Essential Information for Designers

chapter one
Essential Information
for Designers
When a person plans to visit a new country, it will be a more
rewarding experience if that person studies maps, reads guidebooks,
learns the customs and even speaks some of the language. To learn a
new skill, it is wise to study the important basics instead of jumping
into what may seem difficult without that information. Each
individual brings prior experience to new learning, so what is
essential information to one may not be for another.
This Chapter Covers:
The Learning Process
Without Garment Construction
With Garment Construction
Master Patterns
Definitions of Terms
Supplies
Drafting Procedures
The General Design Process
Understanding Grain
Understanding Darts
Techniques for Moving Darts
Using Drafting Tools and Templates
Evaluate Your Learning
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1-1
The Learning Process for Pattern Drafting
Without Garment Construction
Each program of clothing studies has its curriculum covering the needs of students: the aesthetic
principles of design, the art of fine clothing construction and how to design and make the patterns needed
for that clothing. Many shcools teach patternmaking separately from clothing construction. Sometimes
the emphasis is on drafting patterns using the charts of standard measurements. This is particularly
useful to students who will be moving into the commercial market after they finish their studies. Drafted
patterns can be tested by comparing them with a master set of patterns for size and details. If they are
testing their patterns on dress forms, they would need to make muslin test-fittings.
Note: Basic Patterns and Master Patterns are indicated with Bold Italic letters.
1.
Look at Supplies for Drafting (Page 1-6)
2.
Study Drafting Procedures (Page 1-7)
3.
a. Draft the Basic Skirt Pattern (Page 2-2)
b. Refer to Using Drafting Tools and Templates (Page 1-25)
1-2
4.
Draft the Basic Bodice Pattern (Page 2-17)
5.
Practice Techniques for Moving Darts (1-18)
6.
Draft the Basic Sleeve Patterns (Page 2-57)
7.
Coordinate Basic Patterns. (Page 2-68)
8.
Create the Basic Sheath Pattern (Page 6-2)
9.
Use the Basic Sheath Pattern to design a shirt pattern with a
cuffed long sleeve.
10.
Create the Dartless Basic Sheath Pattern (Page 6-27)
11.
Use Dartless Basic Sheath Pattern to design a shirt pattern
with a short action sleeve.
12.
Create the Basic Pants Pattern (Page 10-3)
13.
Study the General Design Process (Page 1-10)
14.
Practice The Easing Procedure (Page 7-2 to 7-4)
15.
Create a Grading Sloper (Page 7-6, 7-7)
16.
Create a Master Pattern for a Suit (Page 7-12)
17.
Create a Master Pattern for a Coat (Page 7-12)
18.
Create a Master Pattern for Stable Knit Fabrics (7-26)
19.
Create a Master Pattern for Stretchy Knit Fabrics (7-27)
20.
Create the Basic Big Top Pattern (Page 9-2)
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
The Learning Process for Pattern Drafting
With Garment Construction
Learn pattern drafting by following this step-by-step guide that was student-tested. Most of those
students mastered pattern making. They learned how to construct garments made from the patterns they
drafted and stayed motivated by having new garments for their wardrobes. They learned not to depend on
instructional guide sheets included in purchased patterns.
Note: Basic Patterns and Master Patterns are indicated with Bold Italic letters.
1. Draft the Basic Skirt Pattern, make in muslin, fit and correct pattern as needed.
2. Add from w inch to 2 inches Internal Flare to the Basic Skirt by pivoting at Hip Level Line. Make
the pivoted skirt in plain, firm, woven fabric and fit. Correct both the pivoted pattern and the Basic
Skirt Pattern if needed. Measure for the Basic Bodice at the pivoted skirt fitting.
3. Draft the Basic Bodice Pattern, make in muslin, fit and correct pattern if needed. If no major
changes are needed, measure for the Basic Sleeves.
4. Learn to move darts using sheets of copy paper for the exercises. Do exercises on Basic Bodice copies.
5. Draft Basic Sleeve Patterns, set muslin sleeves in Basic Bodice, fit, correct both Basic Patterns.
6. Coordinate the Basic Patterns—Skirt, Bodice and Sleeves.
7. Design and complete a pattern for a Basic Dress, make in plain, firm, woven fabric; fit and correct
patterns if needed. Transfer any changes back to the Basic Patterns.
8. Create the Basic Sheath Pattern using Basic Skirt and Bodice Patterns. Make muslin, fit, correct
pattern.
9. Use the Basic Sheath Pattern to design a simple shirt pattern with a cuffed long sleeve. Make in
plain, firm, woven fabric, fit and correct patterns if needed.
10. Create Dartless Basic Sheath Pattern using the Basic Sheath Pattern. Make muslin, fit, correct
pattern.
11. Use the Basic Dartless Sheath Pattern to design a shirt pattern. Make it up in a checked or plaid
fabric and match the fabric design. Fit the shirt and correct pattern if needed.
12. Create the Basic Pants Pattern using the skirt pattern with 12 inches Internal Flare pivoted at Hip
Level Line. Cut muslin for one leg and sew together, try on the one muslin leg, holding it up with a
grosgrain ribbon for the waistband. Fit and correct pattern if needed.
