Archive for the ‘pattern drafting’ Category

Drafting from RTW: Cowl Neck Tank

August 13, 2007

Scuse the hiatus. My computer died, so I’ve spent the last week or so figuring out what sort of machine I can get for a decent price, and then trying to salvage all my stuff from my old machine, which has a busted backlight. (The backlight shines through from the back of the monitor — which means I can still see stuff on the old machine, everything is just very dim, like I’m looking through some ridiculously dark glasses.)

Just before the computer died, I had just finished a project. The staring point was this:

It was a freebie from some golf thing Spouse Phor went to for work. It’s a men’s XXXL cotton knit t-shirt with a polo neck. Waaay to huge for him to ever wear.

Now, I wear cotton knit tanks constantly. Like they are going out of style. I must have four or five in black, at least, but a couple are getting a bit ratty and overwashed, so it’s time to add a few new ones. I figured this would make a great practice fabric for pattern-making. I’ll throw together a pattern, see if it works out, and if it does, I’ve got a great easy pattern for knit tank tops.

To make this pattern, I started by tracing around a top I already own:

You can see that I folded it half. Because knits are stretchy, if I’d have spread it out and traced both sides independently, there would have been a decent chance that the sides wouldn’t match. By folding it in half, I get a pattern that can be placed on the fabric fold line and the left and right sides will match.

I traced around the back half of the top — the front neckline is slightly lower, but happily, the back and front sides of the pattern are identical.

So now I have a basic tank top pattern, without seam allowances. The next thing I wanted to do was play around with the necklines a little. I drew another copy of this pattern, and shifted the neckline up — this, with seam allowances added, is now my back pattern piece. On the front piece, I wanted to draft a cowl neckline. To do this, you need to spread the shoulder points out to give you excess fabric for the cowl.

To make the cowl neckline, I started by tracing the armscye from just below the armpit all the way up to the shoulder seam:

I then cut around the curve. I took this curve and laid it on top of my original pattern piece. Using the armpit as a point of origin, I pivoted the curve outwards. I probably shifted it so that the new shoulder seam was about 2.5 inches away from the original seam.

It took me a few tries on the fabric until I got this just so — I basted in the side seams and chalked in the armscyes, then hand basted the shoulder seams on the back and front until I had it the way I wanted it. Once I’d figured the pattern the way I liked it, I added the seam allowances to the paper piece.

The final garment came out with a nice shape. But:

Because I was futzing around with the fabric *before* I’d properly cut my pattern, I ended up with the original logo of the shirt sitting. right. there. On my shoulder.

It says “Loretta Sanchez for Congress”. I have nothing against Congresswoman Sanchez, but I’m not sure I want to wear that over my heart, yanno?


Website Review:

August 2, 2007

I stumbled across Vintage Sewing this morning when I was looking for some information on drafting cowl necks. The site is run by a nonprofit and maintains a library of public domain sewing references, which are reproduced in full on line.

There’s some stunning stuff there. My own search for cowl neck patterns lead me to the full text of F.R. Morris’ Ladies Garment Cutting and Making. Which is an extremely comprehensive reference in itself, with some beautifully clear pictures.

The history of sewing references is also a fascinating look into the world of women and girls in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Olive C. Hapgood’s 1893 School Needlework is a classroom text for schoolgirls.

It begins:

DEAR GIRLS: You have now become old enough to prepare for woman’s duties; one of these is the art of sewing, which we will take up as simply as possible. By following the given directions carefully, you will become able to dress your dolls, assist your mothers in mending, make garments, fancy articles, etc.

Then Ms. Hapgood (well, probably not Ms., actually) dives right in. By half way through chapter two, she has the girls “honey-combing”. I’d never heard of this before, but it’s actually a very beautiful piece of fancy stitchwork:

This is schoolgirl work in the 1890s. Schoolgirls. No way am I doing handwork like that.

The site has materials from as early as the 1890s through the 50s. Wanna make yourself some gloves? Consider these basic pattern drafting instructions from How To Make Gloves by Eunice Close.

The jewels of the site, as far as I’m concerned, are of course the pattern making books. As well as the abovementioned Morris text, there’s also Harriet Peplin’s 1942 Modern Pattern Design. Between those two there’s a wealth of pattern making information that’s not only of relevance to those interested in vintage sewing, but also entirely applicable to making clothing with modern lines.

Oh. And as for the cowl neck problem that led me there in the first place. There are a variety of ways to do this, but the for the one I’m interested in, you alter the pitch of the front armscye so that the distance between the shoulders is broader, and then curve the “neckline” upward.

A picture &c. :

Pants pants evolution

July 18, 2007

So my blue sandwashed silk is going to turn into pants. I’m basing the pants on the Simplicity 7513 pants, but I feel this pattern needs some tweaking to justify the fabric.

There are three things I want to do to the pattern:

  • 1. Add a side seam
  • 2. Add a fly front
  • 3. Add a separate waistband

And possibly (4) take the pattern in at the waist.

The original pattern is what is known as “one seam pants” — I’m not sure why, since there are in fact 2 seams in the pants; a crotch seam and an inseam. Adding a side seam (1) will mean that the grainline of the fabric will run down each leg rather than running down the side of the pants. This will give a better drape to the pants, and it also will allow me to add some pockets in the side seam. My original version of these pants is seriously missing pockets.

(2) I think just looks nicer, and is a prerequisite if I want to nip them in at the waist.

Adding a separate waistband will also improve the hang of the fabric, and it can be interfaced.


McCalls 3665: Pattern Analysis

July 6, 2007

Another kid pattern, this time a knit pattern for a newborn.

I’m making view D, the short-sleeved short-legged bodysuit.


For the Younger Set

April 13, 2007

There is a young man in my life about to have his first birthday, and I happen to know that he is a die-hard Penn State football fan. It’s a little difficult to get tricked out in all the team gear when you are so short of stature, so I figured I’d send some love his way.

I’m planning on making the toddler’s hoodie from McCalls 4624 from a Penn State fleece panel. Here’s the pattern envelope:

McCalls Toddlers' Tops & Pants Pattern #4642

Some views have a hood and some have a funnel collar — there’s also an optional applique pocket for the front.

All the views have a v-neck zipper closure.

I’m going with a hood, and I’m modifying the closure so that there’s a full length separating zipper all the way down the center front. Info on how I did this modification is after the fold.


Pinstriped 8-gore skirt: Pattern alternation

March 9, 2007

After having drafted the basic pattern for the pinstriped skirt, it’s time to cut. Unfortunately, there are some problems with this pattern — namely that the fabric from the deconstructed pants doesn’t allow me to directly lie the pattern piece on top.

The biggest problem is from the back welt pockets, which I’d like to retain in the new garment. But the pattern is too narrow, and doesn’t completely cover the edge of the welts.

welt overlap

This isn’t an insurmountable problem. I just need to tweak the pattern a little.

The first thing that I’m going to do is to create a new pattern piece that is double in size. I’m then going to cut that apart off-center, so I’ll have two pattern pieces of unequal size. One will be larger, cut to accommodate the welt pocket. To preserve the fit, there will be a second, smaller piece. To put this another way, I’m going to cut a pattern piece as if I was cutting for a 4-gore skirt, and then I’m going to split it off-center. Like this:

Pattern shift
Easy, right! Now all I have to do is cut two of each off-center piece, and cut four of my original pattern piece.

Easy skirt pattern

March 7, 2007

The basic pattern I’m using for this skirt is a simple 8-gore knee-length pattern, copied from a skirt I already own.

The original skirt is a knee-length skirt made from 4 equally sized pattern pieces. It’s just folded along the seamlines, and then folded in half so that my new pattern piece will be 1/2 the size of the original pieces.

Copying the pattern

Making this pattern is a snap — just trace, and voila! Because of my design detail, I don’t need to add seam allowances here.