Hi! Today I would like to talk a bit about one of the most difficult thing in dress-making – pattern construction. Everybody who sews knows that does not matter how good is your sewing machine and how good you works with it, you cannot make a nice dress if you have no pattern. The first step of the dress-making is a searching the appropriate pattern.
There are two ways: you either use ready pattern or do it yourself. Most of the hobby sewers start with first option. It’s easier and faster, however about faster I do not agree as well as about easier. But surely it requires no knowledge about the pattern construction. Everything what you need is just find one, determine your side and copy or cut it. But already in the next step you need to modify it either to fit the pattern to you figure or to model it. If ready patterns pass you immediately without any further modification you are lucky one! For many people it does not. Good if you just need to reduce a bit the waist line or add a bit to the hips or shift the center of the breast. But sometimes you would need to change the shoulder line, add more length to the front put and at the same time shorten the back, or you get some folding under arms and need to redesign something. And what if you have asymmetry of the body? Usually at this point people often start to complain about patterns and claim that some of them are bad and others are good. It’s not true, they are all good, but some of them are not good for you, because they are not meant to be exactly for you.
It is always possible to take a pattern and do some changes, that’s what I did for long time. I always took Burda patterns because they passed better than others and changed them further. After some time I knew already that I need to reduce here for 2 cm, add there 3, but be honest it always took a lot of time and it also became very boring. I started to think about making patterns myself. Just imagine you would like to have a dress and you can draw it yourself and would not need any adjustments. It is much more effective. Moreover, you are not limited anymore by the choice of the existed patterns, nothing can limit your fantasy. Isn’t it great? It gives you a key from the gate to the wonderful world of the fashion design.
But this you would need to learn. How to learn? I do it myself using books and practice a lot. Basically, we just need a basic pattern of the dress which perfectly fits and then we can start modelling. Main question which I asked myself do I really need to learn pattern construction or just can get one for the basic dress and then use it for the modelling? I tried and it works in principle but still not that nice as constructing everything yourself. Now I compare some methods for pattern construction and you will see why.
How to get a perfect basic dress?
Method 1. If you are still not convinced to construct it you can make a copy of your body using duct tape, then put seam lines, cut it. Done. Nice, simple but useless. Why? Because you cannot model it. First, each dress needs a certain freedom for motion, this method lets you to get only copy of the body shape. You still would need to add the ease and all your darts would be different. And again, what if you would like to hide some parts of your body and highlight others? Of course nothing is impossible and you can change it, just need to know how, but if you know how you also know how to draw the pattern yourself…So it’s useless.
First one so called “Mueller” This is method which was proposed by “M. Müller & Sohn” and it’s famous magazine “Atelier”. They have many of books about pattern constructions and modelling, historical patterns, fitting and so on. I found this method quite some time ago and mostly use as an advice for modelling, it’s great. Now I wanted to try the pattern construction. Obvious disadvantage of the books they are very expansive. Since I have never tried it before and I did not want to spend much money I just borrowed one of “Atelier” from 2001 containing the description of the basic dress. It’s quite detailed, elaborated and complicated. The method is based on proportions and requires some extra measurements of the body.
I’ve spent three evenings trying to draw the first pattern and at the end I even did not need to cut and sewed it to realize that it won’t pass. Ok, it was just standard construction of the basic dress and I know that the standard is not for me. I needed to introduce corrections which are described in another book. I could continue to practice but, be honest, I’ve lost a motivation. Three evenings and it’s not even custom. Drawing it really quite complicated because involves a lot of graphical measurements and some coefficients with unknown origin… I thought for hobby use it’s too difficult. To protect this method I should say I know some people who use it and happy. It’s well written and the drawing process is described step by step. Again I had only one magazine and not a complete book. I also guess these books are well-known not for nothing. But, as I said already, for me it was too much.
Method 3. After the fiasco with “Mueller” I started to look something else which lets me to build pattern and better without any further adjustments… And I’ve found a “genetics of the cut” proposed by Galia Zlachevskaya. It’s a unique method based on quite extended calculations of the body measurements. It’s more difficult to calculate, but very easy to draw…Who cares about calculations nowadays, when even a hand calculator can be programmed. The disadvantage is a problem to find a book. The author focuses on courses mostly, but there are some books available online for couple of euros. Second problem is language, it’s Russian only. If “M. Müller & Sohn” you can find also in English (original is German), here you have no chance unless you can read Russian. Since I have no problem with language I’ve bought the book!
I constructed the dress without any ease, cut, sewed and it passed… nearly. Was two minor mistakes. First, I rounded the distance between breast centers to a smaller value for simplicity, roughly it became 2 mm less from each side (yes, I forgot that it would be from each side), and exactly this value is missing. Dress is a bit tight, mm matters! Second, the dress is a bit too loose around side seam. The side deviation between waist and breast was wrong. Actually this value I could not measure because I cannot remove the arm of the dummy doll, so I had to guess it. I was wrong by a cm. The rest is ideal and without any extra adjustments. I love this method.
There is no definition of the standard figure, all features are included into the pattern construction from beginning and drawing is always the same does not matter how large is your hips and how short is your back. The only thing which was wrong for me is a depth of the arm hole. I needed it deeper than it was suggested roughly by a 3 cm. The depth is calculated according golden ratio from the length of the back. I guess it’s a problem, because my back is quite short for my body and 0.38*length of back is not enough for the arm hole.
I think I found the way to construct the patterns and it works well. Which one would you prefer is your choice.