Introducing the Pattern Drafting Jeans Sew-Along!

I have been making my own Jeans and Trousers since I was about 16-ish, and I still remember the utter satisfaction- after another failed shopping trip to buy Jeans, any Jeans!- of rushing to my local Fabric Shop, buying the only Jeans Pattern available and making my first pair that very same day. They were great, I mean I’m sure they had a little wobble in the stitching here and there but even my Mum was impressed and I literally haven’t shopped for Trousers or Jeans since.

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Blessed with my Grandmothers huge hips, as well as height it has always been difficult to shop for clothing. Fat or thin I have always struggled however; I was to receive a rescue of sorts that same year I was 16 when I toddled off to Art School to study Fashion and Textiles… dear reader, I was introduced to the mystical art of Pattern Cutting.

I honestly haven’t looked back.

Not only did it make sense in a way that made me happy, I was good at it! Have you ever had this happen? The simple joy of embracing a new skill and devouring all that you can? Heaven! I soon had students from the years above me asking for help and I think this was my first introduction to sharing ideas and skills, which I also loved. At the time I was obviously going to become a leading light in the Fashion World *ahem* and despite this not happening- mainly because I realized I wanted to work on film and a few years later toddled off to a different Art School to study Costume- I still adore Pattern Cutting and I want to start sharing this more here, especially after my enormously successful Pattern Month a few years ago.

Simply because I need some new Jeans myself I thought I’d start with Drafting a Jeans Pattern, Toiling and making the resultant Pattern up with tips on how to do so, fit and I am sure all sorts of further nonsense!

Sound good? Awesome!

I’m hoping to do this over the next month or so, starting today with Drafting the Trouser Block. If this is entirely new to you, you may want to check out my Pattern Month, which is a good introduction to all of this.

First off, I shall be using Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting book, which is my bible! and, whilst I shall share some of the Pattern pages here, I do strongly suggest your buying a copy if this is a subject you are interested in. You can read more about why I think everyone should own this book here. After the last Pattern Month, I was asked frequently if I would email or post more pages from the book, but I will not due to copy right. Please buy the book, it’s brilliant!

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You’ll need a Pattern Master, because these are the best tools when Pattern Drafting, along with a selection of Pens and Pencils as well as a Calculator. I use coloured Felt Tip Pens because if I make a wrong line, or want to highlight a line I can do so. I also find them nice to draft with because pencils can be a bit messy and I tire quickly of sharpening them!

There’s lots of information on how to use the above pages here, I would strongly advise reading it before joining in unless you are familiar with the Winifred Books. Firstly it is important to take accurate measurements as the Basic Blocks are to be made up to your measurements. It is imperative that accurate measurements be taken so that the Block fit as accurately as possible, with minimal changes needing to be made in the later stages of creating your Working Pattern.

For the Basic Trouser Block you need to take Waist and Hip measurements, then check which size these most closely resemble in the Standard Body Measurements Chart here. The measurements listed on the Basic Trouser Block can then be found on the Standard Body Measurements Chart. I have found that taking measurements from the Chart greatly increases the accuracy of the pattern and saves time! We will then draft the Pattern and make a Toile to make the Working Pattern and in future posts I’ll cover things like adapting the Basic Block to Fit, altering the Length and adding Style Lines.

It is not easy to measure oneself however; if no partner can be found use a mirror to ensure the tape measure is placed as correctly as possible. I have a few hints and tips on measuring oneself accurately here.

Well, as I have drafted my Basic Block already- I make this Pattern up quite a lot!- I shall leave you to Draft yours, and of course check out Jeans and Trousers you like on the internet to get an idea of what sort of a Pattern you’d like to make… retro… modern… button fly?… high waisted?… aah the choice is endless! Finally, this process won’t be too difficult I promise! If you are an Adventurous Beginner I am sure you will be able to follow along, and anyone can feel free to comment or ask questions as they need or want to.

I’ll give you a week or so to gather supplies and get drafting, I can’t wait to see what you all make!!

