Sunday, 5 July 2009

Pattern-cutting Part 1 - Drafting the block. And it really is easier with a calculator

I've been setting up a home business making cloth nappies, hats and clothing for children. Although I can sell clothes made from Farbenmix, I want a better range of basics, which means I need to draft my own patterns. So.... this is where I start.

I want to make Laura a crew-neck close-fitting t-shirt with puff sleeves, and I find that I don't have a pattern for one. (How can this be? marvels my DH, eyeing the pile of patterns and magazines in the den).

I've faffed about trying to put together three Ottobre patterns to get the one I want, and was only moderately successful - it took some remedial hand-sewing at the shoulders and even the addition of some poppers to make the t-shirt wearable. A proper seamstress would shudder to see it so please, proper seamstresses, don't look at the picture on the left!
So, now I'm going to have another try, using my new copy of Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear. It's been my bedtime reading for a few weeks (which is not probably something to put in a first post, but it's best you know the kind of person you're dealing with here...) Now I'm going to see if I can put it into practice.

Winifred tells me that a calculator is a necessity to take the tricky calculations out of the proceedings. Now that's a bit scary hearing for someone with only CSE 1 in maths. But once I've sat down with the ruler (a bit bendy but it'll do for now), pencils, squared paper, pencil sharpener, and make a start, it all starts to fall into place and the calculator is definitely a necessity. After a false start, I realise that it's easier to do the calculations before marking the dots on the paper, rather than doing the maths, making the mark, doing the maths, you get the idea.

Once I've got that taped, I do the close-fitting t-shirt and realise that it's probably going to be slightly too close-fitting for comfort since I'm not going to be using super-stretchy jersey fabric. So I do the basic one next. I'm using the standard measurements for size 92 (age 2) rather than doing Laura's actual measurements. Firstly because it's hard enough getting the child to pose for a picture, never mind taking 7 or so measurements, secondly because size 92 is a fairly good fit for her and I doubt if I could do much better - certainly not on a first attempt, and thirdly because my aim is eventually to sell these t-shirts and I'd rather only cut one pattern block for size 92.

The final pattern blocks look OK. I would have liked more help from Winifred on drawing the necklines and armholes, given that these are where I tend to go wrong when I'm amending commercial patterns, but we'll just have to see.

Tomorrow I'll try to turn the sleeve block into a puff sleeve pattern. Fortunately, Winifred has step by step instructions for that too.

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