Sunday, 30 March 2014

Drafting a Pattern the "Right" Way

Image Source - The Thrifty Stitcher

After my first attempt at using my basic bodice block to draft a sleeveless top (inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee), I decided to have another go at doing it.  There were so many problems with the way the top looked.  When I learnt pattern drafting, our teacher suggested that we make a toile (or muslin, depending where you're from), then mark it how we wanted the finished garment to look. I began with some medium weight calico.  I cut an exact copy of my bodice block, but I didn't add seam allowance to the armholes and neckline.

As you can see from this picture, I had to take the photos with my iPhone.  
I was home alone while I was drafting this, so there was nooone to help take 
photos.  My iPhone and mirror seemed the easiest way to document this.

I started by using pins to mark where I wanted the neckline, armholes, dart and hem.

Once I had worked out exactly where I wanted the adjustments, I took the top off and marked with with felt pen.

Here's the front and back of the toile with adjustments marked.

I was now ready to draft a paper pattern.  I started by tracing off a basic block pattern onto a fresh sheet of paper.  I then measured the difference between the edges of the toile and the marked lines, and transferred these marks to the paper pattern.  I slashed the pattern on the top edge of the original dart, and on the marked line, and swivelled the dart into the new position.  I then patched the pattern with some extra paper and masking tape.

I bought this Belleboo floral cotton fabric from Rolls and Rems in Holloway.  It was only £6.50 per metre - much more affordable than the Liberty fabric I used on my first top.

Using my new pattern I cut my fabric and sewed the top together in exactly the same way as the first blouse. Once again, I made a rouleau loop, instead of a hand sewn button loop.  I just think it looks much neater and is stronger.  Plus, I'm really good at making extra tiny rouleau loops!

I wore my finished blouse today for Mother's Day.  The sun was out and it almost felt summery.

Overall the pattern is almost exactly what I wanted.  The neckline and armholes are the right shapes, the hem looks good and the waist fits well.  I would like to make this blouse again, but I will make a couple of minor adjustments next time.  I think 1-2cm of ease down the centre front would help it sit a little bit nicer.  I would also like to slightly widen the neckline and move the shoulder seam out by 1cm.  I think this method of drafting is much easier than guessing with paper, pencil and ruler.  I would definitely do it this way again.

Just so you can compare the re-drafted top, here is a picture of the two GBSB inspired sleeveless tops together.  There isn't a huge difference, but the re-draft is definitely better.


  1. Hi, I stumbled upon your blog via a comment you left on Tilly & the Buttons. Just wanted to say what a lovely top the second version is (not that the first one isn't nice, I just think the second one is really pretty). I love the print and think the cut is really good. I'm still very much a beginner but I'm going to bookmark this post for future reference when I get my skills up a bit and am ready to start free-styling. Lots of useful information about your process.

    1. Thanks so much Lyn. I hope the post was helpful. I've done hardly any pattern drafting yet, and I've got so much to learn. I was really pleased with the top, and I think it'll get a lot of wear this summer … if the sun actually comes out in London!