13. Make pair of pants in plain, firm, woven fabric. Make corrections as needed to the Basic Pants Pattern.
14. Design and develop a pattern for a vest. Use the pattern to make a vest, fit, correct pattern if needed.
15. Design and develop pattern for a suit jacket. Use the pattern to make a jacket, fit, correct pattern.
16. Design and develop pattern for a kimono sleeve garment. Make the garment, fit, correct pattern.
17. Draft the Basic Big Top Pattern. Make in muslin, fit and correct pattern if needed.
18. Design and develop a pattern for a jacket using the Basic Big Top Pattern. Use pattern to make a
jacket.
19. Design and develop a pattern for a garment made from a stable knit fabric. Use the pattern to make a
garment. Develop the Master Pattern for Stable Knit Fabrics.
20. Design and develop a pattern for a garment made from a stretchy knit fabric. Use pattern to make a
garment. Develop the Master Pattern for Stretchy Knit Fabrics.
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-3
Master Patterns
A Master Pattern is developed from a Basic Pattern for a frequently used style. For example, many skirt
designs start with a skirt pattern that has 12 inches of flare pivoted into front as well as back. It would be
very convenient to have such a pivoted skirt pattern already at hand.
In one sense, a designer can consider all the Basic Patterns as Master Patterns, so they should be kept
nearby as well.
If a designer is working in industry, the employer may specialize in women’s clothing featuring the
Princess Line, so that pattern could be hanging available to speed up the design process.
Some Master Patterns have been developed in various sections of this book so they will be listed below.
All Master Patterns can be used as the basis for more advanced designs. They have no seam allowances
and no added style details. Each Master Pattern has a front and a back pattern except for sleeve patterns
and patterns for details such as collars and pockets.
Each designer’s needs will vary but they may include:
• Grading Slopers
• Master Pattern for a Suit, widened 12 inches
• Two-Piece Suit Sleeve widened to fit the Master Pattern for a Suit
• Master Pattern for a Coat, widened 22 inches
• One-Piece Coat Sleeve, widened to fit the Master Pattern for a Coat
• Master Pattern for Stable Knit Fabrics
• Master Pattern for Stretchy Knit Fabrics
• A 12 inch pivoted skirt
• Princess-line bodice
• Princess-line sheath
• The Basic Dartless Sheath shortened to shirt length with an easy tab front
• Long shirt sleeve with a placket and cuff
• Eased pants pattern
• Pleated pants pattern
• Frequently used collars such as a convertible collar and a mandarin collar
1-4
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
Definitions of Terms
Basic Pattern, Sloper, Block Used interchangeably to mean a pattern that serves as a basis for other
patterns. It is manipulated and traced, or copied and cut apart, observing
specific rules, without changing the original fit of the pattern.
Master Pattern
A pattern developed from a Basic Pattern for a frequently used style. It has
no seam allowances or style details. These patterns save design time.
Styled Pattern
A complete pattern for a specific garment with all its style details. Seam
allowances can be added, if desired.
Production Pattern
The complete patterns for an entire size range. All details are noted on the
pattern. It has seam allowances.
Hip Level Line
A line parallel to the floor on front and back skirt patterns.
Torso Line
A line 3–4 inches below the waist, parallel to the Hip Level Line on skirt
front only. It is an indicator to keep the skirt “easy” from waist to hip.
Armscye, Armhole
An opening in a bodice into which a sleeve may be inserted.
Scye Line
A line on front and back Basic Bodice Patterns. It is squared from the
center lines and touches the base of the Armscye.
Chest Line
A line 1w inches above the Scye Line on Basic Bodice Patterns. It is the
location for measurements of width across the back and across the chest.
Legs of a Dart
The two lines making up a dart.
Style Line of a dart or seam
The line nearest the Center Front or Center Back. It is the dominant visual
line in the garment. The second dart leg or seam is the Secondary Line.
Waist Reduction
The amount by which a pattern must be made smaller to fit the waistline.
Sweep
The width of a skirt at the hem, frequently applied to flared skirts.
Sleeve Cap
The part of the sleeve that is inserted into the armhole.
Shoulder Point
Side Neck
Point
Shoulder Point
Side Neck
Point
Side Neck Point
Side Waist Point
Underarm Point
Underarm Point
Center Front
Center Back
1.1
Side Waist Point
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-5
“Curve Stick”
Supplies for Drafting
• Tailor’s L-Square, Fairgate 50-124*
Tailor's Square
• Hip Curve Ruler, Fairgate 11-124*
• Half-Scale L-Square, Fairgate 50-147*
• French Curve #21, used as half-scale
curve stick**
• French Curve #17 for front neckline
and armhole**
• French Curve #16 for back neckline
and armhole**
• 45° Plastic Triangle**
45 Triangle
• 12-Inch Metal Ruler, Fairgate 20-112**
• Metal Yardstick, Fairgate 20-136*
• Push Pins with 2" or s" points (10–15)
• Lightweight paper such as Marker Paper
• Pencils, #2 HB 0.7mm and eraser
• Erasable colored pencils (2 or 3 colors)
• Needlepoint (pinpoint) tracing wheel*
• Scotch Magic Tape (or Invisible)
• Scotch Magic Plus Tape (Removable)
• Fiberglas™ tape measure (accurate)*
• Good-quality shears, at least 8-inch, for
cutting lightweight paper and fabric
• 3-5 yards medium-weight muslin to test
Basic Patterns
French Curves
• Tagboard for corrected Basic Patterns
#17
• Large sheet (32" × 40") thick chipboard to
protect table and as a base for push pins
* Available at tailor and dressmaker supply companies.
** Available at engineering supply companies, stationery or
art supply stores.
