When it comes to clothing design, there’s nothing more feminine and playful than a ruffle. Ruffles are very simple design elements yet can completely shift the mood and style of a garment. I touched a bit on ruffles months ago, yet I still haven’t shown you the patterning side. For those that are interested in learning more pattern drafting techniques, today’s tutorial will cover another application of my all-time favorite technique: the slash and spread method. In the steps to follow, I’ll show you a simple way to draft a circle ruffle from scratch at the desired width and length.
There are two main types of ruffles: gathered ruffles and circle ruffles. They look and drape very differently not to mention the sewing techniques used to apply them vary greatly. A gathered ruffle as you might have guessed, is first gathered to create the ruffle flounce, after which the gathered edge is sewn into the correspond seam. A circle ruffle on the other hand, has flounces that are localized, applied individually on the sewing pattern depending on the desired ruffle density. The patterning process for the latter ruffle style is what we’ll discuss today! As opposed to a gathered ruffle, a circle ruffle has a smoother, more flexible quality.
I recently got a great question from someone who is getting more into pattern drafting but not surprisingly, experiencing some setbacks with dart placement. Darts are undeniably one of the most complicated elements to maneuver around when altering or drafting sewing patterns from scratch. It comes as no surprise given that darts alone provide the transition from flat to 3-dimensional. The organic shape of the human form is complicated and not a single one is made exactly the same as the other. That being said, understanding dart placement and dart manipulation comprises the most essential part of learning patternmaking. It is also a great starting point for those that want to learn how to alter and draft patterns from scratch!
Today, I will show you how to shift darts around on a pattern using the slash and spread method- the single most important beginner technique in patternmaking, in my opinion. I don’t know why I waited so long to write this tutorial! After all, I use the slash and spread technique on almost all the patterns I draft from scratch. From adding gathers and pleats to altering fullness on sleeve caps, I can't work without this simple method.
The best part about it? It is actually fun, and along with “funness” (not a real word), comes simplicity. If you’ve struggled with shifting darts around on a sewing pattern, or feel intimidated by darts altogether, follow the simple steps below and you will hopefully no longer feel like a prisoner to it. By learning the slash and spread logic with darts, you will be able to individually apply this technique to other patterning challenges. Darts are just a great, basic way to start.
In today's tutorial, I will show you two different but common scenarios you may encounter when drafting a pattern that has darts:
1. How to split a single waist dart into two separate darts: one vertical waist dart and another horizontal bust dart.
2. How to transfer an entire dart from one area of the garment to another. In this particular example, I will show you how to shift full excess from the waist dart to a shoulder dart.
As one of my favorite looks of all time, this box pleat skirt is every bit the playful yet classic cut you want in a silhouette. From a technical stand point, drafting its sewing patterns form scratch is moderately simple yet a little more time consuming (proof in the duration of the sewalong video below).
The steps below will walk you through the complete process of sewing a full, box pleat skirt with invisible side zipper and side seam pocket, from drafting all sewing patterns (from scratch) to cutting, marking and sewing the final skirt!
Side note: This tutorial will emphasize the importance of using notches as they provide one of the most essential markers for matching pleats and pockets in the sewing process.
Drafting The Box Pleat Skirt Patterns
When I draft sewing patterns from scratch, I always work from a set of basic dress patterns (also called blocks) fitted perfectly to my size. If you choose to do the same, never work on your original basic patterns. Always trace a copy to a separate piece of paper that you can then completely alter into the new design. Doing so not only allows for re-usability but also takes the pressure off making mistakes! If you take a difficult-to-fix wrong turn, you can always retrace the basic dress patterns and start the process all over.
My dress patterns are cut on fold style with single pointed bust darts on the front and double pointed (contour) waist darts at the front and back. This style is as simple as you can get in terms of a non-stretch, basic fitted dress. For this skirt tutorial, I separated the bottom portion of each front and back dress pattern and used it as a blue print for drafting my box pleat skirt.
The Waistband Patterns
Before you start altering the body of the skirt pattern, use the original waistline to draft the waistband patterns first. It is a lot more difficult to draft the waistband once the pleats have alreday been added to the skirt's waistline as you would have to keep the pleats folded as you draft. No need to complicate things! Get the waistband patterns out of the way first.
You can view the full tutorial of drafting this particular waistband pattern here: How To Draft A Sewing Pattern For A Non-Stretch Skirt Waistband (Faced Style)
To give you a more succinct breakdown, here are some of the main steps in the process:
On-seam pockets are a staple of functionality. Whether used on casual garments or formal styles, they are undeniably a valuable asset to the garment's versatility. I find myself adding pockets to any design I sew from scratch, any chance I get. They are fairly easy to pattern and sew, elevating the garment with the addition of just a few simple steps. On-seam pockets have now become somewhat essential to me. I don't know about you, but I'm always instinctively searching for pockets to house my keys or phone when I'm out and about (doing a million things at once).
The simplicity of sewing on-seam pockets is often contingent on your sewing pattern. If you start off with a good, clear pocket pattern, the rest is easy to complete. There are a variety of different pocket bag shapes and styles you could choose from, but in this tutorial, I'll work from a skirt pattern to draft a simple, round pocket bag.
When drafting pocket patterns, it is easiest to use the main pattern of the clothing item (you are adding the pocket to) as a blueprint. You will be using the actual seam (on the pattern) to generate the pocket pattern. My skirt will have a pocket on one side seam, thus I'll draw the actual pocket bag pattern directly on the main skirt pattern using the skirt's side seam as a guide. This technique works for any clothing item whether a skirt, dress or pants as long as you work directly on the seamline of the main pattern, at the exact desired location of the pocket. To get more clarity, follow the steps in the video tutorial above and/or the step-by step breakdown below.
By the way, stay tuned to learn how to then sew this pocket in a video tutorial to come!
Deciding The Pocket Location And Marking Its Opening
First and foremost, let's decide on the pocket's location. Although you could technically place it just about anywhere along the seam, keep in mind the pocket's optimal functionality. You want to be able to comfortably insert your hand and easily retrieve (or place) items in without any discomfort.
The best way to measure how far down to place an on-seam pocket is to measure its opening in relation to the waistline location on the pattern. This rule applies specifically to pockets sewn into the side seam, which technically is the most common application.
As a general rule, the side seam pocket should open starting at about 3-5" down from the waistline. For optimal comfort, the pocket opening itself should be about 5-5 1/2" inches long, although that varies depending on your specifications (and type of pocket).
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).
The idea of drafting your own patterns can feel pretty intimidating. After all, it takes some acquired technical skill and understanding. It is true that there is a greater learning curve associated with learning pattern making. However, if you start the right way, learning just a few important principles, you can actually start making your own sewing patterns in no time!
The whole idea of patternmaking is based on altering basic patterns. Every dressmaker/patternmaker should have a basic set of patterns they work from. These basic sewing patterns are called slopers or blocks in the fashion industry. If your goal is to make patterns for yourself, then all you really need is a good basic dress pattern with a simple curved neckline. When it comes to a basic dress pattern, keep in mind that it should include all appropriate darts (bust and waist darts) and form a well fitted garment for your body type.
I personally like to work from a good dress pattern (form fitted to my body type) because it allows me to see the transition from waist to hip, providing a way to make longer tops and outerwear without having to physically piece together a bodice pattern and skirt pattern. A basic dress pattern keeps things simple and can be separated to create both tops and bottoms.
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Designer by trade and dressmaker at heart. I spend most of my days obsessing over new fabrics and daydreaming new ideas.
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