Skinny Jeans Toile 1

Well, yesterday was horribly stressful (so much so that I was too tired to go to the Tolkien Society at UOY), but today was very good, so “swings and roundabouts” I suppose. ūüôā

I toiled the “skinny” jeans for The Shire, but I hadn’t thoroughly checked the pattern before printing it, so it was a bit of a disaster (although it sewed what was possibly the neatest fly front zip I’ve ever sewn!).

These are the pages from my sketchbook:

The Shire Skinny Jeans Lay plan

These jeans are going to be made from stretch denim, with stretch needle cord knees (if I have enough fabric, otherwise, it may be the other way around).

The Shire: Tee 1 Toile

Following on from the Viking Dress toile, I made some changes to the pattern and commenced toile 4 (of the collection):

  • widened sleeves a bit (though evidently not enough)
  • took it in at the body
  • shortened to make it tee-length
  • added lace inserts


Looking at my illustrations, I can see that I forgot to add the asymmetrical hem. -_- Never mind; I needed practice with the coverstitch machine anyway (still do).

Also, I accidentally made it a size too small. This is because the size chart in Metric Pattern Cutting (which I Googled for quickness) does not agree with the dress forms¬†at college. A size 10 dress form¬†fits size 12 in the book, so when I made a size 10 according to the book, it was a size 8 according to the dress forms. Confusing? It can be. -_- So now it’s a nice fit on me, and a close fit on the dress form.


Lace Inserts
Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace and cutwork (like the cobwebs of Mirkwood)

Seeing this now, I notice I forgot the top inner bar of the Celtic Knot. It could be neater and I regret marking the circle with a Sharpie (lol), ¬†but everyone seems to be impressed with it (and I’m my own worst critic).

Neck facing
Neck facing

I was looking at my store-bought t-shirts (I acquire them via uniforms) and the back necklines are faced or bound (not sure what to call it) to cover up the overlocking. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this. So far, I cut a shape like this, press up 0.5cm on the lower edge and short ends, sew it on after the ribbing, and then edgestitch it down. It’s not perfect, but I’m getting there.

Lay plan


This was my first lay plan (not exactly zero-waste, but I cut the fabric too short, and this is a work in progress. I’m sure there’s a better way.


Realised I could cut the ribbing on the fold, so I could rearrange things to waste less fabric. I’m beginning to think kimono sleeves are not very economical.

The Whole Tee

The Shire tee 1 front view

The neckline ribbing actually sits nice and flat when I don’t have my shoulders raised. ūüôā

The Shire tee 1 Back view

(The colours in the first photo are truer to life). I like it. But, of course…

Changes to make

  • lower sleeves underseam by about 2-3cm
  • make the correct size
  • widen shoulder lace by 1-2cm
  • widen front lace to match shoulder lace
  • move back sleeve seam closer to CB
  • make asymmetrical hem

I’ll make these changes and toile again. The next top is slightly different. The lace is differently placed and there is different embroidery. It will have the wrong hem on the toile, but the actual one for the next tee is very simple so I don’t need to practise it. ūüôā

I’m quite pleased with myself. I’d never made a t-shirt till this term, and almost never used an overlocker, but I think the quality on this is pretty good!

This is how the new pattern is looking so far:

The Shire tee 1 pattern


I have a to-do list that is a spreadsheet. I might miss college. :/

Viking Dress in Jersey

As the Hobbit and LOTR are largely inspired by Nordic legends, I thought I’d put a Viking dress into my final collection. It’s pretty much zero-waste too.



I recently got an overlocker on eBay (Toyota SLR4D) and finally have it working properly! And learning to work with jersey is one of my goals for my FMP, so I’m making this dress from either jersey or ponte knit (which I have to test sew because I haven’t used it before and it’s different).

This dress took me about 4 hours to make including cutting. I’m reasonably pleased with it and I¬†will be wearing it, even though it’s a size 10 and I’m a 6.

Now, you may have noticed that the sleeves are a little snug in comparison to the dress form. This is one of the reasons we toile. ūüôā I have made them bigger on the pattern.

The pockets were going to be sleeve segments, but I thought pockets would be better (because who doesn’t love pockets?!)

New skills used in this dress: ribbing, overlock seams, overstitching, using clear elastic as a stabiliser on knits, and marking jersey (use a marker pen).¬†I haven’t perfected the neckline though¬†(and it bothers me).

I got the fabric yesterday at The Shuttle in Leeds. I went on a fabric sourcing trip with the class, which was fruitful, though I still have a few more things to get, like sweatshirting and gold-coloured denim. I estimated my final collection will cost up to ¬£300 in supplies. Not bad really, considering in London it’s not unusual to pay ¬£7,000 (but that includes paying people to make it for you, which we don’t because we learn technical skills ūüėõ ).

I have updated the pattern to work with the changes in the sleeves, and will try it next in a t-shirt, perhaps with the lace at the shoulders too. ūüôā


If you’d like more timely updates, don’t forget to check out my Instagram!


Twisted Seams in Jeans

I know I haven’t mentioned it on here yet, but I’m onto my final collection of my BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Production at York College. It’s called The Shire and is based largely on The Hobbit and LOTR (follow my Instagram for better updates). I’ve more or less got my final designs and two of the garments are jeans (oh yeah, I now work at Levi’s in York City Centre as a stylist and tailor). There will be a pair of Mom Jeans and a pair of skinny jeans. First I’m working with the Mom Jeans.

At Levi’s we have some jeans like this. They’re¬†a slim, relaxed fit in the leg, with a good fit in the bottom, and a fairly straight waist. The latter is something I will not be incorporating because I like my jeans to stay up without a belt, but the legs are good and I want to use that look. So I compared the cut with those from Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and found that they are wildly different, but both look good. The latter¬†didn’t look Mom-jeanish though when I toiled them.

This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to  make them Mom-jeanish
This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to make them Mom-jeanish


This is the shape of Levi's jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)
This is the shape of Levi’s jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)

Now, bear in mind that the first ones are size 12, and the latter ones are my size (approximately 8) so mine are narrower. The legs on the Levi’s jeans are much straighter at the outseam than the Metric Pattern Cutting ones. The alignment is also a lot closer to the side seam; you could very nearly make selvedge jeans with that pattern!

