After a year of studying Draping on the Stand at Morley college I have signed up for Intermediate pattern cutting.
The class started with an interesting round up of who does and knows what. As usual we had a group of young fashion industry workers, plus a few hobby sewists like me. It is a nice way to learn more about the careers associated with fashion – most of which involve long hours and low pay, unfortunately. But majority of these nice young women enjoy their work, and they are keen to learn more.
The class will be making dress patterns using the tutor’s size 12 standard bodice block, but there is an option to use your own.
I decided to remake my personal blocks. If you do a fair amount of pattern cutting for your own use it makes sense to start with your own measurements rather than the “ideal” or “average” size 10 or 12.
Drafting a dress block to your own personal measurements
My prior experience meant that the actual drafting very straightforward and I achieved it in about an hour and a half, after I got home from work. Here are my tips
- Use a good book. I used Winifred Aldridge – the same book I used in college – second hand ones are available for £5 or £6.
- Measure your body carefully, ideally getting a friend to help as some of the measurements are hard to do on yourself
- Select the standard size that is most close to your size and compare your measurements to the standard ones
- I like to use the straight edge of the cardboard for the CB, but purists would advise you draw in the CB to start
- This is the line you will initially square off against
- Getting this right (ie getting every squared up or down) is crucial to making a good job of your blocks, and all pattern drafting
- Use a fine pencil. A 2H is recommended to increase accuracy
- You may also need a rubber
- Work on lightweight card rather than paper as you will be using the blocks many times
- Make sure the card is big enough for the task.You need a good set square. Ideally a metre stick too.
- A curved ruler is also really useful. This is the one I used on the neck and armhole
- When making a dress block you first make a bodice block and then adapt it.
I found the Aldridge instructions easy to follow and they work well if you use standard measurements. When you make the block up with your own measurements your “figure faults” – yes this is how she describes them – may mean you require further alteration.
Key learning point
When making your own dress blocks the drafting is the easy bit. It is the fitting that gives you a headache.
Also my tutor told me that it is impossible to fit yourself. I will soon see if this is true. I am hoping that selfies of front and back, plus feedback from you, my dear blog readers, may suffice. I will get as far as I can on my own and then I may have to ask for her help.
My specific “figure faults” and how my first attempt at a bodice block turned out
I would be interested in your analysis.
Here is mine: There is something wrong with the neck. Experience tells me that there is actually something wrong with the shoulder and this is creating the issue at the neck. There is a problem with the bust with a “dent” appearing the right of the bust. This might appear to be too much fabric above the bust point, but I believe this is caused by the placement of the bust point being too high. And although the fit at the waist is good I think it too is also a bit high.
Lowering both the bust point and waist is a very simple alteration to make and if my diagnosis is right this will be a major improvement.
The tricky area, as is apparent in both the pictures (as well as me fitting in my lino-printed pyjama pants) is the shoulder. The pitch is wrong. In other words the angle is too acute. My shoulders, while relatively narrow, are also fairly square.
What went wrong here? Well my shoulder measures 10cms compared to the standard measurement (for a s12) of 12.25cms. By creating a shoulder length of just 10cms I found that the pitch was exaggerated. What would you do? I think the obvious thing to correct this is to use the standard shoulder measurement of 12.25 cms, then alter the block by taking off a couple of cms at the armhole, and/or the neckline.
I need literally to go back to the drawing board. I will redraft the bodice and let you have a look. Thank you for those that can offer suggestions.