Saturday, 15 October 2011

Getting Organised for Pattern Drafting

The other day I decided to get all my pattern drafting stuff organised. Long term readers will know I struggle with sewing productivity, so predictably enough I haven't got round to making many patterns (only two or three) since doing my course at London College of Fashion in August. I'm starting the advanced course soon so really need to get a move on! I was struggling to find the right bits and pieces amongst a huge pile of papers, to recall what I'd already done, and I could never for the life of me remember where I'd written down my measurements. So I decided to sort everything out to clear my space and my head...


After twenty minutes of rummaging, I found where I'd noted down my body measurements (on this chart downloaded from Portia's blog) and stuck it on my wall - now I'll never lose it again.


Did I mention I invested in a dress form? Here it is! Yes, it's an "it" - I refuse to follow the convention of personifying it with a name like Gladys or something, which I find a little... erm... creepy [shudder]. I mean, it might come alive in the night and start murdering people and framing me for it (have I watched too many horror movies?!). Anyway, it's a Lady Valet, as recommended to me by Handmade Jane. I'm really pleased with the choice - it is adjustable, pinnable, swivelable, and its cream cover and wooden stand look quite nice in my sitting room. I'd been procrastinating about adjusting it to my size as I'd read horror stories about the process taking hours and hours, so I was pleasantly surprised that, when I finally got round to it, it only actually took about five minutes. Another thing ticked off my list!


I went through my massive pile of papers, sorting them into blocks, experimentations for future reference, and fully drafted pattern pieces. The latter I sorted into labelled transparent files organised by pattern so when I make them up again I have all the pieces to hand.



Tidying these up allowed me to locate the bodice block I'd drafted to my size for my upcycled lace button back blouse. I made up the the block pieces in calico to double check the fit, which was perfect. Then I glued the paper pieces onto card to help them last a bit longer and so I can draw around them when drafting patterns. I also ordered a load of calico (which isn't cheap at the moment as cotton prices have soared, apparently) for making toiles.

Now I feel much better! I've got a notebook full of sketches of designs I want to try making up, so I can get on with doing that now. Tell me, if you draft your own patterns, do you have a system for staying organised?

[Soundtrack: 'The Light' by Jill Scott]

26 comments:

  1. Nice job Tilly! I like the see through plastic wallets for drafts. I think I may have to steal that one!
    Excited to see more of your drafting :)
    Px

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  2. Next time you need calico and you have an ikea near you check there. They have bleached cotton for dirt cheap. It's what I use.

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  3. My system seems to involve the smaller bits of pattern fluttering off behind my desk and lugging a huge roll of pattern paper around the room as it is always in the way. I like your system far more!

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  4. This is very organised indeed and you know you'll be more productive because of it! It's very exciting that you plan on drafting a bit more, can't wait to see what you'll be making!

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  5. i would love to be able to draft my own patterns, but the thought of the maths involved scare the hell out of me (which is mighty difficult to do!). your space looks good :)

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  6. Wonderful, great job! And I love the dummy, so elegant. I've seen theese dummys with wooden stands, and they just look so much more reliable than the plastic ones.

    I also recentley organised my pattern drafting supplies. However, knowing that if I made it too "everything in it's own place" I'd never stick to it every time, so instead I bought an underbed storage box, long enough for my pattern draft paper. In it I have said paper, liner, tape, eraser, pencils, calculator, paper scissors, a bit of muslin fabric and whatever project I'm currentley working on. That way I can just throw it all into the box, lay my cutting mat on top of the box and roll the whole thing under the bed =)

    It may not sound very organised, but it's a lot better than having all this laying around the bedroom like it used to... When a pattern is done, it goes into a plastic fold in a binder, with a picture of the ready garment and a description of the pieces (still working on the binder...)

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  7. oh gosh this post reminds me that I need to sort my pattern cutting stuff out too!!

    I, like Erika have a box where I place all the patterns and materials I'm working on in, but I also keep a file with all the used patterns/measurements which is quite messy at the mo, which is probable why I still manage to loose things!!

    I love your mannequin by the way It's nice to see an adjustable in cream instead of the usual red and blue.

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  8. I desperately need some sort of organization system for the patterns I've drafted. My sewing room is overflowing with brown paper patterns and half done muslins at the moment. I like the idea of using a clear folder. Also, that chart on your wall is super handy.

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  9. Ooh, fantastic organization, Tilly! My heart's all a flutter looking at your clear plastic files - heaven! I love your new sewing mannequin, too.

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  10. I'm in the same boat as Liza Jane! You're space looks great, love what you are doing. This is some much needed inspiration for me to reorganize!

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  11. Fabulous! I love having a peek into your pattern blocks :-) And your new dress form is divine!

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  12. Tilly, I feel complety inspired to sort out my "mess"ops.. room. I had arrage a space in june but since then its out of order as many of my stuff seens to multiplied. How much of your room is actually all your sewing stuff?
    I like the name of your dressform too !