So I printed it out in my size and toiled it. All going to plan, but I made the pattern too long and shortened it on paper. This is where things began to go awry. When truing the side seam I forgot to take account of the yoke on the back, so the front pattern ended up 3cm too short, and of course I didn’t realise at the time.

I noticed something was wrong when I was sewing the inseam and the back was not only not shorter than the front (it should be) but it was too long by a fair bit. I just cut it off the crutch with the overlocker (bad move). Now the inseams matched. So I sewed the side seams, and realised that it wasn’t just the inseams that wouldn’t have matched. I carried on sewing and tried the toile on afterwards.

Now, the first problem was the bum-nose. I do not wish to appear as if I have a tail tucked in there. I assumed that this was probably due to the issue with the crutch seam, so I moved on.

Another issue came to my attention when I looked down. The legs had twisted symmetrically. I could not fathom why. Levi’s jeans didn’t. And my toile wasn’t even in twill so that couldn’t be it. Surely it must be the fit?

I cut up one leg and examined the new shape. It was… odd.

Front leg of toile


Rear leg of toile

Now, I assumed, based on half-remembered facts about twisted seams, that I must adjust the pattern to make the jeans hang right when I wear them. So I spent a good few hours playing with the pattern on Illustrator, in vain, because I couldn’t get the seams to be corresponding measurements. After said good few hours it occurred to me to get the¬†toile out and examine it again. I thought,¬†What¬†would happen if I lay¬†the legs as they would have, had they been¬†the same length to begin with and I hadn’t chopped that bit off?

And this is what happened…


The back leg’s inseam was 3cm lower than the from leg, but sewn to match it, so the grainlines were not level. This meant the leg was trying to level itself out. As it couldn’t do that magically, it twisted round like a spiral staircase. It sort of makes sense and evidently is what happened, as you can see in the above photo. Accidental Pattern Magic. As proof, if I lay the front leg properly across (as it should have been) all it well. I wore it pinned for a while correctly and it didn’t twist. I didn’t take any pictures of this (but I’m going to retoile to eliminate this issue and check the fit otherwise).

So there we have it: the (or a) cause of twisted legs in jeans is when¬†either the front or the back isn’t level (maybe because the seamstress/seamster stretched one of them and cut it off to match). I think this happens more if the problem extends below the knee.

I’m glad I learned that little tidbit, especially as I want to be a Master Tailor at Levi’s. ūüôā

Styling the Skirt Pattern

A couple of post ago we drafted a basic A-line skirt pattern. Today we are going to adapt it to make a skirt in this style:

It is a nice, simple skirt with a hip yoke, centre front box pleat, centre back zip and Italian pockets. Mine will be about knee-length and made of plaid viscose (so I will be using my Amazing Plaid Matching Pins¬†to keep everything in place before it goes through the sewing machine). I couldn’t draw nice flowers on Paint, so please imagine those stars are appliqu√©d flowers with leaves. : )

You will need:

To begin, we will draw the design on the skirt pattern with the disappearing ink pen (purple; the red lines are the master pattern lines including the hip line). We must draw the pocket in as well because that needs a pattern even though it isn’t all visually part of the design. It has to be drafted.

Drafting the Design Details

The yoke is 6cm deep from the waistline and must be a smooth curve. To make sure you have a smooth curve, fold out the dart and draw the yoke smoothly.
The pocket goes down to the hipline. Make the pocket bag (from the side seam to the dashed line) big enough for comfort. About 20cm wide by 30-35cm deep is nice a roomy.

Tracing Them

Now we must trace each of the components off onto their own bit of tissue paper. We’ll start with the yoke.
Trace the large part of the yoke up to the dart. Here you can go two ways. you can either trace the whole front yoke including the dart, and then fold the dart out; or you can move the tracing paper along to the other side of the dart lining it up as though you had folded it out (see above), and then trace the rest of the dart. It’s up to you, but if you are a beginner pattern maker, you may prefer the first option.
Now you add seam allowances. The yoke will be cut on the fold so you do not add any there. All around the rest of it, add 1.5cm (5/8″). Advanced seamstresses may wish to use 1cm (3/8″) seam allowances, but 1.5cm is good if your fabric frays.
Write on the pattern what piece it is, the cutting instructions, and the style. I haven’t given this style a number so I have just drawn the design on each pattern piece, which I think is a nice thing to do anyway because it saves your having to remember what style it is.
Now we’ll do the pocket. We’ll do the pocket bag first. This is the bit that is closest to you when you wear the skirt. It’s also the bit you can see part of in Italian pockets (isn’t that a nice name for them?). Start by tracing from the side of the dart that’s closest to the CF, along the yoke line, around the dotted line, and up to the hip point (where the pocket starts).
I was wondering what to do about this, but decided to use the hip point as a pivot and swivel the tracing paper to close the dart, then draw the pocket line, effectively closing the dart.
Add seam allowances and pattern markings as you did for the the yoke. Also add a grainline, which is perpendicular to the hip-line. This is how you add a grainline using a horizontal guideline such as the hipline:-
This is how you add seam allowances to a straight line using your Shoben Fashion Curve. Line the 1.5cm line up with the pattern piece. Draw along the outer edge of the ruler. This give you a 1.5cm seam allowance.

This is how you add seam allowances to a curve. Work as for a straight edge, taking long strokes of the pen, but keep shifting the ruler along the curve. This give your pattern a sort of Mohican hairstyle:

(For concave curves, you do the same thing, but the Mohican will be on the inside of the seam allowance. The rule is to follow the smooth curve.)
Now we’ll make the yoke and yoke facing pattern for the back. They are different to each other because of the way we shall set the centred zip.

Make the yoke as you did for the front yoke and add seam allowances all around, being 1.3cm (1/2″) at the CB back. The back yoke facing will have no seam allowances on the back. That’s right, 0cm.
Now, I forgot to curve my darts at the beginning so I had to make up for it now by making tiny pleats in the back yoke patterns and widening the darts in the skirt patterns. I left the front as it was.

Now we’ll do the skirt front with pleat.

