Thursday, December 27, 2012

Drafting In Threads Magazine

I hafta say: it's really hard to get back to real life after Christmas. You know, where real life = treadmilling, lap-swimming, blogging, cooking meals, grocery shopping, checking email, sorting out tech issues for pattern buyers, laundry, actually getting out of bed in the mornings .... 


Anyway, today I thought I'd log in and say hello, and share with you this magazine.

The husband got a subscription for me this year after I browsed a copy in our library and found it interesting. It has a lot of stuff in it that I like, at least in garment-sewing. Last month's issue contained an article on 10 sewing tips, of which my grandma and mother had already taught me 7 or 8 (when they'd never read an issue of this magazine, so hurrah for them). 

This month's issue (cover pictured above) has an article on drafting. For women! So I thought I'd plug it here and encourage you to go buy it if that's your thing. I know many of you have written to ask if I'd ever do a tutorial series on drafting basic blocks for women (i.e. with darts) and I haven't been bothered to bring myself to say yes. And I haven't been able to recommend many good drafting books that draft the way I think will help beginners really "get it" (the exception is this one here). By that I mean that while there are many available pattern drafting books, there aren't many block/foundation drafting books. Or at least, there aren't many foundation drafting books that comprehensively cover the drafting of the basic block from one's measurements - most of them spend a chapter on that, and 26 chapters on adapting the block for various garment patterns. All well and good, if you are already an expert at drafting your own foundation block. Many beginners, unless they are superb visualizers, could find themselves unable to even proceed beyond drafting the shoulder slope, let alone bust darts, and may never complete their foundation block, rendering the later 26 application chapters somewhat impotent. Does this scenario sound familiar - you buy a recommended drafting book with the intention of drafting a perfect-fit sloper from your measurements, you get your husband/sewing buddy/guardian angel/random stranger to take your body measurements, you get out this huge sheet of paper and rulers and french curves and whatnot, and start sketching? And, after several hours, you're stuck at Step 14 and can't tell how the wretched author got that strange wretched curved thing in the side seam in that wretched diagram that's full of so many wretched multicolored lines and you think, "the hell with the sloper, I'm skipping to Chapter 4 where they tell me how to do FBA adjustments on a commercial pattern and let that be my achievement for the decade. Blast!"?

I've been there, friends - the frustration with drafting books, I mean, not the commercial pattern bit. This is why I no longer depend on drafting books for foundation blocks. I only occasionally refer to those books for certain things, and I like looking at their chapters that show how the sloper becomes various fantastic necklines and sleeves and skirts, but for the translation of body measurements to actual lines in a block, I still ask Mum and read my homec books and figure it out on my own in my head, usually with several muslins to perfect the fit.

This magazine article might be a good starting point if you want a look at how a sloper/foundation/block is drafted. It's a nice supplement to those notorious first chapters in drafting books that might only gloss over the foundation-drafting process.

The author of this article recommended this reference book (or more modern versions thereof) and of course it's out of print, as all truly good drafting books are. I'm hoping it gets reprinted someday because the techniques sound familiar and the whole book in general looks like something I'd really enjoy reading. 

You won't be able to find this content online at the Threads website - it's only in print. If the good  drafting stuff were online, you can be sure I'd be linking to all of it on this blog so you can read it too. And no, Threads didn't pay me to say this. Huh. If only. I'm just being your friend here, sharing with you whatever random goodies I've found in life. 

And now, I must go get my Christmas cards done. Yes! I've been procrastinating again! Maybe I should change them to New Year Cards but what if I don't even finish them by then? Maybe Valentine's Day. Or Easter. Or just save them for Christmas 2013. Perfect. 


  1. Sounds like you have a book to write.

  2. Funny. I have that second book. I bought it at a garage sale. I haven't actually went through it. It is my dream that some day I'll be able to draft a pattern from measurements for any person, but for now I've found that Jalie patterns fit me pretty well and I can often adapt them to what I want--that is when I have time for sewing.

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    1. If you ever want to give it away someday, pick me! Pick me! Or sell it. Pick me!

  3. I doubt I'll be drafting my own patterns, but I will say it's nice to have you back! :) Also, you have a very thoughtful husband. Now get back to those cards! ;)

    1. Finished the cards and back to evading the blog again. And yes, three cheers for the husband!

  4. Right I'm so getting that, this has been the holy grail for me for a while, I keep playing around with commercial patterns and adjusting them to fit me and then get a new one and start all over again. Reading your blog has inspired me to want to make a basic block/sloper (never sure what the difference is) for myself and make clothes I want that fit me without having to make adjustments all the time, especially as I have a weird forward neck thing going on that needs a dowager hump adjustment! I am especially enthusiastic after I made a block for Miss M using your drafting tutorial and used it to make a Tudor Dress for school, of course it was easier on someone else but it showed me that it was possible.
    off to browse the recomended drafting books as well...

  5. P.S. I just managed to reserve "Pattern Drafting for Dressmaking" at my local library!!! I'll give it whirl and if it works I can think about buying it then

  6. In the '70s I went to college and worked in the LA garment district. I have the following books mentioned in the Threads article: Flat Pattern Methods by Hollen 1970; Dress Design Draping and Flat Pattern Making by Hillhouse-Mansfield 1948; Pattern Drafting & Grading (has several supplements bound in it)1968. Lots of good retro stuff here. Interested? Let me know.

  7. Of all the sewing magazines out there, that is the best one for garment construction. Vogue Patterns has been good lately, as well.

    check out

    the books and the programs are excellent. The drafting books are written for a person to follow through on their own, as well as in class, and have been proofed and edited over 25 years in Laurel's classes (I have taken 5 of 6 of Laurels classes). Se has the pants and skirts drafting books up for sale at this time, self published. Definitely worth it for someone who does not have your background and wants to learn.

  8. My library carries Threads too, so I read it when I am there, or check out older copies. It is a good resource. I LOVE that dress on the cover!


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