I’ve not posted recently as I’ve had my head stuck in a book, Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. Or, as I’ve been calling it “Metric bastarding Pattern bollocks, I’ve measured this wrong Cutting Oh look, it worked, ace! I’m a genius!
This book is somewhat of a sewist’s handbook and I wish I’d got my mitts on it sooner. If you’re thinking of getting it and know you way round a sewing machine, then this is definitely something you should look at. From the cover, it looks pretty dry and maybe a little out-dated, but it is quite easy to follow and gives great detailed advice on how to draft made-to-measure patterns. Aldrich does not mess about with flashy illustrations or other distractions, there’s no “filler” in here, it’s a clearly written instruction manual for the sewist with (at least) basic skills.
The book provides very thorough instruction on how to take measurements and apply them basic blocks (or slopers) for just about any type of women’s clothing; close and easy-fitting blocks for bodices, jackets, coats, dresses, skirts, trousers, t-shirts and even swimwear. These blocks are just that, “starting blocks”, once these are mastered, you’re able to make any number of variations. Aldrich actually walks you through loads of variations (around 20-30) to each of the blocks and shows you how to change necklines, openings, collars, gathering, sleeves…I could go on, but you get the idea.
Having all this information presented in such a clear way has taught me so much about garment construction and it really is nowhere near as intimidating as I thought it would be. It’s basically like learning a code which enables you to make whatever you want in a way that actually fits. Once you have this kind of knowledge, you can almost do away with using commercial pattern entirely. Alternatively, you can use lay the blocks to adapt commercial patterns so they fit properly.
You don’t need any special equipment but I found having a claculator, set square, French curves and dot and cross paper (from Wimbledon Sewing Centre) really helpful. Another thing which really helped was the talented PatternCutter206 on youtube. Her tutorials are fantastic, I found this one on adjusting armholes really useful.
It really is easier than it looks, it’s just a lot of maths and patience and adjusting things until they fit. Then a bit more patience, and some cursing and re-measuring and then realising you’ve put your top on back-to-front and that’s why it doesn’t fit. The sense of satisfaction when I finally did get it right was brilliant though. I’d post photos but there isn’t anything pretty about this kind of sewing. It’s basically me in a calico bodice, which I’ve scribbled indecipherable notes on – not as particularly inspiring visual.
So, instead, here’s a lovely but completely unrelated picture of Beachy Head.