See Page A-25 for where to find drafting supplies
1.2
1-6
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
#16
Drafting Procedures
1. Draft in pencil. Ink on the pattern may stain the fabric or other patterns copied from the Basic
Pattern. Use a very sharp pencil. Tilt the pencil in toward the ruler or French curve when drawing a
line. Do not draw lines freehand on patterns.
2. “Make a copy of the pattern” is frequently the first step in instructions. It usually refers to copying
one of the Basic Patterns. The drafter must find the correct pattern, lay it over another sheet of paper
and trace the outlines of the pattern with a pencil and then add the internal pattern lines by running
a needlepoint tracing wheel over the lines. The needlepoint wheel leaves perforations on the lower
sheet of paper that are then retraced with a pencil and ruler. Labels are added to the freshly copied
pattern such as “Center Front” and “Hip Level Line.” The Basic Pattern is returned to its storage
location before proceeding. Do not use transfer paper to mark patterns. The residue left on the
pattern may stain fabric.
3. “Square a line over” appears often in the drafting directions. One arm of the Tailor’s Square is
precisely aligned with an existing line at some specific point and a second line is drawn along the
other arm of the square. There must be an existing line in order to square a line. It cannot be
assumed that the edge of the paper is straight.
4. Pivoting a pattern is often done to change a design. Pivoting is a manipulation process. A pattern is
placed over another sheet of paper, pinned securely with several push pins and a specific part of the
pattern is traced. One push pin is located at the “pivot point” and the rest of the push pins are
removed. The lower sheet of paper is still pinned in place. The upper pattern is moved on the pivot
point as much as directed and then pinned down securely again. Another section of the pattern is
traced. Depending on the effect desired, this procedure may need to be repeated several times before
the final pattern is completed. After pivoting is completed, the upper pattern is removed and stored.
The lower pattern has labels added and lines drawn using pencil and ruler to mark the traced lines so
they are visible.
5. Measuring. The tape measure is positioned on the area of the body being measured with no fingers
under the tape and no slack in the tape. It does not indent the flesh nor loosely slip down.
Measurements are always taken of the woman as she is, not as she hopes to be later.
• “Jump over the dart” may be one of the instructions. For example, if one wants to know the
waistline size of the Front Basic Skirt Pattern, the darts can be folded out of the way or the three
sections can be measured individually and then added together. Neither method is very
accurate. An easy and accurate way is to measure from the Center Front to the first dart, hold a
pencil point or a fingernail firmly on the tape measure at that mark and transfer that mark to
the other side of the first dart, continuing in this manner until the entire front waistline is
measured and the amount noted on the pattern near the waistline.
• “Walk a tape measure around the curve” is often seen in the instructions for armholes and
sleeve cap. Lay the tape measure flat at the edge of the curve on the pattern (not outside the
pattern’s edge.) Note how far the tape touches the line (perhaps only 8 inch). Hold the tape
with the point of a blunt pencil where the tape starts to leave the line and pivot it a little. Keep
the edge of the tape on the curved line. Repeat these steps until the curve is measured. On some
Instructions continue on the next page.
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-7
parts of the curve the tape must be pivoted more often than on other parts. The student should
repeat the process several times until reaching the same result more than once. It is possible to
use this technique to measure any curved line.
6. “True the Pattern” is a step that must be taken as any pattern nears completion. It is rarely
mentioned in the instructions but the designer must always take the time to refine and true each
pattern.
• Use a ruler and pencil marks to mark all lines that should be straight and the curve stick or
French curves to smooth all curved lines. Check that lines such as Hip Level Line and Scye Line
are squared over from the center line.
• Close darts by folding them in the direction they will be pressed in the garment and trace across
that seamline with a needlepoint wheel. Flatten the paper and go over the needlepoint
perforations with pencil marks. This is the seamline in the dart area.
• Lay the seams that will be sewed together side by side. Check if they are the same length and
correct if needed. Next check if a point forms at either end of the line. Smooth out any such
points by adding or cutting off a little to curve them. There should be no points or jogs on
patterns where the body has a smooth shape. When this matching of seams is done, it may be
necessary to curve Princess Lines at the shoulder seam so they form a smooth line as they pass
over the shoulder.
• Check the shape of necklines. A boat neckline is the only one that meets in a point on the
shoulder seam. All other necklines should have a smooth curve at the shoulder seam.
• Check the skirt seams at the hemline. Every section of a skirt should be square at the lower
corners. If the skirt is very flared, the square corner may be only 2 inch wide before it starts to
swing upward in a curve.
7. Add Notches. In the text notches are indicated by short lines squared to the seamlines. They are
used to help the seamstress assemble the garment correctly by matching the notches. On personal
patterns they are marked as shown in the text, with short lines squared to the seamlines. Those who
are designing personal patterns could work out a system of notching that is clear for them. For
example, since the Hip Level Line always serves as a notch, they could add a second notch below the
Hip Level Line to mark the side seams on gored skirts.
For the designer who is developing patterns for production, the pattern is usually notched using a
device called a “notcher.” It takes a tiny bite out of the pattern’s edge. Internal lines on production
patterns are marked with holes that have circles around them so they are more visible.
• All seams are notched — short seams once and longer seams twice. The pattern maker places
the notches so that it is impossible to match them and sew together incorrect “pattern sections.”
Single and multiple notches are used.
• Notches are used when one seam is longer than the other and the difference is meant to be
eased in or gathered. Notches indicate the amount of easing and where it is positioned.
