Problem? Even if I draft my own patterns, I'm still fiddling endlessly with fit. So I've been thinking:Is this the best way to for home seamstress to go about either 1) tackling fit and 2) creating basic blocks for a wardrobe?
What I'm realizing is that though I find the drafting process fun, what I really want are great basic patterns I can utilize over and over and the knowledge of how to alter them for incredible variation. I came upon these articles that made me think I'm on right track.
Making Patterns vs. Altering Patterns
From "How We Make Patterns in Real Life"
At Sew-4-Fun, she reflects 10-years-later on her frustrating efforts to learn pattern drafting.
Drafting a basic fitting shell ("sloper” to home sewers) is just a whole lot of work. In real life, there’s faster ways to get there. Beginners feel as though they have to earn their stripes the hard way, that they have to put a lot of work into drafting a basic fitting shell as tho it were a rite of passage or something. It’s amazing the work they put into it and what for? They still end up with a jizillion iteration cycles. Bummer.
In real life, we don’t draft each design from zero and no, we don’t use home patterns. Nor slopers or fitting shells. We use blocks of existing patterns we’ve made with proven performance.
I felt like I was getting nowhere, even though I was learning a lot. It just didn't feel like it because it wasn't helping me to better fit my patterns. That came much later, when I went back to the fitting books. Suddenly things I didn't understand previously, made sense, because I now understood how a pattern was drafted.I'm sold. I may try my hand at pattern drafting from scratch on very simple items or as I get more sophisticated. In the meantime, my focus is on using my books (the Sew U series by Wendy Mullin, Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch) to alter patterns and use Fit for Real People to learn to fit them.
What do I do today? I buy commercial patterns and alter them, and have the utmost respect for pattern makers. :) They have years of experience that I simply don't have the time to learn.
IMHO pattern drafting is not a quick fix for fit issues. Yes it will help you in the long run but it's a long journey. Building a pattern from the ground up introduces a new set of issues you have to learn to conquer. It's like taking fifty steps back to move one step forward. In short, if all you want to do is fix your fit issues then learn how to alter an already drafted pattern. Trust me, it's far easier. :)
I have a feeling this is going to be the Summer of the Block. I mentioned that I took a class on creating a basic bodice block and in a few weeks, how to adapt that bodice to make various blouses and dresses. Then I'll take another on creating a trouser block (a bit indulgent, since i sort of have one already, but I wear soooo many pants, that I want the pro-fitting help). According to the teacher, there's these basic blocks:
Woven Bodice Block
Woven Skirt Block
Woven Trouser Block
Knit Bodice Block
Knit Skirt Bodice Block
Knit Legging Block
Without realizing it, I've been working with some blocks and I turn to them again and again. Take the Ruby Shorts pattern, which I first struggled through with Lisette of What Would Nancy Drew Wear?'s sew-along last summer:
Two Rubys, my stand-in "Trouser Block"
Knit Bodice and Skirt Block
I've also used the Sew U Homestretch dress twice, and dream of it often. With a separate bodice and skirt, I made these two iterations. Version 1 is a sleeveless full-skirted version in a lightweight knit for summer. Version 2 is in a sweatshirt knit with puff sleeves and a slim skirt for fall.
I also use the book's Crewneck pattern as the block for all my t-shirts.
How incredible would it be to have all these basic blocks and to either forgo store-bought patterns altogether (designing!) OR having these "two-dimensional dress forms" as I've heard them called, to compare against each new pattern you try, thereby saving you lots of time with fit?
So that's where I'm at: Rather than drafting from scratch, I'm speeding up to get basic blocks —through classes and existing patterns—and using them again and again.
But what about you? Do you make your own patterns? Why or why not? Or do you have "Blocks" or TNTs that serve you again and again? Do you tend to alter the existing block for the style you want or do you use it as a guide to fit another pattern? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I've got my first blouse from a bodice block nearly ready to share with you. Til then, happy sewing!