Monday, July 19, 2010

A Series on Drafting


Well, it's been a while since the last sighting of cardboard on this blog, hasn't it? We've been outside so much these warm summer days that my glue gun is in temporary retirement, till maybe winter. My apologies to those of you who visit with hopes of scoring crafts to do with your kids and instead find nothing but sewing, sewing, sewing and whining about sewing. I'm afraid it's going to get
worse:









COMING THIS SUMMER:









Drafting Better
I am ridiculously excited to be finally doing a series on drafting here on the blog! I've always wanted to share this, but hadn't felt comfortable also sharing its inexactness. I was lucky enough to be forced to learn this in Homec. It was a good, if painful, start. However, most of my real learning was from mum as a teenager and, later in my adult life, from Auntie Laura. Both have drafted from scratch for years (learnt, in turn, from grandma, who was a tailor), and those years of experience have given them such skill in free-hand drafting that they do it "by feel". I am less of a "by feel" person with drafting - I blame my Science training - I've always felt I needed more precise, objective methods of measuring and drawing. I mean, where mum/Auntie L. would effortlessly sketch a perfect armscye freehand, I would whimper, "Can I use compasses? Protractor?" which was always met with a mixture of scorn and pity. Incidentally, we did have french curves in the house, but I wasn't even capable of using those.

Also, while I did a lot of drafting as a teenager and all through my early twenties, I took a decade's break from it while I was in the workforce. By the time I'd retired from my job (hurrah!) to have my babies and was ready to resume sewing, I could hardly remember all the little tips and tricks that I'd learnt as a younger person. Yes, I had access to books but books can only give one the very basics and none of the practical three-dimensional experience (let alone tricks) that make all the difference in doing it really well. It was frustrating to actually know how to do it and remember that I was once good-ish at it, and yet, 10+ years later, produce hideous, hideous drafts time after time. Those were dark days. Very dark days.

So I waited till I could spend some time with mum and Auntie L. in Singapore to refresh my memory and learn a lot of new old stuff. Then I drafted slopers for everyone who was unfortunate enough to be within grabbing distance - and made a lot of patterns from my own sloper and sewed them up. And started to document the process. Happily, with each experimental draft, especially the awful ones, the fog cleared a little more. It wasn't so much getting the answers - it was elucidating the right questions to ask. "What am I doing wrong?" became the most valuable pathway to getting a better fit. Re-exploring old territory with a new map was ridiculously exciting.

But what's even more ridiculously exciting is that I am teaming up with my very oldest friend Jen from My Measuring Tape to do this series! She is a TAILOR. We went to school together, studied under the same homec curriculum, sewed all through our teenage/adult years, and swore to be each other's maids of honor at our weddings. Someday, when our kids are old enough to be left behind, we are going to fly off to Japan/the world and fabric-shop by ourselves, like the repressed maniacs that we are. She runs a sewing business, in which she tailors clothes for people (not to mention herself, the husband, the daughter.......) And when I say clothes, here's what I mean:








I cannot count the number of times I've gone to her for advice - sewing and other kinds. Or the late-night emails (late night for me, early morning for her) we've exchanged about life, daughters and drafting issues -how to draft for unusually-shaped bodies, how to shape darts, where and when to add ease. There is no other sewing peer in my generation that I hold in higher esteem than her. I am relieved, proud, excited (said that already) to have her do this series with me. You are in good hands with her!

So here's the plan: This will not be one of those beautifully-photographed fortnights of inspirational features of things you can whip up with fabric from your stash. Hey, it might not even involve fabric! It could be a little technical for those of you less familiar with drafting slopers and patterns. But so many people have written to ask me about this topic that I thought I might finally do it! We're going to spread it out over about two months to give everyone time to digest everything (and us time to take the hundreds of photos). Here's what we're thinking of:
  • An overview of drafting (as we learnt it and now do it)
  • How to draft an full-body sloper for a child, including the sleeve block
  • How to use the sloper with commercial patterns to (ideally) make those patterns fit your child better
  • How to use the sloper to make your own patterns
  • How to draft different kinds of sleeves
  • How to draft different kinds of necklines
and a little fun feature at the end on 25 (and counting!) different pockets, including patch, welt, zippered welt, inseam and inset/cut-in pockets.

Ah, I hear you asking already: Why not slopers for adults? Let's just say that we'll try kids' slopers first, and see how all that goes down for everyone, before diving into darts and pleats and tucks and princess seams.


So if you've ever wanted to try making your own patterns, or have heard about slopers, follow along with us! We don't promise to take the place of a proper dressmakers' class - we're just sharing what we do, and we hope you enjoy it. Are you as ridiculously excited as we are? Grab our button for your blog, spread the word and come visit us this summer!








29 comments:

  1. As you can imagine I'm excited you are going to do this series.... I'll do my best to follow along although with holidays coming up I might have to play catch up later on! I really hope it works well and we can do adults drafting as well. I'll have the best dressed kids around!

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  2. Hurray!!!!!! What a great post to have my breakfast with (even if I did drop toast onto the keyboard in my excitement). I'm grabbing that button and counting the days....

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  3. Don't you know it's dangerous to get me so excited this early in the morning! I can't wait! I have a 9 month old, for whom I look forward to doing a lot of sewing as she gets older. I have already become thoroughly disgruntled at the fit and/or wearability issues I've encountered in patterns. So thanks in advance, can't wait for the ride!

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  4. I think this might be a bit above me, but I can't wait to follow along and try to keep up! What a great idea and thanks for sharing!