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  13. Fantastic!! I'm trying to keep everything nice and tidy and going a similar route down to yours but getting the clear files that are hole punched so I can put them all on a binder.

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  14. That is a very pretty dress form. Far less plastic looking than mine! Good luck in your next set of classes. I keep putting off pattern drafting because it scares me? Is it hard?

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  15. Katha - thanks for the tip. I don't have a car so get down to Ikea very rarely, but next time I'm there I'll definitely stock up on calico.

    Erika - the storage box is a great idea. My plastic folders are currently "stored" on the floor under my sewing table, so some kind of box would be an improvement!

    Pinheiro - I've only got a table in the sitting room for my sewing stuff, plus some shelves of fabric in my boyfriend's office. Once he finishes his PhD, maybe I can claim it's my turn to turn the office into a sewing room...

    Karen - it's certainly not easy to get your head round pattern drafting at first if you don't use that part of your brain in your regular job/life. I felt a bit like I was sitting in a physics lesson, trying to get my head round new concepts, but once you understand the basic principles you feel like you're in control and can try out anything you like.

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  16. My patterns are in A4 envelopes which is a rubbish system, clear folders is a far better one which I'm going to steal immediately. Phew, so glad the dress form is a success. I agree on the whole naming thing, I don't want to give mine ANY excuse to come alive at night! x

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  17. Tilly, I'm totally envious of your organization skills! Very neat sewing space! Pattern drafting sounds like such a useful skill to have, I'd love to hear about the advanced course! Also: yay for the sewing dummy! :)

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  18. Have you ever been to the croydon ikea Tilly? It's amazingly doable on public transport as it has a tram stop. I usually get the train to Wimbledon then the tram. it's great going to ikea without a car because you only buy what you can carry!

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  19. Well, I decided I need a Lady Valet, too, but they don't sell them in the US?! So I was wondering if your significant other could bring one over (size medium) on his upcoming trip?! ;-)

    Meanwhile I'll keep looking online.

    I tend to be fairly organized; everything is put away at the end of the day because of Bella. But that doesn't mean I can remember where I put it...

    for example, my machine started misbehaving last night, after weeks of running fine...I decided to get out the manual, which has been put away somewhere good--and I can't find it. But I'm sure it's put away somewhere, in a very organized place. Now I just have to figure out where that is.

    I'm looking forward to seeing some of your designs turned into patterns turned into clothing!

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  20. You can use a circular paper cutter to cut a 1 inch hole near the top of the pattern.they have these hangers for patterns that have some string with a metal bar at the end. The bar goes through the hole and you hang your design with the drawing and size specs.

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  21. Good luck with your new course Tilly. I'm very envious! I spoke to a shop owner about the price of Calico and he told me that the prices inflated because of the floods a while back that destroyed the cotton plantations in Pakistan but crops and mills are back in action now and the inflated prices are a result of the panic. He thinks the prices should come down soon. In the mean time, I have been using recycled lining from curtains that I find in Charity shops and If Im lucky, the curtains themselves are sometimes good enough for dresses too . . . cheap at half the price!

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  22. Quilt covers from charity shops are also useful for making muslins. One double cover has about 8 metres of usable fabric for about a fiver. You can sometimes get lucky and find some really pretty ones to use as fabric - I currently have two favourite summer dresses made from charity shop quilt covers.

    Julie

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  23. I did a 'learn to sew and pattern make' course this year. Pattern making was the hardest but also most exciting subject! I keep my cardboard pattern blocks hung up on pattern hooks. And my specific patterns in a folder - each pattern in its own plastic sleeve with a trade sketch so I know exactly which pattern it is.
    Things are a bit busy at the moment, but I'm hoping the new year will bring lots of sewing productivity and maybe an overlocker!
    Good luck with your projects and staying organised!

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  24. Could I just say... I recently found your blog and I utterly love it. I've made a bow belt which I love, I'm going to make more. Thank you!
    Emma :)
    (http://dotty-cottage.blogspot.com/)

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  25. Hello, Tilly.

    I've just come across your blog in my search for help with sewing (I've just started a few weeks ago on my own).

    This may be a silly/amateur question, but are you just using inexpensive material for your bodice? Some places I see paper so i'm not 100% sure.

    I just got a dressform and i think this would be a great idea; along with books that i'm ordering, to help me with my own patterns.

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  26. Hi Ms. Joseph, I'm using calico, aka muslin, aka unbleached cotton. It used to be cheap but because of rising cotton prices it's not always the cheapest fabric in the shops anymore. You could also use old fabric or sheeting, as long as it's unpatterned so you can see your markings. Also it's advisable to choose a fabric with a similar weight to the fabric you want to make the garment in, as they'll hang and drape in different ways. Hope this helps!

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