One of my sewing goals for 2019 was to experiment with drafting personalised patterns using the bodice block I made at UAL. It’s no secret that I started sewing as I was sick of ill-fitting ready to wear; seams and style points not hitting the right spot, gaping necklines and slippery shoulders etc. Armed with a couple of pattern-drafting books, an endless supply of drafting tools, calico and a free afternoon I decided to give it a go!
The first thing I did was to transfer all of the shoulder and waist dart suppression on my front bodice block to a bust dart and lengthen the pattern to the desired point just around the hip (bodice blocks stop at the waist). Then I drew a vertical line from the bust point to the hem and using the slash and spread method I cut along that line, closed the bust dart and hey presto I had the beginnings of a trapeze top.
In order to add even more volume, my drafting book recommended a second slash and spread line, which was taken from a point on the armscye to the hemline.
The back bodice followed pretty much the same procedure, but from the shoulder dart point, taking care to add the same amount of volume as on the front so that the side seams matched. The hem line and side seams are then redrafted, both front and back, to create a smooth curve.
I’m not entirely sure I interpreted the book’s instructions accurately - it’s kind of a chicken and egg situation. A lot of books I’ve seen presume more knowledge of pattern drafting than I actually have, and so they aren’t entirely clear about why you’re doing certain things or how to execute them correctly. But then if I knew these things, I probably wouldn’t need these books so…
Anyway, I decided to run with it and see where it took me, and very quickly I was cutting out and sewing a calico toile to check the fit. Despite using my personalised block I had a little issue with the position of the shoulder seam, a small amount of gape at the rear armscye and a little bit of excess fabric across my chest. I used a sharpie to mark on the adjusted shoulder seam position and Mr Distracted helped to pinch out and pin the chest front and the rear armscye so it all sat neatly. It took a couple of goes basting the adjustments into the calico, but in no time at all I had a neat fitting toile.
I redrafted the adjusted pattern, adding in the seam allowances etc, and then drafted some neat little facings for finishing the neckline. Cutting out and sewing the final version took maybe two / three hours, it’s only 4 pattern pieces but I’m really impressed with the results. The fit across the chest and shoulders is pretty spot on, and it doesn’t slide back on the shoulders because the seam is right where it should be. The drape of the top is amazing, with just enough swing to it. The only thing I will change for next time is that the head opening is millimetre perfect, and so it’s slightly snug getting into it. At some point I will probably unpick the facings and re-sew them with a larger seam allowance just to give my nose a fighting chance of remaining intact whenever I want to wear this top…
The fabric was a precious birthday pressie from Mr Distracted, bought from the Sewing Bee Live (It’s been in my stash for that long!) It’s in a vivid electric blue dotted with tiny little white forest animals, and I used some lemon bias binding to finish the insides. The facings were attached using the burrito method, fancy eh? It’s a technique I learned when making the Collins top and then again when sewing Mr Distracted’s Fairfield shirt, it’s such a neat way of tidying up all the openings.
So that’s my first attempt at a self-draft. It might not look like much, but it is a success that has boosted my confidence to go forth and create. I hope you like it!