• Notches are used to mark center lines and other matching points such as Hip Level Lines.
1-8
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
• One notch is used to mark the front armhole and front of the sleeve cap. Two notches are used
to mark the back armhole and the back of the sleeve cap.
• Multiple notching is often used on skirts with several gores. All the gores would already have
one notch at Hip Level Line. Starting at the Center Front, each gore could have another notch
lower on the seam to indicate its progression around the body.
• If the patterns have seam allowances, they are indicated with notches as are the dart locations
where they touch the seams.
• Notches are used to indicate the location of fold lines, endings of zipper openings, ends of slits
and any other details that need to be drawn to the attention of the seamstress. On industrial
patterns that have seam allowances, a hole is used to mark details such as pocket locations, ends
of darts, etc.
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-9
The General Design Process
Questions to answer:
1. What Basic Pattern is used for this design?
• Will it be a fitted dress with a waistline seam and set-in sleeves? [Use the Basic Skirt and Basic
Bodice.]
• Will it be a fitted dress without a waistline seam? [Use the Basic Sheath.]
• Does it have a relaxed fit? [Use the Dartless Basic Sheath and Sleeve for Dartless Sheath.]
• Will the sleeve be slender and shaped with an elbow dart? [Use the Shaped Basic Sleeve.]
• Will the sleeve be wider and have no elbow dart? [Widen the Straight Basic Sleeve.]
• Will the sleeve be cut as part of a garment that is fitted smoothly? [Use a Kimono Sleeve on a
Basic Bodice or a Basic Sheath, depending on whether or not there will be a waist seam.]
• Will the sleeve be cut as part of a garment with a relaxed fit? [Use the Basic Big Top.]
• Will the garment be worn over another garment? [Enlarge the chosen pattern.]
2. How is the skirt designed?
• Will the skirt be straight, tapered in at the hem, or flared?
• If the skirt is flared, which type of flare will it be — internal, external, or both?
• If the skirt is gathered, where will the gathers be and how much fullness will be added?
• If the skirt will have pleats, where will they be and how deep? Will the pleats be straight or
flared? Does the pleat have an inset section?
• Will the skirt be gored and if so, how many gores will there be? Will they fall close to the body
or flare out?
3. How is the bodice designed?
• If the garment is fitted, where are the bodice darts? Are there visible darts, gathers in lieu of
darts, or seams with hidden darts? Do gathers replace the waistline darts?
• Is extra fabric introduced into the bodice area for fullness, pleats, blousing, or draping?
• If any changes will be made to the armhole area, will the front and back armholes still be equal?
If not, how will they be equalized?
• Is the neckline large enough to slip over the head? If not, how will it be made large enough?
• Where is the back shoulder dart in this design — on the shoulder, in the neckline, or hidden in a
seamline?
1-10
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
4. How is the sleeve designed?
• Is the sleeve wider at the wrist than the Basic Sleeve? If so, how much wider?
• Does the sleeve need an elbow dart or can the arm bend easily without a dart? If a dart is
needed, can a small dart be eased in?
• Does the sleeve have the Basic Sleeve cap height or is it a shortened action cap?
• If changes were made to the bodice armholes, has the sleeve been adjusted to match?
• What is the amount of ease in the sleeve cap? Can it be set into the armhole?
5. What are the design details for this garment?
• Has the neckline been changed from the Basic? Is there a collar? Is there a lapel? Does the
collar have a stand? Is it flat or rolled? How wide is the collar? The lapel?
• Does this design have pockets? If so, where are they and what type are they? What size?
• Do the sleeves have cuffs? If so, are they a separate pattern piece or is the bottom of the sleeve
turned up to form a cuff?
• Are there buttons and buttonholes in the design? If so, where will the buttons be located and
how large will they be? Has an allowance been made for overlap?
• Is there a belt included in this design? What type of belt?
• Are there any other details that need attention?
6. Are there general questions that must be answered?
• Are the sections of the patterns coordinated? Are the seams that will be sewed together the
same length? Do design lines in the bodice line up with those in the skirt? Do the front design
lines blend with those in the back?
• Is the armhole balanced — is the front armhole the same size as the back armhole even though
they are not the same shape? Is any adjustment to the armhole reflected in the sleeve cap?
If the pattern for the garment was enlarged, was the sleeve changed to match? How much
ease does the sleeve cap have? Can that much ease be set into the armhole, using the fabric for
this garment?
• Where will it be necessary to have a facing? Have the facing patterns been made?
• Is each pattern section marked clearly with a label indicating what it is? Does each section have
a specified location for the Straight Grain?
• Are all notches marked clearly so the pattern sections will go together easily when the garment
is constructed?
• Can a woman put on this garment easily? Does it need an opening? Where?
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-11
Understanding Grain
Grain of the fabric
On following pages there will be information about darts, their locations on Basic Patterns and how to
move darts for many designs. When darts are moved, the grain of the fabric changes in the design. The
pattern designer knows that the garment will not be made from paper. The designer practices moving
darts to get interestnig designs but must analyze how each design will work out in fabric. In order to do
this, a designer must understand how fabric is woven or knitted.
If it is a woven fabric, it has lengthwise as well as crosswise grain. The lengthwise (warp) yarns are put
on the loom first and are under tension. The loom raises some of them while others remain in place, thus
creating a “tunnel” through which the crosswise (weft) yarn is moved from the first side to the second.
