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.


Andrea Haid said...

thank you so much for creating this blog!! I am trying to figure out what blocks are, I read what you wrote and I'm still a little confused... but your blog has such a wealth of information and I'm so glad! I'm trying to learn how to make clothes. I guess if a block is 'off' it can really make your clothes look/fit wonky, right?


Hi Andrea and thanks for your comments. I will be posting other information about block construction in the near future, so please look out for my posts.

Bruno said...

Hello Anna and all other users !
Let me first introduce myself and if I may, I would like to give my inputs about basic blocks. I have been working in the clothing industry in Montreal, Canada, for many years as a pattern drafter. I first started on cardboard and switched to computer when the fashion industry slowly but surely did the big jump into that new technology.
That being said, I find Anna`s description of basic blocks quite accurate and very interesting. Nevertheless, for many people, basic blocks are something they have a hard time to understand as they don’t really pick up what the difference is between a basic block and a pattern.
I can understand that confusion. Let me clarify that if I may. Let’s say that a basic block for blouses for example (or skirts, or dresses, or jackets, etc.) would be a very simple pattern that has been fitted on a dressform or an individual but hasn’t been developped into a style yet. The basic fit desired is there but the garment is very plain. The idea is to use that basic fitted block (pattern) to develop an endless variety of styles that will keep the initial fit. One must understand here that a basic block can be altered in certain ways to develop different styles but one must not alter certain areas which I call "the untouchable ones" which would result in loosing the balance ( I shall explain in a near futur what the balance of a garment is as many people keep talking about it but very few can describe it precisely. Yet it is one of the most important fundamental points in fashion design). Of course, one understands that many styles that would have been developped at random (that is not always starting with the same basic fitted block) would be a nightmare to finalize during the fitting sessions. All sorts of fitting problems would arise and it would be time consuming to try to fix them all. The fall of the garment, the balance, the posture and the overall measurements would differ totally from one another. And that`s exactly what we want to avoid when we design a line of garments or when we create garments custom made for a specific person. It is therefore much wiser to use a basic block which we could describe as being the foundation of our line of garments.
Last, but not the least, I would like to point out that in my experience in the industry, I find that pattern drafters who can really develop basic blocks and have a full understanding of the human figure are very hard to find nowadays. Especially since many suppliers have started to have their designs developped in Asia. Personal seamstresses and tailors who made our parents and grand parents look so elegant in the past are more and more difficult to find unfortunately. That is why I now make a big difference between most of pattern drafters who can develop all sorts of styles as long as they are provided with a good basic block (but don’t have enough experience in fitting) and with what I call a fit specialist who would have the expertise to really create basic blocks that really fit and fall like they should.
Myself, I have been developing all sorts of basic blocks over the years and I still run into problems that I haven’t been able to resolve yet. And I haven’t met anybody who has given me satisfactory answers so far. That is why I would like, if possible, to use this blog to submit some of those problems in a near futur and see if we could debate them and come to a commun solution. It might get a little technical at some point for beginners but I’m sure it would be information that they might want to draw profit from if not now then later on in their career in the world of fashion design.
I thank you Anna for your blog and welcome anyone who is interested to leave comments or to ask questions to do so. I will try to find an answer if I can or someone else I’m sure will come along to lend us a helping hand. See you all soon and all the best.


Hi Bruno,
Thank you so much for your comments. Your description of basic blocks is quite interesting and informative. I thank you for your comments and hope that you will come back again to visit my blog and share your thoughts and experiences about basic pattern blocks and pattern making techniques. I welcome your feedback, thoughts and ideas.

Anna Fattorini