Because the feminine figure is a mass of curves, both convex and concave, the pattern designer becomes aware of the importance of learning how to produce simple patterns which will accomplish two things, namely:
- Shape and fit the garment to conform to the curves.
- Introduce additional design interest or drapery which will improve
the silhouette, but which will retain a beauty in line and form in any
Study the accompanying sketches carefully. From the front view, notice how the fabric must be shaped to fit the curve at the base of the neck. Observe how the shoulders slope gently downward away from the neck towards the arms. Hence, it is essential that the pattern have such shaping.
The arm socket also requires a curved shaping line and then the figure tapers inward to the waistline. Then, from the waist downward, the silhouette curves outward again to form the width of the side hip.
Although the nude figure tapers inward again to form the thighs, the model forms do not—except those designed for making slacks and bathing suits. As the model form is a mold for a garment, and the skirts must provide walking room for the limbs, most model forms are designed to fall straight downward or may flare very slightly to the lower edge. Of course, many times, the silhouette of the skirt may not only provide the necessary walking room but considerably more as well, as is naturally the case with flared, pleated or gathered skirts.
Study the feminine figure from a profile, or side view. Again, you will notice that the back neck requires a less intense curve to bring the fabric around smoothly. From the base of the neck, the silhouette curves outward gently to form the shoulder curves. This is a high, shallow curve in the ideal figure. In mature figures, additional deposits of flesh may exaggerate this line to form the "dowager's" hump. Then notice that the ideal figure curves into a "compound curve" down to the waistline. Like the sides, it again swings outward to define the silhouette of the back hip or buttocks. Observe that the back hip is slightly larger than the side hip line.
Now observe the front portion of the figure from the profile view. From the shoulders the silhouette line slopes outward and downward to form the highest curve of the bust, and then once more dips inward in a compound curve to the waist. In mature figures this is another point where flesh may accumulate excessively. From the waistline downward, the silhouette should drop practically straight to the floor. In junior figures, if the waistline is extra small, the abdomen appears more prominent. For such types of figures, certain basic principles of cutting are used to actually provide for a slight shaping at this point. And, likewise, certain styles of skirts will permit such shaping and they prove to be best adaptable for such types of figures. From a profile view, walking room must also be provided in the silhouette.
The three points which divide the figure are the bust level, waist level and hip level. These divisional points are of vital importance to the pattern designer. You will read much about them in this text.
Pattern making is an art. It is the art of manipulating and shaping a flat piece of fabric to conform to one or more curves of the feminine figure. Because the figure must be free to assume many different positions, to walk, sit or run, the pattern is designed with that thought in mind also. The perfectly designed garment should be equally beautiful when the wearer is standing or sitting or in motion. Clothing which is designed for some certain purpose, such as skating or swimming must be "functionally" designed, with its purpose in mind. Such clothing may be so designed as to give the figure greatest beauty while in motion.
The study of pattern making involves a combination of three basic factors, namely:
Technical methods of procedure for making the pattern with the use of the modern block system. These steps of procedure are common to the making of almost every pattern. With a little careful study and practice they are easily mastered and become the foundation of all pattern making.
Craftsmanship is an essential to good pattern designing. It is the ability to do something neatly—the capable use of the hands—to produce any article. To some people this may be a natural trait. In others this desire for perfection must be cultivated. But it may be acquired through constant practice and painstaking effort. Most public schools cultivate craftsmanship ability in young children through classes in wood working, basketry or drawing. The pattern designer must learn to work with speed and accuracy. A perfectly rendered pattern may become the basis for cutting hundreds of garments in one operation. If it has been carelessly rendered, with symbols lacking, seam allowances carelessly measured, it may cost the manufacturer thousands of dollars in returns.
Artistry in pattern designing is clearly revealed in the muslin proof. At that stage the designer sees his paper pattern design actually draped upon the curves of the model form or the individual. His artistic sense will be manifested in well proportioned lines, in carefully placed darts, in the spacing between pleats and tucks. An artistic pattern maker is paid well for his talent. He may take a badly proportioned sketch for a good idea and, through his artistic judgment, he may produce a pattern for a garment which will be a great improvement on the original idea. Or, if he lacks artistic sense, he can make an ugly garment from a beautiful sketch of the idea. It is for this reason that most modern designers today learn pattern making. It gives them a deeper insight into their creative work and, if the pattern maker is lacking in artistic sense, they can advise him regarding the final proportions for the finished garment.
Definitions of Patterns
- Blocks:—sometimes called "slopers," "basic or foundation patterns"— are usually made of 150 lb. weight cardboard. They are generally made by drafting from the measurements which have been carefully taken from an individual or from a standard size model form. Some designers make their blocks by draping muslin upon the model form and then transferring the outline upon the cardboard. Either method can be used. Directions for measuring and drafting basic patterns are given on page 56 in this text.
- Construction Patterns: are the intervening step between the
block and the finished final pattern. They are usually made from light
weight, tough, pliable paper. Some designers use muslin for this purpose.
