Thursday, 9 May 2019

Pattern Drafting Failure


Several years ago, as I walked out through the door after my final lesson on pattern cutting at The London College of Fashion, our lovely teacher called after us, 'Use it or lose it, ladies'.

Her voice comes into my head now, when I realise I haven't used it and now the hundreds of hours of pattern cutting knowledge I'd once accumulated seem to have fallen out of my head while writing my book and madly English paper piecing everything in sight. I can now see there would have been real merit in taking some time out from those things occasionally to do some maintenance pattern drafting, but I'd thought it would be like riding a bike. It's come as a shock to find my bike feels so rusty I can barely turn the pedals, and that as I've stood with my old tools to hand - french curve, tracing wheel, flexible ruler - it's taken me a while to remember even the basic principle of drawing a vertical line to denote the centre front or centre back of my pattern.

I recently bought a jumpsuit (this is only my second jumpsuit, but I think if you find a nice one, they're such good things I can imagine never wanting to wear anything else again), but I knew even before I wore it that they'd used the wrong kind of jersey with no stretch recovery, and that it would seat horribly. And it does.

You might question why I've kept it if I could see the fault before wearing it, but there are three reasons: before sitting, it's basically the best jumpsuit I think I'm ever likely to find in terms of fit; I can wear it judiciously on days when I will mainly be standing up or am with good friends who tell me how great it looks from the front and accept my wish to move through their house with my back to the wall, but also subsequently of the sight of my behind when I stop bothering to use the 'wall cover method of movement' after a few glasses of wine (this one has already happened and I had a thoroughly lovely time wearing it); finally, because I want to use it as a basis for recreating the pattern so that I could make many more versions. It's actually the third reason that was the deciding factor in keeping it.


Rubbing off the patterns from garments already in my wardrobe used to be something I could do with relative ease, so it's come as a shock to find myself struggling with this now. The trouser part of the jumpsuit was fairly plain-sailing after various forgotten drafting principles had slowly come back to me, the arms too, but the bodice has proven to be something of a disaster and has sat on my cutting table threatening to be abandoned entirely. But I so don't want it to be, because it would be so good to have a version to wear on sitting-down days, which in truth are far more a part of my life than standing up days.

Just in case there are any dressmakers out there who can help, here's my problem: when I rub off a pattern like this, I end up with a completely dartless bodice block. I transfer the points were any sewn darts sit and then study the inside of the original garment to work out how big they should be. The darts in this garment are quite big - totalling 4" each along the side seams and 2" each at the waist, and although I'm finding it easy enough to put one dart into my dartless block, two is presenting something of a nightmare for me as it then upsets with the line of the first dart. I think I could fudge this if the darts were smaller, but they're massive and refuse to be fudged. If anyone has come across a tutorial for putting both a waist and bust dart into a dartless block, I'd be eternally grateful if you could tell me where, as I can only find one or the other.

My only other option seems to be to take the jumpsuit apart and then literally trace the pattern pieces off (literally is in italics as my sister always teases me when I use this word, so it delights me to highlight it for her, even though she may not read this far as she prefers non-technical posts), but I'm loathe to do this as I don't want to take a perfectly good-but-with-saggy-bottom garment apart and risk it not going back together again quite as perfectly.

It feels like I'm ending this post on with a depressingly unexciting dressmaking cliffhanger and I can't think of a way to dressing it up as anything more, so I'll just sidle away from this blog post, back against the wall style...

Florence x

17 comments:

  1. A conundrum.... If I was in your shoes, I would deconstruct the jumpsuit because I know I'd give up on the darts at some point. Once you have the perfect pattern, you'll be able to make many more jumpsuits without saggy bottoms and you'll forget about the now possibly unwearable original version very soon. You could also use it to perfect the fit of the darts for your body, a toile of sorts I guess.... Good luck!

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    1. I'm so tempted by this route, Christina...it feels quite terrifying though, as I love it so much and it's now sold out in my size, so there's no going back even if I could afford to buy it twice (which I can't).

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  2. I like the book Make your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis. The section on darts has been particularly helpful for me. Good luck.

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    1. Ooh, interesting! I actually have that book too, but haven't consulted my books so much as they tend to start with a darted block, rather than a dartless one, but maybe I should have another look. Thank you. x

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  3. I can't help you at all, but your post made me laugh so at least there's that.

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    1. That makes my ineptitude feel a little more worthwhile then! x

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  4. I concur with Cheryl, this post really made me chuckle x
    No help coming from me I'm afraid, but a lot of positive vibes are being sent that you will find a solution or a friendly fellow blogger can point you in the right direction!

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    1. Thank you so much - any positivity flowing in the direction of my jumpsuit is most welcome! x

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  5. If you stuck a pin through the dart end point and then pivot the garment from there, the distance of your dart measurements... um... that's about where my brain seizes up... (and this is uneducated guesswork anyhow)....

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    1. I'm not sure that would work for me, because in my head it would throw the centre line out, but I could be wrong, so thank you so much for the suggestion...I'm going to go and ponder on it over lunch. x

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  6. you can trace the pattern from the jumpsuit without taking apart. you will have to lay down each section weighting down in centre and push it to its edge and tracing around - its fairly accurate and I have done it for a few things. the main thing really will always be your cut (to my mind) so if its a regular style leg trouser make sure your grain is correct and that way it will fall as it should. hope this makes sense. I would also suggest using a charity shop sheet/old sheet to do a 'muslin' from. I did that for a self drafted trouser block some years ago as my block would not work and I found that there needed to be a sliver of a curve taken from the inside front leg. The trousers I have made since have all been so much better

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  7. So good that you got some gorgeous trousers out of your self-drafting experiments - it's so nice when you finally have a reliable pattern that you can use over and over, isn't it.

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  8. Mark the dart position on your dartless copy and slit through spreading the slit to the dart measurment and adding a piece of paper to the slit opening. Hope that makes sense.

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  9. Which dart are you doing first? Since you're kind of working in reverse I would do the waist dart first and then once that is correct on your pattern work on adding the bust dart. Perhaps try a half muslin of the bodice and just play with manipulating the fabric to see which would be better. Good luck.

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  10. Ha, Florence, you always make me laugh! Things fall out of my head very easily these days! Trying to draw out a plan of my garden border yesterday, and I could not remember the names of so many plants, and I planted them all myself! Hope you get good advice from someone.xx

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  11. I envisioned a way to tackle this, but after two tries at putting it into words, I must admit defeat. It might not have worked anyway!

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  12. Hallo Florence, I know exactly what you're talking about. Last year after so many years tried to make a new basic skirt pattern for me. Ayo, my memory failed but not the internet. Maybe this video gives you the clue if not don't give up, don't dismantle, go on searching for an explaining video.

    https://youtu.be/IehB8MwLcT0

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Florence x

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