When one drafts their own patterns they also need to develop skill in other areas of the process such as layout, cutting and marking. At first it’s uncharted territory but with careful planning the entire process can be developed to suit your needs and guarantee good results.
Before buying fabric, I complete all fittings and needed alternations to the pattern. Then on the floor I measure off the width of the fabric when folded by laying a tape measure across the floor. I begin to lay out the pattern pieces for the kind of fabric used considering any special needs such as pattern direction or nap. When all the pieces are laid out I use another tape measure to measure the length of the layout. This gives me an idea of how much yardage I may need.
For cutting I wait until I’ve actually bought the fashion fabric. Then I cut a scrap and try out the cutting shears and rotary cutter. I also examine the weight and the texture and try different marking methods.
The poly fabric for the Secretary Blouse is proving very easy to work with. It pinned well and was easy to cut using the rotary blade.
1. At the French Fashion Academy we were taught to lay the pattern on the right side of the fabric. I’ve no idea why we never used the wrong side of the fabric but I do find that I get a better result for the marking when using the dressmakers tracing paper.
Seams and notches are not added to the paper pattern. Instead the seams are marked 1/2″ or more (depends on the fabric and whether or not it shreds) out from the pattern using a clear plastic ruler and tailor’s chalk.
Instead of notches markings on the pattern indicate matchpoints such as the dots I use for the front and back armhole and on the sleeve to indicate easing and the part of the armscye the sleeve is eased into. When marking I simply make a small “x” at that spot using the tracing wheel and dressmaker’s tracing paper. Other times I might mark the spot with a small, loose hand stitch using basting thread.
Whenever possible, I use a rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat. The results are much better than using the cutting shears.
2. The Dressmaker’s Tracing Paper is folded in half with the shiny side up and placed between the layers of the fabric. Marking in this way from the right side ensures that the tracings are done at the same time.
3. This is how the Dressmaker’s Tracing Paper marks look from the wrong side. The beautiful part of this kind of tracing paper is that the markings vanish once the seams are steam pressed open.
4. It’s a good idea to use different colors of cotton basting thread to differentiate stitching lines and grain lines. Here I’ve selected orange thread for the crosswise and lengthwise grain lines. The basting for all stitching lines will be done in light yellow thread. This helps me to remember what threads to remove after stitching and which ones stay in until the garment is completed.
5. After cutting, marking and tracing the grain lines, I next pin and baste the dart tucks before sewing. I check out how things look by pinning each piece to the dress form. This also gives me an idea of how the fabric will behave during construction. So far I’m pleased with the way the fabric is taking to the dart tucks and the horizontal dart at the bustline.
This Secretary Blouse has 4 dart tucks in the back and one on each side of the front. They are widest at top and taper to a very narrow width at the bottom. I’ll treat how to sew such dart tucks in the next posting. The tapered dart tucks are used in lieu of a blouse yoke to give better shaping under the sheath skirt that is part of this outfit. Many vintage blouses from the 1950s have either a blouse yoke below the waistline or many vertical darts or tucks running from waist to hem to help reduce bulk under the skirts and provide a flattering fit to the blouse.