Friday, 12 September 2014

Craftsy - Patternmaking Basics: The Bodice Sloper

Here's my latest make:

 

You're probably thinking that it looks like an Elisalex, and you'd be right.  But the difference with this one is that I drafted the bodice myself!
 
Back in July, when I was getting frustrated with trying (and failing) to fit the back of Butterick B5748, I again found myself wishing that I could draft my own patterns because I always have to make so many pattern alterations -
  • smaller size at the shoulders, grading to a larger size at the waist
  • full bust adjustment
  • shortening the bodice length
  • lowering the neckline at the front and back
  • sway back adjustment
  • sometimes having to take some width from the centre back

I'm exhausted just reading that list!  Actually doing the alterations is both time consuming and frustrating; which is why, once I have the fit right, I tend to sew the same pattern several times.  There are plenty of times that I've thought that it would be quicker and easier to draft the pattern myself, and I have enjoyed the bit of pattern hacking that I've already done.

I live in the crafting backwater that is Northern Ireland, where fabric shops and sewing classes are thin on the ground, so there was no way that I could find a local pattern drafting class, as they just don't exist.  I know this for a fact - I've looked out for drafting classes on several occasions.  Enter the wonder that is Craftsy*.

* Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Craftsy, I just think it's brilliant, and bought this class with my own cold, hard cash!

These have been my constant companions lately!
Somewhere at the back of my brain, I remembered that there was a pattern drafting class on Craftsy.  I looked it up, and it's called Patternmaking Basics: The Bodice Sloper, and it happened to be on offer at £25.50 at the time, so I did the sensible thing and bought it.

What the class teaches -
  • How to take your measures.  It definitely helps to have someone to give you a hand with this.  Andrew was the lucky person who got to help me, and if he can do it, then any non-sewist can.  But, let me tell you, never has the length of a shoulder been so hotly debated!!
  • How to calculate the measurements to make a moulage, which is a skin tight fitting bodice.
  • How to draft the moulage, and make it up in fabric.
  • Fitting the moulage, and altering the draft.
  • Adding ease to turn it into a sloper. This is all for a woven fabric sloper, but it also shows how to make it into a knits fabric sloper.
This is my finish moulage
I'm not going to lie, there is a lot of work in this class.  I think it took me about a month from start to finish, but I really enjoyed it.  But, goodness me, this class is amazing.  The instructor, Suzy Furrer, is great and explains everything very clearly.  As Craftsy is an American website, all the calculations are in inches.  I'm ok with working in inches, but not calculating - all the 8s and 16s were a bit to much for my un-mathematical brain!  So I converted all my measurements to metric, and calculated with that.  It was easy to do, and there is a metric conversion chart in the class materials.

And these are my finished woven slopers.  The paper I used for these is from Ikea.  It's childrens' drawing paper called Mala, it's 3 metres long, and is £3 a roll.

The only area where I had problems was drafting the armsyces, but I was able so contact the instructor through Craftsy; and after quite a few messages and photos, I got them sorted out.  They still need a bit of tweaking, but I know I'll get there with it.

When I made up my first test bodice, I couldn't get over the fit.  It was amazing!  The front upper chest is perfect - no gaping!  The bust fits perfectly, and the waist darts fitted perfectly too!  And the back: oh, the back.  I honestly don't think that I've even had a bodice back that fitted so well.  As you can probably tell, I was absolutely delighted.

 

I couldn't wait to make my first garment, and decided to draft a princess seam bodice, as this is covered in the class.  I wanted to make something that I knew what it was supposed to look like when it was finished.  Also, I had been wanting to make a purple Elisalex for winter, as my first purple Elisalex has definately seen better days! 

 

I bought this purple gabardine in The Spinning Wheel in Belfast a few weeks ago, it was £10 a metre, and as it is 60" wide, I used just over one metre (yey for having short legs!).  I don't really love this gabardine though.  It puckered badly at the zip, as you can see in the photos, and it wrinkles like nobody's business.  The lining is some poly-something from the sale rail in Sew N Sew in Belfast - it is physically impossible for me to walk past that rail without stopping!  I love the ribbon I used on the hem, it was from Dunelm Mill.