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  5. Wow! this sounds like a great series and thanks for introducing me to My measuring tape. I'll be grabby a button.

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  6. So, so excited!!! Need to find child to draft for. Hoping there will be a second series on drafting for adults. Well, women really, I don't mind if there's no drafting for men series. :)

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  7. this is exciting news! I know I've asked LOTS of questions because it's so new to me. Everyone I know uses commercial patterns. So I'm going to follow along (it will just be on your blog, right?). I adore anything "from scratch" - that's how I cook - so it tickles me to think of sewing from scratch too.

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  8. How exciting. I recently started drafting some of my own patterns and it will be great to have some tricks and tips. Thanks. We are a house full of ikatbag ideas... chickens, pigs, houses, owie dolls, katie bags, cakes, gardens with dirt.... Obsess much? Ok I will say I am obsessed... I am anxiously awaiting the fairy toadstool pattern so we can add to our collection.

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  9. I am SO excited! Thank you :)

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  10. I can't wait for this!! You know, I have stopped reading literature because I spend all my reading time on your blog :-)
    I have added your button to my blog (and I am feeling very self-satisfied because I am techno-challenged).
    Hooray for Sew From Scratch!

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  11. I love this idea, but, I have no children. No neices or nephews or friends with kids either. I really want to follow along, but doesn't drafting require a lot of taking actual measurements? Can't we please start with adults? Everyone has a body of their own, after all. I know it's harder, but I'm sure we can do it with your excellent guidance. Well, I'm looking forward to this series either way and I'm so thankful to you for putting it together!

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  12. Yay, I'm so excited! What a good idea to start with a child's sloper. I'll go grab your button later on today when I don't have my wee ones pulling on my mouse arm. (I'm sure you know what I mean!)

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  13. OMGosh!!! I'm excited!! I tried reading a book about slopers and looking online but couldn't find anything that really helped me make one. Commercial patterns are boring and limited. I'd love to be able to adjust them to what I want (make my own) and fit better.

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  14. Oh Thank you! I am a very beginning sewist, and would LOVE to learn from "scratch " (so to speak) - I don't blog myself but follow lots of sewing blogs and am looking forward to this series!

    M

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  15. Yea!!! I lost all my sloper/designing books in a move and am super excited that you're going to start this series.

    Thank you!!!

    Savita

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  16. Well I for one am very excited about this. It's one aspect of sewing i've only just scratched the surface of - so it will be fun to follow along with you both. Count me in!

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  17. Yay! I'm so excited! I've been wanting to know your secrets to pattern making.

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  18. I can barely contain my excitement!!! Ever since you first posted about your sloper making experience while you were back home for your visit I've been hoping you'd teach us a bit about drafting. :)

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  19. Ok, I want to do this. Maybe I can make it a goal for August - when do you start?

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  20. I'm so excited! I can't wait to (try) and play along!!!!

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  21. I am so excited to hear this! I have Googled "drafting children's slopers" and variations ad nauseum with very little success. Thank you both for all the effort I know you will put into this project. I can't wait!

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  22. I'm so excited! You got me with "drafting"...

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  23. I just discovered your blog recently, am amazed at your talent and have been catching up on all the older posts and must say, this post really excites me! I grew up in India where we also use body measurements to draft patterns except instead of starting with a sloper initially, the process involves directly drafting patterns for certain garments out of measurements. It is faster but I do feel that knowing how to make a sloper is an invaluable educational experience in fearless pattern drafting. This series would be very useful. Thank you (and Jen) for taking the time and effort to put this up, this will be eagerly awaited!

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  24. I just discovered your blog recently, am amazed at your talent and have been catching up on all the older posts and must say, this post really excites me! I grew up in India where we also use body measurements to draft patterns except instead of starting with a sloper initially, the process involves directly drafting patterns for certain garments out of measurements. It is faster but I do feel that knowing how to make a sloper is an invaluable educational experience in fearless pattern drafting. Now I am based in the US and I still prefer drafting a pattern over buying the paper ones for my little one except I do not have much technical knowhow for it. This series would be very useful. Thank you (and Jen) for taking the time and effort to put this up, this will be eagerly awaited!

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  25. Looking forward to this info!!! Though, thankfully, I don't need it for the flowergirl dresses as we bought them instead. But of course, Heidi's doesn't fit right and I'll have to adjust it. Seeing the shoddy workmanship in the dresses we bought, I do wish I could just forget about the table runners I need to hem and the bake I need to bac,e and just sew fluffy little girl dresses instead, but will have to leave that til after the wedding...

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  26. Yay! Thank you. I'm a beginner- sewing overalls for my 11 month old daughter is where I've started. I love learning stuff. Learning about drafting patterns will surely improve my understanding of commercial patterns! Maybe my B.A. in Fine Art will help? Maybe not... I am a sadly poor measurer :( I can draw perfect free hand curves though!

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  27. I am excited! Thanks. I hope you will do one for adults (darts etc) once you are done - I have a horror of sewing for myself. I will practice on my daughters in the meantime. It will be especially good for my oldest. She is a tall and skinny 10 year old. I usually make a size 6 and cut it extra long and it still is to loose. Augh!

    I can't wait to try to make her something and make the patterns that I can't seem to find in the stores. They all seem the same. Boring.

    I know this will be a lot of work for you guys - THANK YOU THANK YOU in advance!

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  28. why is your blog so awesome?? please keep up the awesome work! :D

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