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!

jeans sew a long 2 jeans sew a long 3

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!


If you haven’t… get yourself a Pattern Book!

As Pattern Month draws inevitably to a close- sob!- I though I’d post some last helpful advice for people who are maybe a little newer to the world of Pattern Cutting. I really hope you have been inspired by all of my posts, interviews and the many lovely comments over the course of the month. If you are planning on taking this any further my best advice at this point is, get yourself a Pattern Book!

Obviously I can’t post the entire contents of my wonderful copy (which I inherited mine from my Mum… although I think she would say I stole it!), of Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich for all to see- despite wanting to!- but I thought I would post a couple of examples of what Metric Pattern Cutting contains, and why you should probably grab a copy.

First off, remember when we relocated our Dart on our Basic Block? Here are some other options… As you can see, each creates a different ‘look’ and would be useful for different garments or fashions. As you create more and more Patterns for yourself you will start to discover that certain things flatter your figure more than others. For example, an Armhole Dart look deeply unattractive on me whereas an Underarm Dart is much more flattering! If I want to put the Dart in to the Neckline I will always do it in the form of a Pleat, or series of Pleats instead of a Dart as I think this makes the fabric look less tortured. This has all been learnt through trial and error, and I am sure as many people agree as disagree!

Dart PositioningOne way of Shaping the Waist on either your Basic Block, or Toile is by fitting. Once you are a little more comfortable with Drafting however; you can start to place basic shaping in to the Block to begin the process of creating your garment. I love a series of Darts across the Back of a Bodice, my thinking is that is generates interest in a sometimes plain part of a Garment, even more I love a Fan Dart!!

Shaping The WaistOnce you have drafted the Basic Bodice Block and Basic Skirt Block you can make dresses!! Obviously the below is the Basic Dress Block, and much would need to be done to make it remotely wearable! A Pattern Book will take you through all the stages however; to create the dress of your dreams…

The Dress BlockThe true genius of any Pattern Cutting Book is in the pages which teach you to mould the Basic Blocks in to wearable garments and below are the examples from Metric Pattern Cutting for the prettiest Sleeve contained within its pages (at least, I think so!), and the Basic A-Line Skirt. Neatly and clearly illustrated, each style also comes with instructions on how to perform the Pattern Alterations. When using any of these Books, you will be able to illustrate your Design with a Technical Drawing, then select the elements needed to create the Working Pattern, with a few minor adjustments, from the Book.


A-Line Skirt

Hopefully you are able to see the potential from these snippets. Please don’t forget to comment below with your Pattern Cutting advice, successes or fails… we’d love to hear ’em all!

Remember to also comment on this weeks Pattern Making Musings to win a Sinbad & Sailor Pattern.

Happy Patterning!

Week 3: Fitting the Toile

Not wishing to sound too school ma’am-y, but I do hope you all have managed to draft your Basic Blocks, move the Dart across as well as add seam allowance to your Basic Block, cut from Calico and stitch up to form the Toile. Lovely! But now comes probably the most challenging part of creating your own Patterns… fitting!

Hopefully the majority of you will have a chum to assist you with this. If not you absolutely have to stand in front of a mirror whilst fitting yourself, so you can see the effect of any and all adjustments made.

The next step is to fit the Toile, and transfer the new fitting lines to the Paper Pattern accurately. This will mean that you now have a Basic Block which is your size… and fits!

You will need to put the Toile on, and pin up the front. Do not simply pin the front closed- you will need to pin along the Seam Allowance you added so as to have consistency when transferring to the Paper Pattern.  I had hoped to have some pictures of my class for this bit but it was far too hectic!! I also think, upon reflection, that the following will be more helpful… I always find illustrations clearer! Following the below beautiful Vintage illustrations and guidelines, slowly fit your Toile always remembering that it should not be too tight nor too loose- you have to allow room to move and breathe!

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Left: The Bodice Block as it will look when first put on. Right: The most common place for Darts above and below the Bust, and a great place to start when Fitting however; I will try to move these Darts to a more flattering place if possible. Please see further illustrations below. 

