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Dressmaking Patterns Explained

Nov 25, 2007
Patterns are made to conform with certain standard measurements. Allowance is made for ease or fullness at bust, across shoulder, at waistline, hip and upper arm. The amount of fullness depends on the type of fabric used. Sheer fabrics, such as chiffons, net, laces, etc., require greater fullness in treatment than linens, firm crepes, cottons and woolens.

True fit of a garment begins with the proper adjustment of your pattern, but it depends on cutting along the true grain of the fabric.

On each separate piece of your pattern the lengthwise grain is indicated. This is your guide for laying out the pattern on the fabric. It is very important that all adjustments be made in line with the lengthwise marking, or at right angles to it. Before making adjustments draw a straight line parallel, or at right angles to, the lengthwise marking. Then fold or cut pattern on this line for necessary adjustment.

Checking Measurements

If one is above or below the average in height, or varies from standard pattern measurement at hip, waistline, etc., then certain adjustments should be made to one's pattern. To determine where adjustments should be made, first compare your pattern with your measurement chart; consider allowance for fullness and seams. Make notations as to any difference in measurements.

As a Further Check

In order to make adjustments and to study the lines of your pattern, pin blouse sections together and pin in darts, tucks, etc. Then join front and back sections of blouse. This is your first fitting, and it should be a most exacting one since the true fit of a garment begins with the pattern.

For this fitting, and for all fitting steps in the assembly of the garment, it is most important that you wear the foundation garments and the type of shoes you expect to wear with the finished garment. Pin skirt sections together; then pin skirt to blouse. Try on pattern before full length mirror. Stand in a relaxed and natural position and examine every line carefully. Now is the time to make any changes you think desirable.

Pattern Adjustments

To Lengthen Waist

Slash pattern straight across between the underarm and the waistline. Spread for length required. Insert a strip of tissue paper under the slash and pin.

To Lengthen Skirt

Slash all sections straight across the hipline. Spread sections apart evenly. Insert strip of tissue paper underneath and pin.

To Lengthen Sleeve

Determine if extra length is required above or below the elbow, or both. Slash pattern straight across and spread for extra length. Pin a strip of paper underneath.

To Shorten a Sleeve, Waist or Skirt

Lay a fold across the pattern evenly, adjusting it to the shorter length required. Place fold just where you would make the lengthening adjustment.

For Larger Waistline

Slash blouse sections from waistline toward shoulder line. Spread each back section for one-half the total amount required across the back. Handle both front blouse sections in the same manner.

Slash skirt sections from waistline down, spread so slash is adjacent to those in blouse sections. Insert a strip of paper underneath and pin.

For Round Shoulders

Cut pattern across full part of back. Raise upper section for extra length required. Insert tissue paper underneath slash so it extends from center of back to neckline. Keep center back line straight with grain of fabric. Lay a dart at the neckline to take up the amount added at center back.

For Additional Length at Back of Sleeve and for Fullness at Elbow

Slash pattern from elbow (at outside edge) to center of sleeve; then slash toward the shoulder line. Spread upper portion for length and fullness desired. Insert tissue paper beneath slash and pin.

With some practice, you will be able to alter any pattern to suit.
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