Happy stitching!


Pattern Making Musings: Madalynne


Welcome one, welcome all to the last Pattern Making Musings! Boy, what a month it has been, and we are ending on a high with some great advice from Maddie of Madalynne.

Starting as something to occupy her during a holiday, Sewing turned out to be the most amazing transition for Maddie and you should hop on over to her website to have a read of how she got where she got! Starting out as a self confessed ‘Science Nerd’, she attended college yet never graduated, deciding instead to do something which I strongly advocate- get industry experience and stay there if someone offers you a job! Starting out as a Production/Technical Designer- which means tons of Pattern Making!- for Urban Outfitters she now teams Dressmaking and Pattern Making with Blogging for Urban Outfitters and… but I’ll let Maddie introduce herself properly…

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Hi, my name is Maddie Flanigan and I am the blogger behind Madalynne, the cool sewing and pattern making blog. If Steve McQueen was the ‘King of Cool,” then Madalynne is the “Queen of Cool.” My blog covers everything from how to draft a Sloper (Basic Block) to interviews with seamstresses and what projects I’m currently working on. For two and a half years, my day job was in the technical design department for a very large fashion company in Philadelphia, and about a year ago, this company took note of my personal blog and asked me to start an intranet blog that would create a cohesive voice for all their brands. Sweet, right? I consider myself one lucky lady to be able to do what I love both day and night (blog and sew), not to mention I receive a stellar discount off some really fancy clothes!

Do you have any other Blogs or Websites you would recommend?

All sewing and pattern making blogs provide a lot of useful information and each one has their own vibe. If you’re looking to strengthen your patterning and sewing skills, don’t focus on a particular blog, instead, pay attention to the post content. Any post about a garment that a blogger just made will detail the construction steps and tricks they used – that’s where you gain a lot of information.

What has been the best piece of Pattern Cutting advice you have been given?

The best pattern making advice that was been given to me was “use common sense.” At the time, I was working as an assistant technical designer and the woman I reported to, Alla, was a Russian pattern maker with over 30 years experience. I was a newbie in the industry, so I asked a lot of questions, but a woman can only handle so many, “Should I reduce the rise? Can I bring in the width from the side seams? What if I increased bottom opening?” After asking my umpteenth question, Alla turned to me and said, “Use your common sense!” So simple, but so true. Pattern making is not rocket science – a pattern’s curves and shapes must make sense and if they don’t, just put two brain cells together and make it make sense.


What is your must have item of equipment?

For this question, I’m going to have to answer with one of the simplest tools – a ruler or a measuring tape. Because I have experience in technical design, I’m a numbers kind of pattern maker / seamstress and I rely on my “specs.” When drafting, sewing, or altering a shirt, and this concept applies to other garments as well, I know that a body length spec (HPS to bottom opening) of 24” is perfect for my height and that anything longer than 29” long will look like a tunic on me. I stick to my numbers so much that I know my armhole depth by heart!

What Pattern, that you have you made, makes you the most proud?

I used to make elaborate garments that would take months to complete, but after finishing them, those clothes sat in my closet unworn because, well, where the heck am I going to wear a ball gown?! Over time, I’ve simplified the things that I make and as a result, I’m wearing more me-made clothing. Now, what makes me proud is not only that a garment is beautifully constructed, but that it’s wearable.

Which if the Independent Pattern Companies out there do you love at the moment?

Right now, my favourite pattern line is actually a book – Stylish Dress Book. It’s a Japanese sewing book that contains 15+ simple patterns. The designs are simple but also feminine and pretty. What I like most about these books is that even with a demanding full-time job, I can complete projects within weeks, not months, and that’s a great feeling.

How super cool is Madalynne? I especially love her advice about using your common sense. I am always telling my Pattern Class to use their eye, and if it looks a little odd on the Flat Pattern, it probably will make up odd. Don’t be timid- ironing out mistakes is what Toiles are for!

