Pattern Drafting

It has been a long time since my last post – life has been super busy with a few business trips and a couple of family birthdays. However, that is not to say that I have not been busy on the sewing front. I have squeezed in the odd hour and afternoon here and there when I can. After my miserable experience with the Colette Peony I decided to go back to basics. One of the things I enjoy most in the whole process of sewing my own clothes is drafting my own patterns. Instead of fiddling endlessly with a pattern in order to get a good fit which usually entails at least two if not three muslins I wanted to increase my chances of success with drafting from a basic block which I know fits me well. It also made me realise that this is the direction I wanted to take my blog i.e. focus on pattern drafting and showing anyone who is interested in how to manipulate patterns to get the design elements they want. Now I do not profess to be an expert in any shape or fashion but perhaps my journey may inspire others to get on the bandwagon and start creating their own patterns. For one thing think of all the money you would save!

To that end I want to firstly, recommend my pattern creation bibles:

The first is Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Cutting for Womenswear – this book is quite expensive at £27.29 on Amazon but the tutor who gave me my first pattern drafting lessons told me that this was the standard text book for college fashion courses.


The book shows you how to measure yourself and then take those measurements to draft your basic blocks – there are easy fitting blocks, close fitting blocks, jacket and coat blocks as well as trouser blocks you can draft from your own measurements. I started with the basic skirt block:


From these blocks the book also shows you how to manipulate the basic block for other designs:

SkirtDeviations ShiftDress

I made 2 skirts from this block which I will blog about separately. I also drafted out the close fitting bodice block and made a muslin:

FrontBlock BackBlock

They are not quite perfect – I need to take the waist dart down about half an inch and release it slightly but other than that I was quite pleased with the first go at it. It is certainly better than the peony muslin attempt!

The other book is Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis and is a bit cheaper on Amazon at £10.00:


This book doesn’t tell you how to draft a basic block but it does show you some good ideas on how to manipulate your pattern to get the results you want. The book was written in the 80’s but still has some ideas that could be applied to today’s patterns. You can also take these ideas and use them on a commercial pattern if you wish and this is probably the basis of this book.

Margolis2 Margolis1

I have other books on pattern drafting but these are the two that I use the most and which I find most useful. I would be interested to hear if anyone else drafts their own patterns and can recommend resources or tips.

Colette Peony Part 2 – the Miserable Muslin

Well the first thing I noticed when I pulled this pattern out of the envelope was the quality of the pattern. This is a multi-size pattern which covers 10 sizes. This is supposedly a beginner pattern and trying to find the marks for your size was very difficult at times – especially with the darts. I wondered if it would have been better if Colette had offered 2 multi size patterns. The other thing is that there are no seam allowances.
As I am a typical pear shape having very narrow back and shoulders and hips that are 6” bigger than my bust I cut out a size 10 top and a size 12 bottom and then adjusted the pattern to make sure the two would match up at the waist. I also lengthened the skirt by 2.5cm. I usually have to adjust the shoulder seams as I have very narrow shoulders but was not sure where to make the change on this pattern. In retrospect I should have measured from shoulder to shoulder and compared to the pattern.


I then cut out my muslin with extra allowances for adjustments and then used my waxed paper for marking out the seam allowances, darts and notches. I came across this waxed paper when doing the Susan Khalje Couture Dress course with Craftsy – which is an excellent course and well worth the money. I could not find a source in the UK so purchased from Richard III in the States. The trouble was that the minimum order value meant I had to buy quite a lot as there was nothing else on their site I wanted and then I got stung by Customs so this must be the most expensive waxed paper in the world. On the plus side I now have a lifetime supply of waxed paper. It is excellent for muslins but I don’t think I would use it on fashion fabric.
I then thread traced round the parts and then put the muslin together. My intention is to use the muslin as my pattern when I get to the fabric itself.


This is my first fit of my muslin – ignore the hemline I think Steve took the photo from a peculiar angle because it is quite straight.


The first thing I noticed was the waist darts were not in the right place.


The marks on the muslin are my bust points – I think my bra must be a bit lopsided! The waist darts need to point towards the bust point which they certainly do not here! Plus it felt a bit tight across the bust – I think just adding to the side seam a bit will help here.
The neckline is hopeless as it is falling off my shoulders and my bra straps are showing – do you know that looking at these photos I think I have a lopsided stance – my left shoulder is definitely higher than my right.


I need to take the shoulder up and in and to lengthen the shoulder seam a bit. Measuring from my shoulder knob to the end of my bra strap is 6cms while the shoulder seam on the pattern is 3 cms. I think I might lose some of the design element of the bateau neck but I can live with that.

The back is terrible!


I am definitely lop sided!!!!
I think on this I will try pulling in from the centre back seam to start with.