But I don't really care about the gabardine because I'm so pleased with my first ever drafted bodice.  The one and only fitting issue is the area under the bust.  It's a bit roomy, but this would explain why I had to shorten the front pleats on the skirt.  I'm going to un-pick it a bit and fix it.

 

My head is now bursting with drafting ideas, and I have been stalking Craftsy to see if any of the other drafting classes are on sale (I don't want to pay full price if I don't have to!).  I'm currently working my way through Creative Darts and Seam Lines and Creative Necklines.  I have so much more to talk about with these classes, but this has turned into a very wordy post, so I'll leave it for another time.

Have a great crafting weekend!

Lynne

30 comments:

  1. Oh how I wish there were more dressmaking classes in Northern Ireland! The class sounds incredibly interesting, I must look into it. Did you feel you missed having a teacher being physically present? Great job on the dress!

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    1. Thank you! Wouldn't it be great if we had more sewing shops and classes in NI?! I didn't feel I missed anything because any questions that came to me were answered in the class, and there is always the option of sending a message to the instructor anyway. I love that it's on video, because my brain goes off on a tangent quite easily, and I know that in a real life class, I'd miss a lot of what the instructor said because I'd be thinking about something that was said before!

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  2. Hi Lynne. I'm having problems with commenting ( my own fault) but apols if this is the third you see!! I'll try again- I want to shout 'wow!' How exciting!!! This is a brilliant recommendation and amazing results. I feel your joy. My question really is how much you can do this solo - your other half was drafted in with measurements at the beginning but did you need another pair of hands/ eyes during the fitting process ( of which there is a lot) ? I find that the hardest thing with fitting is being able to see what's needed when you're wearing it- especially the back!

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    1. Oh, thank you! I found it easy enough to do by myself, which was surprising! I saw on some flocks questions on Craftsy that they had done their own measurements, but I do think it would be better to have some help with that bit. As for fitting the moulage, there isn't much to it as it is skin tight, so it's easy to see where it's not fitting properly - for me it was at the shoulders. There's a great section in the class on tweaking the moulage fit, but basically the instructor says that if it's too loose/tight, then check the measurements. I totally agree with you about fitting backs - it's a nightmare! I hope that helps.

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    2. Excellent!! By the way, in my first reply "flocks" should be folks. Doh! I typed my reply on my phone when I was on the bus, and the driver seemed to think he was Lewis Hamilton! :)

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  3. I love Craftsy. I can't get to classes for health reasons, and have found that being able to watch in my own time and rewind bits I don't quite understand or mark bits that I know I'll want to look at again is invaluable. I almost prefer the format to live classes in terms of learning specific techniques, but it can't take the place of immediate interaction with a teacher and other students. Still, I would take Craftsy any day over not learning anything at all!

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    1. I love Craftsy too for the same reasons! I just wish that they had an Android app so I could make notes on my tablet computer. I so love how the class can be watched over and over again. I'm such an overthinker sometimes, and I find that at courses in work, I'll be thinking about what the teacher just said, and miss what they're saying next!

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  4. Totally awesome! I have that class too and I'm loving it although quilt making for a deadline has taken over all my fun sewing at the moment! Your dress looks fab :) have you seen their skirt sloper class? I'm thinking that's going to be my next one. Again your dress is amazing :) x

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    1. Thank you! Isn't this class great?! I have indeed seen the skirt class, and was watching it this morning while having my breakfast. So guess what I'll be doing this weekend! Good luck with your quilt.

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  5. What a beautiful dress! The fit is amazing!! Like you I have loads of fitting issues with commercial patterns so i signed up to this course in the last sale too. I haven't had a chance to do it yet but it sounds amazing. Can't wait!

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    1. Thank you! You won't be disappointed with this class, it's a lot of work, but definitely worth it. Good luck with it!