Then the loom moves the warp yarns into another position and the weft is moved across in the new tunnel
from the second side back to the first. It moves back and forth creating the fabric which has the warp at a
right angle to the weft. After the fabric is taken from the loom, it is processed, pressed and rolled. Often
the fabric twists during this handling but if it is to be used in a becoming garment, it needs to be
straightened both lengthwise and crosswise and thus returned to its original state.
If a knit fabric is being used, it has lengthwise ribs and crosswise rows. It stretches more in the
crosswise direction. It is important that a knit fabric be made ready to cut by adjusting its ribs and rows
so they are at right angles the way they were knitted.
A general rule: The characteristics of the fabric must always be kept in mind.
A pattern maker can design a pattern which is perfect in every detail but if that pattern is made up in
fabric which is not straight, it will be unacceptable. If the fabric is twisted, the garment will twist on the
body. It will be uncomfortable as well as unattractive.
1-12
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
Crosswise
grain
Grain of the body
Lengthwise
grain
In order for a pattern to result in a beautiful garment, its grain must
match the grain of the body wearing it. This helps the garment fit
without unsightly wrinkles.
In addition to the fabric having grain, the body also has grain.
The spine provides the straight lengthwise grain while a line from
one shoulder tip across to the other provides the straight crosswise
grain. These two lines could be called the warp and weft of the body.
When the grain of the garment fabric matches the grain of the body,
it is more likely to fit and look beautiful.
For example, when front bodice darts are discussed, the focus
will be on moving darts so the pattern grain will match the grain of
the body in that area. There are many patterns that can be made in
paper but don’t work out in fabric. In Moving Bodice Darts there are
examples of such patterns.
1.3
A general rule: A successful design helps a woman’s body appear “on grain”
and makes her feel comfortable and look beautiful.
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-13
Darts
Understanding Darts
The purpose of darts in patterns is to make flat fabric conform to the shape of the body. A pattern must be
wide enough to fit around the largest part of the body covered by that pattern. For example, a skirt pattern
must be wide enough for the hips. This makes it too wide for the waistline. In a Basic Skirt Pattern part of
this difference is removed by a curve at the sides and the rest is taken up in darts. The amount a pattern
must be made smaller at the waistline is called the “waist reduction.” Take this hypothetical situation.
Imagine the assignment is to draft a skirt for a woman with these measurements:
Hips: 36 inches + 2 inches ease = 38 inches
Waist: 26 inches + 1 inch ease = 27 inches
There is a difference of 11 inches between the two measurements. A pattern is made for half the body so it
would need a waist reduction of 52 inches. Imagine that her Basic Skirt Pattern must be drafted with all
the waist reduction at the side seam. This would be her pattern:
Center Back
n
ter
k
le s
Side Seam
Waist
e
rat
cu
Ac
Hip
m
ure
as
me
ut
sb
ent
rib
ter
at
irt p
Center Front
1.4
Any seamstress would recognize this as a pattern that would be difficult to make up in fabric. The side
hip area would be nearly impossible to press because the fabric would stretch if cut in such a sharp curve.
If a woman were to wear a skirt made from such a pattern, it would not fit but have many strange wrinkles
although it was drafted to her own measurements.
A general rule: Waist reduction must be distributed to conform to the curves
of the individual figure.
1-14
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
Since a woman does not have all her shaping at the side, her pattern cannot be shaped only at the side
seams. The average woman curves in from the hip to the waist all around her figure — more in some areas
than in others. Small darts are used where her shaping is smaller, larger darts where it is greater. Using
the correct waist reduction and adjusting its precise location so the Basic Skirt is becoming and fits that
particular woman is a challenge for a pattern drafter.
It is helpful to view a woman’s body as if it were a landscape — with hills, valleys and plateaus. As in
real landscapes, some hills are smooth and rolling while others are more like mountain peaks. Some areas
in a landscape are flat and others are indented or raised. The more precise, abruptly raised places on a
woman’s body require darts that point toward them accurately. There is more flexibility in positioning
darts for gentle outward curves because they do not require such precision.
The two figures on this page show why
darts are located as they are on the
Basic Patterns. As the following
material is studied, relate each dart to
the body and thus see the feminine
“landscape” more clearly.
1.5
1.6
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-15
Average Dart Locations on the Basic Patterns
Center Back
A. Basic Skirt Pattern
There is a space between the two side hip
curves that looks like a large curved dart. In
back are two darts with the one closer to the
Center Back wider and longer. There are two
short darts in front. These dart locations are
good for the average woman but individual
variations are needed.
Center Front
1.7
Center Back
The Front has two darts, both ending at the apex of the
bust, called the “bust point.” An upper dart divides the
shoulder seam in half, taking care of the slope from the bust
area to the shoulder. At the waist a dart takes care of the
slope from the bust to the waist. The bust is more like a
“mountain” than a plateau, so both darts end at the bust
point.
The Back also has two darts but they do not end at the
same point. The back has a shoulder blade that is more like a
plateau. The upper dart is short and small, taking care of the
slope from the blade to the center of the shoulder. The lower
1.8
dart takes care of the slope from the blade to the waistline.
There is a wedge of space between the two side seam
lines. It looks like a dart and takes care of the side slope from underarm to waistline.
1-16
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
Center Front
B. Basic Bodice Pattern
C. Shaped Basic Sleeve Pattern
If it were not necessary to bend the arm, there would be no need for
a dart in a basic sleeve. This sleeve can be seen as a tube. It
graduates from larger at the underarm to smaller at the wrist. It has
a shaped cap at the top to cover the shoulder joint.