Place your front skirt master pattern on the table and a large sheet of pattern paper on top of it. Trace the skirt up to the yoke line and trace the pocket as you did for the pocket bag.
Place your Shoben fashion curve along the front, aligning the 5cm line with the CF and draw a dashed line along the edge:
Using the dashed line, repeat that. This second line will be the fold of the fabric and so will not have a seam allowance. This means that you will have a box pleat that goes in 5cm (2″) on each side.
Fold the paper as it will be when sewn:
Now add seam allowances to the skirt, and, with the paper still folded, cut along the seam allowance, being careful to keep the pleat in place.

The sections of the pleat will now have shaped tops. You can notch them if you wish. I did because I have my new notchers. ūüôā

The Back Skirt

This is pretty straight-forward. The only unusual thing is the seam allowance at the CB. 

If ¬†you look closely you may be able to see that the seam allowance is the usual 1.5cm (5/8″) for the lower part of the skirt, but where I will put the zip in it is only 1.3cm (1/2″), as on the yoke. The 1.5cm seam allowance starts where the zip tape ends.

Top mark for the zip:

  • Place the yoke pattern on the skirt pattern with the seamlines matching (as it will be sewn).
  • Place your zip where it will go with the top-stop 1/4″ below the waistline seamline.
  • The 1.5cm seam allowance starts where the zip tape ends so mark this with a little line for now.
  • Also mark 3-6mm (1/8-1/4″) below the bottom zip-stop. This is where your top-stitching will start so that you don’t hit the zip with the needle.
  • Remove the zip and put the yoke pattern away.
  • Make the 1.3cm (1/2″) seam allowance for the zip down to the mark you made for the end of the zip tape.
  • The seam allowance below that is the standard 1.5cm

After that you just add seam and hem allowances to the rest of the pattern and cut it out. If you haven’t already, write on each pattern piece:

  • The pattern number or a drawing of the style
  • The pattern piece number/name (e.g. “sleeve”, “top-collar” if it were a blouse)
  • Cutting instructions and grainline/foldline. E.g. “Cut 2 of self and 1 of interfacing”, “Cut one on fold” etc.)
  • The date you drafted this pattern
  • Whom it is for (if you make them for people other than yourself)
And add any notches at hip points, pleats, etc. that you need to add.
The next thing to do is lay out your pattern as it will be on the fabric, measure how much fabric you will need (you may like to add 0.5m or 1/2yd if you are new to this) of self, and possibly lining fabric, and then buy your fabric. I already have a large remnant of plaid fabric out of which I hope to squeeze a skirt.
Once you have your fabric, prewash it. It is especially important to prewash and machine dry stretch fabric 2-3 times before you cut. I know because I had to throw out my second pair of jeans because they shrank so much they hurt me.
Then you can press your fabric to remove wrinkles and creases, and cut out your skirt pieces. You may like to cut the interfacing now (which is a good idea for the yoke), or you may prefer to do it just when you need it. It’s up to you.
But that will do for this post. It’s taken a lot longer to write about drafting a skirt pattern than it did to do it. ūüôā

As for storing your pattern, you can either make a nice envelope with the sort of information you find on commercial pattern envelopes (but you only need to do this for one size since your pattern is not multisized). You can put a nice illustration of the design on the front and make your own logo if you want. Presently, I just pin all the pattern pieces together and store the pattern in a plastic folder with my other self-drafted patterns. It’s not as nice, but it does the job and keeps them all together and protected.

Next time I may show you how to cut out plaid so that it matches, or else we’ll get to making the skirt. We’ll see.

P.S. If you’re following along and blogging about it, please leave a link in the comments below. I don’t know how to make a “badge” for sew-alongs, so we’ll have to do such things manually. : )

How to Draft A Custom-fit A-line Skirt Pattern

When I started to sew I wanted to be able to make my own designs. As I found out later, that means being able to draft sewing patterns. Skirts are easy to draft so this is good place for a beginner to start.

This will be a series of tutorials that will show you how to:-

  • Draft your skirt pattern
  • Cut your fabric
  • Sew the skirt
  • Sew a professional back centred-zip
  • Line the skirt
You will need a basic sewing machine (at least a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch) and a sewing kit. For the pattern drafting you will need:
  • A long, straight ruler or yard/metre stick
  • A square (a piece of card will do). Funnily enough, “set squares” are actually triangular rulers.
  • A French Curve or Hip Curve
    (Note: the above three items can be replace with a Shoben Fashion Curve or a Dressmaker’s French Curve)
  • A calculator
  • Large sheets of paper (you can use newspaper or greaseproof paper)
  • Pens and pencils
I will be working in metric. You can work with imperial (inches) if you wish, but metric easier to use on a calculator. In case you are using imperial measurements, here are some decimals and their fractional equivalents:

1/2  =  0.5
1/4  =  0.25
1/8  =  0.125
1/16 = 0.0625
1/3 ¬†= ¬†0.33333…
1/6 ¬†= ¬†0.16666…7

The measurements you will need are:
  • Waist plus ease
  • Hips plus ease
  • Waist to hip length
  • Skirt length
  • Dart = ((Hips+ease)-(Waist+ease))/14
If you fill copy this in now, it will save mistakes later. I’ve put my measurements in for examples. It’s quite wide, so you’ll probably need to click on it or zoom in.
You will also need to work out your dart measurement. This is where a calculator is very handy. Here is the formula:
(Hips + Ease) Р(Waist + Ease)
If you have some silly long decimal number (more than 1 number after the decimal point), you can round up or down to the nearest 0.5cm. This is your dart measurement.
We will draft the front and back pattern separately because it is quicker later.
We’ll start with the front.

