Time for another patterning tutorial! I know drafting patterns is not exactly the most exciting topic, but if you really want to learn to how to design and make your own clothing, it is an essential tool in dressmaking. Learning some basic pattern drafting concepts is not only beneficial for those that want to construct the entire style from scratch, but also in the process of adjusting and altering store-bought, commercial patterns. As you become a more experienced sewist, you'll find yourself needing to do the latter a lot more than you may think.
In this tutorial I'll walk you through an easy technique for drafting a non-stretch skirt waistband pattern. The same technique is applicable to other bottoms like trousers, shorts, and various other skirt styles. In this case, I'm working with a basic skirt pattern which has two darts at the front and two at the back. Due to the fact that both right and left sides of this basic skirt are symmetrical, the pattern in this tutorial is a cut on fold style. This means that I'll be working with only one side of the front skirt pattern (left) with the center front line serving as the cut on fold edge (the same applies to the back pattern piece). The center front and center back lines are the straight vertical lines that go down the very center of the front and respectively the back of a sewing pattern, dividing each (front and back) into two symmetrical sides.
If you are working with a full pattern, you can still follow the steps described below to draft the waistband. Regardless of whether it is a cut on fold pattern or a full pattern, the center front and center back lines are an essential element to use in the process as it provides a guide to help you draft a perfectly symmetrical waistband (as you'll see below).
Ever since I started sewing years and year ago, the notion of cutting a pattern on fold has consistently presented itself. Cutting sewing patterns on fold is a technique very commonly used by beginner sewists and advanced dressmakers alike. Discussed in a previous introductory tutorial, utilizing the cut on fold technique, both in pattern drafting and cutting, can save space, pattern paper and make the cutting and patterning process more efficient and easy to handle. While this previous tutorial was more of a general introduction of these basic concepts, today's post will focus on two other equally important factors: How to correctly fold the fabric in preparation for pattern cutting, and how to transfer darts and other markings evenly to a cut on fold fabric piece. The latter can prove to be a bit more difficult to grasp as a beginner.
Folding The Fabric In Preparation For Cutting A Pattern On Fold
The process of cutting a sewing pattern on fold starts with folding the fabric correctly. This entails paying attention to grain line and using the fabric's selvage edge to fold the fabric correctly on grain. If you need a refresher on fabric grain and how to position sewing patterns against the fabric, check out this tutorial: 4 Ways To Lay Out A Sewing Pattern For Cutting: Understanding Fabric Grain And The Selvage Edge.
To start with, find the selvage edge closest to you and fold it over the fabric such that the wrong side of the fabric (if there is one) is facing out and the right side is sandwiched in between. The reason for this very specific placement is so that the markings which will later need to be transferred from pattern onto fabric end up on the wrong side of the fabric. This not only preserves the fabric's face side but having the markings on the wrong side correspond more comfortably to the way the fabric pieces are handled in the sewing process. In this instance, my fabric has no right or wrong side so I just folded it over evenly.
Now for the big question, how much to fold the fabric? The way I estimate how much to fold the fabric is by positioning the sewing pattern next to the selvage edge and try to capture an approximate fold line. I always try to stay as close to the selvage edges as possible with just a bit of extra room (1/2-1"). Doing so will preserve fabric as well as help you work a lot more efficiently.
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