Tag Archives: pattern drafting

And now for something completely different.

The pattern.

I am a busy woman. I have made promises.


And I have been reminded of them.

Vests kinda like this.

Namely, I said (oh, back in April) that I’d make my kids fishing vests.

Yes, fishing vests. Those things with all the zillion cargo pockets. No, I wasn’t thinking it through. On the other hand, the kids’ ones are insanely expensive.

Vest pattern

So last night, rather than working on yet another dress, I hunted through the box of kids’ patterns and eventually settled on the vest from this one. It’s a size 8, so technically it will either be big on Syo or small on Tyo. I’m vaguely hopeful it’ll fit both*. We’ll see.

The rough pattern

I traced out the pattern along the stitching lines (hooray for one-size patterns!) and started laying out my extras: zipper inserts, pockets, bits and bobs. Then I traced all the individual pieces separately, added seam-allowances, and tried not to flake out about which pieces I need to cut two, four, or eight times. Fabric of choice (at least for this version) is a lightweight not-actually-camo-print twill originally purchased to replace these capris of Tyo’s. Hopefully I’ll have enough for the vest and the capris, because heaven and earth will tremble if I don’t. Before I start assembly I need to pick up a few more zippers (my plan calls for five or six, depending on whether I can locate 6″ separating zippers) and maybe some other fun bits of hardware—a few D-rings, at any rate. I have also written myself out a construction order, otherwise I’ll never remember things like adding velcro to the pocket flaps.

The drafting actually went pretty quickly. We’ll see how I do with the actual construction.

*I should point out here than until Tyo’s recent, um, developments, she and Syo had almost the same ribcage measurement. Tyo is three years older and plenty taller, but she takes after the pear-shapes in her father’s family, with a narrow ribcage. Syo, on the other hand, is leaning towards my kind of broad-shouldered shape.



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Project Drop Waist

Oh, no—more toile photos!

So, it’s no secret that I have Issues with waistbands that sit at my waist. Above the waist is great, below the waist is fine, but waistbands that sit right at my waist—these are problematic.  Especially if there’s going to be any kind of waist emphasis (like a belt), blousing above the waist, or gathering below. I always end up feeling cut in half, emphasizing both the width of my waist (2-3 sizes larger than the rest of me) and the shortness of my upper body.

Unfortunately for me, this describes roughly 90% of the dress patterns out there, and (even worse) a large percentage of the ones I’m dyingtomakerightnowdammit!

Now, I successfully made a dirndl-skirt sundress last summer by adding a dropped waist to a formerly straight-waisted pattern. And, despite being a fairly extreme example of stunt dressing, it was one of my favourite things to wear last summer. But a) this was a princess-seam pattern, and b) I used a shirred back, which allowed me to really fudge the fitting.

So, it appears, the sensible thing to do would be figure out a bodice template—a block, if you will—that I can morph onto these waist-length patterns to drop the waist slightly. Most of the ones I’m concerned with have a simple gathered or pleated skirt, which won’t be much affected by the addition of a few extra inches (and I’d probably be adding inches to the waist anyway).

When I was musing about this the other day (nothing like beating a topic to death 😉 ) I was thinking I would just try adding on to a pattern I already had—Simplicity 3965, say. Lauriana (one of the more fabulous pattern-drafters out there) sagely commented that perhaps it would be less trouble start with a longer bodice, perhaps a hip-length sloper drafted to my own measurements.

Now, obviously she was right, but my (vast and growing) pattern collection is a bit short on such a basic, at least with the length, fit, and dart positioning I wanted. I was, however, reminded of the fact that I had drafted a “fitted dress block” from the book Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear, by Winnifred Aldritch, a few months ago, which had languished un-tested on my hard-drive (I like to mess around with pattern drafting in Inkscape, usually when I am supposed to be doing something else). Partly because Aldritch was a bit vague, or at least confusing, on the issue of waist-shaping.

Anyway, with Simplicity 3965 giving me an idea of how much waist-shaping was required (at least above the waist), I set out on an odyssey. There was printing; tracing; tissue-fitting (on me and my dubious duct-tape double). Sway-back adjustments were made. I have confronted the horror of the shaped dart.

Self-drafted bodice

All for… this. /sigh.

