Thursday, October 20, 2022

Drafting Simple Sewing Patterns

How to: Watch a couple of online classes on pattern drafting, select cute, inexpensive fabrics and keep it simple. If the pattern is complicated, you will better balance reward and effort by finding a commercial pattern that has the elements you want.

The first pattern I drafted was based on the Craftsy class on making a custom A-line skirt. A pocket is on the right side. The zipper is on the left. Two darts each for front and back were copied from the slim skirt pattern, Simplicity 8192. A second pair of darts in the back is an option. If I make both the front and back larger (see comment in next paragraph about front), I can use both darts. Bias binding was used to finish the waist on the inside. The back and front are sewn together with 5/8" seam allowances. Since the skirt was a little too small, I reduced the right side seam allowance to 3/8". Still, there was not quite enough room.

Once I sewed bias binding on an inch into the waist to make it a little bigger, the fit was good. (Since the side seams taper outward, lowering the waist made it larger. The next one will need extra fabric at the front, using this one to alter the pattern. The bias binding was wide enough to put 1/4" elastic through it. That made a better fit for the waist and a more comfortable skirt. The hem was 2 1/2" deep, so the next one could be shorter if there is not enough fabric.

It is very cute, and the fit is good after the extra adjustments. After washing and wearing, it has stretched out and is comfortable, but baggy in the back. A more form-fitting one in the back might be more flattering, but it might not work well for sitting. This is, after all, an a-line skirt, not meant to fit below the hip curve.

The fabric is quilting cotton from JoAnn, 42" wide, 2 yards, $10, purchased for the circle skirt pattern but not enough. (The pattern envelope for the circle skirt lists 2 yards of 45" fabric as required for View A, the shortest option. However, what with the width being 3" narrower and the fact that the shortest option is very short, getting that pattern out of this length of fabric did not seem possible.) Although the print is very cute, the quality of this fabric is not great. The finish is soft without the sheen of the quilting cotton I bought at Taos Quilting. There's only so much one can judge from online photos. Another version would require either 2 yards of a narrow cotton or less of wider fabric.

The second self-drafted pattern was simpler to design but more difficult to sew. Cut, sew, gather eternally. That is my memory of the maxi skirt I threw together from thrifted fabric. The cutting was quick and easy, just measure and cut without a pattern. The sewing was simple, the tiers are stitched together at the sides to make loops of fabric and the top tier gets a folded-over band for elastic. The gathering, which required sewing the long bottom loops three times each, twice for gathering and once for seaming, exhausted my patience.

A second version would need a little change to the pieces if I want to add pockets. I found good consistent instructions across several websites -- it is reassuring when you see the same thing more than once. The first tier should be 1.5 times the waist measurement, the second 2 times the waist and the third 2.7 times the waist. But the length of each tier was less consistent. I went with what I considered most flattering, the first tier ending at my low hip, the second just above my knee and the third at my ankle. It looks ok, but the first tier is too short for side seam pockets.

This is a "boho" look skirt. As such, it suits me better than most of my makes, reviving those hippie days. The fabric is embroidered, tuck stitched and tie dyed a bright turquoise and indigo. I paid $10 for the entire piece and there is a little left. I made both these skirts last summer and have worn them frequently.

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