Friday, July 22, 2011

Tutorial: Drafting a Pencil Skirt, Part Four

Are you sure you want to proceed, knowing the
poor orphaned patterns you'll leave in your wake?
This is Part Four of a four-part series on drafting your own pencil skirt pattern.  (See Parts One, Two, and Three.)

Phew, the home stretch.  From here, you've got a finished pattern--the rest is just formalities.

Step Seven: Seams Require Allowances

Seam allowances!  Most commercial patterns call for five eighths of an inch (or so I am told); this is what I use, because all the books say to.  I hear that some extraordinarily confident people use half, or even a quarter of an inch; and when working with a brand new (un-muslin-ed) pattern that might need adjusting, it's smart to go for a full inch.  You decide.

Anyway, if you've cut out your pattern already, smack it down on a fresh sheet of paper and weight it (I use cans of beans and tomatoes, or sometimes spare books; we've always got some on hand since Dear Partner works in a library and can't help bringing them home).  Trace neatly around the edges and mark all dart points (you'll have to either punch holes in your original pattern or fold it back carefully to mark the inner point).  Then use a ruler to mark dots five eighths of an inch (assuming that's the seam allowance you've chosen) outside the edge of your fresh pattern.  Connect the dots, cut on the outside line, and voila, you have a finished pattern!

Step Postscript: In What Order Shall I Construct My New Garment?

Now it's time to sew that shit together.  If you have a preferred method for constructing skirts, by all means, use yours.  I usually work in this order (keep in mind that I usually use a back zipper):

  1. Cut out pieces (duh);
  2. Pin and sew darts;
  3. Sew and finish back seam and insert zipper;
  4. Sew side seams;
  5. Fit and correct at side seams if necessary (this is an important step! but make sure you don't take in more than half an inch or so near the waist--if there's a discrepancy bigger than that, go back to the pattern and take it out evenly between darts and side seams);
  6. Finish side seams;
  7. Attach waistband;
  8. Finish French vent (which is what I usually use);
  9. Hem!
It sounds so much easier than it is.

One word of advice--I don't usually muslin patterns this simple, but I always make sure to do two very important things.  The first is: measure carefully.  Measure twice, re-take your measurements if necessary, always double-check if you get the math mixed up in your head.  I know, it's math, do it anyway.  The second is: the first time you make the pattern, cut an inch seam allowance in the fashion fabric and baste your seams before you sew.  You'll catch all kinds of minor fit problems that way.

Congratulations!  Pattern drafting is difficult, and I've tried to put together a good head start.  This tutorial is simplified--there's only so much you can do in Paint--but knowing how to work a pattern block will take you far, even if you only use commercial patterns.  If you want to keep going, Pamela Stringer's Pattern Drafting for Dressmakers is hard to find but a great beginner's book. If you'd like something more scientific, but also more challenging, track down Natalie Bray's Dress Pattern Designing.  (They're both excellent texts and available at many libraries.)  Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. I just love this, only have a lck of time to make it up. It is on my todo list! I have put you forward for a lovley blog award, if you wish to accept just come and visit my blog for the details. x x x