  • At the top of sheet of paper, about 10cm (4″) down and 2cm (3/4″) in, mark A. Square down the skirt length and mark D.
  • Square across your “Front Hips” measurement (the eighth column) and mark B.
  • Square down the skirt length and mark C. Square back to D.
  • Measure down from B your waist-hip side-back measurement and mark E. Square across to the A-D line and mark F.
  • Up from F, measure your front waist-hip measurement and mark I.
  • From A measure across on the A-B line 1/4 (waist + ease)¬†+ 1 dart width. For me, this is 15.25cm¬†+ 2cm = 17.25cm. Mark this point G.
  • Square up 1.2cm (1/2″) from G and mark H. Connect I and H straight. Divide this line in three. Square down from the third-mark nearest H by about 1/2 of your waist-hip side/back measurement (here, 10cm).
  • On this line, make a dart. For me I measure out 1cm each side of the line giving a 2cm dart. Draw the dart. In the illustration I have curved this dart. It’s best NOT to do this because you need the fabric to allow room for your tummy.
  • UPDATE: I’m not sure if I’ve included this step (I can’t find it). Connect H to E, curving out 0.5cm at the mid-point to give tummy-room. Even if you don’t have much of a tummy, this room is good for the high hip area (the pelvis). If you don’t curve out, your skirt will ride up.
  • Now we will give the skirt a bit of flair. This gives an A-line, and saves your putting a vent in the back. From C on the D-C line, measure out 1/4 D-C. Mark X (I haven’t). Measure E-C and make a line from E to X the length of E-C Mark X2. Connect X2 to C with a smooth curve, making X2 a right angle so that it will be a smooth line with the side seam on the back skirt.
  • Add seam allowances down the side seam. 1.5cm is usual, 1cm may be preferred if you are sure of the fit, or you can use 2-2.5cm seam allowances for your toile.
  • Add 3-5cm for a hem allowance along the bottom of the skirt. When you sew, you will have to ease the bottom edge in a bit because it is bigger than the inside of the skirt.
  • Cut a generous seam allowance along the waistline edge because we are going to blend the line and make sure that it is a smooth curve.
  • Cut out your pattern. Fold the dart. Draw the waistline as a smooth curve. Now unfold the dart and add 1-1.5cm seam allowance along the waistline seam. Draw a notch at point E on the side seam for the zip and for matching when sewing.
Now we’ll do the back. It’s a lot like the front, but with more ease and an extra dart.
  • Start at the right-hand edge of the paper this time, 10cm down and 3cm in. Mark A.
  • Draw across, the length of your “Back Hips” measurement and mark B.
  • Square down from A your side/back waist-hips measurement and mark C.
  • Square across from C, the length of AB. Mark D. Square up to B.
  • Down from B mark your side/back waist-hips measurement and mark E. Square across to the AC line and mark F.
  • On line AB measure from A your Quarter-waist¬†+ 2 darts measurement. Mark G.
  • Square up 1.2cm from G and mark H. Connect A-H straight.
  • Divide AH into three. Each of the marks along the line will be a dart so square down from each of them.
  • The one nearest the CB will be 3/4 your side/back waist-hips measurement.
  • The other one will be 2cm shorter and L.
  • Make each dart your dart width as you did for your front dart, and draw the dart shapes. I like mine to curve out from their centre-lines so that they fit the shape of the back better.
  • Connect H to E, curving out 0.5cm at the mid-point of the line. This adds ease for the tummy area. If you don’t add this your skirt will ride up.
  • A-line the hem as for the front.
  • Add seam and hem allowances, and notches at the line E-F for matching and for zip placement. Leave a extra paper at the waistline because you have to fold out the paper darts and smooth out the waistline curve. Otherwise you may have a pointy waistline. (Same as for front.) Then add seam allowances, and mark the darts clearly as in the illustration or as you best see fit.
This is your basic A-line skirt pattern. If you have not made your own pattern (and even if you have, really) it is a good idea to make a toile out of light-coloured fabric. You must mark the vertical and horizontal grainlines so that you can see if the skirt is balanced when you wear it. Add or take fabric away where necessary to get it to balance. This can sometimes mean that you need a full pattern (i.e. not mirrored or “cut-two”) if you are asymmetrical. But don’t be too¬†picky. It does no good to get paranoid about slight wrinkles and things on your clothes. No one but you (and other very picky seamstresses) will notice. : )

You may like to have a waistband for fitting. Just cut a rectangle of fabric to your waist measurement + 2.5cm (for overlap), and 5cm deep (it will be folded over). Then add seam allowances all the way around. It is a good idea to interface this even on your toile to eliminate non-fitting-related folds and wrinkles.

There shouldn’t be much to change if the instructions were clear enough to you, and if your measurements and maths are correct. That’s why it’s such a good idea to work out your maths (carefully) first. And it saves a lot of paper. (Oh the rolls of grease-proof paper I have got through because of sloppy maths!)
Once you have got the hang of drafting and have your numbers handy, you can draft a skirt pattern very quickly. I drafted mine like this in about an hour.
Extremely Brief Sewing Instructions for Skirt Toile/Muslin
  1. Sew the darts.
  2. Sew the CB seam from the bottom and stop at the notch.
  3. Using a longer stitch (3-5mm), baste the rest of the way up (this is much easier by machine).
  4. Insert zip be centred or lapped method.
  5. Sew side seams.
  6. Make waist-band and attach to waist-line. Add a buttonhole to one end and a button to the underlap.
  7. Hem.
(I told you they were brief. Don’t worry, more detailed explanations will follow in the styled skirt make up.)

Once you have made and fitted your toile and transferred any changes to your pattern, you can adapt it to almost any style you can imagine. But I’ll end this post because it’s getting a bit long and will take ages¬†to load.


P.S. If you make your skirt to these instructions and blog about it, please send me a link or put one below because I’d love to see it! : )

I Think I Finally Understand Kimono Sleeves

They have been a bit of a puzzle to me insofar as getting a really close fit (like Gertie’s wiggle dress). What confused me was the kimono block in Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear – see how low that curve (black line) is at the underarm? It starts at most a few inches above the waistline. That is definitely not¬†the silhouette I have seen elsewhere!

But look a couple of pages later, at the styles with panel gussets. They fit more as I want, more like a regular dress. I saw in Natalie Bray’s book (I think it was¬†More Dress Pattern Designing¬†from the library) a design that had a large gusset that was cut from the bodice pattern and arranged so that it had enough fabric to function ss a gusset, like the designs below where I have drawn in blue (water disolving pen).

