Pattern Table is Moving!

Ok, I got a little ambitious. I failed to recognize how much work is required to curate content for two different blogs, work a crazy day job (11+hours a day), develop a line of home sewing patterns in my spare time, and, oh yeah and there’s the whole eating and sleeping thing.

I love it when I find out people are actually reading and commenting!  I do not want to disappoint by having to choose which blog gets the weekly post. Consolidation is a must.

I want to be out there posting not only about patterns and garment industry related stuff, but also sewing, alterations, and my projects. Please stop by to visit and say hi. Also, I am always taking requests for any pattern related questions that can be discussed.


FBA- what the heck is it?

This is the question I kept finding myself asking as I read the numerous inquiries on popular blogs and the numerous convoluted tutorials that exist on the web where I am not exactly sure what they are fixing. Ok I finally get it. I’ve definitely dealt with it on a professional level, but in a different context. When I am in a plus sized fitting it is so common that we just call it ” the armhole issue”.  The armhole is the area that shows the first symptom of an FBA.

Symptoms include:

1) Gaping armhole- the wad of extra fabric that you just want to pinch out. Problem is if you just pinch

2) Stress lines (pulling)  originating from the apex point

3) Front hemline is wavy and or pulls upwards

What creates the need for a FBA?

Well, this is maybe a stupid question to those who require and already know, but let’s break it down as far as engineering goes. When you drape a piece of muslin over a dress form to be fitted, as you shape around the curves you pinch out the extra fullness and turn them into darts. As a chest gets larger, not only do you need a wider panel for the front, but more shaping for rounder chest and added length to cover over the chest.

Many sewing patterns start out as a missy size base from which all sizes are subsequently graded (making all sizes). Rarely do these pattern companies grade the dart depth. This is crucial because the deeper the dart the more shape for the chest. Also, the deeper you make the dart, the front chest becomes wider as well.

How deep should darts be?

Well, this really depends on your cup size, but I haven’t really broken it down that specifically, but I’m sure someone has. A general rule of thumb for me is a 36″ chest should be 1 1/2″ deep for a side seam bust dart and a 48″ chest  side seam bust dart should be around 3″ deep (make sure your darts are long enough as well). These are just guidelines and it really depends on the styling. When you have numerous seams to add the darts to such as a shoulder princess seam, waist princess seam and side seam bust dart then the 3″ dart depth is distributed in each, but the amount can vary.

How to Fix it- pt 2 coming soon….

Drafting a pattern for pleats

Let’s talk about how to make a pleats, or for the purpose of demonstration- a pleated skirt.

First, let’s get some terminology down:

The depth of the pleat is how deep each tuck will be. The return is the amount of space between each tuck.

Next, here is how pleats or tucks are indicated on a pattern:

Let’s get started…

1) Determine how deep you would like the pleats to be (example 1 1/4″)

2) Determine how much return you would like (the space between the pleats). (Example: 1 1/2″)

3) Measure your waist circumference (example 30″)

Now to the math…

4) Take the total waist circumference and divide by the return amount. This will equal how many pleats there will be. (Example: 30″ waist divided by 1 1/2″ = 20 pleats total).

5) Take the number of pleats and multiply by desired depth. (example 20 x 1 1/4″= 25″) This is the total needed to add to the skirt width.

6) Determine how wide of a square you will need for the skirt by taking total waist circumference + total pleat depth (example: 30″ + 25″ = 55″ total width.

7) Determine the length you want and finish off the square.

Here’s a visual for your reference:

8) Mark the pleat notches on the pattern. Because of the seam allowance there will be one pleat that hangs off the edge, but it picks up on the opposite side. Do this by marking a notch at half of the pleat depth. Then mark a notch indicating the return (distance between pleats). Add another notch indicating the end of the pleat. Repeat: mark a notch indicating the return (distance between pleats). Add another notch indicating the end of the pleat, until you have reached the end and you will have half a pleat depth remaining.

It’s been awhile

Wow, I have really fallen behind. Sorry to anyone that follows me. It’s been kind of crazy. I am have been working 10 hours a day at my day job trying to wrap up fall production and now we are crazed putting new styles into work for spring development. The fashion calendar really makes the time fly by fast. There are a couple of things that I have been asked to discuss such as FBA’s and neckline alterations, and then there are some other things on my mind like how jeans/skinny pants are drafted differently than trousers and the issues that arise. 

I have also just returned from a trip to Paris where anything pleated is all the rage. I think its something that will come up and I’d like to share how pleating is expressed and executed on patterns. 

Please stay tuned. 

