Patterning a Blouse
- Draw a straight line on paper as the base line
- Pin the seam line of the collar along that line making sure it lies exactly on top
- Pin the very edge of the collar to the paper, starting in the centre and working out. Pin every inch or so.
- Remove pins and use French Curve to join dots
- Add seam allowance to all edges
- There are lots of internal details on the front of the blouse (pleat, darts, inset pocket) but the first step is to treat the front like it's one piece and trace it out. After that you can add the details.
- Mark the grain line (baste, tape)
- On paper, draw a large L as the base line and pin the very edge of the CF of the blouse to it, starting in the corner of the L with the lower point of the CF.
- On this blouse you can only pin up to parallel with the underarm seam as the blouse becomes more 3D. For garments with many features you will need to pin in sections, remembering that the pin holes will form the outline of the pattern piece or feature. This blouse, thalf he CF is pinned to the baseline and then smoothed out and across to the armhole and pinned out. Then pin along the dart seam as far as you can go. Then take out some of the side pins so that you can continue pinning down along the dart.
- Pin the hem in place over to the side seam, using the other baseline as a guide. Smoothing the hem into place may result in a pouf of fabric forming - pin this together as a type of dart (it's uptake will get added to the length of the blouse).
- Remove the pins from the lower section of the blouse, leaving in the upper few pins along the CF and underarm (will become the lower points of the top section), and move on to the top section. Pin right up the CF and smooth across to the sleeve, pinning up along armscye. Go as far up as you can with the section flat. When you can't go any further, pull out some of the lower pins and smooth out the section above. Pin in the neck edge up to the shoulder seam and any piecings. Make sure to pin in any features eg pocket placement, placket seam etc.
- Add placement notches (eg where the pocket joins the armhole) by marking with a pin into the fabric and then pinning across the seam line for an inch or so. When you do the sleeve pattern piece the pin in the fabric will remind you to do the placement line there as well.
- To do the pocket bag, flip the blouse up to reveal the pocket bag and pin around the outline. Remove the pins and flip the blouse down again.
- Remove all the pins and you have your roadmap. See below for how to add dart uptake and pleats to the roadmap and that excess pouf of fabric to the hem length.
- Fold the back in half through the CB and lie along the baseline, with the corner in the corner of the L. Pin up in sections until the whole roadmap is completed.
- Don't forget to add a placement notch into the armscye
The Front Sleeve
- The sleeve has a set-in head with some ease and gathers into a cuff which has a lapped placket and a pointed overlap.
- For any piece that is folded or cylindrical, like a sleeve, aim to break it down into smaller chunks and do one section at a time.
- Fold the sleeve lengthwise with the underarm seam line exactly on the fold and pin through the fabric both the underarm and the overarm. Note that the overarm line will usually be the grainline.
- Draw the baseline in the middle of the paper (there will be pattern piece either side) and lie the overarm fold along this line. Pin very close to the edge in the middle of this line and smooth down to the underarm fold and pin there as well. On the overarm fold start pinning up towards the sleeve head, pinning along the underarm fold up along the armscye, smoothing as you go. Notice that towards the sleeve head the overarm fold starts pulling away from the base line - don't pull it into fit, let it lie below the line and pin it in place. The difference between the overarm fold and the baseline is the ease that is built in to the sleeve cap. Pin the overarm and underarm seam towards the cuff, pinning down to the cuff even though it pulls away from the baseline as the sleeve gathers into the cuff (the bottom of the sleeve is usually a straight line which is then gathered in). Pin along the bottom of the sleeve where it joins the cuff, even though this is moving away from the baseline.
- Don't forget to mark the placement notch where the pin is through the fabric on the sleeve head, matching where you marked it on the front.
- Remove all of the pins and connect the dots, leaving out the areas where the fabric has moved away from the baseline (the sleeve head and the gathers near the cuff). Continue the sleeve hem line across so that the back sleeve can be placed correctly.
The Back Sleeve
- Place the overarm fold on the baseline with the back of the sleeve facing up. Pin through the sleeve hem/cuff seam to match the new baseline, keeping the overarm fold along the other baseline.
- Pin around the sleeve as with the front sleeve, including pinning the placement notch to match the back and other features such as where the sleeve vent lies.
