This is a common complaint I hear in class and from students who are sewing. Why can’t a pattern fit straight out of the envelope? I mean when I was a kid I could sew it right out of the envelope, but now that I’m older, I’ve gained weight and well, I guess I’m just too fat, cause I can’t seem to make the pattern fit.
Well, the truth is that a pattern is simply a place to start. Yeah – I know. This isn’t a satisfactory answer, but let’s look at this from another point of view.
When I get a client – the first thing I do is draw up what the client has described to me. This gives the client time to figure all this out and what this is going to look like on her. Now, if you go through any pattern book, you aren’t gerna see this pattern anyplace. For one thing, there are a few problems that have to be solved with this dress, that might not be obvious upfront – like where’s the back zip?…how do you get into the dress?
The truth is that I have to draft this from scratch. There isn’t a pattern out there, so that’s how I started this dress – with a muslin.
This is how most clothes by designers are constructed. THERE ARE NO PATTERNS OUT THERE!
So let’s take a look at the home sewist and say they want to do a dress pattern that might be great for an Apple or Rectangle type figure, and you start looking out there, and there’s nothing there. Basically what you would be looking for is something that had minimal waist or if anything it would be a little higher waist, but not too high (not Empire waist); something that had some tailoring to it; that means preferably a ponte or stable knit; something that did NOT have any gathers; something that skimmed the body at the waist and fell straight from the tummy and chest; and finally something that had good strong set-in shoulders with set-in sleeves. Looking out there, there’s no pattern that fits that criteria.
So what am I left to do to find a dress that works for the Apples and Rectangles?…start drafting one and then show how I converted it to a workable pattern for Apples and Rectangles – not the best solution but the only one out there.
But suddenly….ta-da….BurdaStyle comes out with the perfect dress – look at those side darts, that raised waist, tailored skirt, those flouncy cuffs aren’t real nice, but oh well, and the classic neckline – well, dang…after looking at this jewel, I may not have to draft a pattern after all.
Ssssssssssssssh – don’t tell anyone, but those patterns in envelopes are really short-cuts. This means you don’t have to draft-from-scratch a pattern. All you have to do is buy the pattern and get the one closest to your size and then make a few changes instead of having to draft from scratch your pattern!!! This is soooooooooooo much easier and so much more time-efficient.
Years and decades and centuries ago, sewists had to draft their own patterns. I remember because when I was a kid, I didn’t know any better and drafted all my Barbie’s dresses and outfits. That’s how I learned to sew – by drafting all her outfits and let me tell you – it was a real pain.
So please don’t begrudge the pattern in the envelope. Think of it as a short cut, cause the alternative is to draft your pattern from scratch, make a sloper, then draw your design from your sloper and that’s a lot of work and takes a lot more time. Using the pattern as a shortcut means that you simply have to make changes to that pattern and then (shock of shocks) you can use it over and over and over and enjoy it over and over and over…..
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