Monday, 13 July 2009

Pattern-cutting Part 3 - Drafting a skirt block.

I guess I should start by explaining that a block is a very basic pattern, from which you trace your own more exciting patterns. I am going to draft a skirt block for my 2 year old, and then trace off a gored skirt from it. There are only 4 measurements to be taken for this - I am using the standard measurement charts from Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear, but if you want a perfectly fitting garment for your child, then you will need to measure said child!

You will need:

  • squared dressmaking paper - I should imagine you can do it without this, but it would be very difficult and require much use of a set square [shudder].
  • A sharp pencil, more like a 3H than a 3B.
  • A longish ruler.
  • A calculator - again, you can do this without, but it's easier with.
  • A rubber/eraser
  • tracing paper
  • The following measurements:
  1. waist,
  2. hip,
  3. waist to hip, and
  4. waist to required skirt length.

First step: taking the measurements.

Ensure wriggly child is only wearing whatever she will be wearing the skirt over - whether it's pants or a nappy. Get wriggly child to stand still (I find that CBeebies is marvellous for helping out with this!) Measure her around her waist - this can be hard to find on small children, but if you look at where most skirts come up to on her, this will help you to find the right place. And it isn't the end of the world if you don't get it quite right because the chest, waist and hip measurements are pretty similar on small children.

Then measure her around the fullest part of her hip/bottom. You then measure the vertical distance between the waist measurement and hip measurement , and finally the waist to skirt length - I have used a favourite ready-to-wear skirt to take this measurement.

If you want to use standard measurements, then this link: is not a bad place to start. Remember though that while these measurements are cut for nappies up to age 2, they are not cut for cloth nappies.

We can now start to draft our skirt block.

Mark point 0 on your squared paper. This is going to be the centre waist of your skirt, so do not put it at the furthest left edge of the paper because you will need to go still further left when you square up to the edge of the skirt. You'll see what I mean when we reach that point! Two or three centimetres in from the edge should be fine. Please note: the drawings that follow were prepared on Paint and are not to scale!!!!!! They are just to give you an idea of what you should be doing.

Then draw a line across the bottom of the page ("square across"). Mark the length of your skirt on this line as point 1. Then mark the ((waist to hip) +1 cm), as point 2. Draw perpendicular lines up from 0, 1 and 2 ("square up").

On the line you squared up from 2, you need to mark off point 3, which is 1/4 of the hip measurement, plus 1.5cm for ease. You then square left to 4 and right to 5. Join the points horizontally.

Next you need to mark point 6, which is on the 0-4 line, at (1/4 waist measurement) + 0.5cm.
Point 7 comes next. This is where we do the waist shaping. You don't quite square across to 7 from 6, it's more of a slight diagonal line, 1 cm above 6. The picture makes it more clear.

We now mark point 8, which is 2cm up from point 5. If you like more flare to your skirt, then you can hack into the working pattern later.


Finally, you join the dots. This calls for a degree of artistry that I cannot reproduce on Paint! Essentially, the lines will be straight from 8 to 3, straightish from 6 to 3, and very curved from 6 to 7, and 1 to 7. To put it at its simplest: you want it to look like the front half of a skirt!

And that's the skirt block done. Next post will be how to turn it into a pattern.

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