More Scraps and Bigger Block Drafts

Real Life is still curtailing sewing here, so I contented myself with using scraps for bags.

Shopping Bag

Shopping Bag

This shopper (cut last week) is also from Sew Serendipity bags, more or less made up per pattern. The differences were to shorten the body by two inches because of limited fabric, and lengthening the straps so that it can be carried over the shoulder. Its made in a scrap of furnishing fabric, lined in African wax cotton. The front pocket is gathered at the bottom and elasticated at the top. The pocket is cut double so that it can be turned inside out. That’s what you do when you fold this bag into itself for storage between shopping trips. The sides are turned inwards to form a pleat. The bottom of the bag is sewn last, both layers together with the bottom of the pocket caught in the seam. This has to be a french seam, hard work in my fabrics. It would be easier in a couple of quilting cottons or old sheets. Once done, it’s good. It had a trip to the supermarket yesterday and holds a good amount. I guess my obsession with shopping bags has something to do with the fact that my house is on a hill with the ground floor one storey up from the garage.

A daughter eyeballed the scraps from the scrap which made the previous shopper and bagged it (sorry), for a simple shoulder pocket.

Bag from Scraps Left from Bag from Scraps

Bag from Scraps Left from Bag from Scraps

Two rectangles, facing, lining with  a couple of pockets, long straps to go across the body, all simple and quick stitching.

On a roll she eyeballed the scraps from my cloqué skirt, for a simple make up bag.

Cloqué Make-Up Bag

Cloqué Make-Up Bag

I made this by drawing round an olive dish for the base circle, and cutting a rectangle for the rest of it, circumference by height plus two inches to face, then cutting a lining (height less facing depth). It has a channel to thread the ribbon through, but could also be done with eyelets and cord, or an elastic closure. Christmas gift projects anyone?

Bigger Blocks.

In  keeping with my scrappy sewing, here’s a scrappy run through of some issues in drafting a block for larger sizes. Everyone has their favourite method, I’m going with Aldrich for the purposes of this post.

RTW often makes a hash of bigger sizes, basically because when government surveys of women’s sizes were carried out to try to help clothing industries cater for populations, they went for averages. Faced with choices like should you cater for taller and/or wider they picked the ‘and’, figuring to fit both groups that way.

How well that worked can be judged by the number of people who started sewing because they couldn’t find rtw fit. Some gravitate towards trying to draft their own block, because they can’t reconcile existing patterns with their shape.

When learning to draft, I think it helps to draft a standard block first. Most directions are given for a fairly small size. It’s still useful, because you get the feel of how the draft works without having to fuss about the maths.

The next step can be drafting the nearest standard block to your size, and for this you need a measurement chart. A good drafting book will include one of these, as well as a diagram explaining how the measurements are taken.

Here’s the largest block (30) you can draft from the measurement chart in my edition of Aldrich ‘Metric Pattern Cutting’.

Size 30 Bodice Draft

Size 30 Bodice Draft

(Front has several sizes marked on it, look at the outline shape)

Size wise it’s roughly the equivalent of size I in Vogue’s Today’s Fit. Their range goes one up to J. There’s no reason though why you shouldn’t use the drafting run through in a size 12 and the measurement chart to take a draft up more sizes if that’s what you need.

The important bit is the difference between measurements from one size to the next.  Bust sizes in Aldrich go up in 5 cms per size, roughly two inches.  Use this measurement to figure out how many extra sizes to add, and increase each measurement by the appropriate increment by checking the difference in sizes in the chart.

Despite my bad photo, you’ll notice that the front block is longer from the neck point than the back block. Aldrich gives increases in height here for larger sizes to reflect the need for more length as well as more width over the bust. There are some differences in the measurement of the armhole curve as well, but the overall shape is not substantially different from the shape of a size 12.

Next post on this topic I’ll look at some of the places where an individual often differs from the closest standard block.




About jay

I design and draft patterns
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5 Responses to More Scraps and Bigger Block Drafts

  1. mrsmole says:

    When making muslins and trying new patterns for my client, Nancy, I have discovered that most of the time I have to add length to the fronts and slash them and spread them above the bust line about 1 inch or more. The drag lines show me where to cut especially if I use checked gingham. Our fronts need different aspects than our flat and curved back which so many pattern companies neglect.Love the bags!


  2. felicia says:

    Nice bags. A great thing to do with “leftovers”.


  3. Really enjoyed your post – especially the section in drafting. I was curious to know why you wouldn’t go straight to using your own measurements – Aldrich allows for this in her book. Is it easier to change the standard block than to start from your own?


    • jay says:

      Two reasons. Beginners often get confused juggling with the maths and unsure what to do if the result they get looks way different from the book illustration. A couple of fairly critical measurements are hard to take on yourself.


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