I have a friend who can tell at a glance if a cooking recipe will work out. She is classically trained, has put in thousands of hours of on-the-job work, and can instantly point out typos in measurements and instructions:
“A tablespoon of baking soda? Pretty sure it should be a teaspoon.”
“I think they meant broil, not boil.”
“That is way too much sage, it will overpower the other flavors.”
Similarly, if you work with enough sewing patterns, you’ll recognize shapes and proportions that will be flattering and comfortable, before even stitching up a muslin. Does that mean the fit will be perfect? No, because every body is different, and so every garment can be tweaked for a personal fit. In the same way, every cooking recipe can be adjusted, because flavors change with each crop of vegetable or herb, and everybody has their own sense of what tastes good. (That’s also why there’s salt and pepper on the table….)
And yet, a good recipe is the foundation for a successful dish, just as a good pattern is the foundation for a successful garment.
Sometimes I hear the argument “There is no right or wrong in drafting.” I suppose that’s true of avant-garde fashion design…just as there are some extremely innovative recipes in fusion cuisine. However anyone who has taken fashion design classes at one of the long-standing design schools (FIT, FIDM, Parsons/New School. Pratt, etc) knows that the introductory pattern classes always begin with well-established methods of draping and flat-pattern that follow standardized rules of apparel design.
The same is true for cooking: students first learn how to make a basic Bearnaise and Bechamel, and interviewing for a cooking job often includes the task of making a classic Bouillabaisse on the spot. It’s universally accepted that any chef should be able to do this without reference to a recipe.
I was thinking of this while trying out a new-to-me pattern yesterday. I could tell as soon as I printed out the pattern pieces that the fit would be comfortable and flattering.
I was making a dress for a customer’s daughter, and the fabric layout left some fairly substantial scrap pieces. I asked her if possibly she would like a little crop-top or bloomers, and she chose bloomers.
Turns out it was a quick and successful little project, because the pattern is so well made.
The pattern is beautifully drafted with a nice crotch width and front/back rise proportion. I made one very small adjustment: trueing the front corner at the sideseam. When the waist is folded down at the casing level, there was a tiny excess that I trimmed off:
The grading is even and consistent (not jumpy) and the pattern measures out well in comparison to the body size chart. There isn’t a Finished Measurement chart, which is fine with me because those charts can be deceptive since FM depends so much on fabric weight and stitch tension (watch for a future post on this issue).
A nice detail on the pattern pieces is the inclusion of:
the name of the pattern company
the name of the style
the seam allowance amount
How many times have you misplaced a pattern and find random pieces that are nameless? How many times have you been ready to sew and had to go back and look up the seam allowance? For my own purposes I pasted on the size chart as well:
This is graphically gorgeous. It’s not something that I would typically care about in a sewing pattern…usually I’m mainly concerned with the pattern pieces. However just look at this! The page layouts, fonts, colors, logo, photos…simple and elegant. It reminds me of a menu for an upscale restaurant, or a spa.
Every detail was well-though out: the instructions are “clickable”, so you can link directly to the company website, Facebook, Insta, Twitter, etc. Also the Table of Contents is clickable, taking you instantly to what you need (fabric requirements, elastic guide, etc) without scrolling.
There are directions for everything:
how to measure for best fit
how to blend sizes
how to measure elastic
how to print layers
how to assemble the pattern pieces
The designer has included tips on upcycling fabric, also bonus information on adding details such as pockets and hem details. Also a nice touch, she thanks her testers by name.
SEWING DIRECTIONS are well presented with detailed photos using solid fabric.
The sequence-of-stitching is: outseam/inseam/rise, which is not my personal favorite (I prefer rise/inseam/outseam) but that’s okay. The instructions are clear and complete. This is a simple basic block pattern that can be used by a beginner, or with more details by a more experienced sewist.
There is also a one-page Summary of sewing steps which is always a welcome addition when you don’t want to print out the entire set of instructions, or go back to charge up your computer. Energy savings all around!
I’m very pleased with how these little bloomers turned out: