Dry eyes drafting (the no tears approach to pattern drafting)

I have dabbled in pattern drafting before. I even went to night school about 10 years ago to learn all about it. I learnt a lot, then children came, as did memory loss and time to myself.

But as the kids get bigger and I am finding a extra few minutes in the day, I thought it was time to give it a whirl again. I had a quick look over my college notes, read a bit of Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting and abandoned them all to the ‘too hard’ basket.

I have to say there is a much easier way. Now I am sharing a studio space with Emily of In the Folds, I am trying really hard to absorb her talent by osmosis. While I work on that, I thought I would use her web tutorials on pattern drafting and go for it!

I had seen a very basic sketch in the sewing bible AKA The Reader Digest Complete Guide to Sewing and knew that I wanted that skirt. Most people get inspiration from more interesting sources, but clearly not me!

Image from Readers Digest ‘Complete Guide to Sewing’

So I gave it a whirl. ¬†I clicked onto the Pattern Making¬†section of the In the Folds website and started by using the skirt series icon. ¬†First step, drafting a skirt block. I have drafted a skirt block before via Winifred Aldrich’s book. ¬†It’s quite mathematically complex. ¬†I have no idea why, because when I used Emily’s tutorial it was very easy. ¬†Draw a block and then slice it up, that’s the basis of it really. I did go wrong, and I know where, it was down to measuring myself & a bad calculation (we will get to that!)

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 3.35.52 PM
Image by In the Folds РEmily took this little shot of me in the studio, mid-drafting!

So, in order to achieve my¬†skirt, I followed the Cut & Spread technique¬†tutorial, which is how to draft an A-line skirt. ¬†So much easier than it sounds. ¬†I then moved onto pockets.¬†I love the pockets but I wanted them to be more exaggerated to show off the contrasting fabric I had chosen. ¬†I found the drafting side pockets tutorial and went for it. ¬†The last step was drafting a waistband. ¬†I can’t wear straight waistbands, so I opted for the shaped waistband. ¬†The final stage was¬†adding seam allowance (how to add seam allowance). ¬†It sounds like it took me 10 minutes, it didn’t it took longer but it wasn’t a slow process by any means. Quite surprising really. Time to toile!

So, as I am happily drafting all of this and I start thinking to myself, ‘this shape is rather exaggerated, I didn’t realise there was such a massive difference between my waist and hips’. ¬†But I ignored these suspicions (mistake number 1) and moved on to the toile.

My dummy is exactly my measurements so I knew it was wrong when I pinned it on. It might be hard to see here but the hips were big and almost ‘avant guard’ in size and the waist was teeny tiny. ¬†So I went back to the skirt block and worked out why, a simple miscalculation. Easy to resolve. ¬†I fixed up the skirt block and then subsequently the A-line block, tweaked the seam allowance and the pocket pieces and away we go again! ¬†It wasn’t that big an issue really but made more sense once I had re-drawn it.

Now the pattern was ready to go and so down to fabric.  I had a lovely lightweight denim that I wanted to use, the fabric from Joys Fabric Warehouse that I made my Rushcutter hack from.  I also had a beautiful vintage piece of beige cotton with bright red and orange trees that I wanted to use in the pockets.  It was a present from my sister, she has good taste!  It also worked really well with the denim.

I love the selvedges here, the mis-registration of the colours is rather lovely!
Nearly done but no quite right yet.

I tried it on and it sat really well around my hips, the slope of the A-line was good but it was about 3cm too big around the waist.  This is due to bad measuring on my behalf (or my body dysmorphia as Emily calls it!)  A tweak to my skirt, my pattern and the blocks and I think I have finally cracked it!





What did I learn? ¬†Apart from the obvious, ‘I DRAFTED MY OWN SKIRT’, I learnt that you should always double and triple check your calculations. I also learnt that finding a friend to measure you is invaluable!!

I am super proud of this make, it feels like a massive achievement.  It also fits me really well and is very flattering.  It also takes me away from my usual boxy silhouette. When I look at these picture I am shocked at how slim I look.  Body dysmorphia again!!

The biggest and most surprising realisation though, is that with my new haircut and in this A-line skirt I look like my Mum, circa 1978!


11 thoughts on “Dry eyes drafting (the no tears approach to pattern drafting)”

  1. Love the skirt! Great shape and fabric combo! I am attempting pattern drafting too, but with limited success so far… I’m intrigued by your comment ” I can’t wear straight waistbands” as I am working on a skirt and just wondered where the difference would be if I used a straight versus curved waistband?


  2. It looks so great, Kate. I don’t have anywhere near enough head space for a block, even though I know it would ease so much fitting pain, so well done, you. And how did your hair get so long??


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