I spent this weekend with four lovely ladies, learning Pattern Cutting! For my birthday G. had got me a Pattern Cutting weekend at Ray Stitch with Alice Prier. It was AMAZING.
On Saturday we learned how to make blocks (or slopers for any American readers) – her method for teaching this is based on the AB template which was remarkably straight forward. We started by taking each others measurements and I was particularly surprised by a few. Most sewers know that your ‘hip’ and ‘waist’ measurements are not taken at your hip bone, but actually the fleshiest bit of your bum and the ‘waist’ is not where your low riders sit hang out.
But I was interested by how we took our ‘bust’ or what I can’t help referring to as my upper bust, as it allowed me to accommodate my shoulder blades. And my ‘chest’ measurement went around snugly under my armpits and then DOWN around boobs, straight across nipples. We also measured bust distance’ AKA the space between your nipples. As we were measuring each other and were so not being English about it, we were quite explicit in our nipple placement commentary. I expect we’ll all be bosom buddies now (hehehe I couldn’t resist – please tell me that made you laugh too!)
Anyway after taking a gazillion more measurements, dividing some in half and other by 3/4 we were ready to begin drawing! There was this funny yellow ruler, which made me feel like I was back in geometry class we used (instead of a bunch of math) to calculate angles, lengths etc. And slowly before my eyes, I saw my block growing. We did both a top and skirt bottom (which can be joined to be a dress), and sleeves. By the end of Saturday I had my block made and a tester done out of medium weight calico! I was quite pleased the only thing I needed to alter on the block was to slightly lower the armpit as I think it would be irritatingly close on a garment. Though without a good press it was hard to see if there was any finessing I might want to do to it in the future.
On Sunday we learned how to work with our blocks to create patterns and designs. I learned that there’s essentially three ways to change your block: pivot the darts, turn darts into seams and ‘slash and spread’ your darts. It all boils down to what is a function dart and what is a design dart.
If you look at most tops (dresses or blouses), either patterns or in the shops, there are maybe six fundamental designs (see the picture on the right, taken by my new ‘bosom buddy’ of Alice’s drawing). After that a lot of it is just design shenanigans.
Suffice to say the weekend was exhausting but soo inspiring. I’m planning on jumping right in and having a go at making a most wonderfully fitting shift dress (side and waist darts, rounded neck and pockets). I can’t recommend this course enough!