Archive of ‘Patternmaking’ category

Lounge Set in Brushstrokes

My new lounge set came together last week. I feel like a Hundertwasser painting.

Or perhaps a tropical soldier?

But this head to toe print is only going inside the house! I wanted to photograph these a week ago but the weather has been downright gloomy and dark for days. (I’m not complaining, though! We’ve needed the rain terribly.)

I went ahead with my idea to design one based on a New Look pattern, giving me an excuse to further tweak my t-shirt pattern beyond recognition. This version at Behind the Seams first drew my attention to the New Look pattern, probably because the fabric was in a similarly swishy print. I liked how she used bands for the sleeves and an exposed facing for the neckline rather than bindings so I did the same.



I also copied the idea to make a flat hip band rather than New Look’s ruched/gathered look. It would be very easy to change to a ruched band if I were to make this again. I originally cut the band to be two inches narrower than my total hip measurement. That was a wild guess–I know nothing about negative ease guidelines–so I basted it together for a test and then took out another three inches.

The original pattern is pretty cheap but I like a challenge now and then, and this was pretty easy to draft. I’ve been playing a lot with Burda Style’s Lydia pattern over the last year and a half, and at one point came up with a dolman-sleeved top that I love and wear quite a bit. You can see here how I used the dolman top as the basis for the PJ top:

I also have a skin-tight bodice block I drafted in Illustrator way back when, but never got around to using. I finally figured out that I could simply use it as a ruler of sorts–to see where my waist, bust and other important lines are and get an idea of the ease in a pattern. (I have a paper version too.)

I really love how this turned out, and in a next (and there will be a next!) version I’ll refine the sleeve shaping. As it is, the underarm curve is just a bit too sharp and the sleeves a little narrower than I’d planned.

The pants were a very simple drawstring-waist pattern from Burda November 2009 (#131). Although they recommended silky wovens, I decided to risk it as a jersey pattern–good enough for bedtime!

The drawstrings are attached to elastic, a detail I’ve seen in other patterns (like my watercolor dress), which I love. It allows the comfort of elastic to hold things up, with the ability to tighten or loosen with the drawstrings.

Most of all I just love how this fabric feels. It’s a lovely cotton lycra that I bought specifically for PJs and has a nice weight with the bonus of a soft flannel-like texture on the wrong side. Perfect for staying cozy!

(Oh yeah, I hemmed these to my perfect inseam, but underestimated the jersey’s desire to lengthen. This seems to happen to me on every knit garment. Must plan on this more.)

Sweet dreams, all!

Digging into Patternmaking Again

About eight years ago, I dug out my dusty broken-bobbin-hole Brother machine after many years of not sewing. I sewed for much of my teens and made almost all of my clothes in college, but after that I went in tiny spurts–partly because I was able to afford nicer fashion than what I had been sewing. I’ve always loved fashion and spoiling myself with clothes when I can.

Still, I could never get rid of that sewer’s itch every time I looked at a gorgeous piece of fashion: “how did they *do* that?” And all my sub-dreams of learning fashion design would rush to the surface.


[From a current exhibit here in Austin, I loved this enormous print by contemporary Argentine artist Nicola Costantino. Credit and the fascinating history behind this photograph, a self-portrait.]

So when my husband asked me to make him a vest–and he went into elaborate detail about what this vest would be, what shape of pockets, lining, fit, type of buttons–I took it as a challenge to make a pattern from scratch. The one vest pattern I could find at Jo-Ann’s was a horrible boxy McCall’s thing straight out of the 80s so that wouldn’t do. This was before Pattern Review, sewing blogs and the onslaught of vintage sewing mania so I didn’t have much to work with.

I googled “patternmaking” and the only things that came up were an expensive (to me) patternmaking textbook and Lutterloh. I decided to enroll in some college courses in fashion design but got sidetracked once I took the illustration courses, which I loved.

Long story short, it took me a few more years before I’d find a vintage pattern and make something of D’s dream vest.


I have a few patternmaking books now, which help me with details I want to add on to an existing pattern, but I’m itching to learn more. I like theoretical knowledge and am rarely satisfied with just learning techniques. And some patternmaking books just give you a long list of things to do–rather than teach you why you’re doing them. Over a year ago, I made some slopers from Elizabeth Allemong’s European Cut and she does have some little gems of “why you are doing this” teaching. Although the slopers are very basic and have no ease–at all–I had a few lightbulbs go on while working on them. Perhaps I’ll do a review of this book in another post.

After someone recommended it, I decided to order Winifred Aldrich’s Pattern Cutting for Women’s Tailored Jackets over the weekend. This might be a bit backwards as I don’t have her introductory book, but I’m really keen on making my own jacket block, perhaps this winter, or modifying my silk jacket draft to do other things. Does anyone have this book and what can you say about its drafts?

I’ll be taking it with me as holiday reading next week. Yes, I’m a geek who reads stuff like horticulture manuals in bed. Don’t worry, I’ve got poetry going with me, too.

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