Monday, January 30, 2012

Measure twice, cut HOW many times?

My sister and a couple of her friends commissioned me to make a jean style jacket for another friend's new baby. They wanted a size two (to grow into), and for it to have a hood so you'd see some of the very cute lining they'd chosen. No problem I said, and began by drafting a hood from Aldrich and using that as a guide to graft on the hood from Jalie 2795, which I really like.

I was not happy with the height of my draft, and added height to the Jalie hood. Fortunately I have a pretty good size two fit model at hand and he was most obliging in modelling for me and allowing me to photograph the results as I tweaked the pattern.

Here's toile #3, mostly covers his head, but still pulling up the back and not coming far enough forward.

And toile #4, finally happy with it after redrawing the back neckline to make it sit lower and further forward.

Very concerned about WHY my original draft was so short when I've always had great success drafting from Aldrich I consulted all my other drafting texts, to no avail, before going back to Aldrich and my original draft and re-checking my work (which I do as I go, meticulously). Yup, I'd mis-measured the height of my hood while drafting. Once that was corrected it looked much better. Just out of interest I toiled it.

Toile #5. Perfect. At this point I swore a bit.

That one mistake in the drafting process (still don't know HOW I did that) led to an untold amount of work later. And to add insult to injury I like the basic hood better than my grafted Jalie, so I'm going with that after All.That.Work.

Lessons learnt:
1) If a draft looks wrong, check it from the beginning till you find out why.

2) Be sure of a draft before you use it to establish a design.

3) Toiles of questionable designs are invaluable as a learning tool.

I knew the last one anyway, but I would so much rather waste time and a bit of calico working this out than the nice fabric my sister and her friends bought and still end up with a too-small hood.


  1. Hello, I found your blog through my friend Barbara ( I've been sewing all my life, but I've never done any courses. I'm very interested in the book (Aldrich) that you talk about. I've drafted a few patterns (my wedding dress, dresses for my daughter, toys, that sort of thing) but I always start with a commercial pattern as a base, since I can't even pretend to know stuff. Can you tell me, would I, as an untrained but fairly experienced sewer be able to use that book to help me draft my own patterns? It's not available at the library, so I'd really appreciate your comments. Thanks :) Bronwen

    1. Hi Bronwen, gosh it's flattering to be asked my opinion! Which would be that yes, this book would most definitely help you to draft your own patterns. The writer (Winifred Aldrich) has written texts on drafting for women, men, and children, all of which have been revised multiple times. Any edition is useful, but in general the most recent ones better reflect current trends and types of clothing/fabric to draft for. She starts with basic blocks (and size charts or illustrations of where to take your own measurements) and then shows how to manipulate those blocks into a variety of different designs. In my opinion her books are easy to follow and give good results. I mostly draft for children and have been using my twins as fit models, with great success. If you want to draft for children there are not a lot of books out there, but I really like this one. Once you can follow the principles of manipulating the blocks you can use instructions for adult clothes with children's blocks too. I love drafting from scratch but starting with commercial patterns is a great time saver and perfectly valid way of creating patterns! If you can find any drafting books in your library I'd recommend borrowing them and having a read, regardless of subject. The sizes are different, but the principles are just the same!

      That was a bit long winded, sorry! Hope it was helpful :-) Judy

  2. Hi Judy, thank-you so much for your answer! I found the women's Aldrich book at the library, so I've requested it, and will have a bit of a read, I then I will think seriously about buying a copy of the children's one for myself! If I were just sewing for myself, I would probably carry on the way I am adapting commercial patterns, but I also sell things at a craft co-op, and on felt ( and I've been thinking I'd really like to have a go at making patterns that I have really designed myself. Thanks again :) Bronwen