And yesterday morning I thought, what if the segments were cut very narrow, maybe an eigth of an inch wide? (The blue lines on number 45 give a better illustration of what I mean.) That would give the same fit but with a much more traditional/discreet gusset. This way I can have a high-cut underarm for a kimono sleeve pattern. And there I was thinking that the instuctions on page 63 were the only way to get a comfortable fit! Thank goodness for the Internet, sewing bloggers and Google Images!

I’ve thought about it again, and I wonder if Aldrich only considers is to be a true “kimono” sleeve if it has the curve at the underarm, and without it, she calls it a cap sleeve (even if it’s long)?

Update: I thought I was forgeting something!

For a closer-fitting sleeve, I wonder if it would be alright to use the “close-fitting sleeve” adaption (number 5 on page 51).

I’m wondering about the bias-cut. I think Gertie’s dress was cut from a stretch fabric so that wouldn’t be an issue. But what about wovens? Vintage dresses were cut from wovens and they often had quite close-fitting kimono sleeves, if the pattern illustrations and fabric recommendations are anything to go by (and I hope they are!).

My Sewing Pattern and Rulers

One of these drafts is my old (uncomfortable) one and the other is the one I made after adapting the method in Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear¬†(5th Ed.). The one on top is the old one (it has an orange outline) and the one underneath is my new one with seam allowances.

It’s quite bizarre how different they are, especially the back pattern. What happened there? The bust dart is the right size though (not standard; I had adapted that far).
Now for the sleeve:
There is a profound difference in the size. The old one is on top. I’m not sure if I used this pattern (it’s likely though). No wonder my old sleeves were so uncomfortable. But still, you can see that the neither sleeves is ¬†symmetrical, which is good. I agree with Kathleen on that matter.
The benefit to having such a full back sleeve (even if there may¬†be no ease) is that the fabric acts as a sort of gusset that lets you bring your arms forward. With that and the correctly drawn armscye, I can stretch my arms right out in front of me. (Of course the bodice comes up a little, but I have had much¬†worse sleeves on a jacket from a book called Make Your Own Clothes¬†from PatternMaker software. That jacket never worked for me…)
On another note, I’ve been designing and drafting a new blouse and I have two options. Option one:
And option 2:
At first view, the designs might not look that different. They’re not. The only differnce is the opening. The first option is a standard button-up. The second one has a “closing under a box pleat” with instructions similar to those in A Nu-way Course in Fashionable Clothes-making from (I think) 1926. It was on when it was up and I copied and pasted to and edited on Word (that took a very¬†long time, but it was worth it). You can find it on Google’s Wayback machine now.
I think I’ll go with option 1 because I drafted it before I figured out how to draft option two, and it uses less fabric anyway.
On a third note, have you ever had something for ages and only then realised how incredibly useful? I have, and this is that thing:
The Pocket Shoben fashioncurve. (6″ ruler in there for comparison of size). I got it for my 19th birthday in set when I got my full-size Shoben Fashion Curve. It should come in handy when I go to college in September. Anyway, is useful for smoothing out small curves (like a French curve is) and it’s also great for adding seam allowances to small places. It’s much more convenient than using my full-size fashion curve on something like a neck-line. This is the full set:
The rectangular thing is mainly for adding button placements to patterns. The corner thing is a scale ruler in 1/4 and 1/5 scales and is very good for that. Also included are 1/5 scales master patterns on card, but I didn’t take a photograph of them.
That’s all for today.
Toodloo! : )

"Redrafting my Sloper" or "Updating Aldrich"

For some reason when I tried on my old sloper (the one whose shoulders I found out needed squaring, after making my French Dart Dress and having the neckline gape) it didn’t fit at all. That put me in a dreadful mood for the rest of the day. Today I drafted two new ones using a modified version of Aldrich’s close fitting block. I drafted one to have 6cm bust ease but it ended up with none (or as good as)! It had been taken out in the shaping of the seams and darts. So I drafted new one with”10cm” ease. It fit much better so I checked the measurement along the bust line. There was only about 7.6cm ease (not what it said on the tin but fine with me and actually a “close fit”). What effect will this have on the lingerie block adaptions and the strapless bodice? The latter will have negative¬†on the bust. That can’t be right, can it?

To understand what on earth I am talking about in this post you will have to get your copy of Metric Pattern Cutting out and turn to pages 16 and 17.
Anyway, the adaptions I made to the method are these:


Centre Back Length:
0 — 5: Full back length
5 –1 = centre back length ( gives much better fit at the back¬†neck).

Back Shoulder Slope/Pitch/Squareness:
To get the shoulders the right amount of slope, use your ruler as a giant drafting compass from 5 to draft an arch for the shoulder pitch. To get the shoulder point do  similar thing from 9 using the shoulder length plus 1cm for a dart.

Armscye Depth:
0 — 2 = Armscye Depth¬†+ 2cm (I used the standard measurement).

Centre Front Length:
For front length go down from 4 the full front length measurement and mark “x”. Measure up from x the centre front length. This gives a more comfortable neckline. 20-27 = DART WIDTH. 20-26 is¬†bust depth marked along the dotted line.

Front Shoulder Slope/Pitch/Squareness:
The shoulder is drawn much like the back shoulder was, but using 27 as the neck point. For the pitch, go up from x to the bust point and then use the bust point as the pivot point. Arch from 27 the shoulder length. Where the arches cross is the shoulder point. On my new sloper it is level with the back shoulder point even though my front pitch is 2cm longer than my back pitch.

Divide 29-22 in half and mark. Connect the point and 32 straight. Slide your square along this line until its arm hits 22. Connect straight, divide into 3 and mark the point nearest 22. Curve from 30 to half-point to third-point to 32.

Repeat for the back armscye except that you use the third-point further from 14. You will probably have to draw these curves by hand (i.e. without a french curve).

12cm shaping is not going to work for everybody. The amount you need to take the waist in will of course depend on how small it is compared with your bust, i.e. 

(bust + ease of 10cm) – (waist + ease of 6cm)
(79+10cm)-(60+6cm) = 23cm, divided by 2 (for a half-a-person pattern) =11.5cm

Then divided that by 3 (=3.8). We’ll call this w.