The dart is placed at the elbow. This shows that a dart is
sometimes used to reduce the length as well as the width of a
pattern. If the arm is bent at the elbow, it is longer than when it
hangs relaxed at the side. In order to make the sleeve long enough to
fit the bent arm, sufficient length must be allowed. Extra length is
only needed in the back over the elbow, so a dart is located on the
long sleeve seam in the back. It is positioned to point to the elbow
when the arm is bent at a right angle. The arm is very flexible so the
same dart cannot point to the elbow when the arm is raised or
stretched.
Since the arm changes in length as it moves, the designer must
remember to make allowances in sleeve patterns for this fact.
Back
Front
1.9
D. Basic Sheath Pattern
It is not necessary to repeat the information about the location of the upper darts since the Basic Sheath
Pattern is made from the Basic Skirt Pattern and the Basic Bodice Pattern. The waistline darts on the
Basic Sheath are different for they are double-pointed. A single-pointed dart reduces the size of the
pattern below a single raised area of the body. A double-pointed dart reduces the size of the pattern
between two raised body areas.
The waistline darts on the Basic Sheath Pattern, both front and back, show the maximum amount of
waist reduction possible to produce a tightly fitted waistline. The maximum darts are rarely used in a
styled pattern. By allowing the waistline to be a little “easier,” the garment will be much more relaxed and
becoming. (The diagram of the Front Sheath Pattern is shown.)
Center Front
1.10
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-17
Techniques for Moving Darts
Use sheets of paper to learn the techniques for moving darts. They are mechanical processes. Learn the
techniques first and then discover the way to use them on patterns for garments.
A. Slash/Spread Technique
1. Use a sheet of typing paper. Draw a dart starting from one of
the short sides of the rectangle and pointing toward the
center as shown in the first diagram to the right.
2. Draw a dotted line straight from the point of the dart across
to one of the long sides of the paper as shown in the second
diagram. Cut along the new dotted line and stop at the point
of the original dart.
Cut to
tip of dart
3. Fold and crease one line of the original dart drawn in Item 1
above. Bring this folded dart line over to touch the second
line of that dart. Tape it flat.
4. Notice that the line cut in Item 2 has spread apart and
become a space shaped like a dart.
5. Place a strip of paper underneath this dart space and tape it
in place, taking care to keep the paper flat.
6. A dart has been moved. This is one method for moving darts
called the Slash/Spread Technique. It is possible to move the
original dart to any position on any edge of the paper. In the
above exercise, the width of the new dart at the edge of the
paper is not the same as the width of the original dart.
Measuring with a protractor, the dart angles are the
same.
First
dart
closed
New
dart
opens
1.11
Try this exercise starting with a circle of paper. Draw the first dart with its point at the exact center of the
circle. After the first dart is moved to another position, the second dart will be the same width as the first
dart and have the same degree of angle.
When working with a Basic Pattern that contains the correct darts to fit the curves of a specific body, it
is not necessary to know the measurement of a dart’s angle because it is a simple mechanical process to
move darts. A dart is an angle with its width dependent on its length. A small dart is quite wide when
the lines of the dart are extended. This is shown in the next exercise.
1-18
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
7. On another sheet of typing paper draw a short, narrow dart on
one of the shorter sides of the paper as shown in the diagram to
the right. Measure and record the length of the small dart as
well as its width at the edge of the paper.
8. Draw a dotted line straight from the tip of the little dart to the
opposite side of the paper as shown by the dotted line in the
second diagram.
9. Cut along the new dotted line. Stop at the point of the dart.
Cut through to
tip of dart
Dart closed
10. Fold the first dart closed and tape in place. A wide space opens
shaped like a dart. In Item 7 above the exact size of the small
dart was recorded. Check the new large dart. Measure along
the slash lines from the tip of the open space for the same
distance as the length of the little dart. Measure the width of
the space at this length. Note that it is the same size dart as the
small one. If desired, the exercise can be completed by filling in
the open space with paper.
Dart opens
1.12
B. The Pivoting Technique
1. Take another sheet of of typing paper and draw a dart from one
of the short sides of the paper pointing toward the center as
shown in the diagram to the right. Call this the “original” dart
on the “pattern.”
Original
dart
New dart
location
mark
2. Divide one of the long sides of the paper in half and make a
small mark at this position. Call this the “new dart location
mark.”
3. Prepare an area on a table before doing the next step. Cover a
section of the table with a piece of cardboard or pad it with a
stack of newspaper that protects the surface of the table as well
as an anchor for push pins.
1.13
Instructions continue on the next page.
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-19
4. Put a larger fresh sheet of paper on top of the padded table. Lay over this the pattern prepared in
Items 1 and 2, having the fresh paper extend beyond the typing paper on all edges. Anchor the
pattern with push pins.
Original
dart
5. Use a pencil to trace from the new dart location mark around
the rectangle and stop at the first line of the original dart.
Always indicate where the tracing starts and stops with a small
mark on the paper underneath. Tracing is indicated by dotted
lines in the following diagrams.
New dart
location
First Tracing
1.14
6. Put a push pin at the point of the dart and remove all other
pins holding the paper down.
7. Pivot the typing paper “pattern” so the second line of the
original dart touches the spot where the first tracing stopped
(at the first line of the dart). This closes the original dart.
Anchor the paper so it will not shift from this position.