As ever, I would love to hear what you all have to say, comment below to join in! If you would like to read the other Pattern Making Musings the first was by Alexandra of IN-HOUSE Patterns, the second was from the lovely Sarai of Colette and last weeks was from Hannah of Sinbad & Sailor. Don’t forget to comment on Hannah interview to be in with a chance of winning a fandabbydozey Pattern from this new but oh so cool Pattern Company!

This weeks give away is all me baby! I am offering up the below bundle of goodies…

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A delicious Vintage Butterick Skirt Pattern, a stack of Dressmaking Zines including my newest Zips Zine, and one of my soon to be launched Sewing Tidy’s! Wow!! As ever, comment below to win. I’ll close the competition at midnight GMT 4th October 2013.

If you have just stumbled upon Pattern Month feel free to catch up through various posts from making the Basic BlocksToile and tips like Marking your Patterns, the Order of Sewing,  and Scaling Up Vintage Patterns! It’s great to have you with us!

Happy Patterning!

Week 2: The Toile

My dear readers, this weekend I have once again been felled by the ‘flu. This year has just been awful for ‘flu hasn’t it? I am still feeling quite poorly however; I was so sad to have missed today’s post I am propped up in bed, watching QI (always guaranteed to cheer oneself up!) and typing weakly whilst Fella makes me tea!!

I have decided that this week on Pattern Month will take a slightly different schedule to last week so I am treating you to this little snippet in preparation to the Fitting the Toile post which will be posted on Friday. This is in response to the wonderful comments on my Interview with Alexandra of IN-HOUSE Patterns. Quite a few people has requested information so I am going to link this post with my class and present lots of lovely photographs of fitting in action!

So, in preparation of Fitting the Toile you will need to make some adjustments to the Basic Block, cut the Toile out from Calico and sew it up.

The Basic Block is just that- Basic! Winifred has given you shaping however; it is the information needed and not the style so the first thing you will need to do to your basic block is cut out the Front and Back, then move that ugly ass dart to a more attractive location!

Now, we could all release our inner fashion designer and do something flashy like split the Dart into three, or move it some place fancy BUT we still haven’t tested this Basic Bodice Block out, so we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. The tried and tested way is to move the Dart to create a basic Princess Seam.

This will no doubt be familiar to many, as this is where many high street retailers put shaping. It looks nice on about everyone, is easy to construct and provides accurate shaping effectively. If you wish to place shaping any place else, it is advisable to wait until after you have made up your Toile then put all of those design elements in to your Working Pattern. What we are aiming for is a Basic Bodice Block which fits well, and will provide the starting blocks for future designs.

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Firstly, you will need to cut the Basic Block out then draw in a curved seam from the Bust Point and in to the Armhole. Remember to use your French Curves or Patternmaster to assist but it is more than acceptable to do this by eye as well.

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Next, cut along this new line all the way to the Bust Point, then cut along the left hand line of the Dart. Move the paper across so that the left hand line of the Dart lies over the right hand line as illustrated and Sellotape down. Fold any excess paper back and Sellotape as well.

There, that was your first Pattern adjustment! Wasn’t so hard was it? But wait… I’m not letting you off that easy!!

In order to sew your Toile up you will need to fold you Calico in half- Selvedge to Selvedge- line up the Grainlines, place the Back of the Basic Block on the fold as illustrated and pin both on to the Calico.

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Next you will need to draw on your Seam Allowance. I always use 1cm however; as long as you ensure the same Seam Allowance is used continuously throughout, you are free to choose whatever Seam Allowance you desire! It’s your Pattern! Of course, if you have a Patternmaster to hand you can use this to draw on you Seam Allowance. I have illustrated below an alternative as well.


Measure out your chosen Seam Allowance, and mark either side (a). Continue around the Basic Bodice Block (b), then join the dots (c). Simple, right?

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To sew your Toile up you will need to form a Dart on each side of the Basic Bodice Front, and sew the Shoulder Seams and Side Seams using your Seam Allowance.