Some tips if you are fitting yourself:

  1. Fit whilst wearing the Toile inside out… in this way all seams will be easily adjustable and identifiable.
  2. Work on a section at a time. Look at your shoulder seam- is it lying flat? then, move to your neckline- is it too tight to your neck for comfort? If so, draw where you think it should be, remove the Toile and cut it away then put the Toile back on, pin and check. Next move to the Front- do you need darts? Pinch the fabric and pin in place to see how it looks. Continue slowly in this fashion and you shouldn’t encounter too many issues.
  3. When looking at your back, you will be unable to pin this in with any accuracy if working alone. I look in the mirror, pinch in the fabric and take an estimated guess at how much that may be, then I remove the Toile and pin properly the put it back on and check if I was correct!
  4. The Bust Point will signify the positioning of the Front Darts however; when looking at the back there is no obvious place to locate them. Winifred, on your Basic Block, has used a dotted line to suggest where they should be placed and you would be wise to follow her guidance. You will need to decide when and where to finish the Dart using your own judgement of the shape of your figure.
  5. If you are intending to do this more often it would be wise to invest in a Dress Form. There’s a brilliant Tutorial for making your own here.
  6. Please view the making up and fitting of a Toile as seriously as you would making the final garment. If you haven’t followed your Seam Allowances, Grainlines or other details correctly the Toile will always fit differently from your pattern.
  7. Balance Marks play a big part in the correct fitting of a garment, and the first thing to watch for is that they are correctly placed. You Balance Marks are the Bust Line, Waist Line and Hip Line which should run at the same level about your body, parallel to the floor. The Center Front and Center Back are also Balance Marks which should lie at a 90 Degree angle from the floor. This also ensures the Grainline isn’t off doing something odd causing the garment to twist.
  8. If you find the Toile is too small pin in pieces of Calico to make up for the short fall, then add on the same amount to the Paper Pattern later.

Some of the commonest fit issues are:

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Left: Sloping shoulders, adjust the Shoulder Seam to eliminate diagonal wrinkles between neck and underarm. Unpick the seam, smooth the fabric up gently until the wrinkles are taken up and pin at the correct line. Middle: If the Back is sagging, ensure the garment is properly adjusted at the waistline then smooth fabric up from the Waistline. Pin a Tuck across the Back to determine exactly how much excess length there is. Pin the tuck in place, alter the arm hole if necessary and remember to carry the adjustment over to the Paper Pattern. Right: To correct sagging as illustrated (commonly associated with a fuller Bust), place a Dart at the side seam. 

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Above: Placing Darts at the Neck Line to fit the Upper Back. 

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Left: Dart placement on the Bust. Right: alternative, and more attractive Dart placement on the Bust. 

All illustrations are from my wonderful collection of Vintage Sewing Books, and I highly recommend all of them. Uniquely they have a vast amount of Fitting advice- as Patterns were not as prevalent as they are today and Women often either made their own or adapted them- as well as information on creating and adjusting flat Commercial Patterns.

Once you are happy with the Fit of your Toile, remove it and transfer the new markings to the flat Basic Bodice Block. To do this, remove all pins and give it a light iron then, using the Balance Points Winifred has given you, measure each new fitting point and transfer. There is a wonderful tutorial on how to do this from Custom Style here and another from So Sew Easy here.

There are further resources for this stage of Pattern Making including a wonderful article by Burda, Some words of advice on transferring the markings from fitting your Toile to the Paper Pattern here, some fitting advice from Madyline here and Your Wardrobe Unlock’d have some amusing and very practical advice (albeit from a more Historical perspective) here. I have also just found a great photographic tutorial on the above here,

Finally, the below video tutorial from YouTube is enormously useful, and will take you through simple fitting, and transferring those fitting marks to your Paper Pattern in a straight forward, quick and practical way.

I do hope you find the above usable, it really is a very tricky thing finding the right fit, especially if you have also made the Pattern. Remember to look at the fabric- oftentimes it is ‘telling’ you when to place darts and fitting lines.

Remember to comment on this weeks Pattern Making Musings to win fabric and notions to make Colette’s Sorbetto Top. Also, if you are just joining us find out what this is all about here and don’t forget for some helpful advice buy a Laura After Midnight Zine!!

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 Making Musings: IN-HOUSE Patterns

in house title card

Alexandra, of IN-HOUSE Patterns, was enormously enthusiastic when I contacted her about Pattern Month, and was more than happy to answer a couple questions about how she works and what design element she is most proud of amongst other things. Alexandra is most generously offering an IN-HOUSE Pattern of your choice in our first give away! My particular favourite, the Belle Bow Blouse, is simply gorgeous. Sleeveless, with a drop shoulder and gathered front yoke and featuring stitched pleats this pattern has a bow tied collar or rolled shirt collar option, as well as the option to make from a sheer fabric. This beautiful top would suit anyone, and just as soon as I have time I shall be making one up… but more on that later!