For the front waist dart you add 0.5cm to this. 3.8 + 0.5 = 4.3cm

For the front side shaping (i.e. how much you take the side seam in at the front) you divide w by 2 and add 0.5. 3.8 / 2 = 1.9cm, + 0.5 = 2.4cm

The back side-seam shaping is w/2 – 0.5cm: 3.8cm/2 -0.5cm = 0.9cm.

The back dart is ((w Р0.5cm)/3) x 2 : ((3.8cm-0.5cm)/3) x 2 = (3.3/3 = 1.1) x 2 = 2.2cm

The centre back waist shaping is (w Р0.5cm)/3: 3.3/3 = 1.1cm

I think the CB shaping helps avoid swayback misdiagnosis. This is like a dart that is in a seam so you must still leave the original drawn CB line for when you add extend down to the hip line. Once you have tried this CB shaping I think you will be very pleased with the difference it makes to your dresses and tops.

(12th July 3013) UPDATE: 
The standard proportion of waist shaping show above doesn’t work for everybody (me) because some people have more shaping at the back than at the front. Therefore a better, more personalised way is needed, and this is how I do it:

Subtract a quarter of the waist+ease measurement (Here 66 divided by 4 = 16.5cm) from the front bust-line meausurement (3–32 on the above drawing) and call this F. Divide F¬†by three and call this f.¬†The front dart is 2f (so you can just measure out f¬†from the front waist dart line), and the front side waist shaping is f.¬†That’s the front waist done.

The back shaping is done like this:
Subtract a quarter of the waist+ease measurement (16.5cm) from the back bustline measurement (here line 2–22). Call this B. The back waist dart is 0.5B. The CB shaping is 0.2B.¬†The side seam shaping is 0.3B.¬†If you like you can probably equalize the side seam shaping.

The darts are extended 3/4 waist to hip (on me 3/4 20cm = 15cm).

Hip measurments:
The back hips should also be bigger than the front hips. This makes a real difference to the hang of the garment when it’s unbuttoned (like a dressmaker summer jacket). It you have the pattern’s back hips too narrow and the front hips too wide, you will find the garment swings open when unbuttoned and when it’s closed, the front will have flare and the back will bubble up above the hem; it won’t be smooth.¬†

So you see, the garment swinging open is not always because of the shoulders or bust. They might be fitted perfectly but the garment still swings. To find out how much bigger your back hips should be compared with your front hips, have the tape measure around your hips with the start at where you feel your side seam should be and the lower numbers to your front. Put your finger nail on the other imaginary side seam and, taking care to keep the measurement “marked”, remove the tape measure. Now you have your front hip measurement and your full hip measurement. Take your front hips from your full hips and you have your back hip measurement. (It’s worth noting these down by the way).

Divide this measurement in two.
Suppose the full hip measurement were 88cm and the front hips were 43cm. That means the back hips are 45cm. The pattern will use half-measurements so we have:
Full hips: 44cm
Front hips: 21.5cm
Back hips: 22.5cm.

This means that for the pattern’s sake we have a difference of 22.5cm-21.5cm=1cm difference between the front and back hips (2cm in real life). So even after ease has been added the hip measurement, and that number divided in four for the front and back patterns, we add 0.5cm to the back hips and take 0.5cm from the front hips for a difference of 1cm on the pattern.
88cm + 6cm ease = 94cm
94cm / 4 = 23.5cm
Front: 23.5cm – 0.5cm = 23cm
Back: 23.5cm + 0.5cm = 24cm
Difference = 1cm on the half-a-person pattern, total 2cm difference in real life.

My Toile/Muslin

[My hat is off to those blogger who can take a good photograph of themselves (especially a backview). Do they have lightweight cameras or tripods or something?]

I think these adaptions should avoid many fitting problems, but I would love to know what you think. If you have blogged about it, please add a link in a comment below and (as long as it’s not spam) I’ll enable the comment (comments with links seem to go straight to spam).

How to Draft Stereo-butt/Non-mono-butt Jeans

Any of you who are members of Kathleen Fasenella’s forum at will probably have come across the posts about jeans and the dreaded “mono-butt”. Naturally I wanted to draft a pair of jeans that did not have this fitting faux pas, and set about figuring it out.

It’s is my philosophy that simplicity is best, and if something seams difficult you’re probably doing it wrong and over-complicating it. As it turns out, drafting trousers that fit is amazingly simple. It is best done starting from a pencil skirt pattern with at most¬†3cm total hip ease. I tried 6cm and the result was less than pleasing.

The measurements you will need are:-

  • Waist + 1 or 2 cm ease
  • Hips + 0-3cm ease
    To take a comfortable and flattering hip measurement if you have a round abdomen, put a magazine over your front, hanging down like a little apron and measure your hips over that. This will give you a smoother fit there and avoid the “maternity jeans look.”
  • Waist to hips
  • Crotch Depth:
    There are two ways to take this measurement: one that automatically includes ease, and one that has no ease. To take this measurement with ease included, side on a hard flat surface in your tights/pantyhose and take the measurement from your side waist, over the curve of your hip, down to the surface.
    To take the crotch depth measurement without ease, sit on a hard, flat surface, and measure upto your waist level, perpendicular to the table. In other words, do not take the tape measure against the curve of your hip. It must be straight. This method gives a closer fit, and therefore helps avoid the monobutt.
  • Side seam length
  • Knee
    Take this measurement around your bent knee.
  • Foot entry
    To take this measurement, pose your foot as though to put on a long boot, and measure round the heel and in-step. For skinny jeans, you can subtract an inch or two from this measurement, as long as you are using very stretchy fabric, or a zip at the hem.
  • Dart (formula and distribution to follow)

The equipment you will need is minimal:-
  • A straight ruler
  • A square (a piece of card will do)
  • A French curve
  • Thick paper such as brown parcel paper or marked pattern paper
  • Something to hold the paper down if it sticks up
  • Sewing kit

How to Work Out Your Waist Dart

The formula is very simple, though it helps for certainty’s sake to use a calculator, and it’s easiest in metric (sorry USA).