In some more complicated designs, two construction patterns are needed
before the final pattern is made.
Blocks and construction patterns usually do not have seam allowances.
- Final Patterns: (in factories they are sometimes called "markers")
are the finished patterns for a design from which the trial muslin or even
the final garment may be cut. When a pattern maker has become experienced
in his work, he may, for the sake of speed, use his final pattern without
a muslin trial. This fact is especially true when sections of the garment,
such as the skirt, sleeve and back bodice are being cut from patterns which
have been used previously in other garments. He may make a muslin trial
proof of the new design which has been developed in the bodice front section
Seam allowances are carefully allowed on all final patterns. Symbols which indicate darts, grain of fabric, et cetera, must also appear. In large plants, once a final pattern has been completed, it leaves the hands of the pattern maker and is put to use in the cutting department. The symbols on the final pattern tell the cutters how to lay the patterns upon the fabric.
The steps of procedure given in this text are complete and detailed. Naturally, the dressmaker who is making an individual model gown may employ the use of many short-cuts and time-savers. She may, with experience, even use a construction pattern as the basis for making a muslin proof which will be tried upon the customer. When it has been checked for artistry in proportion, she may cut the final garment directly from the muslin. These time-saving methods come with experience—with a thorough working knowledge of pattern making and designing. They are not recommended to the beginner.
In the first few problems, detailed steps of procedure are given which, with the aid of accompanying diagrams, will show you just how to proceed. When you have had experience in making several simple patterns for bodice fronts, the instructions are less detailed and the reader can recognize the procedure by reading the diagrams, just as a carpenter learns to read a blue-print from the architect. Sketches and diagrams shown in the back portion of the volume may appear to be complicated but, once the reader has carefully studied the text material previous to those pages, they will be easily understood.
The following problems are devoted to the study of simple functional control darts. You will learn how they may be shifted from one basic position to another without destroying the original fit. Following these are others which show you how to employ the use of drapery, shaping seams and tucks instead of darts and yet retain fit in the garment. Without the intelligent use of these first basic principles, your garment designs will not have STYLE.
These first few problems apply to the shaping of the fabric for the curve of the bust. Later, these same cutting principles will be applied to other sections of the garment. Finally, you will use them to produce a wide variety of garments all of which must be cut to flatter the feminine figure and to provide close fitting in certain areas. The position of the grain of the fabric has everything to do with the hang of a garment and its durability with repeated wearing and cleaning. Therefore, throughout the study of pattern designing you will be reminded of the current position for the grain of the fabric when the muslin is made. Because the simple dart controls the shaping of the fabric to the curve of the body, it is referred to as "control dart."
All sketches have been made simply, so that you may clearly see the problem at hand. As this study is devoted to the cutting rather than the styling or ornamentation of garments, little trimming is shown in these sketches.
The Shoulder Dart
In this problem, you will study the method used for shifting the control from one location to another. For the sake of beauty in design the designer finds it preferable to place the control dart in one position in one pattern and in another position in the next. This may be accomplished easily.
Original foundation slopers provide for a single dart which extends from waistline to bust point.
If the reader wishes to experiment with these pattern cutting principles explained in this first chapter, remove this page from the book, cut out the pattern on the lines. Trace around it on medium weight cardboard so you may produce a practical sloper pattern.
Read Each Step Carefully Before Proceeding
1. Lay your cardboard waistline control sloper on a piece of white construction paper and trace around the pattern with your hard lead pencil.
2. Lift your cardboard sloper away from the tracing. Observe the opening which represents the area of dart at the waistline
4. Use paper shears and cut out this new construction pattern, but do not cut out the dart Merely cut along the dotted line which you added.
5. Fold over the dart into closed position by bringing two lines together. Your pattern has a bulge at the bust point. Pin dart over temporarily as shown in Fig. 3. Place pattern up over the model form.
6. Pin the pattern up to the model form, starting with the shoulder—the center front and then under the arm. (Don't be afraid to stick pins into the form, that is what it is made for!)
8. Remove construction pattern and unpin waistline dart momentarily. With your red pencil and ruler, correct your first blue line to a straight, clear line. Note how line appears to tip inward towards point of bust
9. Re-pin waistline dart into closed position permanently.
10. You are now ready to shift dart from its previous position at the waistline into the new shoulder position, as shown in your original sketch. With your shears slash down the new red line, starting from the shoulder seam. (Fig. 4.) Inasmuch as the dart must extend to the point of the bust, you will slash to that point.
11. Flatten your pattern upon the table, leaving the waistline dart pinned. Notice how the new shoulder dart spreads open as the pattern flattens. The provision for the control has been shifted from the original waist line position to the shoulder.
12. YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE FIRST STEP IN PATTERN MAKING AND ARE NOW READY TO MAKE THE FINAL PATTERN.
Making Final Pattern from Construction Pattern
1. Select another piece of pattern paper.
2. Spread it flat upon the table.
3. Lay the construction pattern upon it and pin them together by sticking the pins vertically into the table.
4. With the aid of your transparent ruler, trace around the construction pattern with your lead pencil. Lift construction pattern and lay it aside.
