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.
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.