Well, perfection has not been achieved, but I think I might be getting into the right ball-park. The shape (and breadth) of the rear darts is truly terrifying, but they are at least approaching doing the job (although it looks from the photos that the back is still a smidge tight—overall the bodice is quite comfortable. I’m not quite sure what to make of the side-wrinkles in the front, exccept that perhaps a bit more bust-shaping is in order. Additionally, the bust-dart is still about 1 cm high, and the side-seam falls a bit towards the back. I might moosh a teeny dart out of the front armscye to bring that in (or play with the shoulder slope some more).

Anyway, despite the imperfections (which are considerably more evident in the photos than in the mirror… not sure if that means it’s actually better in real life or worse than I had thought) I figured I had reached a point where I was ready to try using it on another pattern. I.E. Simplicity 3965.

Premature? Possibly, especially since I was thoroughly befuddled how to relate the narrow back dart of Simplicity 3965 to my wide, angled, and oddly-shaped one on the self-drafted bodice. But I had limited time to sew this past weekend and I have fantasies of wearing this dress for May Long (which is next weekend—yeah, probably not going to happen).

Simplicity 3965 (modified)

So I matched up the waistline, and attempted to add the shaping of the self-drafted bodice on to the Simplicity bodice. This worked fairly well for the front, not so well for the back. My self-drafted back piece is very wide, but then a lot of the width is taken in by the dart. The Simplicity bodice back is much narrower, with a correspondingly narrower dart. I can’t help but think that a narrower pattern overall would be preferable, but obviously the swayback alterations didn’t transfer with their full force. Alternatively, letting out the hips a bit more might be helpful. Part of what’s hanging me up is that “high back hip” which I still haven’t really learned to fit.

Also, in this one you can see the lovely sunburn I acquired on Mother’s Day.  This is what happens when I sit back and let other people organize the day’s expedition… my mother’s day brunch turned into a two-hour wander on a new segment of riverbank, with nary a squirt of sunscreen to be seen, on the first really summery day we’ve had so far.

I’m hoping that one more muslin will be sufficient—sewing these up is quick, but annoying, and I’m running out of crappy zippers. 🙂


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Flutter Fun, and an observation

Fluttery & Clover

Ever since Steph of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World first mentioned her plan for a flutter-sleeve hack of her Blank Canvas Tee pattern, I was on board. Totally. For realz. I waited patiently for her to come out with the hack, and read through her tute carefully.

Diagram of my flutter-sleeve pattern changes.

And, of course, predictably, went my own way. I took a protractor, made a line 45° up from the edge of the shoulder (or, if it’s easier, at 135° from the line of the shoulder), and then measured a length from the edge of the neck that roughly corresponded with how long I thought the sleeve should be. Using the edge of the shoulder point as the centre of my circle, I made a partial arc of the circle down towards the rest of the sleeve (a compass would’ve been perfect for this but, being too lazy to head upstairs for the rest of the geometry kit, I just measured with my tape measure in several places.) Then I sort of free-handed, sort of used my French Curve, to approximate the rest of the sleeve. Oh, and I rounded the spot where I had drawn in my first angle. Steph’s method is probably a lot more precise.

Unfortunately, then I got cold feet. The sleeve looked too short, I thought. I lengthened it, re-drawing the curve, and cut out a trial version in my scrap jersey—the old knit bedsheet I bought at Hallowe’en for making Tyo a shirt. It doesn’t have the best drape, but it was available and cheap and not earmarked for any other projects at the moment.

Flutter sleeve: too long (original size), too short (cut line), just right (click to zoom in to see the "just right" line)

Predictably, the sleeve was too long. I stuck a pin in where I thought it “ought” to go, shortened, and cut again.

Now, I think they’re a bit short, at least at the very top of the shoulder. I actually think my original curve would’ve been pretty much perfect. So there you go. At least the angle seems pretty good.

Frikking finnicky flutter sleeves. At least they’re easy-ish to tweak going from longer to shorter.

I paired my trial, not-really-opaque-enough-for-public version of the tee with my red clovers, cuffed to a high-ankle length, for the purposes of the photos. I think I’m liking this length better, and they are *much* more comfortable with belt-loops, although the belt doesn’t help with the front-sag, since the belt wants to sit exactly where the waistband wants to sit. Anyway, we’ll see. The weather is a long way from ready for this look, anyway.

