Blocks? Check. OK, now what do I do?

There are times when things just go round in circle. Or off on a wild tangent. You want to do A. But wait, you need to do B first before you can do A. Oh, and B need C first. And on and on.

It’s been one of those times. I thought with my skirt and bodice blocks sorted I should be able to easily whip up my New Year Resolution list of…

  • 3 pencil skirts
  • 3 straight skirts
  • 3 A-line skirts
  • 3 long sleeve woven tops
  • 3 short sleeve woven tops
  • 3 long sleeve knit tops
  • 3 short sleeve knit tops
  • 3 dresses
  • 3 jackets

I even have fabrics lined up for the pencil skirts and 2 straight skirts. But I’ve fallen at my first hurdle.

0plans-jacketsIt’s a pencil skirt in a fabric from Mood NYC I got last June. The fabric is thicker than your typical suiting fabric. It feels like a fancy sweatshirt material to me – but I’ve never worn sweatsuits so I’m probably wrong. It has two nice sides, so I’m thinking it would make a nice matching Burda Asymmetrical Moto Jacket 11/2013 #117 too.

Except I might have to run it through the hot washing cycle and stiffen it up a little. Other people have complained that the double knit that Burda recommend for the jacket isn’t nearly stiff enough to show off the single layer oversized collar. I’m hoping once felted mine won’t suffer the same wimpy fate.

But maybe that won’t be enough & I’d still need extra support of edge binding? And what about seaming, would it be too thick for standard seaming? Should I try lapped seam? Do I need to finish off the edges? And skirt hem, too thick again? Overlocked hem maybe? Decisions decisions decisions – that’s the peril of trying to be creative. There’s no instruction to follow mindlessly.

It’s the same with the pattern. For the skirt I think I will simply use my Pencil Skirt Block. So I’m working on the jacket pattern now to check if I’ll have enough fabric for both.

So here’s the dilemma: When you have Blocks, do you still start with commercial patterns? Or would you start with your Blocks and try to mimic the design details of the desired commercial pattern?

The problem with starting with commercial patterns how much to ‘correct’ & how do you go about it. I started with the best intention to follow standard alteration steps to get the jacket pattern as close to my Fitted Jacket Block as possible. The center front & back pieces were relatively straightforward. But I just couldn’t get the side pieces into the right shape with the standard alteration procedures (lower bust curve > FBA on side pieces).

1-fit-alt-1Head clogged by a cold, I resorted to slicing the innards & seam allowances of these side pieces with hinges on the seam lines. Then the seam lines is pulled into shape to match my Fitted Jacket Block patterns. There are a little bit of shortening/expansion here & there, but I was able to get the jacket patterns close enough to my Blocks. Not an ideal long term solution, but for now that will do.

Next up try the altered tissue pattern on Q. Then finalize the jacket pattern, figure out if I have ample fabric, and finally get back to cutting out & making the skirt!

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15 comments on “Blocks? Check. OK, now what do I do?

  1. Whether I use a commercial pattern and adapt it or draft from scratch from my blocks is governed by laziness. That is, do I think the resulting fit problems with a commercial pattern will take longer than drafting. Pencil skirts – no brainer. Interesting drapes or unusual collars, fifty fifty.
    Good luck whichever you choose.

  2. No, I’m sorry you can’t make that outfit because I’m have the same idea! We are obviously women of taste and I can’t wait to see how yours turns out.

    • Well, considering my Jungle January dress was one year in the planning, if you make a start now you might just finish before me! Unless you do want me to be the guinea pig / lab rat of course!

  3. Carol says:

    This idea of how you adapt an existing pattern to your sloper is something I’m struggling with, big time… in my head, because in practice I am still slavishly using the existing pattern. I would really love to track down a course or book that addresses this issue in depth so if anyone out there knows of one, do tell. I have taken a couple of online courses at Craftsy that seem to stop just short of this subject, which is frustrating.

    • I do have Lynda Maynard’s CD book “De-Mystifying Fit: Using the moulage to adjust commercial patterns” and have leaved through it before. But I’m getting old. Memory not as good. And I’m too lazy / impatient right now to read through it again.

      But it does attempt to address the problem. She has a general process introduction followed by case studies with real commercial patterns (look like all Big 4) on real women and lots of step by step photos. Maybe you’d want to google reviews and see if it’ll help you. The only part I found disappointing was that she still has to go through muslin fitting and resulting adjustments. I’d really like to do away with muslin except for very complicated origami designs!

    • Carol – I highly recomment Suzy furrer’s classes on Craftsy, did you try those ones? She hasn’t yet gone into outerwear but does go into all the rules of changing the design of your sloper, with examples. I’m really looking forward to making and using my sloper, and I think I’ll ignore the existing patterns for a while and try and just do it all myself.

  4. I made the moto jacket from Burda with a sweater knit. It’s thicker than ponte or double knit, but what really makes it work is the leather trim. It’s sewn layered at the edge with the knit in between. It’s what makes the jacket work. The other issue is where you put the inside upper snap. There is no placement mark so play around with where you want the collar to open. I also l realized that you should figure out the break point and break the edge stitching so that it’s on the outside.

    • Thanks for the tip about the trim. I thought that might help. Though if the fabric’s too soft, the collar fold near the neck might not look as sculptural and graceful as yours. Fingers crossed a little bit of felting will help.

      Speaking of your version…I also have a sweater knit with two nice side which I’m debating whether to make another zipper jacket, maybe even the same Moto Jacket. Looking at yours now, I think I might follow your lead and do just that! (The other idea was a big slouchy tunic with funnel / cowl / loose turtleneck. But the matching skirt I had already decided will feature exposed zipper. So a Moto Jacket will probably go better with the skirt and not cover it up too much.)

  5. I don’t have any advice on using blocks, but I did make this jacket and I ended up facing the fronts and collar to get enough body in those areas – and I made the collar smaller too – so those are things to think about if your felting doesn’t give you a stiff enough fabric.

    • Yes, I saw yours! And it was an inspiration! I also like how yours look when the collar’s all zipped up. Good to know your result involved collar size reduction. I will have to check it on Q either during tissue fitting or pin fitting. I think I’ll decide whether I need facing / binding back up at pin fitting.

  6. When I get stuck on a rock such as this, I go with what I have that works (my sloper/block/previous experiment collection) and work out from there on paper like you have, and then a muslin. If there’s too much gap between what I know will fit and what I am unclear on, I’m going to beat on that rock with a muslin. With excessive seam allowances. And many different colored markers (the surplus from children and elementary school)

    • For crazy patterns like DK Vogue Patterns I’d definitely need to go down the muslin route. But for others I’m hoping to get away with tissue fitting & pin fitting on my custom dress form.

      One of these days I will attempt standard alterations on my Vogue fitting pattern to see if it’s possible to arrive at the same alteration without hacking the pattern to pieces like I did. But right now I really would like a finished wearable project. So that methodical approach will have to wait! 🙂

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