Trial and Error- Making Multiple Fits

Making a pattern may bring you closer to achieving your design, but more likely than not, your pattern will require alteration either to improve the fit or tweak the design. If I make a pattern for a client and it is fit approved on the first sample, well let’s put it this way: I should go out and play the lottery that day. I like to treat the first draft as the experimental muslin, or the first step in a process. Sometimes I will sew up a muslin knowing full well that this is not going to be a good fit. But this brings me closer to where I need to be and I have a clearer direction on what to do next.

Case study:(warning do not try this at home unless you know your way around a pants pattern.) I often read about turning a pair of pants into shorts or vice versa. I started this process as an exercise to determine exactly what was required to do so. I had a pair of shorts that I liked the fit of and I wanted to copy the saddle and waist shape onto a pair of pants. I took the shorts pattern and made it into a pair of pants, applying familiar shapes and morphing the shorts pattern. I knew the first draft would need further improvement. These pants needed a lot of work (these are the worst of the worse) :

1) The back rise ended up too short making my butt look really flat

2) The back saddle was too narrow

3) Too much fullness in the thighs

4) Legs twisting

I fixed the first draft using what I like to call my Kamikaze method- chop, slash, patch, close… basically throwing everything I have at it. Here is what the

fixed pattern looked like on the back (front was not so bad)


This is still a work in progress, but I anticipate probably at least 2 more muslins.

My point is this: This is just the way it is. It’s a way of life in the industry where we don’t even think twice about making a revised sample to get it right. I’m working on a line of home sewing patterns and each style is sewn at least 3 times to get the fit right. It’s better to spend the time slowly perfecting the fit and re-sewing samples. C’mon, we all have extra fabric that has been laying around. Why not use up some of the extra stuff? Added bonus:  it does make you a faster and better sewer by repeating the process.


Industry Insider: How the clothing gets to you pt 2

Sealing the deal.

Traditionally buyers representing stores of targeted market set up appointments to visit the designer/manufacturers showroom. The samples that were constructed in pt 1 are now brought into a showroom where everything is hung up neatly or spread across the wall for a picture perfect presentation. The salespeople and sometimes designers explain their concepts and try to sell the products to buyers. Buyers place orders based on their customer needs, forecasting and financial expectations. Depending on the success of the collection and /or the buyers budget orders may be placed for many styles or only one.

When the orders are confirmed the fitting process begins. Sometimes the designing company has the right to approve the fit of the garment. Another common scenario, especially in the case of large retailers, they will require the designing company (vendor) to submit samples to be fit by technicians at their location for standardization and quality control purposes. For the discussion purposes I will only detail the vendor fit process.

A professional fit model is called in to try on a number or garments which orders have been placed for.  Persons present at the fitting can vary, but mostly it is the designer, the patternmaker, the technical designer, and production manager.  Each style is evaluated for fit, functionality and styling. Detailed notes are taken and afterwards passed to the patternmaker.

The patternmaker applies the necessary changes to the pattern and the garment is re-cut and re-sewn. The fit model is once again called in and the same evaluation takes place. Depending on the level of perfection involved this process can repeat numerous times. I would estimate that on average a garment is fit 2-3 times before getting the final fit approval, but this can vary widely.

Industry Insider: How the clothing gets to you pt 1

So you think fashion is glamorous?

I’d like to set the scene for you of the side of apparel that I know so you have a context for my content:

To those who aspire to be designers or are enthralled with the glamour, the glitz, the sophistication- let me tell you this: Fashion is not always fabulous.

Here is the first part in series of how the clothing gets to you ….

The vision: Designers develop their concepts based on current trends and successful styles and form them into a cohesive story based on silhouettes, fabrications and colors which are presented to buyers as samples.

1st Sample: The execution: original ideas are passed on to the patternmakers either from sketches, original sample inspiration or photos. The patternmaker will either drape or draft the concept, sometimes building a new style based on a successful pattern with a proven fit. If there is draping involved the designer will check in to approve the initial otherwise the pattern and fabric that are chosen are passed on to the cutter. The cutter does exactly that, cutting efficiently and with minimum waste. Cut pieces and trims are passed onto the samplemaker of choice: whoever needs something to do or specializes in a certain item. The samplemakers will start putting together the pieces. It is the responsibility of the patternmaker to ensure the integrity of the vision work with the samplemaker to check the process and make any necessary alterations along the way.

The first sample is trial and error. Sometimes an entire new piece will need to be re-cut if it is not exactly what it should be. As an example, a blouse can be finished and the collar does not look right so the collar needs to come off, the pattern fixed, new collar cut, new collar applied. It can be frustrating, but this is part of the process and one becomes very adept at working with changes on the fly.

The people involved in making the prototype sample can vary, especially since a lot of development work now happens overseas. It really depends on the company set-up, but this is the basic way clothing is sampled domestically.

Coming soon…Industry insider pt 2. Sealing the deal (the order placement and beginning of production)