IN-House Patterns are a Vintage and high fashion inspired dressmaking Pattern company based in Canada. Designing patterns which are sleek and super stylish, Alexandra has an impressive background as a pattern maker, designer and fit technician for several apparel companies however; her desire to tackle her own personal fitting issues has lead her to develop In House.


Like many of us, Alexandra has been sewing since she was a child, and her desire to fit an average hourglass figure with a full bust shines through, and it is one of the many reasons I have come to admire and respect independent Pattern companies- they cater for us! What sets In House Patterns apart however; is that they have been developed to create a completely professional looking finished garment.


In order to achieve this professional finish, Alexandra says that In-House Patterns are not quite the same as many other home sewing patterns! They are developed using industrial construction techniques however; these have been adapted for regular home sewing equipment. As someone who teaches sewing, I wholly approve of this approach, as I strongly believe in pushing oneself to achieve the very best garment possible. Using a combination of industrial, historical and home sewing techniques in both my working life and in my classes has helped produce good looking garments quickly, creatively and with a good finish.

I do hope you find the following interesting, and more importantly informative! I especially found the books Alexandra has recommended very interesting as I have not come across one of them! It is even now at the top of my Christmas List!

 As a professional Pattern Cutter, are there any tools, or equipment you would recommend?

I couldn’t live without my computer. I do all my Patterns on the computer using Pattern Making Software and Adobe Illustrator. If you are Pattern Making by hand, use Professional tools. They are expensive but well worth the price, were designed specifically for Pattern Cutting and will streamline Pattern Development.

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

 Maintain a 90 degree angle at intersecting seam lines. This is a super simple notion, but makes all the difference in the fit and hang of a finished garment. Some books don’t mention or demonstrate this well and I think it is one of the most important techniques for great patterns.


Are there any Books you would recommend to aid Pattern Cutting?

I love all pattern making books! I have a very large collection which I reference on a regular basis. My favourite book for Block development is Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. For general Pattern Making with lots of content I use Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong. Overall I’ve found that no one book can teach you everything and no matter what book/method/class you go to you will need to do the manual labour of tweaking and perfecting your patterns. Your greatest teachers are experimentation and experience.


Of the patterns you have designed, which stands out as something you are proud of?

I made a strapless dress with an inner corset bodice which turned out beautifully. I loved that the inner corset supported the entire dress while the exterior looked effortless.

There are so many new, interesting and exciting Pattern Companies beginning to emerge at the moment, which has you excited to start stitching one of their designs up?

Thread Theory Designs, which are Menswear Patterns designed by Morgan who was a student of mine in the very first Pattern Making Class I taught. She’s a fellow Victorian, and has been developing her line over the past year and she’s an absolutely lovely person.

Thanks to Alexandra for being the first Interview for Pattern Month! Read more from Alexandra on her blog, and she has some sage advice on developing Pattern Blocks here. Pattern Cutting Software is something I have been meaning to investigate, having been trained in just the very basics at Uni. As quite a few of our interviewees have spoken of their love of CAD I am tasking Fella with assisting me! Do also look up Thread Theory Designs, their Parkland Wardrobe Builder Package is awesome, I especially love the cardigan. It’s completely unique and wonderful to see trendy, unusual patterns for men.

As I mentioned Alexandra is rather kindly giving away an IN-HOUSE Pattern of your choice. All you have to do to be entered in to the competition is comment below either about what Alexandra had to say, or with your own answers to any of the questions! Simple! The competition will run until midnight GMT next Friday.

Belle Bow BlouseBlossomPDF sewing pattern for a knit cowl neck top from In-House Patterns

IH6000-Claire sketchKimono Tee PDF downloadable sewing patternNew York Mini

Next week, as well as the second Pattern Making tutorial all about making up a toile, another Pattern related Notions and a great Wordless Wednesday, we have Pattern Making Musings from Sarai of Colette, and a rather special give away!

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.

Product DetailsProduct Details

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!