An interesting observation

Steph recently came out with the updated and finalized version of her BCT pattern, considerably refined from the early draft I used around Christmastime to make my versions. Curious, I eagerly printed off a new version. And then compared it to my version of the pattern.

The results were very interesting indeed.

Pattern comparison. Click to see larger version.

For one thing, the pattern I had printed out (original size 35), whether through some quirk of the early drafting or scanning or my own ineptitude (always a possibility), was considerably smaller than the new size 35. Actually, it’s somewhat smaller than the new size 30 (for a 30″ bust). Which goes a long way towards explaining why my versions of the tee are so, well, fitted.

The shoulders on the old pattern were quite a bit wider (even in my shrunken print-out), as was the neck opening on the back, and the angle from shoulder to sleeve was more extreme. I suspect Steph was bang on in altering those for her new version :).

The original draft was quite short (Steph wears her trousers a lot higher than I do 😉 ) and I had added a lot of length to the bottom. The length of the new, longer draft is pretty much *exactly* the same as my lengthened version of the original. Win!

So, for the moment, I’m gong to keep on working with my old version (as I like how it fits), with maybe a few tweaks around the shoulder. But since I have thrown my versions out there of examples of what you may get from a Blank Canvas Tee, I thought I should also point out that I apparently printed mine considerably smaller than intended. If you want a tee that fits like mine—go down a size. 🙂


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Steph made me a pattern!

Can't you see the shirt?

Steph, of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World, made me a pattern for a super cute kimono-sleeve tee!

Well, I guess you guys can use it too. As long as you put it back when you’re done. And don’t go losing my instructions, either!

And just in time for Christmas, too.

Unfortunately for me, I’m so busy with all my other insane Christmas sewing (not to mention all the other insanities of life) that it’s not going to get stitched up in time for Christmas. Poo.

She even sent me some of her nifty Bird on a Wire fabric to bribe me encourage me to test the pattern out.

Hark the herald birdies sing...

Hush. I can be as goofy with my spanky fabric as I like. And I was going to crop out my fugly socks, but, y’know. Sometimes ya just gotta go with the goofiness.


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‘Tis the season…

Bike shorts!

To make bike shorts, apparently.

For once, I was not planning on jumping on the bandwagon. Beangirl made them for her kids. Joy made them for hers. But I was strong! I had no particular desire at ALL to make such a simple, prosaic item. Besides, my kids have lots of shorts and leggings.

But this weekend it was Syo’s turn to get a garment, and Syo wanted, of all things, bike shorts.

This is a piece of fabric that she picked out, herself, several months back, and has been patiently waiting for me to make up. “How about a nice dress?” I suggested.

“Bike shorts,” she said.

“A twirly skirt?”

“Bike shorts, mom.”

“It would make a really nice T-shirt.”


Bike shorts it was…

First problem, of course, is that I don’t have anything resembling a children’s leggings pattern. Obviously I could’ve gone and found/bought/downloaded a kids’ leggings pattern, or just traced off an existing pair, but what fun would that be?

Enter Metric Pattern Cutting, a copy of which I tracked down in my panic after the disappearance of Modern Pattern Design. Although it doesn’t have quite as many nifty vintage details as Pepin’s, this book is amazing in its own way. All the usual dart-manipulation stuff. More blocks than you can shake a stick at. Information on standard sizing and grading, as well as drafting custom blocks. And it has directions for drafting knit blocks, including leggings.  Now all I need are the menswear and childrenswear versions, but anyway.

I managed to wrangle Syo into letting me take a ridiculous number of measurements, and then trotted off to attempt to draft up the shorts. The MPC draft is, of course, intended for an adult. Using it for a kid-size pattern is  not the smartest course, but I figured for something as simple and forgiving as leggings I would risk it. It wasn’t too hard to figure out where I needed to reduce the suggested measurements.

Leggings block and shorts pattern

Anyway, it took perhaps half an hour to draft up the pattern (including time to hunt down my yardstick, which had vanished behind the livingroom bookshelf). For once my square and French Curve were where I left them, which is a minor miracle. And, in comparatively short order, we had a pair of bike shorts. I did have to lower the waistband by a good inch/inch and a half, as the draft makes it at the natural waist, and my children will have none of that.

Of course, the evil monkey had to dash off to a sleepover before they were quite finished, so I don’t have pictures of them actually on her yet… Grrr… But from the in-progress fittings, I promise they fit very, very well.

