Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Block construction

Basic Blocks are used in the industry to speed up the process of making patterns and for accuracy of a pattern, thus ensuring a better fit.

Patterns are usually developed on cardboard paper using the flat pattern making system (two dimensions). Basic blocks are developed using measurements provided by the Australian Standards Association or they can be made using an indiviuduals measurments. Many Designers and Manufacturers have in house Models and use these measurements in the development of their own Basic Blocks.

Blocks are chosen which are close to the individuals measurments and according to which design they wish to create and then altered to create a new pattern design.

An individual can develop their own Basic Blocks using personal measurments to enable a more accurate fit to use again and again, thus avoiding many alterations.

It is a good idea to analyse each figure type whilst doing block construction and make all pattern alterations required for a perfect fit to avoid any problems being passed onto the next design.

I will be posting more information and instructions on Block Construction for skirts, sleeves, trousers and tops in the near future.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why make a drill hole in a dart

Drill holes in darts or other areas of the pattern piece is a marking technique used to show the Machinist the placement of the dart, where to start and end the dart and how wide to sew the dart. Drill holes are also used to show placement of pockets, tucks, pleats and other design details. The Machinist will usually sew .6mm past the drill holes for the width of the dart and the length of the dart may vary, which is usually stated on the pattern. Drill holes for pockets are usually placed .6mm in from the pocket placement. Drill holes are made on pattern pieces using a special device or even an awl can mark a drill hole.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Commercial Patterns & Made to Measure

Made to measure patterns are a one off pattern made to the specific measurements of a person, allowing for a more accurate fit than that of a commercial pattern.

Commercial patterns are produced from measurements based on what industry calls "Standard measurements". In Australia we have our own set of standard measurements, which may vary from other countries. From past experience whenever I have used a commercial pattern from Europe I found that their measurements were smaller than ours.

The most popular commercial patterns such as McCalls, Vogue, Simplicity have their headquarters in the United States. Therefore, I assume that these patterns are produced in the United States using their standard measurements.

Commercial patterns are produced from measurements set by industry professionals and may vary from time to time depending on what the fashion is at the time. Pattern Makers, Designers need these measurements to create new designs and patterns.

There are so many body shapes and sizes that the industry is not able to accomodate everyone. It would be impossible and costly for manufacturers and designers to try and produce clothing to satisfy anyone who is not considered to be of standard size .

I would suggest that for your own personal block development for you to take your own measurements and record them and compare them to the Australian standard measurments, thus enabling you to create your own personal blocks for which you could use time after time adjusting the design as you please. You would avoid alot of alterations this way ensuring a better fit everytime. Basic blocks are easy to create and are definitely the better alternative to commercial patterns for the home dressmaker and for others.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Taking Measurements

The first step in making a pattern is to take accurate measurments. There are many methods of taking measurements but the following method I find is quite accurate and detailed.
First of all take all measurements closely but not lightly.

All vertical measurements should be taken on one side only

Measure the figure over the undergarments to be worn beneath the finished garment.All horizontal measurements should be taken with the tape measure parallel to the floor except in the case of the chest measurement when it finds its own according to the figure.


1. Bust - Around the fullest part of the bust, ensuring tape measure does not slip down at the back.

2. Waist - Around natural waist line. ( It's a good idea to tie something around the waist and use this as a guide)

3. Hips - Around fullest part of the hips, generally over the bottom approx 20cm below the waist( 20cm is considered the standard measurement, but will vary from person to person)

4. Upper Hips - Around hip bones, approx 10cm below waist line

5. Back Length - From nape (back of neck) to waist line.

6. Front Length - From base of throat to natural waist line

7. Back width - From armhole to armhole about halfway down the armhole straight across

8. Chest - Around body, above bust and under arms

9. High chest - From armhole to armhole at the front approx 10cm below base of throat

10. Shoulder - From neck point to point at which arm begins and shoulder finishes

11. Scye Depth - From nape, down Centre back to lowest level of armhole

12. Scye Circumference - Around armhole, whilst arm is in normal position.


13. Neck to wrist - From side of neck, along shoulder, down the arm to wrist, make sure you allow the tape measure to follow the natural curve of the arm.

14. Under arm length - From underarm to wrist

15. Bicep - Around widest part of upper arm, high under the armpit

16. Wrist - Around widest part of the wrist.

17. Hand width - Around widest part of hand ( this measurement enables the cutter to make the wrist of the sleeve wide enough to pass over the hand if there is to be no opening.

18. Elbow width - Around elbow with arm bent


(Waist and hip measurements are required as well as the following measurements)

19. Waist to knee length - From waist line down centre front to knee level

20. Waist to ankle length - From waist line down centre front to ankle level.

21. Skirt length - From waist line to length of skirt required.


(Waist and hip measurments are required as well as the following measurements)

22. Body rise - From waist line, down to seat of chair, over contour of hips, the person should be seated on a solid and upright seat.

23. Inside leg length - Down from crutch to level of outside ankle bone

24. Outside leg length - Down from waist, over hips to ankle bone. The actual length of trousers will vary depending on fashion trends, the inside and outside leg measurements are only a guide and these measurements can be varied for any design required.

Please look at the following picture below with all the reference points.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My Advice

Yesterday I received an email from a Freelance Pattern Maker from Europe asking me for my advice on "How to find company's to work for". I can only say that when I started freelancing I was actually working full time and a colleague of mine who was freelancing asked me if I could help her out as she had too much work. She put me in touch with this company and from there I started my business freelancing. I must say that most of the work that I did receive was via word of mouth, which is probably the best advertising that you can get and it's free!

If you want to advertise for work the best place is in trade magazines such as Ragtrader which is the most widely read trade magazine. Rates are not cheap but it may be worth it if you intend on freelancing as a business. And it's also a good idea to network and get to know alot of people in the industry. Professional business cards are also a good idea or get your name out there by writing to company's directly telling them about your services.

Use the internet to advertise on seach engines or get your own website outlining your services and experience.