Week 1: Drafting the Basic Blocks

pattern pictureFrom Practical Home Dressmaking Illustrated by Lynn Hillson

Welcome to the first Tutorial of Pattern Month!!

Firstly, you will find it useful to know the four stages of Pattern development:

1. The Basic Block. This is the Basic Pattern that is used as a basis for all adaptations. The Block Pattern is traced on to pattern paper to produce the Working Pattern.

2. The Toile, Sloper or Mock Up, which will inform the fit of the Basic Blocks more accurately. Adaptations to the Basic Block are made as a result and the Basic Blocks now will not change. Toiles can be made at any stage to check the Patterning process.

3. The Working Pattern is used to cut and adapt the Basic Block to achieve the Fianl Pattern and is your design in pattern form for the first time! Adapting the Basic Block, which is not very design lead!, to a design this pattern is so called because after a toile is  made changes will still need made to the Working Pattern until you are happy with scale, fit, finishings, pocket placement, dart/pleat/gather placement and all manner of small details. When happy the Working Pattern will then become…

4. The Final Pattern. The final, working and ready to be made up Working Pattern traced off with all markings, notches and notes on construction ironed out.

This week we shall be concerning ourselves with drafting the Basic Blocks. These are the Bodice Block, the Skirt Block and the Sleeve Block. Drafting the Blocks is the start of creating patterns to fit the individual figure, however difficult, for any style, past or present with flat pattern cutting. From these three Blocks any number of Final Patterns can be created from the humble A-Line Skirt to the most extravagant imaginings!

Firstly it is important to take accurate measurements. The Basic Blocks are to be made up to your measurements so it is imperative that accurate measurements be taken so that they fit as accurately as possible, with minimal changes needing to be made in the later stages of creating your Working Pattern.

I will take the Bust, Waist and Hip measurements,  Nape to Waist, Back Width and Chest measurements then check which size these most closely resemble in the Standard Body Measurements Chart below. You will also need your Waist to Hip, Armhole Depth, Neck Width, Shoulder and Dart measurements which you will find on the chart. I have found that taking these smaller measurements from the Chart greatly increases the accuracy of the pattern and saves time!

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.

And so, without further ado, and making sure we have a nice cuppa sitting next to us, it is time to draft the Basic Bodice Block. For this I have used Winifred again, of Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear fame. All one needs to do is follow her instructions- listed to the left- without hesitation or deviation.

A few notes:

  • 1cm = 3/8th of an Inch
  • It is extremely important to maintain precision in all details. A few millimetres out could mean the whole is several sizes too small or too large by the end of the drafting process.
  • ‘Square Up/Down’ or ‘Square Accross’ means draw down or accross at a 90 Degree angle. Try to make this angle as accurate as possible using a set square or Patternmaster. If none is at hand a piece of card can do the trick nicely!
  • Mark all Waistlines, Bust Lines and Hip Lines as illustrated.

Click to enlarge the images and print if necessary, I find it helpful to tick off each point as I go or I can get terribly confused about half way through!

PATTERN CUTTING Standard Body MeasurementsThe Standard Body Measurements Chart, with illustration showing where each measurement should be placed.

PATTERN CUTTING Basic Bodice BlockThe Basic Bodice Block, with space to note down your measurements from the measurements needed.


The Sleeve and Tailored Skirt Blocks. Click for an enlargement and to print. All Block Patterns are taken from Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich.

Remember to comment below with any thoughts, queries or struggles and triumphs… Good luck, brave pattern makers!

Happy patterning!


Pattern Month!!

Pic 3 Pattern-cutting-picture

I am declaring September to be Pattern Month!

In response to suggestions made by my wonderful followers I am going to be blogging alongside my classes with tutorials, advice and information, give-aways and competitions, reviews of and interviews with independent Pattern Companies such as Grainline Studio, By Hand London and In House Patterns to name but a few and many other Pattern Cutting related posts.

Each week there will be a tutorial of the Class I will be teaching that week which will include the following schedule:

To include taking accurate Measuring For The Perfect Fit and the drafting of the Basic Block, Skirt Block and Sleeve Block. Other posts in the first week will include a resources guide and a Notions on Marking Your Handmade Patterns as well as an introduction to Pattern Month on Pinterest, a killer Wordless Wednesday from one of my Vintage Sewing Books and an interview in our new weekly Pattern Making Musings and give away (eek!, it’s going to be soo good!).

