Thursday, 7 January 2010

Drafting a pattern for an A line pinafore - part 3

I bet you thought I'd forgotten about this! I'm sorry it's taken so long, and for anyone who hasn't seen parts 1 and 2, the first part dealt with taking the measurements, and the second with drafting a flat body block.

I've been simmering the final part of this tutorial for a while, just waiting until I had time to settle down in daylight with the basic body block and a pencil and draft the patterns for two pinafores. Yesterday's Snow Day proved to be the perfect time for getting them out of my head and onto some paper. I knew I was going to use lots of paper so it had to be cheap. Wallpaper would have been perfect, or even wrapping paper. I had neither! I did however have an unused pack of Tesco's Value Paper Tablecloths left over from James' birthday party. They have a slightly bumpy surface so they weren't ideal but they were all that was available! I must say that they made much better pattern paper than they did tablecloths.

First I traced the flat body block, back and front, onto ordinary tracing paper. Include the waistline when you do this - you will need it. I then traced around the back block onto the pattern paper, transferring over the waistline too.

I did the top of the pinafore first. I used an old pinafore of Laura's for this - I liked the sweep of the curve against the flat top. First I drew in the side sweep and then I squared off the top. There was no measuring involved in this - I just did a shape and size that I thought would look nice. The back and the front are going to be exactly the same so this is a fairly easy pinafore to start with.
You can see that I used a set square to square off the top. I also squared the corner where the side and the top intersect. I hand draw most lines ("eyeballing" it, I've heard it called!) but I can't freehand perfect right angles or straight lines.
Next I lower the sweep of the side (just because I think it'll look better) and bring the line out about 0.75cm past the side of the body block. I want the pinafore to be roomy but not swamping. Remember, when you do this, that every 1mm you add in width will turn into 4mm on the finished garment. So my 0.75cm becomes 3cm of ease, which is quite a lot. I may need to fiddle with this later.
For the side edges, I want the A line to start around the waist - it's going to be pretty roomy without adding yet more width between the armhole & elbow! So I go straight down to the waistline and then come out diagonally. You will probably want to know how far to come out and the answer is: as far as you think! I came out pretty far, as you can see. I do like a nice wide skirt!
I then cut it out so that I can have a quick paper fit on Laura. The verdict? Gosh it's roomy! And the skirt is very wide. However, it's easier to take out than put back in, so I'm going to leave it yet and do any alterations on the muslin.
The problem with a skirt cut wide and in one piece is that the grain lines are going to fall down the centre, and the sides will flop unattractively. Even cutting the hem in a nice arc isn't going to completely solve the problem. So I decide to hack into the dress so that it's cut in two or three pieces. Each piece will follow the grain and help the dress to fall nicely. So I get out the set square & ruler again to create a very simple faux-princess line...

Hacking into a pattern like this really is a matter of pleasing yourself. It took me a couple of goes before I got a shape that I liked. And another couple of goes to get the side front the same width from the top edge to the bottom edge. I don't have a magic formula for how to get it right and I personally think the easiest way is to freehand in your lines lightly and then tidy things up with the ruler & set square. I had to reduce the sweep of the skirt slightly to get the look I wanted.
And this is the time when you need to throw in a few grain lines so that you're not left cursing when you've cut into the pattern. I do at least 3, parallel to the centre front/back line. Make them nice and long too. And eventually, I come up with this. But I'm still not happy with it. The centre piece looks too wide, being just over twice the width of the side piece at the bottom edge. So I sellotape the bottom edges together and draw in another arc about 10cm above the hem, following the hemline.
I then cut along that line, and I have a flounce to finish the bottom of the dress. Everything looks much more in proportion now. I cut some strips for straps and the button plackets, and it's done.

Next, I do the toile. For this I use some babycord I found in a charity shop (4m for £3!). I cut it out (eyeballing the seam allowances) and tack it together. I already suspect that alterations will be required, so I try it on Laura inside out. Sure enough, it's too roomy under the arms.
I pin the excess, cut it off and use the altered muslin as a template for how much to cut from the paper pattern. Again, I err on the side of caution because, as those of us with weight issues can testify, it's easier to take in than let out.

I'm not going to bother machine sewing the toile. The fabric is so hideous I'll never put Laura in it, and I'm fairly confident I can deal with the fitting issues on the good fabric. So I have cut out the pinafore outer in a navy heavyish linen and the lining in a lightweight cotton print. I'll put them together on Saturday and let you know how they look!

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