As you can see there are some major issues with fitting this pattern for me. It goes to prove that a muslin is certainly worth doing. Oh well back to the drawing board.

One of the other things I decided after doing this muslin is that my fabric is wrong for this design. The skirt is quite full and I think my fabric choice would suit a straighter skirt than this design. I have picked out a black floral for this instead and if I am happy with the finished product then I will do another one with a straight skirt in my original fabric. After all this trouble I am definitely going to get at least 2 dresses out of this pattern. I did think about abandoning it all together but I like a challenge!

By the way does anyone know how to do a muslin without having to put a zip in? I wondered in retrospect if it was better to sew up the back and leave the side open?

Colette Peony Part 1

I was in two minds about my next project. Part of me wanted to establish a really good skirt pattern. As my weight has significantly increased over the last 12 months my original sloper patterns no longer fit. Now you could say let’s get on and lose the weight and I am trying (and failing miserably) but I have some really nice dress lengths in my stash and fancied putting together a dress pattern that I could then start to adapt and change.

I considered several ideas from patterns in my stash:



The first is a vintage pattern – Vogue 9781 and the second a retro Butterick pattern 5707 although this image did put me off the Butterick pattern as it just looks a bit frumpy:


I do also like the Colette Peony and it does seem to be a bit of a favourite with the sewing bloggers.


I liked the clean lines of the dresses I have seen on other blogs. Handmade Jane  who surely deserves the title of ‘Peony Queen’ has made 4 of these and they all look different:

HandmadebyJane1 HandmadebyJaneHandmadebyJane4 HandmadeJane2

I think this will make a great, staple dress for the office. This is the fabric I have selected for this dress. I think it will look good with a black cummerbund which I intend to make from black leatherette.


Vogue 3015 Part 3

Well this is my second go with this pattern and it has got better! I tried the long sleeve version this time. I have never put cuffs on a sleeve before so that was a good lesson to learn. I am pleased with the end result although the cuffs are supposed to be double cuffs but since I forgot to measure the arm length before cutting (which was stupid as I KNOW I have longer than average arms) the sleeve was a bit short. Thankfully by leaving the cuffs  as they are the sleeve was the right length.

Capture2 Capture

I also forgot to lengthen the bodice a bit but I applied bias binding to the hem to keep the hem as short as possible. I self covered some buttons in the fabric scraps which I was really pleased with.

Overall I like the blouse although in retrospect I wish I had thought a bit more about how I cut it out as I would have liked the collar to have been in the pink/black check fabric. As you can see from my previous post the material had quite a wide band which was consumed by the facing as the facing on this blouse was part of the front as opposed to a separate piece. I could have cut the facing off, added a seam allowance and then could have got more of the pink/black check into the blouse. As it is the facing is all pink/black check which did show through the blouse until I put some interlining in.

Still all sewing is feedback so I learnt a lot on this project. I am going to have another go at this in a couple of months – I want to make a cotton, sleeveless version – this time I want to pin back the lapels. Still here is a reminder to lengthen the body first before I take hold of the scissors!!

Homage to Edson Raupp

This is my self-drafted, put together bag which is a homage to Edson Raupp. The bag is made from a man’s jacket – the front of the bag is from the 2 front jacket panels and the flap is made from the sleeve. You can see more of Edson Raupp’s bag on the Suitcase Website


On the back I took the front lapels and stitched them together and added a fake handkerchief from the material I used for the lining and straps. I wanted to give the bag a more feminine look although Edson Raupp bags are unisex.

012009Edson Raupp is an ingenious designer who saw the potential in recycling men’s suits, bought from charity shops in London, and turning them into hardwearing and very useable unisex bags. I first came across his bags on a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum shop in London. I was intrigued with the design and decided to have a go at making one for myself. First, take one man’s no longer required jacket! I found mine in a Marks and Spencer Outlet. They have a great clearance sale and this jacket – brand new – was £9! This is cheaper than the used jackets found in charity shops. I do have a confession to make as Steve bought the jacket for his son. Unfortunately the sleeves were too long for him so I volunteered to shorten them until I remembered Edson Raup! As a sidenote I did get permission from Steve to use the jacket as a bag before I set to it with my seam ripper!


I wasn’t sure how this bag was going to work out so didn’t really have a plan so just got to it with my seam ripper and pulled the thing apart. Actually it was quite interesting to see how the jacket was put together. Once I pulled it apart I just cut out the panels I wanted and made up a simple messenger bag.


I am really pleased with it although if I were to make another one I would do things a little bit differently. I now have a plan and a method for making the bag.

I am going to enter this bag into the Pattern Review Handbag Contest so please pop over there and give me your support! The latter is barefaced begging!!