Thursday, July 10, 2008

My questions on A Dress a Day!

image from Threads Magazine by Terry Horlamus

Check it out. Erin from the wonderful, fantastic, engaging, entertaining, helpful, intelligent, nostalgic, inspirational, aesthetic, can't-say-enough-good-things-about-it blog A Dress A Day posted a question poised to her by moi' a few days ago (July 8, 2008 to be exact). This is what I asked her:
I recently acquired some AWESOME Vogue Special Designs dress patterns, but they are several sizes too small and about 10 inches too tiny for me in the bust/waist.

I am learning to redraft my own patterns, but in the meantime I would be happy to pay somebody for their expertise in resizing my small patterns into my size and tracing them onto pattern paper for use in my sewing room. Do you know of any companies or individuals who offer this type of service?

While I am in the mood to pay others to help with my sewing, are you aware of any companies that offer the service of cutting and marking patterns, then mailing the patters, fabric, and cut pieces back to the owner to complete the sewing?

I am so eager to sew that I am looking for shortcuts to speed up production time. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you. - Kate

Dress a Day responded with a link to this Threads article on pattern grading, which I am still working my way through. The article boldly claimes that "using the method I outline here. This means that you—the home sewer, custom dressmaker, or independent designer—can do just as good a job as Vogue, Burda, Calvin, or Donna." That is excellent news, because I need to grade a bunch of beautiful vintage dress patterns. The article, among other details, give this information with the above graphic:
Making the cut
There are five basic pattern pieces: bodice front, bodice back, skirt or pants front, skirt or pants back, and sleeve. Each pattern piece has several vertical and horizontal cut lines, which correspond to measurements on the grading chart.

These standard cut lines are placed in approximate locations where the body "grows" or "shrinks." Vertical cut lines are always parallel to CF or CB (or sleeve's grainline), and horizontal cut lines are perpendicular to CF or CB (or sleeve's grainline). A cut line may pass across a dart but shouldn't intersect a dart lengthwise (this changes size of dart, thereby altering garment's overall shape).

Making the grade
1. Establish overall grade (difference between pattern’s measurements and body measurements).

2. Divide overall grade by 4 to get allocated grade. This distributes overall grade among four parts of body or pattern (left and right front, and left and right back).

3. Divide allocated grade among the cut lines on the pattern piece (see drawings at left) by following cut line’s formula in grading chart on the facing page. Calculate it yourself, or use the precalculated amounts for commonly used grades.

4. Slash along cut lines and spread/overlap by the required amount along each cut line.

5. Blend gaps if pattern was spread; split difference if overlapped. Trace graded piece onto clean paper, and transfer grainline and notches.

Overall grade: 8 in.
Allocated grade: one-quarter of 8 in. = 2 in.
Formula for line 1 (one-quarter of allocated-grade): one-quarter of 2 in. = 1/2-in. spread

Finally, to expand on the Thread's method, one of Dress a Day's readers named Jen posted this comment, which I think astutely describes what individuals like me can do to make their cut and slash pattern grading methods one-of-a-kind custom:
Grading up: You will get your best results when re-sizing a pattern if you start with a perfect fit sloper pattern(as mentioned by "anonymous"). A sloper is how the pros start-and it is the best way to avoid disasters with proportion. Suggestion: If you make your sloper in large woven gingham cotton, your grainlines will be clear and your pattern balanced more easily. You can iron-on stiff interfacing to the back of that gingham fabric after all alterations have been made, and have a perfect fitting pattern to follow.

To change a pattern using the cut&slash method (as shown in the Threads article): lay the cut paper pattern you want to enlarge on top of the altered sloper pattern, making the slashed spaces even so your grainline is still straight. You may decide to line up your patterns across the bustline or waistline, then enlarge from there. Just be sure the Center front is aligned, shoulders and underarm meet, and the waistline is centered. What you will probably be left with is a layout of the style lines, super-imposed on top of your sloper's basic block.

Place tracing paper over this and mark the 'new' pattern on it. Another way to copy the pattern is to start with a cork board, lay on pattern or butcher paper, then the sloper, and finally the paper pattern that is being graded. Use a pattern wheel with those scary pin wheels and roll around the pattern to transfer the pattern to paper (or go around the pattern with a pin, stabbing the edges with a line of pin 'dots'). When the patterns are removed, the under paper will have a copy of the pattern in puncture lines.

Now, go try out your new pattern!
After reading all of this, I suppose that next up on my list of sewing to-dos is completing a boring sloper pattern in gingham, I think something like this McCall's M2718, a Palmer Pletsch Basic Fitting Pattern. It won't be a fun project, but it may make every other future project a better fit, and THAT would be fun!

1 comment:

Myra said...

Another great help for me was - how to size up and down. I find this way easier.