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Pattern making….simplified?

February 16, 2011

So, originally my big project plan was to sew my way through the Sew U Home Stretch book and then to hop on over to the Design it Yourself Clothes book. It was a good plan! I liked the plan, until two things happened.

One is that I realized I don’t actually have an insane amount of time to sew. I have a couple of hours, a couple of evenings a week, depending on what my family has going on. So my original plan would take me about forty years to complete.

The second thing I did was clean out my closet. At that point I discovered I had exactly four “things” to wear on my lower half that fit me. Everything else was too big. (Yay! Awesome! Lovely problem to have! Except, no pants.) So I looked at the Design It Yourself Clothes book and realized that if I hopped into that one, right off the bat I could have a few skirts.

So I took a deep breath, dug out some old drafting supplies, and dove in.

Now I will tell you for free that I completely and totally LOVED this process. LOVED it. Loved the drawing; the using the curves to make the angles square up – all of it.

You know, I think that for a lot of people, sewing is this big creative thing. I don’t actually think I’m all that creative really. I am rarely the one to think of a good idea. I am always the one to recognize it, and to explain it to other people….but think of it myself? No. Not usually. I’m okay with this, because as it happens, I’m really good at math. I like math. Numbers make sense to me. Sewing is ALL about the math. And so really? I think I sew math. And that is completely okay with me.

Cal Patch’s book is TOTALLY designed for people like me who want to sew math. It’s absolutely wonderful; I am totally smitten.

The first thing you need to do when you are going to draft your very own pattern is measure the living daylights out of yourself. There are like forty kajillion different measurements you seem to need. So pretty much you have to take a deep breath, grab a tape measure, lose a lot of your clothes (and dignity), and start measuring. And you really REALLY don’t want to cheat here. Because if you do you’ll make lovely clothes that totally don’t fit you.

So I went into this totally prepared to Own My Measurements. Whatever they were! Own them.

Just a little tip – measuring at all, whether you are cheating or not, is really really difficult with a four-year old standing there saying “Hey mommy? Hey mommy? What are you doing? What is that mommy? Can I have your pen and paper mommy? I need to make a list!” and a seven month old sitting there trying to eat your tape measure. So in retrospect I highly recommend doing this when you can do it all by yourself. In the interest of owning your measurements it may also help if you are a little drunk. Just sayin.

So! Eventually I untangled myself from the children, did the measuring necessary, and set about drafting a pattern for a basic A-line skirt. It was great fun. And then I ended up with these!

Honest to goodness pattern pieces that even LOOK like pattern pieces.

For those of you who remember the mighty t-shirt days, the next step was to make a muslin. I happen to have almost a bolt of this lovely goldenrod yellow broadcloth, leftover from the days when my mom made kids clothes.

So I grabbed that, grabbed my pattern pieces, and made a muslin. Then, perched awkwardly on my daughter’s step stool so that I could see in the bathroom mirror, I tried that sucker on.

Note for all involved – pictures of me sporting the muslin are faded right out in order to preserve some degree of modesty. The yellow is a little on the see through side so you know.

It was a little too big – apparently in owning my measurements I owned a little too freely. I actually think I rounded by 1/4″ here and there, and I probably always rounded up…and since they were 1/4 measurements to draft the pattern I think I probably went a little too far. Nevermind, that’s the point of a muslin!

I flipped it inside out and started pinning.

I ended up taking about 1″ in on each side and then adjusting the darts in the front – I made them longer and a little wider because I was finding the material was sort of bagging funny and it seemed to be as good a way as any to fix it.

I transferred the edits back to the original pattern, and then restitched the muslin…just to make sure I was doing things right. I expect as I get more confident with this I won’t need to do that as much…but figured it was a good move for right now.

And, lo and behold the changes actually worked pretty well!

I learned that it’s surprisingly difficult to take a picture of your own rearview in the mirror…so no deal there, but trust me, it fit pretty darn well.

So I am officially declaring pattern making 101 a success. I’m delighted with the book; can’t wait to keep working through it! Tune in tomorrow and I’ll share the finished product! (Oooo….cliffhanger!)


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    February 16, 2011 1:12 pm

    You are just too cute for words. Do you need tights for these skirts? Shannon bought a pr from Gap and left them for me to return…because they were too long for her…which I didn’t…because well, I’m just lazy.

  2. February 17, 2011 3:04 am

    I love! I love! Esp. loved the fading tactic with the yellow muslin… well played.

    MOM what happened to my tights… sigh. Such a waste. 😉


  1. Pattern Making! Skirt! « Pintuck

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