Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SWAP Diary Jan 14 2009

I decided to start with a simple blouse for my first SWAP drafting attempt. It is semi fitted with front and back vertical darts, a stand collar, and long sleeves with cuffs.

There are several different ways the patterns are presented in Lady Boutique (LB) magazine.
1. Instructions that specify the pattern measurements for each size
2. Pre printed patterns in limited sizes on a tear out insert
3. Drafting instruction which give dimensions for style details (collars, sleeve type, darts, pleats, etc) that you add to one of the 3 different slopers you have already drafted to your personal measurements.

This blouse was type number 1. The drafting instructions were specific measurements for Japanese sizes 9 and 13. (Not to be confused with US Jr. sizes). Based on a comparison of my body measurements to those in the size charts, I was a combo of Size 13 on top and 15 on bottom. But when I added up the finished pattern measurements in key spots, like bust, waist and hip, I found there were huge amounts of ease built into the pattern. Over 6 inches in the bust. Way too much for a fitted blouse with darts in my opinion. My favorite RTW blouses have at the most 4 inches of ease in the bust. So I used the dimensions for a size 9 on top, and a size 13 below waist, lengthening the torso and sleeves. I drafted all the pattern pieces including sleeve collar and cuffs. When I tried on the muslin, the torso fit great. The darts hit the waist and bust correctly. But the bottom of the arm hole was below my arm pit.

I measured the arm hole opening on some RTW blouses and a BWOF blouse and found that LB pattern arm hole opening was about 2 in (5 cm) larger and almost an inch lower. So I extended the side seam up and redrafted the armhole opening to be about the length of the RTW blouses. Then I had to redraft the sleeve pattern. I checked that the drafted sleeve in the bicep area was as wide as my RTW blouses and long enough to reach my wrist. Everything looked good.

An important lesson I learned from this experience: Draft and fit bodice patterns before drafting sleeve and collar. Believe me at this point the urge to go back to my TNT ( Tried n’ True) patterns was strong.

The fabric for the wearable muslin was a floral print of a roughly 50/50 blend of wool and cotton in a twill weave, which I believe is called Viyella. This was from my stash. It was purchased from Imaginations fabric club (some of you will be able to date it using with that info). It was very soft, surprisingly wrinkle resistant, and a real joy to sew. I am surprised that more of this type of fabric is not available now.

The completed wearable muslin fit well. But I felt the collar stood away from my neck in the front too much. So for the official swap blouse I raised the center front neckline to be closer to my neck, and because I did this, I had to redraft the collar to fit the new neckline.

The SWAP blouse is made of a silk print and was quick to sew once all the pattern alterations were complete.

I actually like the muslin so much I plan to add a different collar to it and use it for the SWAP. Not the same experience I had with the next blouse. More on that soon.


  1. I just love your illustrations. And way to go on that Lady Boutique blouse!

  2. I suppose starting on a "simple" Mrs Stylebook drafting garment will help with the more challenging ones. It turned out well in the end but is surprising that you needed to redraft the armhole and hence the sleeve. It certainly in an interesting exercise.

  3. Wow! Can I say it one more time, "Wow!" This is going to be one amazing swap journey and wardrobe!

  4. You are very talented! Draft a pattern, sew it up, sketch a cartoon!
    My first reaction to you mentioning Viyella, was WOW, they still make that? The first time I heard about it was after I was introduced to heirloom sewing/smocking. Some people evidently made smocked dresses out of it. I don't think I've ever actually seen it, but it sounds like a lovely fabric. Not exactly a real practical fabric in the desert though.

  5. I know from experience how time consuming drafting and re-drafting a pattern can be. I admire your tenacity. Love you fabric choices. This is going to be a wonderful journey, with lots of great lessons.

  6. Beautiful! I love pattern drafting, but haven't had the time to do it --- you've inspired me!

  7. I'm currently into drafting and drafting again. That's time consuming so I hope my result will be as satisfying as yours. The blouse is lovely ! Oh and I love your drawings!

  8. I love your little sketches. Quite helpful to visualize what you are posting. The blouse looks great!

  9. What beautiful illustrations! Well done on the blouse too!