Week 2 will introduce the Toile, adding Seam Allowance, relocating Darts and sewing up in preparation for fitting. Another beautiful, 60’s inspired Wordless Wednesday, a short but thoroughly interesting Snippets From Pattern History,  and a fantastic Pattern Making Musings with Sarai of Colette Patterns!

Kicking of the third week is a post all about Fitting your Toile, with resources pulled from my Vintage Sewing books and various other wonderful websites and blogs. Fitting the Toile also has a great little video tutorial on fitting. There will also be a very useful guide to Scaling Up Vintage Patterns, and using PDF Patterns, a fantastic Video from Dior which displays the amazing things one can accomplish when designing, a Wordless Wednesday for the Pattern Month Pinterest archive, a cheeky little re-blog from Etsy all about Patterning and Making your own Leggings, and a Pattern Making Musings from Hannah of Sinbad & Sailor.

  • WEEK 4: Making Working Patterns

Finishing off a fantastic Pattern Month, this week started with a post all about Making Working Patterns. With advice on how to break the design down by making a Technical Illustration, and a visual guide to the many pieces needed to create a design. Other posts included a Wordless Wednesday from a stunning Japanese Pattern Book, a post which talks about Pattern Books, and why having one is super important, an Order of Sewing from my Vintage McCall’s Sewing in Colour which is just superb and the last Pattern Making Musings from Maddie of Madalynne.

As reference I shall be using the wonderful Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. If you seriously want to start drafting your own patterns, I would highly recommend this book. I would also recommend furnishing yourself with some Pattern Paper (I prefer plain however; the more prevalent is Dot and Cross), and a Pattern Master. Sharp pencils, a selection of colourful felt tip pens and a calculator would also be useful.

My Notions series of posts will also be given over to Pattern Cutting and include useful tips on marking patterns and what information should be written upon each piece, marking the fabric, lays and the order of sewing, much of which will be taken from my collection of Vintage Sewing Books (I bought another a couple days ago tee hee!!), more information on which can be found here.

Lastly, I am very much hoping to have a couple of guest posts and interviews with some of the wonderful new up and coming pattern companies which are out there… a couple have already been in touch and I am seriously excited about what I have in store for you!

I’m too excited about Pattern Month and I’ve spent all evening making Fella help me learn how to make Buttons for you all to share!

I’d love to have you along for the ride! Feel free to place the button below on your Blog…


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<a href=”” ><img title=”Pattern Month with Laura After Midnight” src=”″/></a>

It promises to be a great month! Who’s with me?

Happy stitching!!

Book review: Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing

Now, I have the proper old school copy of this, and I’m fairly sure I stole it from my Mum many moons ago! I find it is synonymous with good sewing techniques, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Often found in charity shops (my second copy for classes was just £4), this hefty tome is clearly laid out & quite formally written with wonderful illustrations liberally sprinkled over every page. I find illustrations are vastly easier to follow than photographs, and as everything from basic pattern cutting, fitting and cut to sewing up & finishing is covered the sheer amount of them is immensely reassuring. There’s even a section in back which covers Children’s clothes & upholstery.

Written with the firm understanding that the reader knows at least the basics of sewing, the complete novice should not be daunted as this really is useful for all levels of sewing ability. The basic stitches chapter clearly illustrates how to sew by hand & machine, whilst the seams chapter will have you running up simple garments in a trice. For people wishing to refine, check or relearn techniques there are more advanced instructions, covering the often varied ways of doing one task for example; there are instructions on how to work button holes in over ten different ways, which are then repeated for various weights of fabric.

Whilst this book does cover pattern cutting, tailoring and upholstery it really focuses on sewing techniques, and these sections are by far the weaker chapters. My suggestion if wanting to pattern cut, would be to purchase Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and start from scratch. It is a discipline which will either entrance or infuriate you but is does deserve more space than the Complete Guide to Sewing gives it. The same for tailoring, which is a skill one cannot simply learn from the scant 20 pages it is given here. I’d grab a copy of Classic Tailoring Techniques for Womenswear by Cabrera & Meyers & hole up for a couple months!

Written in a very no-nonsense style, it really should be the cornerstone of every seamstress, fashion student, designer or, in this case, costumiers bookcase. This is something the beginner can grow in to but also makes a great reference book for the more knowledgeable sewer.

Happy stitching!