Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Eeek! Just got busy!

Hello there!

How's it going? I'm sorry, I haven't been ignoring you. I've just had a big project get in the way of blogging right now. So I will get back on to talking about shaping darts and drafting skirts in shortly, but there will be a bit of an interlude. Its not all bad news though - there's some really good sewing / drafting going on!

In the meantime, I've organised some contents pages for the posts I've written so far, which I hope makes things easier to find. Check out the pages listed at the top! I've got a bit to go yet, and I'm still not sure the best way to organise things but we're on track. And I can do snippets of that between other jobs - so watch this space.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Drafting the Bodice

Hello again!

Today's post is about drafting the bodice. It's really not that big a jump from the block.
There are two changes. The first is the neckline, and the second is converting the single dart beneath the bust into a double dart. I'm going to go into more detail on how I shaped those darts in the next post.

My illustrations are based on *my* basic block, so the proportions may not appear typical. But the concept is the same! The key thing to be aware of with my bodice block, is that I have a proportionally full bust, and I'm quite short but stocky. Proportionally I'm a lot closer to a plus sized shape than a 'regular' shape. I'm also getting quite good at full bust adjustments. Double darts allow a smoother control of shape for a full bust.

Here is my basic block.
I've already made a toile with this and I know it's a good fit. So I can trace it and start changing it straight away.

First, the neckline.

This is just a matter of drawing in the scoop where I want it to go. I looked at necklines on other shirts in my wardrobe to get an idea of where I wanted to scoop to. Make sure the scoop is a right angle where it touches the centre line. When you make a significant alteration to the neckline it may gape a bit - but that's something I'll pick up on the toile.

To make the squared off neckline for the heart dress, I put a corner instead of a curve:
Now onto the darts.
I want two parallel darts instead of one under the bust. I begin by marking a line on each side of the dart.
I split along the lines and bring them together.
Here I fill the new gap with paper.
I draw two points on either side of the original dart.
Which will become the new dart points. I draw in the new darts:
All cleaned up:
I tweaked it a little, and sloped my darts inwards a bit:
Which meant I needed to extend the middle piece a little so the dart legs were the same length:

And there you have it!
Here's the square necked front:

That's the basic front. I've done more with the darts but I will explain that in the next post.
Onto the back, which is more straightforward:

Easy. I went for a scoopy back. I had noticed that I'd been making lots of high backs and it was time to mix it up. I made sure I checked that it wouldn't scoop so low as to expose any underwear.

From this point, seam allowances and darts need to be added back on. I drew a line 1.5cm around the shape, and a left a bit of extra space around the dart.

Next post I'll explain how to shape the darts on the front bodice for a closer fit. If you plan to do this, don't cut the front out just yet.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

A Rushed Introduction to Blocks and Slopers

I've finally finished thinking about how to explain the drafting, and will now get on with it. 

The drafting menu will consist of:

1) A Rushed Introduction to Blocks and Slopers
2) Drafting the Bodice
3) Bodice Darts
4) Facings
5) Skirts

So lets begin!

1) A Rushed Introduction to Blocks and Slopers

Really, this concept requires a lot more attention than I can give it in one post. 

My patterns were drafted from a basic block, or sloper. I work from a block or sloper because the kind of drafting I do is 'flat pattern drafting'. Rather than hanging off a dressmakers dummy (draping), all of my work happens in flat form. I don't have a dressmakers dummy. 

There's some conflicting information (viewpoints?) about 'blocks' and 'slopers', and where the terms should be used. The more research I do to try and solve this, the less I know. 

Threads describe a sloper as a 'master pattern for a perfect fitting snug fitting basic garment,Used to design garments and fit commercial patterns.' and a block as simply 'a master pattern'. 
Burdastyle offers a definition of a sloper as A custom-fitted basic pattern from which patterns for many different styles can be created, and I wasn't able to find anything on 'blocks' although it seems they are used interchangeably in discussions. 
Fashion-incubator describes a block as including seam allowances, and a sloper as any pattern (not just a basic pattern) not including seam allowances.
Wikipedia defines a block as an industrial tool, and a sloper as a home sewing tool.  

Looking in my bookshelf, Teresa Gilewska's "Pattern Drafting for Fashion" refers to drafting your own block, and "How Patterns Work" from Assembil Books also refers to a 'block'. My wonderful Japanese drafting books neatly sidestep the issue altogether, and refer to 'Your basic pattern."

Truthfully, I don't know where I stand on the nomenclature, although I tend to think of my basic pattern as a 'block'. The upshot is, if you're looking for information, it's helpful use both terms. If you come across a clear definition that will sort this muddle, please let me know!

