I’ve started teaching myself to draft patterns. I started with a bodice block using Winifred Aldrich’s book. (It’s metric! YAY!!! After drawing up this chemise in imperial, I gained a very deep appreciation for the simplicity and ease of the metric system.)
Sadly however the bodice wasn’t all it cracked up to be. It won’t fit without major changes. The back will come close but the front is short 5 or so cm. The block is based on the back nape-waist measurement, (left side of piccie)and kinda worked out from there, the front (right side) being based on the back. I am all out front, with a full bust, but a little flat back and flat shoulderblades (they naturally fall in the perfect position for ballet! But hard to fit …) I suspect that’s why the draft is so off.
The mess of the back shoulders came about because it totally didn’t look right when I first drew them, and I tried to compensate a bit. It wasn’t working so I left it for later, and continued on. I’d almost finished the instructions when my partner came in. One look at what I was doing and his whole being lit up in delight. ‘Oh! You’re drafting!’
The guy’s an engineer. And there I was basically trying to engineer a bodice. omgsoexciting!!!!1!!!!1!!
He gave it a quick look over my shoulder, noting the mess of the back shoulder. I explained ‘It just doesn’t look right and I’m not sure why.’
‘Did you check your measurements?’ He said eagerly.
‘Not yet, that was my next step.’
Sure enough, the original measurement was wrongly interpreted and once correct it looked much more like a proper back bodice shoulder.
The amusing thing was telling my mother, and later, my best friend. Their reactions were both rather bristly and defensive on my behalf. The word patronising may have been muttered.
Laughingly, I reminded them that, hey, come on, he’s never once patronised me in his life and, being an engineer, had been so excited to see me doing something so engineery when it came to sewing, which he knows I love so much. And he could not only share in it, but, oh how exciting! he might even be able to help me with this sewing I adore!
It’s an engineer thang. An often quite childlike delight and enthusiasm in engineery-things. Of course, mum and my friend immediately got it – mum’s family’s positively bristling with engineery types, and my best friend herself has an engineering degree. Their Feministic Principals were soothed.
Next I did a skirt block. It was obviously close enough to a good fit to be worth starting with ‘fashion’ fabric. Like with the bodice, years of experience of working with patterns meant that I could see what was likely to work and what wasn’t. A big head start, I suspect, in learning pattern drafting.
So I cut it out in a purple polkadot, ultimately aiming for a purple version of this:
Mouthwateringly awesome huh? I’m dying to go swishing round Darwin in that lovely floofy hemline!
But … my weight changed and when I had time to finally sew up the polkadot fabric 6 weeks later it didn’t fit. At all. So unhappy! So frustrated! I want a pretty purple polkadot floofy-hemmed skirt!
On the bright side it was obvious that without that weight change the skirt block would have worked beautifully. Wow. A basic skirt block is definitely something with a very high return for energy in.
My drafting enthusiasm is now in a sad and sorry heap. Stupid weight changes! It’s too too depressing to have put all that effort into learning to draft the basic blocks, only to have them rendered unusable within a couple of months. And frustratingly my weight is still changing. It’s actually health thang. The PTSD affects my weight like crazy, and most of it’s not even really within my control. I think it’s made worse because my weight changes very evenly over my body, including across my shoulders and hips, which are the two points that are most important in fitting.
My mother observed a few weeks ago that all my adult life my weight’s fluctuated. DUH! She’s right!
Perhaps I need to embrace this, making things that are either a) stretchy b) easily adjustable (like wrap-around things) or c) have 10 different wardrobes I can switch between.
Adapting to fluctuating weight – brainstorming
- I’m sewing a swirl dress, which is basically a very cool vintage-based back-wrap dress. (Only the hem to go now!) It’s got a good couple of inches adjustment inheret in it. It would make a great top with a little peplum too.
- I could expand on the swirl dress concept.
- I’m not a great fan of knit, (it’s hot) and I find it hard to get hold of good knits in natural fibres anyway.
- Stretch-sateen cotton trousers – these seem to fit well through a range of sizes. Stretch-sateen is a lot easier to find these days than it used to be, so it may be a realistic fabric to build a wardrobe on.
- Would stretch-sateen cotton also work over a range of skirt sizes?
And if so where can I find it with purple polkadots?!
- I’ve just cut out some wrap-around trousers in a light linen-cotton. I hope I like them.
- Aa number of other trousers styles are adjustable on a day to day level, I could investigate those.
- I hate wrap skirts, but there are other options like using an opening as part of a pleat.
- I am not a fan of elastic but it may be ok if used judiciously (how???) in waistbands?
- Making clothes so the girth is easily adjusted: eg attaching skirt front to bodice front, skirt back to bodice back, then sewing the sides up in one seam which is easier to adjust.
- Floofy loose dresses are perfect for the climate I live in and for accommodating any weight changes. And fun to sew and wear :-)
- I could try belting things, though it gets hot round my waist, but I’d probably get used to it.
As for where that leaves me with the pattern drafting, I really need to think about it more.