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:
- copying RTW
- adapting commercial patterns (M6612 & BS-2012-09-123)
- drafting from Designing and Patternmaking For Stretch Fabrics
- draping on Q
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!
For this experiment I tried Stretch Pattern School’s pattern drafting instruction for…
- One-Piece Swimwear Block for Stretchy Knit (75%+ stretch, 12% horizontal/0% vertical negative ease)
- Tankini Top Pattern based on 1 + variation for Stable Knit (0%/0% negative ease)
- Set-In Sleeve Block for Stretchy Knit
- measurement instructions
- bust dart width formula
- figure variation advice & standard Australian size chart for comparison
One-Piece Swimwear Block (12%/0% negative ease)
The first muslin came out quite well. But there were a few small issues…
- My Front side seam came out longer than the corresponding Back side seam, even with the dart.
- There are some sway-back type draglines in the back.
- I got some draglines underarm and gapping in the armholes.
- The front neck chokes a bit.
- The crotch is a mess. My front gusset length came out longer than the Back.
Having 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.
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…
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.
The 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…
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!