Kirsty Allsop in her first Handmade Home TV series described machine embroidery as the ‘new crack cocaine for crafters’, I think I have found the equivalent for the home dressmaker.
Enter Pattern Cutting.
Bows to an applauding crowd.
Who else has thought it would be nice to be able to draft their own patterns, and has felt the glee, like me, when making successful adjustments to an existing pattern and drawing them on the actual tissue paper?
The Built by Wendy books are also a great way to extend confidence in altering a pattern basic, changing necklines, flare, sleeve variations and creating garments that work! I’ve been a long supporter and user of these books – love em, and have learnt a lot from them. To be honest, everyone picks things up as they sew and as we read others’ experiences in blogs and following tutorials. And those with non standard shapes will have learnt a lot more about fitting and the adjustments needed to create something that works for you, despite the trauma it might involve, the learning is a lot greater than people who can get away with just about what falls out of the pattern envelope.
But pattern cutting? What is it, how different is it to all that? I wasn’t sure what to expect when I enrolled on a 4 day course (link goes to next courses being offered) as my summer holiday this year. I had anticipated it might involve creating my custom block, but no. Did that matter? Absolutely not! The amount I learnt and the creative doors it has unlocked for me has been huge. In fact I’d say the potential I see is even greater than having my own custom block.
There was a lot we learnt in how to take a basic bodice and change it (including sleeves). We learnt about dart manipulation. Moving darts around for creative effect, how it works, why it works. Oh, when the lightbulb came on for why it is a useful exercise and how you would use it I changed. Folks, I became an albeit minor league designer.
I’d come to the course prepared with some images of bodices with nice yokes and tie necks. Look, aren’t they pretty?
People, I can do that already. Remember this yoke I drafted on the Colette violet blouse, & how I moved the buttons to the back? Folks, I started to get serious, challenge time. Think about something I’ve never tried before….
Taking a basic block that starts looking like this
Get crazy! Go wild!
And all the time we were tutored through by Jo Barnfield, who has many many years of industry experience (designing, making, pattern cutting), blogs at House of Jo (with some cool tutorials) and has published two books. I looked through the Pattern Cutting Primer and it’s a really useful reference book, in a clean clear presentation style which I like. It’s clearly written with easy to understand diagrams, showing the same methods Jo was teaching us in class. Plus, it is speckled with some swoontastic photographs of existing garments to inspire. Jo was on hand to offer advice, help solve problems and also encourage students to raise their game, to extend their learning- all within a very relaxed environment- if rather hot being our summer heat wave!
After getting to grips with the slash and spread method we graduated onto the pivot method for moving a dart ( no way can a mere mortal like me explain it in the written word, this is definitely something to witness and practice yourself).
She explained as many things as we had questions – even why might we actually need facings ( my question 😉 ). Clearly I know that you need facings for certain fabrics and to add structure, but I’d never even thought that they can be ‘sweat guards’ – easier to replace when dresses/ tops become a bit dreary under the arm, protecting the precious bodice fabric. And those diamond shaped underarm gussets built into vintage dresses? Did you think like me that they were some kind of decorative design feature to perplex the sewster and define your sewing skills if actually able to insert one neatly? Or a way to create added movement in a mobile garment area? Well, think sweat guards again, and how they may have been attached by a few stitches and washed separately, when the dress/ top itself might not have touched the washer. Interesting.
Supplementing our learning we had an array of informative books to look at, including Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern cutting. This book for me filled me with inspiration, Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong but it’s hugeo expensive. I want it though!! In fact I want to study fashion design for three years & not have to go to work in an office!
Ahem, grow up Badge. Ok, so what did I do? Well I created a cowl neck kimono sleeve pattern that now needs to be toiled (or twirled :-). )
And being the innocent I am, set both myself and Jo a challenge in trying to recreate this top, found in the Hobbs website (invitation Audley top).
It’s not jersey, but silk and we are trying a draped bias cut bodice. More to come when I get my experiments sewn.
This has to be one of the best courses I’ve ever done though, and I feel so excited about what I’ve learnt and want to get cracking putting it all into practice. Next formal learning will be to create my own custom block.
I know fellow bloggers have done pattern cutting courses….
Have you ever considered using your holiday to extend your sewing skills/ knowledge? If you’ve done a course like this how have you used it? Where did it take you?
Now I have the weekend to catch up on all the things I didn’t get to in the week, emails, other blogs, the fruit & veg market, a 14 mile run (oh yes!) and as little domestics I can manage when we’ve a sunfilled weeked & I’ve been inside all week….hurrah! Happy weekend everyone.