5. Your tracing represents the new final pattern which provides the control in a shoulder dart. Because it is a final pattern, it still needs completing.
6. Complete the open end of the shoulder dart as shown in Fig. 5. Due to the sloping seam of the shoulder, a jog appears at the opening of the dart. Extend line B-C to a point which is the center of the dart opening. From point A, bring a ruler line up to meet that first line
By completing the edge of the dart in this manner you will find, when you assemble your muslin proof which will be cut from this pattern, that it will provide a perfect edge to the shoulder seam when the dart has been folded over and pinned into position.
Completing Final Pattern
You will recall that no seam allowance was provided in the sloper from which you made your construction pattern. As none was added to that construction pattern, it must be provided at this point. All final patterns should have seam allowances.
Seam allowances are not standardized in the garment industry. They are varied according to the weave of the fabric being used or the selling price of the garment. Higher priced garments usually have generous seams to facilitate alterations. For the sake of uniformity as you study, make these seam allowances on all patterns: 3/4 inch on all seams except the neckline which may be 1/4 inch only.
1. With the aid of your transparent ruler, add 3/4 inch seam allowance to all edges except the center front and neckline.
2. Add 1/4 inch allowance at the neckline. (Fig. 6.)
1. Mark and cut a square notch at the edge of the dart.
2. Mark three circles (punch holes if desired) near the center front edge to indicate that the pattern is to be laid on a fold of fabric at this point.
3. Mark circle or punch hole to show tapering point of dart.
Checking Final Pattern
Any final pattern should include, where needed:
- Corrected seam edges at dart openings.
- Seam allowances as specified.
- Grain line indicators.
- Circles or punch holes indicating fold.
- Punch hole or circle indicating end of dart.
- Notches indicating edge of darts.
- Additional notches showing various sections to be joined together at seams. (Not required in this problem.)
CUT OUT THIS FINAL PATTERN WITH PAPER SHEARS.
Architects, sculptors and designers know the value of making a preliminary proof for a design in less expensive media or to a reduced scale. Time and money is saved in so doing. Muslin is the trial medium for the costume designer. It is used extensively in better custom shops and in all manufacturing plants. The muslin should vary in texture according to texture of the actual fabric which will be used. Furriers use a coarse, heavy canvas which drapes much as a fur pelt would. Lingerie designers use a thin, soft muslin which has a similar draping quality to fine silk. Students of costume design use a medium weight, unsized or unstarched muslin. Most muslin is particularly adaptable for fabrics of average draping qualities.
1. Press the muslin free from wrinkles, pressing with the lengthwise grain of the fabric.
3. Make sure, when laying a center upon a fold of the muslin that the edge of the pattern is up close to the fold of the fabric. Fig. 8.
4. Pin pattern down firmly to muslin while flat upon the table.
5. Cut around pattern closely, with fabric shears resting upon the table. Keep shears sharp! Do not pick up fabric when cutting. Work flat upon table as much as possible.
NOTE: A special pattern-making table is an important item of equipment. It should measure at least 36 X 50 inches, of waist height or slightly lower. The top should be two-inch soft unfinished pine with all seams carefully glued. The soft surface may be sandpapered smooth after becoming worn from pins and tracing wheel. Some tables have a replaceable cork covering.
All symbols appearing on the final pattern should be traced upon the folded muslin in such manner as to have the carbon lines on one side of the muslin proof which will be opened and draped over the model form. At this point, the muslin has been cut out, but is still pinned to the final pattern. Proceed as follows:
1. Lay the pattern, with muslin downward, upon the carbon tracing board.
2. Using your tracing wheel, carefully trace along the original edges of pattern (before seam allowance was added).
3. Trace along both edges of shoulder dart.
4. Trace short indicating lines showing notches.
5. Trace grain indicators.
6. Remove pattern from the double muslin. Keep edges of muslin together carefully by placing a few pins.
7. Place muslin upon tracing board, with traced side upward. Follow these traced lines with tracing wheel. Tracings should now appear on one side of complete bodice front.
The "visible" method of pinning muslin proofs permits the designer to correct the angle of lines while the muslin remains upon the model form.
YOU ARE NOW READY TO ASSEMBLE MUSLIN PROOF.
The professional method used for assembling muslin proofs provides speed and accuracy. As far as possible, work with muslin flat upon the table. Otherwise it is easy for the seam edges to slip between the fingers.
1. Fold in darts by bringing two traced lines together. Place pins horizontally as indicated in Fig. 10. Note position of pin heads. Place pins 1/2 inch apart.
2. Because the seam allowance added at curved neckline actually reduces the measurement of the neckline, it is necessary to snip tiny slashes at intervals of 1/2 inch as indicated in Fig. 10. They should not extend beyond tracing line. This will permit the muslin to fit snugly around neck of model form.
You are now ready to observe the results of making your first pattern by draping the muslin proof upon the model form.