Later this week I shall be talking about fitting your Toile, and transferring that fitting to your Basic Block in preparation of making your Working Pattern. You will need to start thinking about what Pattern you would like to design. If you are having some trouble deciding what you would like to make, I have found the best way is to find something lovely that you can’t afford! My class will be designing Tops and Shirts to keep it simple however; the skies the limit!

Well, I’m off to watch The News Room (which is excellent), drink tea and sleep! As ever I truly welcome your comments, don’t forget to hop, skip and jump over to Pattern Making Musings and leave a comment to be entered in to the hat to win an IN-HOUSE Pattern. If you are just joining us read all about Pattern Making Month here. You can also join Laura After Midnight on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Happy patterning!

Pattern Cutting Resources

Welcome back to Pattern Cutting Month!! Remember to snaffle a button for your Blog if you are following along!

Some invaluable Pattern Cutting resources are listed here. If you are to take drafting your own patterns seriously, some, if not all, of these basics should inevitably be purchased.

Obviously there are many Pattern drafting and sewing books on the market. These are a few I use regularly.

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Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich

This is a, quite frankly, staggering resource in Pattern Cutting. With all of the Basic Blocks illustrated and with full instructions on how to draft them in a standard size 12, or to your size, this book also covers adjusting the Basic Blocks, and drafting further pattern pieces for design elements when designing your own patterns. With chapters covering Skirts, Sleeves, Collars amongst other design elements such as collars, this is absolutely the first place to turn when learning to draft patterns. The big drawback is that absolutely no information is given on sewing the patterns up, so some experience in sewing garments is a big help. This is the definitive guide, at least in my mind, for making modern day patterns of your own design. Also available is Pattern Cutting for Beach and Lingerie Wear, Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear and Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear.

The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh

Covering pattern drafting from 1600 to 1930, this is one for the Vintage lovers! It has for many years now been the go to book for Costumers  which is how I came across it however; it is also invaluable to anyone who wishes to take the history and construction of Women’s clothes seriously.  The book contains many patterns from each period taken from extant garments with clear illustrations and notes taken from early technical books and journals on construction details. You will need to scale up each pattern to use, and I shall be talking about how to do this in a future post.

Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing

One of the best sewing manuals about, with information on sewing up and creating patterns, this is definitely a help in sewing up the patterns you create. Find my complete review here.

Vintage Sewing Books

I expound at great length upon the virtue of Vintage sewing books! You can find my favourites here.

As for equipment, these are my recommendations. I have included links however; Ebay is your friend in these matters as Pattern Drafting can be an expensive past time!

PatternmasterDot and Cross Pattern Paper

The Patternmaster

An invaluable tool in creating patterns. This is a see through perspex tool which has markings for centimetre measurements and useful curves for drawing neck, and sleeve holes.

Pattern Paper

I prefer plain Pattern Paper however, all that seems available is Dot and Cross!! This is available in 40 meter rolls (for the truly serious!) through Morplan however; in the UK Fabric Land sell it for 50p a meter and again, Ebay sells smaller rolls and sheets from just 99p +P&P. It is important to get Pattern Paper of 45gsm as you will need to see through it to trace your Blocks to Working Patterns. The thinner paper is also much easier to pin in use.

Sharp pencils and several colours of felt tip pens, a rubber, a tape measure and a calculator will also be needed. As you can see when looking through the above links there are many, many more pieces of equipment available however; if you set yourself up with the above few pieces you will be able to pattern draft effectively, and decide upon further equipment, and therefore further expense!, at a later date!

Not many of the Sewing Blogs I follow post about drafting patterns from scratch however some helpful information can be found at Your Wardrobe Unlock’d, Burda (which is a surprising resource over all), and quite a lot of good basic advice can also be found at Madalynne too. Grainline Studio has handy tips on adapting their patterns, their Tips and Tricks page is also very interesting. Good patterning advice is quite scarce and I am always on the look out, please share links below if you find any!

Well, until tomorrow, happy patterning!