Stretch Pattern School Block Experiments

Before I show you the next snake I need to show you the Block it’s based on. This is like my Nth experiment to come up with a dependable Knit Top Block. I’ve tried:

The problem is that I didn’t really know what I was doing. And with so much variation in stretch fabrics, one minute I think I got it the next I get a wadder when I try to design from it. So my quest continues. And (Stretch) Pattern School website impresses with the theory, the background info, and the clear drafting instructions. So I thought it’s worth a try.

Well thank goodness for the Web Archive. By the time I was ready to take advice the website had disappeared. Seems like the author Stuart had retired and finally let his web hosting lapsed in Aug 2013. A real shame since he seemed like an industry expert with experience designing both RTW & custom swimwear in a commercial environment as well as teaching pattern drafting to fashion design students. The site even had automated customized block & pattern generator for the ‘Lazy Person’. Sadly I was too late and Web Archive could not archive this dynamic feature. So I had to draft the blocks the old fashion way.

To be on the safe side I’ve printed all the pages I’m likely to use just in case the internet police decides to shut down the Web Archive. Wouldn’t it be great if Mr Anderson had converted his website into an eBook? I’d gladly buy a copy.

2015-04-27 update: Seems like the worst had happened – none of the links to the Web Archive version of Stretch Pattern School works anymore. Someone obviously bought the URL and is trying to make money from all the residual traffic. So I’m removing all the links – doesn’t seem right to let some greedy stranger profit from Mr Anderson’s benevolent effort.

2015-07-13 update: GOOD NEWS! I managed to track down Mr Anderson yesterday. He informed me he’s in the process of writing a book with “everything (plus more) from the website”. They’re currently stuck on a few photos, but are hoping to have it sorted soon. I’m waiting for instruction on how to sign up to be notified when the book is out. Will let you know as soon as I find out.

Anyway, on to the experiment. For not all theories works for everyone all the time. Theories need to be tested, especially when it comes to anything to do with infinitely variable human beings!

The Theory

For this experiment I tried Stretch Pattern School’s pattern drafting instruction for…

  1. One-Piece Swimwear Block for Stretchy Knit (75%+ stretch, 12% horizontal/0% vertical negative ease)
  2. Tankini Top Pattern based on 1 + variation for Stable Knit (0%/0% negative ease)
  3. Set-In Sleeve Block for Stretchy Knit

supplemented by

  • measurement instructions
  • bust dart width formula
  • figure variation advice & standard Australian size chart for comparison

The Findings

One-Piece Swimwear Block (12%/0% negative ease)

(Made with Matt Lycra from Tissu Fabrics / Tia Knight with 40%H/40%V stretch)

The first muslin came out quite well. But there were a few small issues…

  1. My Front side seam came out longer than the corresponding Back side seam, even with the dart.
  2. There are some sway-back type draglines in the back.
  3. I got some draglines underarm and gapping in the armholes.
  4. The front neck chokes a bit.
  5. The crotch is a mess. My front gusset length came out longer than the Back.

1-pat1-1pHaving worked out what my key figure quirks through fitting wovens, I applied the advice from the Tweaking for Larger Sizes page for Front/Back Waist Issues and The Bigger Bust. Shifting the side seam towards the back at the waist solved #1 and mitigated #2.

Adjusting for sloping shoulder helped with #3. And forward head adjustment (raising back neckline & lowering front neckline) helped with #4.

#5 I haven’t solved yet. Not having sewn such garment before I don’t know if one has to insert the leg elastics first before one can check the crotch fit. It might also be possible that I have the “in thigh” figure quirk mentioned on the Tweaking for Larger Sizes page. Or the fact that I’ve put 4 big snaps in the gusset seam as temporary closure. In any case swimwear / bodysuit isn’t a priority, so I’m leaving this alone for now.

But I think in general wherever the instruction calls for “X cm +/-Y mm per size from size 10” it would be wise to check if the relevant Australian size 10 measurement he used matches yours. Eg going by the AUS size 10 measurement the front gusset length is in fact 0.5cm shorter than the back. I had calculated my back gusset length using the Wais-to-Waist (crotch length) and Waist-to-Crotch (crotch depth) measurements. But the front gusset length wasn’t given as a formula, so it came out longer than my back gusset length! Shortening this to back gusset length minus 0.5cm helped with #2 and #5 a bit.

Made with Matt Lycra from Tissu Fabrics / Tia Knight with 40%H/40%V stretch.

Tankini Top Patterns  + Sleeve Block

If this works it will become my new Fitted Knit Top Block. I’m hoping to have a set for

  • Stretchy Knits with 70+% stretch (12% negative ease)
  • Moderate Knits with 40-70% stretch (6% negative ease)
  • Stable Knits with 10-40% stretch (0% negative ease)

I used my adjusted One-Piece Swimwear Block as the starting point. Since I’m not making a tankini, I only followed steps 4-5, adding ease from bustline downward & shaping the hemline. I extended the hemline down to the One-Piece Block’s hip line, then superimposed my woven Pencil Skirt Block to mark where my high hip and hip levels are. These two are the most likely hemline references for tops I’d want to design from the block.