The concept is that you have one super basic pattern, which fits properly, and from which you can make any number of designs by copying out the pattern and then altering it.

Now that we're all done muddling, this is how I obtained my block, which as I am obsessed with fit, is kind of like my holy grail:

This is a basic fitting pattern. I first heard about this through the Palmer Plestch "Fit For Real People" books. It turns out most pattern companies have a basic block pattern, usually somewhere hidden at the back of the catalogue. When I bought it, the lady in the shop had never heard of one.

It has basic shaped patterns with reference points marked on to them. Crucially, it also comes with different sized fronts depending on cup size. 

Here are some quick snaps of the kind of fitting info that came in the pattern:

Helpful stuff hey?

I made the pattern referring to the instructions, which give clear guidance for all sorts of fitting issues. This information is pretty useful in it's own right.

I have only ever made the bodice. This is because at one point I made a skirt from a commercial pattern, and realised it was pretty much spot on. So I kept that, and Franken-patterned it with this one for pretty good results.  I've learned a whole lot about my body through this process, and which tweaks I will almost always want to include.

It also helps to build an understanding of where to start when adjusting a pattern - for example I find it better to adjust for height first, and then for my bust. I know I'll almost always need to take a smidge off at the shoulders because my shoulders are narrow - things like that.

Fitting yourself is really difficult. It's hard enough to check out your own butt, but even harder to figure out where the fabric is pulling or bunching if you're distorting your body to twist and check out your own butt. I required assistance on this project. I'd make a toile (aka muslin), then I'd rock up at a friends house to get them to draw where the lines *should* be, then make it again. It took a few goes but eventually I created a bodice block that I was happy with. I think I also bonded a little with some of my friends. Once you've handed someone a marker and asked them to draw a line on your shirt straight across your chest from 'point to point', the other stuff gets a little easier. 

So I then had a block.

I made the bodice out of a manilla folder. It has no seam allowance, and I clipped out the darts to make it really quick to trace. The skirt has a side seam only, and is copied on yellow tissue paper. I've meant to copy it onto thin card but I just haven't gotten around to it. It has travelled across the globe with me.

I'm not going to go into much more detail about blocks at this point, and unfortunately don't have a made up one to show, but it is absolutely worth the time spent getting one right. Not only can you use a block to draft your own patterns, they are super-useful for comparing to patterns you are making as a guide to fitting.

At some point, I would like to draft a few different blocks (from scratch) for a few different bodies. I just need to talk a few more people into being my models...

Anyway, next up I'll explain how I adjusted the bodice pattern to make the stripey bodice and the heart bodice.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

February - Heart Dress

Hi Again!

It's February. How did that happen? I can't get over how quickly January disappeared. I had about 4 times as many things I wanted to do, v's managed to do.

Anyway, for themes for the month, the obvious (to the point of painful) theme for February is Valentine's Day. When I considered this I imagined saccharine colours and applique heart motifs, little hand written 'Love' sayings - and the prospect of making something along those lines left me feeling a little bit flat. Gagging even. I almost abandoned the whole concept, until I had an idea.

I've decided to do this on my own terms.

May I present my Heart Dress.


 Yup. Anatomical Hearts! How cool is this?

My photo isn't as good as their website - lighting sucked. Check their website.
The fabric is from Spoonflower. Spoonflower is a company that allows you to custom design your fabric, or wallpaper or paper, and print it just for you. This design isn't my own, it's by The Sincere Sisters, who have this in another colourway as well. It didn't come cheap! Particularly as in addition to being custom printed, and postage, I had to pay tax to have it sent to the UK.

But OMG, I love it.
 It's lovely, the colours are bright. I washed a test swatch and the colours stayed clear without any noticeable shrinkage. It arrived in half the time they promised, so that was pretty impressive. They have a range of fabrics they will print on, and after I looked at the samples (which arrived in days) I chose the organic cotton sateen. That's what happens if you order samples, you'll be tempted to choose something even nicer than you originally planned.

Of course, due to the cost of the fabric, I was pretty nervous cutting it. You might say I had my heart in my mouth.

Anyway, the design is very simple - I used the same bodice as for the stripey dress featured in the previous project, with a couple of extra tweaks and a new neckline. The skirt is a simple A line. 
I haven't posted about the drafting on that one yet (I'm still trying to figure out where to start on it) so I can explain both in one go later.

I wanted to keep it as simple as possible so the print itself was the star of the show.

Right now, this feels like pretty much my favourite thing I've ever made.