Now that you have those things and measurements, you can draft your…
a — b = Waist to hips. Square across from a and b
a — d = (hips + ease) divided by 2 (because this is half a pattern)
b — c = a — d
b — e = one quarter of hips + 1cm ease
a — f = one quarter of (waist + ease) + one dart
d — g = one quarter of (waist + ease) + two darts
h and i are 1.2cm (1/2 inch) up from f and g respectively
j is 2cm down from a (this may just be me, but my clothes are more comfortable with this adjustment)
a — k = crotch depth
square down from e and c to l and m respectively
And that’s it. Now cut it out and cut the line e — l so that you have a front pattern and a back pattern.
Now we shall turn our patterns into jeans pattern…

First we’ll add the waist-line darts¬†

(I bet you thought I’d missed them out!)

FRONT: Divide your dart measurement into 3. The dart will be two thirds, and the CF will be shaped by one third. E.g. If your dart measurement is 2.4cm (mine is):
            2.4cm/3 = 0.8cm = front shaping,
            2 x 0.8cm = 1.6cm.

So shape the CF by making a point 0.8cm in from the CF waist, and connect to the CF hips with an outwardly curved line. (This makes a better fit over a naturally round abdomen). Taking this as the new CF waist-point, measure a straight line from their to the side waist-point. Divide this into three and mark the point nearest the side waist. Square down from here 10cm. Make your dart on this line, here 0.8cm from each side. For a nicer fit, make the dart legs curve outwards slightly, or if you have a full tummy, curve them inwards slightly.

BACK: The total back shaping is 2 darts worth. This will be divided into 5 to give two darts and some CB shaping. E.g. using the 2.4cm dart again:
            2 x 2.4cm = 4.8cm = Total back dart shaping
            4.8cm / 5 = 0.96cm (near enough to 1cm for practical purposes) = Back shaping
            1cm x 2 = 2cm = Dart (and there are two darts, each 2cm)

So shape the CB by making a point 1cm in from the CB, and draw with an inwardly curving line to the hip point. This accommodates the shape of the spine. Taking this as the new CB waist point, measure straight to the side waist point and divide into thirds, marking each for a dart placement. Square down from each, 12cm for the one nearest the side, and 14cm for the one nearest the CB. (NOTE: These darts lengths are only guideline measurements, yours may be different.) Make a dart on each line, in this case 2cm side. Curve the dart legs outward to work better with the curve of the lower back.

Now we’ll add the front crutch extension.

Extend the CF Crotch depth line by 1/5 of the pattern’s front hip measurement (k-l). Connect this point straight to the CF hip point. Slide your square along this line until the other part of it meets the CF crotch (k). Connect straight. Divide this line into three equal parts. Draw a curve from b through the point nearest outer line, to the crotch point. (As illustrated.)

Now for the back crutch extension.

The difference between different types of trousers/pants, as far as pattern-cutting is concerned, is the length of the back crutch extension, and the height of the pitch. The pitch is the wedge you can see in the illustration, under the Crotch Depth line. The shorter the back crotch extension, the greater the pitch must be to make up for the loss of crotch length and let you wear the trousers/pants without doing yourself an injury.
Coco Chanel said that “Fashion is architecture: it all a matter of proportions.” I think the same applies to sewing patterns. Why should we use “standard” measurements for pitch and so on and then fix the fit, when we can use a measurement proportionate to our own measurements and then have a nearly perfect fit right away?
Crotch extension and pitch must be in proportions to each other and to our hip size. We use 10th of our pattern’s back hip measurement as unit (we’ll call it x). In jeans or slacks we want a total of 5x. Trousers have a looser fit, which you can see if you Google Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear¬†and look at people’s blog photos. They look more like men’s trousers and are not altogether flattering on women, so I don’t wear them.
  • Slacks:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Crotch : Pitch = 4x¬†: 1x
  • Jeans:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Crotch : Pitch = 3x : 2x
  • Trousers: ¬† ¬†Crotch : Pitch = 5x¬†: 1x
So get your compass out and set if for a radius of 2x, and draw a circle from point m. Then draw a straight line from l the length of l — m, touching the circle. Extend this line by 3x¬†to give the crutch extension. Squared down 0.5cm to 1.5cm (about 1/4″ to 5/8″) from this point mark a new point that will be the crotch point. (By the was, this will make the back trouser leg shorter on the inseam than the front-trouser leg, and when this piece of fabric is stretched to match the front one, it will give a better fit. The more contoured you want this area to be, the lower you must drop the point.)
From the new crotch point, draw a straight-line up to the hip line. Slide your square along this line until its other arm touches the CB on the crotch line. Draw this line and divide it into three. As you did for the front crotch curve, draw from the hip line, through the point nearest the line, and to the crotch point with a curve.

Now it is time to draw the legs (rather important for trousers/pants!)

FRONT: This is simpler than the back to explain. Mark a point half-way along the crotch line and square down. From top to bottom, this should be your side waist-hem length (we’ll say side-waist to ankle). Divide that in half and mark. 4cm up from that mark you knee line. This is where your knee measurement comes in.
Bend your knee as far as it will go, and measure. Mine is 40 cm, but I like a closer fit, especially with stretch denim slim jeans, so I will reduce it to 36cm. This allows you wearing ease. Divide that by 4 (9cm) and subtract 1cm. Measure this distance out from each side of the knee marking on your pattern. Connect straight to the crotch point and the side hip. Curve the lines so that they look right, i.e. inwards by about 0.8cm on the inseam, and by about 0.6cm or so on the outseam.
At the hem line you will need your entry measurement. To get this, pose your foot as though putting it into a really narrow calf-length boot, and measure around the heel and bridge. (One me about 30cm.) You will need the hem of your trousers/pants to be at least¬†this, or else you won’t be able to get your foot through. (A lot of good that would be!) Divide this measurement by four and subtract 1cm. (6.5cm) Measure this far out from the hem marking on your pattern. Connect to the knee point. Blend the knee if necessary.
BACK: The line that you had as the Crotch line, after pitching and before lowering the crotch point is the line you will use for drawing the leg, so find its centre point and square down the same length as it is on the front pattern. Copy the placement lines for the hem and knee.
For the knee width, divide the knee measurement by 4 and add 1cm, here giving 10cm. Measure this much out from the knee point. Connect to the crotch point and the side hip point, curving the lines inward so that they look right to you. (At least as much as you did for the front leg, and not more than about 1cm each more).
For the hem width, divide the hem measurement my 4 and add 1cm, giving me 9.5cm. Measure this much out from the hem point. Connect to the knee and blend if necessary.
NOTE: The centre leg lines are also the grainlines.
So that is your jeans-fit pattern. Now you can change it into a pattern for jeans. You will probably want to trace it first in case of mistakes, or tea-spillage. It is a good idea to copy it onto thick, tough paper, fold it up neatly, and store it in a plastic sleeve.

