Wednesday, 27 July 2016

My holy grail

My holy grail is to develop pattern blocks that I can use as Tried & Trusted garment templates.

One of the reasons why this is taking is long, is that I keep starting over.  I forget where I got to before and I was also not particularly happy with the last result so I am hoping that a do-over might be more successful.  So it’s not been going all that great.

I’ve since discovered that there are several fitting issues that I need to do adjustments for.  I start with a block that I drew to my own measurements in a pattern drafting class.  Great start but not nearly good enough – the fit is by no means close enough. Here’s all the issue I identified so far:

When using commercial patterns I usually have to move the bust dart down which is no big deal: cut out a box that contains the dart and move up or down so it points towards the bust apex.  Easy.  I have also done full bust adjustments (FBA) with abandon: this makes fit so much better for sizes that are bigger than a B cup.  I can highly recommend it.  You may need to cut a Y Line for very big cup sizes but it’s not a big deal or huge change from the usual FBA.

I am aware that I need to do an underarm adjustment that pinches out a wedge of up to 5-7cm length and possibly 1-1.5cm width – right at the top of the underarm side seam – unless I want lots more ease for arm movement, but it still looks pretty odd if there is too much fabric flapping about under the arm.  So this is a usual one.

I recently realised that I mustn’t suppress the small dart in the back shoulder: I really do need this because of my rounded upper back.  I only noticed that back looks different than I expected when I saw a photo of myself – now this issue is glaringly obvious!  Oh well, at least I know now.

I should also check if my armhole gapes at the back – if so I may need to do more of an adjustment for a rounded back by putting in darts or having a shaped back yoke that suppressed some of that gaping – I’ll need to check.

I have also become aware that two darts towards the bust are better than just the one.  It distributes the excess fabric better and is more flattering.  Best for me are darts that run into the side seam and result in an upward angled line, visually much better than downward or straight across.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t get around some major work on a swayback adjustment.  I know this from my knitting projects but hadn’t been paying lots of attention to it for my sewing.  I applied a couple of SBAs but I think I didn’t pinch out enough.

The one adjustment that I don’t think I need to do is to rotate the sleeve, i.e. changing the shoulder seam either a little forward or backward. I am exceedingly glad about this, because this feels like a major adjustment!

So these are quite a few adjustments so it’s no wonder if my efforts haven’t been all that successful so far – there is lots to do and I don’t think that I applied all of those to one block yet.  I really should.

But I was getting frustrated with my attempts at a template top that fell far short (I just hadn’t followed through on all those fitting insights yet) – then I had a thought:

Why don’t I look at Ready To Wear tops that fit me well and take some measurements?  That way I can compare those to my template top attempts and at least sense check!

Great idea, right?

I was thinking of a smart top with short sleeves that I like wearing a lot.  It is the only one that has a round neckline with a vertical slit down the front – it seems a pretty flattering style, so I am all for using that as a model.

Yeah, right…

It wasn’t until I took a really long hard look at this top, and found that it doesn’t fit at all well!  I just never noticed, good heavens.

This top is made for hips that are far bigger than mine, in fact it balloons out a lot. And the underarm adjustment of that suppressed wedge that I talked about above, that’s so very much needed!  The bust seemed to fit pretty well but the underarm area has lots of fabric that’s just not very attractive.

This top also highlights my problem area:  I am low-busted so there is excess material at the side of the front armhole.  My problem is that I don’t quite know how to get rid of that – do I need a bust dart in that area that grades out to nothing at the seam with the sleeve? That can’t be quite right, can it?

I think I need to play around with taking a bigger wedge out of the top underarm side seam from the front piece only.  This will also affect the sleeve – I may just have to slash the sleeve pattern and overlap by this much at the armhole seam.

Pattern drawing challenges!

I love them really.  They are just a lot of work and I need to be in the right frame of mind.


  1. You've hit on the head the problem of starting things that cannot be completed quickly, not remebering what you did before when taking it up again. I find I am struggling to do something, get so tired that I am not thinking straight, decide to put it aside until I can give it more time and I am not so exhausted- and then, when I pick it up again, can't recall what the hell I was doing. Even if I make notes, to help when I start again, when I read them later they don't make sense. But stick with it becuse getting your own pattern for your shape is worth it. I have just been on a work shop where one of the participants could never get a commercial pattern to fit because of her full bust etc, being a size 12 at the back and a 16 at the front. The tutor drafted a pattern from stratch for her and it was a fabulous fit.

  2. Thanks so much for the encouragement Barbara! I will persevere, this is important enough to me to overcome the difficulties. Eventually!

    Since I drafted this pattern and wrote this post I've come across a very helpful blog article that tells me that the armhole is the most important. And that it is easier to draft a two piece sleeve from a one-piece sleeve, which I didn't appreciate till now. So I should start again with the original sleeve for this jacket (which DOES fit the armhole and HAS side seams that match) and just draft the two pieces. I just need to find the tutorial post again for pointers! (I may remember most of it).

    Pattern drafting can be really fun and so satisfying when you get it right!