Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pattern design for beginners

Have you been adjusting and altering your patterns to the point where they are now something new? Do you have visions in your head of the perfect garment and think you might be able to create a pattern for it? How would you even begin such a project? Well, I have been doing just this and have gotten to the point where I am now dabbling in pattern design.  I have nothing to share at this point, but here are some of the resources I have been using. Now, of course, you could go to fashion design school and learn all of this but since there is not one near me, I embarked on my online learning experience.

1. Pattern design books. 
  • Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear is, apparently, one of the standard textbooks one must have if pattern design is in your future. This is the fourth edition of this book and it is available on Amazon both new and used.  I found this book to be very helpful in understanding how measurements work together with design.  It does refer only to metric measurement, so that may take some getting used to if you don't use Euro patterns.  This book is not easy to use for the beginner, I won't kid you. But, it is invaluable.  The author, Winnifred Aldrich, also makes versions for menswear and women's wear. 
  • How to use, adapt, and design sewing patterns is another good book to read.  I got it from our local library but then decided to also buy it on Amazon. It has chapters on altering commercial patterns, designing your own patterns, great information on techniques and tools, and, most importantly, a huge assortment of pattern blocks for you to use.  What are pattern blocks? Read on!
  • Some other books to consider are: Patternmaking for a perfect fit by Steffani Lincecum, The complete photo guide to perfect fitting by Sarah Veblen, How to make sewing patterns by Donald McCunn, and Sewing Couture Techniques by Claire Shaeffer. These, and more, are for sale on Amazon and may also be in your local library.  I also found some great vintage pattern design books at local used book stores.

2.  Pattern design blogs
  • The Fashion Incubator is a great place to start looking online for information on pattern design.  Kathleen Fasanella not only runs the blog but also writes books, runs a forum and has other products, services and resources about fashion and pattern design. I do not belong to her forum, so I cannot comment on it.  I do find her posts about pattern design to be very helpful, such as this one on "how to check the accuracy of graded patterns."
  • Carla Crim, from The Scientific Seamstress, who makes awesome patterns, wrote a three part series on making epatterns for Sew, Mama, Sew. They are a beginning look at what it takes to design a pattern.
  • Burda has some resources for pattern design, such as this list of tools you need. You are only as good as your tools, so definitely plan on getting at least a few new ones.  I have to say that my new set of French curves makes me very happy.
  • You definitely do not need a lot of fancy tools to just begin to make a pattern for yourself or your family. Look at what Katy did at Sweet Verbena. Google around and you will find more!

3.  Software  - as far as I know, there is not software for the home user that will do all the work of pattern design for you. You can, however, use these illustration software products to draw your own.
  • Inkscape is free. Don't ask me how to use it. I couldn't figure it out.
  • Adobe Illustrator is not free, but you can probably find a class at a local community college to help you learn how to use it. That is what I am currently doing!  
4. The last thing you need is some lovely friends who can answer dumb questions. If your friends don't know pattern design, you can join me in the journey! I would be happy to try to answer our questions or find someone who can.

Here's a sneak peak of what I am up to!

Thanks for reading!

 PS If you made it this far, I will tell you what a block is for!  A basic block is a drafted pattern that has been perfected to fit the body precisely.  After it is tested, it becomes the base for other patterns. You can take that basic block and use it to build other patterns. Like, if you have a basic bodice block, you can add different sleeves, sash, skirt types, etc, and build more patterns on that bodice block. This is not to be confused with sloper.  A sloper is a pattern without seam allowance. Fashion incubator explains it better.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this interesting post! I have used Aldrich's book for children's wear a lot, and like it. Agree that it is not very easy, but when I first have understood the basic principles, I like it and trust the blocks. But I have also drafted some garments that became disasterous, example raincoat based on overgarment and then kimono. Became a tent not fitting a child double the age, *LOL*!

    By the way, found your blog when using google to find hobby sewing blogs in other parts of the world than Scandinavia. Nice to see the fine dresses that you have made!

    Easter holiday greetings from Annwes, Norway