- Remove all the pins and draw in the roadmap, using the French Curve to connect the dots and draw in the blank bits at the sleeve head. Continue the sleeve line right down to the sleeve hem line, keeping it square which will allow for the gathers into the cuff.
- Add seam allowances all around. The grainline is the baseline.
- Note that other cylindrical garments, such as pants, can be copied using this method. Draw the baseline in the middle of the paper and do the front first, broken in two with the front folded down the CF line (= grainline) and lining that up to the baseline to do one side of the front and the flipping it above the baseline to do the other side. Then do the same to the back.
- Many cuffs don't require pinning to make the pattern, they can just be measured and drawn as eg a rectangle. Then duplicate along one long edge for a self-faced cuff and add seam allowances.
- If the cuff is shaped or asymmetrical, fold the cuff and lie on one side of ta L baseline, pin around it then flip to the other side of the baseline and pin around the other side
Joining the Dots
- Join the dots using French Curve, truing the curves as you go and drawing in the lines for darts, tucks, pockets, etc.
- Where there is piecing and the seam line has been marked with pins, draw this in in red and mark the seam allowance either side. Write notes on the paper to remind you what they are.
- Add seam allowances to features eg pockets as you go and then trace off that piece separately, including seam allowances, by putting another piece of paper under it and using the spiky tracing wheel to trace it off. Add the grainline.
Adding the Darts
- Where the darts are, the adjacent seam lines will change. You can draw these seam lines in but they will change.
- The traced line of the pleat - is it in the middle or is it an angled leg? Determine this by seeing whether it is parallel to the grainline (middle) or angled (leg).
- From the garment, measure the uptake of the pleat (3/4" = 1 ½" total) and the dart (1" at seam allowance = 2" total) and the pouf (½" = 1" total). Draw in the pleat and dart with uptake . On the paper, write in 2" + 1" = 3" total extra that is needed to be introduced into the pattern in the dart area. This will be divided between the seam above the dart and the seam below the dart. Extend the seam line up at the armscye area and use French Curve to join to previous pinning line and extend the lower part of the side seam (brings it back to the baseline).
- There will also be 1½" that needs to be added in the side seam area to account for the pleat (can't come out of CF so must be on the side seam). This gets added to the width of the side seam, at the same height as the top of the pleat where the uptake is greatest and this will form the new side seam line (a wedge is added)
Truing the side seam
- Use the spiky wheel to trace the 3 legs of the darts and form the dart and fold it down (as it will be sewn). Use the French Curve to get a smooth side seam. Use the spiky wheel to trace the side seam where the dart fold is - open out and trace the line. Add seam allowance to the side seam.
- Measure the (cut on) facing width and add it to the pattern. Fold it under along the CF line and use the spiky wheel to trace off the neck edge. Fold out and draw in.
- Measure all seams and check they match
- Check measurements of pattern against original garment
Make the Muslin
- Use a 4mm stitch length and don't backstitch (easy to pull apart)
- Baste CF where button will go
- Only put in 1 sleeve
- Just use 1 collar piece eg upper collar with seam line drawn in. Allows you to evaluate whether the collar shape/size needs to be changed.
- Just use 1 cuff piece with the seam allowance drawn in to check proportions
- Cut from large pieces to small - lay out the large pieces on the fabric and nest the small pieces in between.
- Sew from small to large. eg sew the pocket and smaller details first.
- Make adjustments to the paper pattern as you go eg if the lower sleeve is a little long for the armscye, measure the amount and take out of the sleeve.
Fit the Muslin
- Make notes onto the muslin. Add any changes onto the muslin including where button holes will go. Pin out excess eg at the side seams or extend the dart length, on the outside of the muslin.
Deconstructing the Muslin
- Where the excess is pinned out at the side seam, on the other side (not the one with the pins) draw the seam line on the fabric on both sides of the pinned seam.
- Remove the pins and measure the distance from the new line to the old seam line at multiple points and transfer that to the paper pattern.
- Draw the new cutting and seam lines.
- Reducing the side seam will affect the sleeve at the armscye (the sleeve would be too big) so will need to reduce the sleeve somehow. Rather than just taking it off one end, cut and spread the sleeve through the middle and take out the required amount (like a vertical tuck). This will take a small amount from the ease of the sleeve head.