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 – Emily 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

  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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