My longtime goal has been to learn to design clothes that I love. Many sewing patterns are quite expensive and, as I don’t really need (or read) the instructions and usually end up doing many modifications, I feel that I pay extra for all the things I don’t end up using. If I managed to make a set of basic slopers for myself I would also lose many of the fitting issues that come with commercial patterns. So, I decided to do some sewing pattern design and see what I could make!
I found this book very useful when making my first slopers: W. Aldrich: Metric pattern cutting for women’s wear.
This book has instructions on how to draw all the basic blocks for women and how to size and alter them. I don’t have any experience in pattern cutting but I was still able to understand the instructions which were mostly basic geometry.
I have previously drawn some pattern with paper and pencil but those are hard to modify, store and share. The most pattern designing programs are really expensive but luckily I heard about two that were completely free. Yes. F-R-E-E!
These two have actually originally been a single project that split into two different branches as the developers had different ideas. The first is called Seamly2D and the second Valentina. Both are still practically identical, so if you learn how to use one, you’ll know how to use another. Valentina seems to have a few additional handy tools that Seamly doesn’t have. The last time I checked I was able to open all of my Seamly-made projects with Valentina, but I can’t open Valentina files with Seamly.
If you want to start using either one of the programs I recommend this tutorial that works for both of them. Without the
Drafting the pattern
I started making a pattern for the basic close fitted women’s bodice sloper. It ended up looking like this:
Then I added the waist shaping, but here started my little tweaks. I drew the front darts so that they touched at the bust point:
I wanted my dress to have ruffles and a princess seam that started
As I was making this dress out of wool, I went for the two-piece sleeve:
I then printed my design out in size 36 and made a toile out of the bodice. (I could have also used my own measurements but I wanted to see the sizing first.) The first thing I noticed was that the neckline was very restricting. I had to lower it immediately. Otherwise, the fit was surprisingly good. The sleeves were a bit wide for a dress but those were an easy thing to fix at the final version. There were also little fit issues that I managed to fix by lowering the sleeve cap a tiny amount and rotating a sleeve slightly.
The draping the skirt
I hadn’t made a skirt sloper, yet. Rather than drawing something that may or may not drape as I want after I transforming the design onto fabric, I decided to drape it on my mannequin.
I draped only half of the skirt and then made a proper toile. This is what it ended up looking like:
No, it’s not perfectly symmetric but I only wanted to use half of it for my pattern. The sleeve was still a bit twisted at this point which resulted in some wrinkles.
I was happy with the overall width of the skirt and thus I finally was able to start cutting my wool…
To be continued in part 2!
Have you ever designed clothes for you or for others? I hope this post will inspire you if not designing a dress then adding some of your own little tweaks to your existing patterns! Happy sewing and designing!