In other news, I’ve been messing around with computer pattern drafting, too, (there is THIS free program by a Burdastyle member, which is all right but a bit fiddly, but you can do a fair amount just with Inkscape or Illustrator) and have been thinking of sharing some of the patterns I’ve come up with that way, as it’s a lot less work than trying to scan and trace patterns I’ve drafted on paper. Would anybody be interested in some of that? My big weakness, of course, remains grading, but I’m hopeful that Metric Pattern Cutting will help with that…


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Les croquis

I like to flatter myself that I can draw. Technically, I’m reasonably good. Creatively… perhaps less so. In high school, when I doodled all the time, people used to ask me if I wanted to design clothes when I grew up. I laughed. Fun as the idea sounded, I didn’t really doodle anything I thought anybody would really wear. The fashions I was drawing belonged to the worlds inside my head, which was where I chiefly lived at that point in my life.

Almost every time I make a pattern, about a dozen possible variations flash through my head. Normally,  these pass like lightning and I end up doing the pattern pretty much as is. When I’m at my best, I actually try to sketch  them out.

I’ll tell you something I’ve noticed over the years: the biggest difference between the doodles of “artists” and the doodles of “non-artists”?

The “artists” don’t apologize for how crappy their doodles are. 😉

I should probably give in and make myself a proper croquis one of these days. I can draw out a decent human figure if I try (of course, it was better when I was less abysmally out of practice) but it takes effort that would be better spent getting those folds of drapery right. I love drawing fabric. Actually, I love drawing clothes. I really do (see above comments about high-school).

So the top picture is the current variation I’m working on. The bottom (which is going to be straight across, not that nice downward dip… maybe next time) is my adapted/butchered version of the Anna top. The top is the same pieces from the sundress. The back I am planning to do as smocking, so I can cheat bypass some of the fitting issues I had with the Anna. It’s cut out but I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to sew it. I guess if the back’s elastic, I don’t really need the buttons in the front, do I?… oh well, we’ll see. The placket’s already cut out and ironed.

The bottom picture is some other (simpler) variations I’d like to try. See what I mean about crappy doodles?

Anyway, I know you came here to see sewing—sorry, I have none to show just yet, so I gave you (half-ass) drawing instead.

Sewing tomorrow, I promise.

PS: another thing I’ve noticed about “artists” is that most people’s drawings of people tend to look something like the original person themself. Probably because we all spend more time looking in mirrors over the years than we ever do at models. Normally this kinda sucks, but when you’re sketching fashions for yourself, it’s actually an advantage!

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So yesterday I sat down (actually, stood up, craned my neck, twisted around in front of the mirror) and took my measurements to try and draft my own personal sloper. I used the instructions from Modern Pattern Design. They suggest having someone else help take the measurements. EVERYONE suggests having someone else help take the measurements. I suggest having someone else help you take the measurements. I still did it on my own. How wacky this makes my results remains to be seen. So far I have drawn up the front bodice sloper. I just need to do the back, and then sew up a muslin to find out how much it doesn’t fit. First impressions… well, the waist dart is WAY narrower than the one in the illustration (which I expected… I do NOT have a classic 40s feminine figure. Even if I had a corset, I don’t think I could achieve that effect… at least not without a few years to adjust to tightlacing. ANYWAY. The main surprise was the slope of the shoulder… namely, there isn’t any. Well, almost none. I mean, I know I have broad, fairly square shoulders, but these are almost perfectly straight out. So… we’ll see. I may also need to lower the armscye, but that shouldn’t be too hard. I don’t have a French curve like they suggest for smoothing the armscye and neckline curves… hopefully my skillfulness as an artist will make up for that (LOL).

Future thought… if I do manage to make this work, it would be REALLY fun to do a jacket for my husband from a personal sloper. He’s got BROAD shoulders and an itty-bitty (for a guy) waist… he tried to get a coat tailored to fit once and the tailor just threw up his hands and said it couldn’t be done.  But before I ever try that I need to find out if I even CAN make a jacket, much less a well-tailored one.

Not sure how much actual sewing I’ll get done for the next little while as the Grandmother-in-law is staying with us for a week or so and then the kids are on Spring Break and we’re heading home for even more time… but I can dream.

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