8. Trace around the rest of the “pattern.” Indicate the new
location of the mark for the new dart.
Second Tracing
A general rule: When pivoting, any part already
traced must not be retraced.
New
dart
9. Remove the push pin and the “pattern” that was pivoted.
There are now two marks indicating the new dart location
and the original dart is gone. Connect the two new dart
location marks to the point of the original dart. Observe that
a dart has been moved using the Pivoting Technique.
1.15
1-20
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
Top
Prepare for the remaining dart exercises. Label one short side of a sheet of typing
paper “top.” Draw a dart from the top to a point above the center. Draw another
dart up from the bottom so dart points touch. Draw a short line across where the
darts meet. Later this line will become a set of notches.
Copy this arrangement of darts to five more sheets of paper. Use a needlepoint
tracing wheel to mark them all at once. Five copies and the original are needed
for the next exercises. See example to the right.
1.16
C. Techniques with Two Darts
1. Use the first sheet
prepared in the previous
instructions to practice the
Slash/Spread Technique
shown earlier. Move one
dart to a long side of the
paper and notice that
moving one dart does not
change the other.
Dart closed
Top
Top
New dart
Cut
1.17
2. With another copy of the two-dart sheet use the Pivoting Technique shown earlier. Move the same
dart moved in the previous item to the same location. When tracing around the paper, pass the dart
you are not moving. Trace it with no change.Notice that the results in Items 1 and 2 are alike. The
Slash/Spread Technique and the Pivoting Technique give the same results when done with care. It is
best to master both to provide the designer with more options when working with patterns. For
example, it is difficult to pivot a tissue paper pattern but the Slash/Spread Technique works easily.
New
dart
First Tracing
Second Tracing
1.18
Instructions continue on the next page.
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-21
3. Use another copy of the two-dart sheet to
combine both darts. Cut away one dart. Close
the other dart and tape it flat. The new dart is
large. This is rarely used on a front bodice
pattern as such a combined dart makes a very
sharp point that is not becoming on most
women. It also causes a radical shift in grain but
may be used on the bodice of an evening gown
where the inner construction prevents twisting.
Dart closed
Cut
1.19
D. Slash/Separate Technique
1. Using Yokes and Gathers:
Top
a. Label the top of the fourth copy of the two-dart sheet. Draw the
center line of the top dart. Square a dotted line from the center line to
the right side of the paper.
b. At the dart point square a dotted line over from the top dart’s left line
to the left side of the paper. These two dotted lines do not form a
continuous straight line.
c. Fold the top dart closed and use a short piece of tape near the top
edge of the paper to hold it in place. Notice that the sheet of paper
cannot lie flat. If this were a pattern, it might look as if it were
conforming to the shape of the body.
1.20
Dart closed
d. The paper must be flat so the designer can work on the area. To
flatten it, keep the dart closed, fold the paper under on the first dotted
line, then on the second dotted line.
e. Position folded paper so the top dart faces up. Mark a point on both
long sides of the paper down 2 inches from the top. Draw a dotted line
between the two points. Make a single crossmark 2 inches from the
dart on one side and a double mark 2 inches from the dart on the
other side.
1-22
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
1.21
Folded under
f. Cut along this new crossmarked
line, separating the top part of
the paper from the rest of the
sheet. The lower part of the
closed dart will open as it is cut
across because there is only a
little tape near the top. Use a
curve stick to smooth the line
that has a bump at the center
dart line. Erase the dart lines
and write “Gather” across the
same space. On a pattern, the
crossmarks would be notches to
match when sewing.
Dart closed
Top
Top
Folded under
1.22
g. A section of the paper has been separated and the dart changed to gathers. If this were a bodice
pattern, the lower dart might be replaced by gathers as well.
b. Cut away the dart spaces
and separate the two sides
of the paper. The sections
are similar to a Princess
line pattern.
Straight grain
a. Use the fifth copy of the
two-dart sheet to learn to
hide darts in seams. Draw
two lines parallel to the
paper’s edge, one on each
side of the darts. They
indicate straight grain.
y
wa
t-a
Cu arts
d
Straight grain
2. Using Seams:
1.23
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-23
c. Use the sixth copy of the two-dart sheet to create another seam that hides the darts. Draw two
lines parallel to the paper’s edge, one on each side of the darts.
d. Use a French curve to draw a slightly curved dotted line starting near the top on one side of the
paper. End the curved line at the dart points as shown in the first diagram.
e. Cut along the curved line, stopping at the dart points. Fold and tape the top dart closed. A
curved dart space opens. Cut away the entire bottom dart. It becomes a two-section “pattern”
with all the darts hidden in a seam. This is a another kind of princess line.
Dart closed
Top
Top
Straight grain
Opens
Cutaway
dart
Straight grain
Top
Cut
1.24
In these exercises, rectangles of typing paper were used to learn the techniques for moving darts. The
examples do not illustrate the aesthetic principles of designing for the female body. This subject is
considered when applying these techniques to patterns.
fffff
The techniques on these pages can be applied to patterns. Knowing all of them gives a designer more
tools. Refer to the Index for specific sections on moving darts when designing a pattern. Practice the
techniques using scaled patterns. These are the techniques presented in this section:
• Slash/Spread Technique
• Pivoting Technique
• Slash/Separate Technique
1-24
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
Using Drafting Tools and Templates
Although students may have extensive experience sewing, they may not be familiar with the the use of
rulers, curves and other tools used for pattern drafting. A “beginner” in pattern drafting frequently makes
mistakes when drafting by using these tools in the wrong manner. In the next chapter instructions for
drafting the Basic Patterns are found: the Basic Skirt, Basic Bodice and Basic Sleeves. How to use the
drafting tools and templates is covered in this section in that same order. While doing the Basic drafts, the
student can refer to these instructions to see how to use a new tool or template efficiently.
