I have been sewing now for 4-5 years and over that time I have been through such a learning journey, sometimes my earlier sewing projects pop up in my Facebook memories and I can't believe how much I have learnt along the way, last week a memory confirmed how pleased I was with a little stuffed heart that I made :)
Now that I know a good variety of sewing techniques without referring to any instructions (yay to that), I decided to take my sewing to the next level, I decided to start to learn how to draft my own patterns.
Why do I want to draft my own patterns?
I decided to start to learn this amazing skill so that I can work on my own designs. I am finding that when I am making up a sewing pattern I am starting to visualise what I would do differently if I were to design it, and I'm really starting to study the patterns themselves, and of course I want to work on getting the fit just right.
I also have a long term plan to sell a small ladies wear range, but there is so much red tape and restrictions involved in selling clothing made from patterns that someone else has designed, it just isn't worth the hassle, so I'm looking to design my own!
How am I learning how to pattern draft?
I am a huge fan of learning, it keeps me motivated and positive, I use loads of different learning techniques including books, blogs and online learning sites to name a few.
The Pattern Drafter
When researching the tools required to draft patterns I was a little bit over whelmed to say the least, then I stumbled across The Pattern Drafter.
This tool has all the rulers that you need in one, and you just need to use your body measurements to draft a series of block patterns that you can then adjust to bring your own designs to life.
It is super quick and easy to create the block patterns, they are made to measure to your own body measurements, literally it took 15 minutes! That is so much quicker than my usual PDF pattern method of printing, taping, cutting, tracing ...
It was not a "cheap" tool, and I could only purchase it from Australia so I also had to pay import tax, but to me its great value as I would never have been able to draft the block patterns without it, especially as I am useless at maths.
There is also a Facebook group that you can join when you buy the drafter, Maria (who designed the tool) is always on hand to answer any queries.
Craftsy online lessons
I have used Craftsy for several years now, and there is a range of pattern drafting lessons taught by Suzy Furrer who is a great tutor.
They normally retail at about £68 per class but I managed to get them all for less than £20 each as Craftsy often email special offers and sales through, so I just wait until the next offer and then purchase the next class.
There is so much material and I have only just started to watch them, but the instructions are clear and detailed so I can't wait to get stuck in.
Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich
I only received this book yesterday (purchased from Amazon) so I haven't got much further than the introductions, but it looks super informative but maybe a little over whelming, I think that I will need to break it down into small chunks and practise the different techniques.
The book focuses on how to adapt the basic pattern blocks into different designs which is what I really need (as the pattern drafter makes it super easy to create the pattern blocks), so I'm sure that I will get lots of use out of it.
My First Self Drafted Dress
It is always suggested in any lesson or tutorial to make a toile from calico fabric, but I don't really rock this idea as I can't bear making something that will not have the chance to be worn. Living so close to an Abakhan fabric store, I find that its cheaper to buy dress fabric from the remnant baskets then if the toile works out ok it is a wearable dress, if it doesn't well hey ho s**t happens!
So this is what I did for my first self drafted dress, I had several metres of a lovely floral quilting cotton, I managed to get about 5m of it for about a tenner, bargain!
I used The Pattern Drafter to draft the basic block pattern including bust and waist darts, I then traced this off and altered the neckline so that it was more "scooped" and made the shoulders a little bit narrower, they are the only alterations that I made.
I stitched up the darts and basted the side seams together and tried it on, I was super pleased with the fit so decided that I would turn it into a wearable dress.
I unpicked the side seams so that I could add a full lining, oh how I hate sewing with slippery nylon lining, but sometimes its needed if you want to ensure that your cotton dress does not ride up sticking to your tights! (we've all been there haven't we).
I added an invisible zip to the back and made a self fabric bow belt to clench it in a little at the waist.
I LOVE how the dress turned out, the fit is so lovely, the pattern drafter includes 4cm of ease which is just right for me, I don't like anything feeling tight especially around my waist, I can bend down, reach high, arms up in the air and the dress does not tug or pull tight in any area, the perfect dress for the office.
The only change that I would make is to maybe take the neckline up a little so that its a snugger fit, I asked for some help in The Pattern Drafter Facebook group for how to adjust this next time and Maria has given me some great tips.
I thought that this was also the perfect opportunity to show off my new hand stitched satchel, how gorgeous is it! I wish I could say that I made it myself, but I didn't, I got it from a little shop when I was Glamping recently, I just adore it :)
Ok, so maybe I could have done a better job of pattern matching at the back, I will remember this next time!
The next dress that is floating around in my head is a cute Twiggy style mini A line dress with sleeves, so I'd better get cracking in learning how to adapt the block pattern into A line.