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  6. This is really interesting! I have found that I don't have a lot of issues with commercial patterns, which has kind of made me lazy about investigating pattern drafting. I've also been a bit wary of Craftsy, if I'm honest, because 99% of blog posts about classes seem to be sponsored posts! It's really good to read a totally unbiased review, and you've definitely made me consider looking into this a bit further. Your finished dress looks great and you should be proud of all of the hard work you put into it!

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    1. Thank you! I have to say that I've loved all the Craftsy classes I've bought. Christine Haynes Sassy Librarian Blouse was brilliant - I learnt so much from that class.

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  7. I love craftsy and have seriously learned so much from watching their classes. Wish I had time to watch more! Would love to do this one. Congrats it looks fab. Hope you go on to keep learning and making perfectly fitting dresses!

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    1. Thank you! I, too, wish I had time to watch more! Curses to that pesky thing called work!

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  8. Thanks for posting this Lynne, I've been wanting to draft a sloper for a while and this may be the answer. I don't have too many problems with fit but there is always something that is not quite right! I'll keep a look out for when they are on sale! ��

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely worth watching for in a sale. I think I've only ever paid full price for one Craftsy class ever. I'd been waiting for the last two pattern drafting classes to be on sale, and randomly found them on offer last week.

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  9. Those Craftsy classes are excellent, aren't they? I have taken a couple of knitting ones. You are becoming so skilled, I am fully expecting to see you on the next Great British Sewing Bee!

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    1. Thank you! I haven't done any of the knitting classes, but would love to try some crochet classes. Sadly, there aren't enough crafting hours in the day! I laughed at your mention of The Bee. My sister and our friend threatened to enter me for it, but it is so not going to happen! My nerves would be shattered! I'd forget how to thread a machine, and probably throw up on poor Claudia's shoes!!

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  10. Wow this is amazing Lynne! And to read that it it took you only ;) one month to go from nothing to such a stunning and perfectly fitted dress just leaves me speechless. You must be so proud of yourself!!! As you know I'm always concerned about fitting, so I'm looking forward to read more about your drafting experiences. Maybe drafting is a solution for me ass well. That tape measure ribbon is genius, haha.

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    1. Thank you! It's a better fit now than in the photos because I've just taken the front princess seams and the skirt pleats in a bit. I somehow managed to lose a stitch ripper in the process though! You know what, I was thinking about you when I was doing the class, because I know you always have lots of pattern alterations to do too. I'll definitely keep you posted as to how Im getting on.

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  11. Isn't it so much fun drafting your own pattern? The bodice looks great and I'm sure you'll wow us with many more of your own creations. I'm looking forward to seeing them. You remind me that I need to get back to pattern drafting - hopefully I can squeeze some in before Christmas.

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  12. Thank you! I agree - pattern drafting is great fun! It's a bit like having a puzzle to solve.

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  13. How cool! It looks like so much work, though, hopefully someday I'll have more time to delve into the details! For now it's going to be looks with ease...

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    1. Thank you! It is a lot of work, but definitely worth it.

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  14. It's a great result Lynne and the fit is fabulous. I loose the will to live with alterations too. I've been wondering about get the Winifred Aldrich pattern drafting book as I get on really well with the childrenswear one. The Craftsy class looks like a great option though - out of interest did they cover different bust cup sizes?

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    1. Thank you! I've been looking at the Winifred Aldrich book too, but I have two other drafting books, so I'm going to see how I get on with them first. The Craftsy class does cover bust cup sizes. There's a chart in the class materials to show the bust dart size for each cup size, and it is also explained in the class.

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  15. I have the same class (as well as the seam lines and necklines ones) and I LOVED them - Suzy is such a great teacher - succinct, doesn't talk too slowly (a problem I, as a kiwi, have with some American teachers), adds all these interesting tips, and is responsive to questions. I'm about halfway through my sloper but this reminds me I really need to get on to finishing it!

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    1. Thank you! Good luck with finishing your sloper!

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Thank you for reading my blog! I love reading your comments, so please feel free to leave a comment if you have the time :) Lynne.