Day 2 of Pattern Making

Day 2 of my pattern making class was slightly less frantic  than the previous week but still packed with information. I worked really hard to complete my skirt in the week between classes and was surprised to discover that some class participants hadn’t finished theirs as they didn’t have the skills to make a vent or sew on a waistband. Others just couldn’t get the job done in time, something I completely understand. Making a skirt in a week is a big ask if you’re not a professional and  have a full time job doing something else.

I made my skirt up in a lightweight synthetic fabric from Spotlight’s remnant bin. It turned out OK and it was very satisfying to find it fit well, was the right length and didn’t need to be altered during the construction process, other than resewing the darts to widen them a little. I think that was more down to my sewing than a problem with the pattern.

I wore my new skirt to a family event on the weekend and was happy with how it felt, though I did notice that a small fold formed just below the waistband. I’ll come back to the fix for that, later.

Bodice Block

In class two we made our own pants and bodice blocks. The bodice block is a cardboard representation of our torso and is not a pattern so our tutor showed us how to use it to make a pattern. It may not be evident from the photo, but the dart markings would run onto each other in a very messy way if you tried to sew them as indicated on the block. You’d also end up with a very pointy bust point. Think Madonna in her John Paul Gaultier corset, but uglier.

Made up, the bodice pattern would make a tight fitting garment and we were told to add an open ended zipper to get in and out of it, and to make facings so the armhole and neck wouldn’t stretch. I’m curious about how I would use this block to make a princess-style bodice. Seems the Burda site has a tutorial. Must read it in detail.

I’m really sorry we didn’t get time to draft a sleeve block. That would have been useful, but our tutor told us that would take another day to learn.

I feel I am now armed with enough knowledge to alter commercial patterns and get back to dress-making.

As part of this journey I have looked into several books about pattern alteration. The one I bought is an OK basic reference and would be more than adequate for a relatively ‘normal’ shaped beginner, but it did not cover my particular alteration requirement, the one which caused a little fold to form under the waistband of my skirt. The diagnosis for that fitting problem is that I have a slightly rounded tummy, something that happens to many of us as we age and spend too much time inside sewing. I’m trying to address that with diet, but am making slow progress, so a pattern alteration is needed solve the problem in the immediate term.

Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina covered the necessary alteration, plus just about every other and it’s the book I’d recommend. It takes a body part by body part approach, which is very helpful, particularly if you are dressmaking for others and need to know wide range of variations. Thick calves, big bottom, small bottom, sloping shoulders, they’re all there, with clear instructions on how to cater for each, along with instructions on which to tackle first.

Armed with all this new knowledge, I’m keen to do more and learn more. Just for fun, I’d like to make a middy blouse. It will be the perfect garment for when we launch the new canoe.


6 responses to “Day 2 of Pattern Making

  1. Can’t wait to see the middy blouse.

    • I’ve had a good look in the pattern books at Spotlight and on the internet and it looks like I’m on my own with the middy blouse project. It’s been a few years since any of the commercial manufacturers published a middy blouse pattern.

  2. I admire your ability to alter patterns. I like to dressmake but if the pattern doesn’t work, I’m lost. I can lengthen or shorten pattern pieces but not much else :-)

    • I was in exactly the same situation as you but after taking the pattern making class and borrowing a few books from the library I have begun to ‘get’ how patterns work and how they might be altered. I haven’t tested my skills with a commercial pattern yet but I’m convinced it’s learnable. If you can sew already you’re way ahead of the game. If you’re interested I think the Betzina book is the best one to start with.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  3. My mom and sister love to make clothes…not me. I’ll stick to quilting. :)

    Will you be showing us your creations?

    • I’d like to show off my creations. I took a photo of my skirt but as the fabric is black with a cream pattern none of the detail was visible.

      I’m thinking about getting a dressmakers mannequin. I don’t exactly need one, but it would be a fun thing to have for photography and fitting. Believe it or not, you can use batting and duct tape to build the mannequin up to your own dimensions. They do look a bit bizzare after that treatment though.

      In between times I’m making slow progress on my house blocks. I’m tired of them already so it’s now going to be a house quilt with Ohio stars.

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