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Alison Victoria School of Sewing: Pattern Drafting Course: Day One

July 18, 2011

(I actually took this class way back in February. I’ve very lazily only got ’round to publishing it now, but it was all written at the time! It’s the photos that took an age for me to take…)

Way back in around October 2010 I decided I wanted to learn how to draft my own patterns. I was fed up with constantly guessing how to rejig the commercial patterns I’d bought to fit me and I was getting fed up with “The Perfect Fit”. It was because of this I thought learning to make my own would 1) help me learn how to adjust my patterns properly and 2) let me make my own patterns to my own measurements that fit me perfectly. Number 2 obviously being the most important reason… Also, because they needed to save money, my employers were offering people up to two weeks of unpaid leave, on application. I applied, my boss said ok and I booked!

(so really, this course has cost me the price of the course + my wages for a week. Bummer)

There are a tonne of reasons I chose Alison Victoria (they’re not too far away from where I live, they have a good reputation and they offer a wealth of different courses, only 6 people are allowed on this course at any one time and on and on) but really, they’re the only school offering a pattern drafting course that I could find.

The day started off at 10am with an introduction to what we’d be going in the course. We started off by tying a piece of twill tape around our waist and measuring. Hip and hip-to-waist measurements followed. From this, and the “Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear” book, we were able to draft our own blocks for a simple, straight skirt.

From the basic block we copied onto tracing paper and made a muslin from some calico (dot and cross paper, tracing paper and calico were all provided by the Alison Victoria School of Sewing). It fitted perfectly first time. I couldn’t believe it! I know, I know, the point of the course is to make patterns that will fit *me*, but I was still surprised that it did. Silly, isn’t it?

After making muslins of our straight skirts, seeing that they fitted (or making any adjustments) we then traced the fitting pattern onto cardboard, making all the necessary markings and remembering to write on all the pattern markings that are taken for granted. Alison also showed us how to make a facing (Basically the first two inch depth of your skirt, with the darts removed). Notches are added too – a single Λ for the front pieces and ΛΛ for back pieces. It’s  almost silly to say it, but these are things I never noticed before! And making all the markings yourself is, well, I found it a bit weird – like I was a professional pattern maker! Like I say, it all sounds rather silly!

After lunch, we traced our pattern pieces from our master (now on cardboard) and cut them out to make a six gored skirt. Tabatha covered most of this in a previous post so I’m not going to rehash it all now. You can read that post here if you want:

After tracing out our 6 gore skirt, we then traced that again and added a flare to the bottom. It’s funny to see the processes that go into making up a commercial pattern and it’s definitely a bit of an eyeopener!

These pictures show my pattern pieces for my flared skirt. I’m sorry I only have pictures of the finished pieces and not the work in progress but if you combine Tabatha’s wonderful instructions and the instructions below, you should end up with some similar looking pieces to these:

To create a flare in the bottom of each gore follow the steps shown below.

1. Choose where on your skirt you want your flare to start.. I chose mid-thigh for mine, about 25cm from the hem. On each of the four pattern pieces mark a horizontal like parallel to the hem at 25cm up (or where you want the flare to start on your skirt).

2. On the centre front and centre back pieces (the pieces that will be cut on the fo;d) measure the width at the hem and divide into three. Draw a line up to the same point on the horizontal line you drew in step 1.

3. On the skirt front side and skirt back side piece divide the width into four (this width is much larger than that for those on the fold). Draw up to the corresponding point on the line you drew in 1.

4. Cut along each of the lines you drew in 2 and 3, stopping at the horizontal line from 1.

5. For those pieces cut on the fold, leave the line on the fold intact. Gently spread the pieces apart, making sure there is an equal distance between each, as shown. Stick these down, when in place, onto some tracing paper. Neaten off the curve at the hem and any edges as shown.

6. For those skirt side front and skirt side back pieces, make sure the middle slash is spread equally to the left and the right maintaining the same distance in the gap as used in 5 above. Stick these down, when in place, onto some tracing paper. Neaten off the curve at the hem and any edges as shown. See below for diagram.

Retrace and use as you would any other skirt pattern! Remember, these pieces do not have a seam allowance. Repeat THEY DO NOT HAVE A SEAM ALLOWANCE!

Bear that in mind when you’re making these up in your fabric! More than one person in the group had a little swearing fit when they realised they had cut all their calico without their seam allowance.

Following on from the flared skirt pattern we then were set a challenge. Design and sew an asymmetrical skirt. Now, I like simple things, so I went with a nice, curved, asymmetrical feature. A lot (well, all) fo the other girls in the class went for gathers, flares, twists, you name it. That’s just not my style.

So, we designed, we traced our skirt blocks (and because it’s an asymmetrical skirt the front and back must be traced whole)and proceeded to cut, slash, spread and do whatever we needed to do to them until it was time to go home. Tomorrow, we’ll be making them up and making a bodice block. Until then, au revoir

Julia x

  1. jepkemboi_mary @ permalink
    October 27, 2011 10:46 am

    thanks for your instuction on how to add flare on 6gore skirt i used to add 2.5inch to each panel and some time i don’t get good result on my skirt .


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