Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Workroom Session #1 - copying a pattern

I had five Pomodoros worth of time to work with tonight.  (Read the previous post if you're already lost!)  The first was used for organization - I reviewed the time management technique, made an activity inventory and a to-do list for this evening's remaining time.  Three more were used to work on the pattern copy, and the last to update the ol' blog.

I promised procedural documentation as I move along, so you will get that.  Let me start you out with a look at the tools on hand for copying and then grading the pattern.  This is by no means a comprehensive set of pattern drafting tools, but it's actually more than I wound up using:

Tools for making a copy of a pattern
At the bottom is a good old fashioned yardstick.  The next row  contains a 24" flexible steel ruler, a hip curve, a drafting square, a french curve (it's a little tough to see as it's clear), a dressmaker's curve (broken - I've busted several over the years), a 15" grid ruler, and a Dritz ruler.  the top row is double-tipped Sharpies, a mechanical pencil, an eraser, drafting tape, and (left handed) scissors.  Those little grey things above the drafting tape are pattern weights, made by hand by my grandmother out of old-fashioned flour sacking, bird shot, and red sewing thread.  A bit homely, but extremely effective, and they were my Grandma's.  The paper I'll be drafting onto is brown packing paper, sold in 36" x 15' rolls for $1.50 at the local Pack 'N' Ship.

The sharp-eyed amongst you might have noticed that my scissors are labeled "fabric" and are clearly going to be used to cut some pretty rough paper!  Don't fear, gentle readers - where my inexpensive red handled, "true left" Fiskars were once my fabric shears, I now own a very nice set of 8" true left Gingher shears.

I cut out the original pattern pieces in the largest size, as I will need to size the whole thing up significantly.  The original tissues look like this:

Tissue pattern to be copied
I cut a section of paper off the roll and taped it to the table top.  I drew a couple of vertical lines to place the tissues' grain lines on.  Working one at a time, I traced each piece quickly in pencil, then used curves and straight edges to mark them out in Sharpie, transferring any pattern markings as well.  A second pass with a pencil and ruler marked in where the standard 5/8" seam allowances would be; these too were marked in in fine tip pen, and the pattern marks were transferred into the new line as the seam allowances will be cut off.  The copied pieces look a LOT more like production patterns:
All six pattern pices copied
Closer view of one piece

Closer view of another piece

I had one piece all the way done and another started when I began tonight.  The remainder took about an hour with no interruptions, but I was a little amazed at how tough it was getting to stand over the table and do the work.  I'm out of shape and out of practice!

Finally, I cut out the pieces; in doing, I also removed the seam allowance that is included in every commercial pattern tissue.  I haven't the foggiest idea why the pattern companies have settled on a 5/8" allowance.  It is, in fact, a rather awkward width to work with.  Even as a novice I would have appreciated a less bulky, floppy, and well.... odd width.  1/2" would be a huge improvement, and when I redraw my pattern I will add 1/4" allowances.  I don't need any extra as I am a skilled machine operator and the fit will be perfected ahead of time.

I took one additional step.  I laid out the tissues with the copies on top, just to make sure I hadn't gone totally off or done something stupid:

Left half (back)
Right half (front)

As an additional check, I laid all the pieces edge to edge, as they would be sewn:
the complete copied pattern

You'll notice that two of the pieces are upside down - that is because the pattern tissue is reversed to the other pieces, and I did not think to copy it so that it would be right side up in sequence with the other parts.  The piece labeled #19 is on the table, but it is underneath #18 as it is a reinforcement for the center back, where the corset will be laced.

Tomorrow night I will slash and spread the pieces to grade them to my measurements.  This is a pretty big grade (3-4 sizes) and so I don't expect the fit to be perfect; I will be making a dummy to correct any problems.  I am not planning to lengthen the pattern anywhere during the first fit, but I do expect length to be an issue, as well as fit at  the bottom edge since the length is not at the same point on the body that are measured for size benchmarks.  That's okay!  That's why at least one and more likely two pattern mockups will be made.

That's all for tonight - more to follow!

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