I drafted patterns for all three types of knit and muslined the Stretchy Knit and Stable Knit version. Both came out OK I think…

Stretchy: Made with Matt Lycra from Tissu Fabrics / Tia Knight with 40%H/40%V stretch.
Stable: Made with Shimmer Jersey from Minerva Crafts with 10%H/5%V stretch.

The bust dart on the Stable Knit version seems too high up. But the bustlines are exactly the same level on both version. Maybe the almost non-existent vertical stretch of my worst case scenario ‘Stable Knit’ test fabric is at fault. And to be honest I think I will avoid making fitted stretch tops out of such minimum stretch fabrics and instead use my Moulage with darts / princess seams for shaping and the minimum stretch for wearing ease.

The sleeve I only muslined for the Stretchy Knit. It came out rather long! Also the default instruction doesn’t cater for my twisted arms. I shortened the sleeve & shifted some width at bicep / underarm from front to back and at wrist from back to front. So now it looks asymmetrical like my woven Sleeve Blocks but feels more comfortable.

Going Dartless

1-pat3-top-dartlessFailThe holy grail of knit block of course is the dartless yet smooth fitted T for the busty gal. Is it possible? Stuart advise against it. So does the book I have on pattern drafting for stretch fabrics. But then in the Tankini instruction he did ofter the option of easing the dart into back side seam…provided that you also include a shelf bra which does have a bust dart.

Naughty me thought I’d try my luck and see if I can pivot out the dart here like I did for the woven Tunic Block. The result wasn’t pretty…

Made with Matt Lycra from Tissu Fabrics / Tia Knight with 40%H/40%V stretch.

Maybe it’s the fabric. I might try again with a stretchier and/or heavier weight spandex knit. But for now I will work with the dart and try to incorporated the shaping into the designs rather than risk crow feet around my bust!

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13 comments on “Stretch Pattern School Block Experiments

  1. Jaimee Griffin says:

    I would love any grading info you have from Mr. Anderson regarding swimwear. Blocks would be great. If he had a book, I would purchase it in a heartbeat. My address is Thanks for any help you can give. Cheers!

  2. Constanza says:

    Hi! I just found your article… I had the same problem as everyone with Mr. Anderon’s website… had it bookmarked and now it´s gone 🙁
    Since you saved some paged, I wanted to ask you if by any chance you have the size chart he used for his patterns, the bra cup block and bra band block. I also saved some pages but I need those to continue!
    Thanks for your help 🙂

  3. Catherine Carriere says:

    I was devastated when I realized Mr. Andersons website was no longer up! Do you know when and where we can find his book. He was my favourite go to on knits. I must have it.

    • Hi Catherine, I’m afraid I don’t have any further info on when Mr Anderson might publish his book, or if he is still planning on publishing it. It looked like he had retired to Thailand. So I wouldn’t blame him if publishing his book isn’t a priority to him anymore even though it’s a big loss to us fans. I haven’t been able to contact him since early last year. If I do hear back I will of course pass on any info I get. Did you at least manage to try out his drafting instruction when the site was still available?

  4. Linda Sigal-Salzborn says:

    Hi I worked for 20 years as a clothes disigner- This is totally impressive- You are gifted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Noooooo!! I can’t believe every trace of Stuart’s website is gone! I’ve been so excited to start working on sewing stretch fabrics with his website. I wanted to get my sewing skills up to par first, though, so I bookmarked it and planned to go back. Now I go back and the site is gone, the wayback machine has nothing, and no one seems to know where I can find his invaluable information that was on the site. I have been Google searching for 2 hours now for any tiny snippet of help on how to find his website again and I came across your site. This is horribly depressing to me that everything is gone. I respect his right to take down his website but I wish I had had a chance to try to learn stretch pattern sewing with his method first. I was so excited to try drafting my first swimwear pattern this year. If you happen to hear anything regarding his website coming back or know where I could find anything related to it please let me know. I would so very much appreciate it. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great day.

  6. Hi! I just found your blog, I’m like crazy searching for anything from schoolpattern, I found the website on the webarchive and made the basic bodice too, but like after a week it stopped working, I couldn’t even give it a good lecture, I only have the .ai archives for designing on body forms, is it any way you could share with me whatever you saved from the website? and yeah, we should convince the man on makind a pdf, selling it or whatever! aaagh! Thank you

    • What specifically are you looking for? If you can let me know I can check if I saved the page.

      I had shared everything I saved with a couple of readers before. But one then wanted to put the content I shared with him online. While his intention was not malicious, I got paranoid about the Copyright Police. I also searched for Stuart’s current contact details to try to obtain permission. But no luck. So now I have to be more cautious about what I share. Sorry.

      • Ah! Don’t worry, well, I’m interested in the basic bodice steps since y didn’t got to save them :/, his little info about bramaking, and maybe swimwear transformations, Sorry I replied so late!

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