1. The Tailor’s Square is used in Items 1
though 4 of the Basic Skirt draft. The
diagram to the left shows how to
place the Square correctly.
Hip Level Line
2. There must be a straight line drawn
first. In this case, it is the Center
Front line for the skirt.
Move square up
for this corner
Rotate square 90°
for this corner
Center Front—Basic Skirt
1.25
Center Back—Basic Skirt
Hip Level Line
Use curve stick
for front curve
Center Front—Basic Skirt
1.26
3. To square a line over from the first
line, one arm of the Square is aligned
with the existing line at a specific
point and a second line is drawn
along the other arm of the Square.
4. The Square is then moved to another
specific point and the process is
repeated. The Square may need to be
rotated to fit into a different corner.
5. The Curve Stick is
introduced in Item 11 of the
Basic Skirt draft. It is used
to draw the side hip curves.
6. Lay the Curve Stick so its
straighter end is on the
lower part of the skirt side
seam where a straight line is
desired and slide the Curve
Stick up or down until the
mark on the temporary
waistline is visible. Trace
along the edge of the Curve
Stick in this location.
7. Flip the Curve Stick over
and repeat this process for
the other side hip line.
Instructions continue on the next page.
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-25
8. The Curve Stick is also used to
draw the waistline on the
Basic Skirt. In Item 13 it is
turned so it runs almost
parallel to the temporary
waistline.
Center Back—Basic Skirt
Hip Level Line
9. The draft has 3 inches squared
at Center Front and Back at
the waistline. Lay the Curve
Stick so its straighter end is on
a 3-inch line. Slide the Curve
Stick to right and left until the
mark on the hip curve is seen.
Trace along the edge of the
Curve Stick in this location.
Flip curve stick to
draw front waistline
Center Front—Basic Skirt
10. Flip the Curve Stick over and
repeat this process for the
other waistline.
11. In the Basic Bodice draft, Items 5–7 cover
how to draw the neckline curves using the
Armhole Templates or French Curves. The
diagram to the right shows how to place the
Curves correctly.
Back armhole
template
Top line—Back
Top line—Back
Center Back—Basic Bodice
12. The back neckline is a shallow curve drawn
with the #16 French Curve or the Back
Armhole Template. The front neckline is a
rounder, deeper curve drawn with the Front
Armhole Template or the #17 French Curve.
Top line—Front
#17
French curve
Top line—Front
Center Front—Basic Bodice
1.27
1.28
Center Back
Center Front
13. Items 8 and 9 in the Basic Bodice Draft cover how to draw
the shoulder lines using the Shoulder Slope Templates.
The diagram to the left shows how to place the Templates.
1.29
1-26
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
14. Front and Back Shoulder Slope Templates are different.
Place the Back Shoulder Slope Template so its Top Line
touches the Top Line of the Back on the draft and the
point at the Side Neck Point. Place the Front Shoulder
Slope Template so its Top Line touches the Top Line of
the Front on the draft and the point at the Side Neck
Point. Trace the bottom edges of the Templates for the
shoulder seam.
Trace edge of
French curve #17
between arrows
15. Item 10 in the Basic Sleeve Draft
covers how to draw the sleeve cap
curves. The French Curves are
used. The curves are drawn in four
steps.
Trace edge of
French curve #16
between arrows
Step 1
Back
Front
Basic Sleeve
Back
16. To the left is a diagram that shows
the #17 French Curve following the
guide line halfway and tilting to
touch the top of the cap at the
center. Trace the French Curve in
this front quarter section.
Front
Basic Sleeve
Step 2
1.30
17. To the right is a diagram that shows
the #16 French Curve following the
guide line halfway and tilting to
touch the top of the cap at the
center. Trace the French Curve in
this back quarter section.
Step 1
Step 2
1.31
Step 3
18. To the left is a diagram that shows
the #16 French Curve following the
guide line halfway and tilting to
touch the Underarm Point. Trace
the French Curve in this back
quarter section.
Trace edge of
French curve #16
between arrows
Back
Trace edge of
French curve #17
between arrows
Front
Back
Front
Step 4
Basic Sleeve
Step 3
1.32
19. To the right is a diagram that shows
the #17 French Curve following the
guide line halfway and tilting to
touch the Underarm Point. Trace
the French Curve in this front
quarter section.
20 Notice in the diagrams that the
French Curves are not in an upright
position, but are tilted so the cap
has a soft, smooth curve.
Basic Sleeve
Step 4
1.33
Chapter One: Essential Information for Designers
1-27
Evaluate Your Learning from Chapter One
Look in catalogs or magazines from which you can cut pages. Search for a photograph of a woman
wearing an interesting outfit that shows her from head to toe. It is preferable if the photo is in color. Cut it
out and fasten it to a sheet of paper. Answer these questions:
• Do I like the way her outfit looks on her?
• What makes me like (or dislike) it?
• What could be changed to improve the outfit? Additions? Deletions? Be specific.
• Can I see any darts in her clothing? If so, where are they?
1-28
Pattern Drafting for fit and fashion
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