Making your trouser/pants pattern into a jeans pattern

The rest of the pattern-making is pretty much just drawing, closing darts, and adding seam allowances.
Draw on the pockets as shown, add the fly (3cm wide), add the waistband (I made mine 3cm, but you can have whatever you wish).
The front pocket is the most complicated thing, because there are so many layers. There is the pocket bag/facing, the inner pocket bag, and the piece that you will see (I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s the bit made of denim and in the illustration, it’s red).
First, draw the pocked shape, which needn’t the traditional shape, but that is easier to sew than, say, a heart shape. The thing-with-no-name extends a bit into the pocket (say 1.5 – 2cm) so that it doesn’t peek out when you are wearing the jeans. Trace this piece off and add seam allowances.
Then there is the inner pocket bag, to which the thing-with-no-name is sewn. Using the line you just added for the inner edge of the thing-with-no-name), draw the inner pocket bag (the pink bit in the illustration).
Now for the pocket-bag/facing. Trace the pink bit but go up to the original pocket line instead of the inner one. This is what will be sewn to the outer denim.
Now add seam allowances.

Now for the waistband.

The front waistband will need two pattern pieces: one for the left and one for the right, because one side will have an underlap for the button to go on. Trace off the waistband and close the darts by folding the paper so that the lines meet at the top and bottom of the waistband.

Now trace a copy of this and we will make a waistband for the other side, with an underlap. On your traced copy, fold the paper along the CF and trace as far as the fly stitching line. This extra bit is the underlap. Now open it up and add seam allowances all around the waistband pieces.

Now to do the back waistband. This is easy. You just do the same as you did for the front waistband without the underlap (because the back doesn’t have an opening).

Now for the fly

You have a choice here. You can either fold back the paper on the front of the pattern and trace the stitching line, then add seam allowances; or you can trace it off separately and make a fly like you get on RTW jeans. I went with the first option and sewed it like a large lapped zipper (sewing instructions here). It’s easier and less bulky.
After that it’s just a matter of the pockets, seam and hem allowances, and sewing. On mine I had to slim the hips. Apparently I have very slim hips. And I somehow lost about 3cm on my waist over Christmas (I don’t know how; I sat around for most of it) so that threw off the fit of my toile a little at the CF waist. Never mind.


As for yardage, I only needed about 1.5 metres of stretch denim, which is about half of what was suggested on a Vogue jeans pattern on-line. (I bought 3m so I may have enough to make a jacket, if not, then I can make a skirt or another pair of jeans). I am petite and about a size 10 or so on my hips (pattern size), so most people may need more. You will also need some lightweight cotton fabric for the pocket linings, and optional back pocket appliqué (I have a butterfly). The belt loops can be made out of scraps.
I can’t give visual sewing instructions because I have only one photograph and that’s not much use. You can either use your good sense and experience, or use instructions available in books, online, or in commercial patterns.

Critique of My Own Jeans

Here is a front view and a back view of my finished jeans: 

It is extremely difficult to take a good photo of your own back-view. This was the best I got.

Now, I suspect the crotch depth may have too much ease (it is automatically included when you take the measurement) and that is why my jeans are not super-fitted there, like here. Also, I mistakenly had the front crutch extension being 1/4 of the front hip, instead of 1/5 which is should be for jeans. And they’re more of a slim-fit than a skinny fit, but isn’t it like magic to be able to draft and sew something right of out your head, and then have it in reality?! (It’s so neat!)

And yes, these do look high-waisted. But I am so slim that any jeans not¬†defining my waist will be very unflattering and make me look more¬†columnish. (That is probably not a word, but never mind.; Shakespeare frequently invented words and if it’s good enough for him…)

To prevent the waist from stretching (I used stretch denim and don’t want it to stretch at the waist) I sewed the waistband seams with cotton tape in them. After only being able to buy jeans that slip down, it’s nice to have pair stay¬†on my waist!

Version 2.0

I made another pair with a shorter crotch depth (measured to omit ease), and a shorter front crotch extension (1/5 front hips; the first pair had 1/4 because I forgot that jeans use less than other trousers). I also narrowed the legs and hems a bit, and lengthen the leg. (They will shrink in the wash).

Hard-won Topstitching Wisdom

The topstitching went a bit wrong sometimes, especially when I went over the really thick parts. Note: it is better to sew the belt loops onto the waistband, after topstitching, instead of trying to include them in the waistband seams. Otherwise, it seems, you get a lot of skipped stitches.

Also, it is better to stitch the yoke seam allowance downwards, not upwards, because otherwise you get a funny bump along the back.

And a note on topstitching thread. Don’t bother. I got much better results and wasted far less thread by using two spools of regular sew-all thread in a size 100 jeans needle. (A tip I got off Angela Wolf’s video on YouTube). Below you can compare topstitching thread when it was working (the seam), and doubled sew-all thread (the double-stitched hem). Apart from the wobbly hem, you can’t see much difference, and certainly not from a real-life distance, but it is much easier to sew with doubleed sew-all thread, and you can still use your needle-threader if you use a 100 jeans needle.

If you make some jeans and blog about them, or post them on BurdaStyle, please let me know ¬†— I’d love to see how they turn out! Also, if this post is well received (and even if it’s not) I want to turn it into a Kindle book, so please tell me what you think and if there is anything you want to know. I’ll take the post down when I get the book for sale on Amazon.
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
United Kingdom

P.S. You can see more about the monobutt on Kathleen’s webpage entitled “Jeans fit so lousy these days“.

P.P.S. I didn’t prewash the denim, so now they have shrunk in the wash, and while they feel tighter, the fit looks better.