pen on the bust point or apex of the dart, and swivel the block around it to bring the arm of the dart to the edge of the neck – effectively closing the dart.
Then draw round the shoulder, armhole, and down to the point where you want the underarm dart to start. I’ve gone for about three inches down the side seam, but it can be anywhere – further down for a longer, angled dart. Mark the point you picked on the block or pattern you’re working with. Green tab here.
Swivel the block back to its original position and draw round the rest of it.
You’re left with a space in the side seam that is the width the dart has to be. Draw a new dart in from these edges to the bust point.
Fold and pin the edges together, pushing the fold up or down, depending on where you want it to fold on the finished garment. I pushed it up. Trace along the side seam, a tracing wheel is handy. Unfold.
The side seam edge either dips in or out according to which way you folded your dart. There’s always a bit of a debate about the right direction to fold the dart. Folding it up is supposed to make the ridge less visible, and give a smoother look, as its below the eyeline. The downfolders like the fact that the bulk is further from the armhole turnings.
I read a lot of stuff about moving the whole dart up or down the side seam if the bust point is too high or too low for you, by drawing a box round it, cutting it out and moving it down. Whatever rocks your socks. You can put the bust point where you need it, and draw the arms of the dart to it. The dip or point where the upfold or downfold happens will need redoing. You can move the arms of the dart to a different position by the jab and swivel method above. I think this is easier than boxes, scissors and Pritt stick.
The top is at a hiatus. I didn’t like the first collar I put on it, I’m not completely sure about the one its got now. I’ve shortened and relengthened the cap sleeves, I’ve gone on, off and back on the tunic length. The buttons have gone from diddy little one point two centimetre ones to these big flowery ones. Sometimes I wish I didn’t draft.