Tentative Fitted Jacket Blocks

Before I show you the matching reversible(ish) Burdastyle 11/2013 #117 moto jacket I suppose I should catch you up on my jacket block(s) experiment, since I used that as my fitting yard stick for this jacket.

moulage & knit sloperRemember my Kenneth King moulage from way back when? And the Top Block that I muslined backed in January? I never did show you the Jacket Block that’s derived from the Top Block did I? Well not properly anyway. You kind of saw it in my mess of a WIP block patterns. I never did muslin the Jacket & Coat Blocks.

Since this moto jacket is fitted & without internal structuring, I decided to make a few tweaks to my Jacket Block before using it to adjust the Burda pattern.

The revised Fitted Jacket Block is still mostly based on Kenneth King’s Moulage CD book. But I cross-checked against my two other pattern-making books that have instruction for converting basic bodice block to jacket block (Connie Crawford’s Patternmaking Made Easy. and Dennic Chunman Lo’s Patternmaking: Portfolio Skills). They all do it slightly differently. KK’s version seem to have the most ease. Dennic mentions the tighter fit of modern designs, so in the end I reduced the amount of ease to:

Shoulder out 1/2″ up 3/8″
Cross-front out 0″
Cross-back out 3/4″
Underarm out 7/8″ down 7/8″
Bust out 7/8″ (total ease: 3-1/2″)
Waist out 5/8″ (total ease: 2-1/2″)
High Hip out 5/8″
Hip out 7/8″ (total ease: 3-1/2″)
These are all relative to the skin-tight 0″ ease moulage.

The darts were shifted only 3/8″ width-wise. I didn’t bother lowering the waist for this Fitted Jacket Block, especially as this particular moto jacket will have no interfacing nor lining, so no extra layers accommodate.

Next, I had to pivot the horizontal bust dart into a shoulder dart to create a Fitted Shoulder Princess Jacket Block.


And as the Burda jacket won’t have shoulder pads, I had decrease the shoulder ease / extensions and account for my uneven shoulder.


So my final block for checking the Burda jacket fit looks like this compared to the Moulage:





Sewist Pride

While the new Ice Age hasn’t quite spread over to London from the US, my sewing has nonetheless slowed to a glacial pace thanks to going back to work full time. I am working on a snake print dress for Pretty Grievances‘ annual Jungle January party. In fact, I’ve been planning this since January last year. Fingers crossed it will be finished by end of January this year. More about this one another day.

What I did manage to finish (sort of) over the Xmas holidays are these muslins for my top and three skirt slopers. But I’m not going to go into details about the pattern-drafting and fitting this time. I’m feeling a bit fatigued with the nitty-gritty. In the depth of winter what one needs is some day-dreaming. And would you believe it, I’m actually rather inspired by these muslins.

I’m very tempted to turn these muslin into sewing-themed wearable garments. It sounds mad, but at least a couple of high fashion designers have already set the precedence…

Maison Martin Margiela Spring-Summer 1997 collection


(More from Dusty Burrito blog…) How cool is that? OK, maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. But for someone who came of fashion age during the first wave of fashion deconstructionist era, yeah I would wear that.

Moschino Cheap and Chic Spring-Summer 2004


I love the idea of wearing my sewing proudly. In this age of ready made cheap fashion it feels a bit rebellious to proudly declare oneself a home-sewist/sewer/seamstress/whatever.

Most of the muslins were made from an old linen color bed skirt, so already looks a bit like the MM dress form top. The only problem is that when I was cutting out I didn’t notice that the two sides are slightly different shades (sun fading?). So some panels are slightly darker shades than others. Oops. Will have to stew this idea for a bit longer.

In the meanwhile, I’ve also started planning the skirts I’m going to make from these skirt slopers:


But these will have to wait a bit longer. I haven’t quite figured out all the construction details yet.

Plus I don’t want my snake print dress to miss another year of Jungle January!

Pencil Skirt sloper quest

If only it were the height of summer instead of chilly winter here…So even though my bodice slopers are done, I can’t really put them to good use. Boo. I haven’t got sleeve slopers to make them practical for winter. And sleeves sound like they’d be a royal pain to draft and fit.

So what do I do? Move on to a pencil skirt sloper of course. I mean, how difficult can they be to fit right? Well, maybe just a tiny bit if you’re fussy not only about the wrinkles, but also about any potential frump factor. I like my pencil skirts fashionlicious, not corporate teamaker ready.

Since I had fairly good success with Kenneth King’s bodice moulage, and saw the success Clio  had with her Kenneth King pencil skirt, I decided to start with Mr King’s Skirt draft instructions. Here are the results based on following the instruction strictly:


Hmm…They may be the instruction taught by the Parisian couture pattern drafting system, but my result looks a tad frumpy to me. That’s the thing isn’t it, there are all sorts of experts and systems out there. But you just don’t know if their vision of loveliness is to your taste or not. And we also know that taste and trends change. So are the instructions from the various pattern-drafting camps up to date with current trends? Do all those couture dissecting books examine current couture and not just past examples?

Even if they are current, are they designing for the target market that you’re aspiring to?
Dennic Chunman Lo talks about a designer’s signature fit in his Patternmaking book, how clothing aimed at mass market may have a different cut to those at higher price designer end (and how nowadays jacket shoulders have a lot less ease / shoulder extension than before). Maybe some of the industry experts instruction are geared towards designs for a different audience than you.

Of course it could simply be that my figure isn’t suited to pencil skirts and no amount of tweaking is going to fix that. Maybe they only look fab on stick insect models or curvy goddesses. Also, have you notice a lot of these skirts are shown with legs crossed or slightly apart? Maybe at attention stance doesn’t show off these skirt well. (And I don’t know why some people call untapered skirts pencil skirts. To me they’re just straight skirts. I mean pencils have tapered points, right? You can’t write with them otherwise. Why call them pencil skirts if they’re not similarly tapered???)

Anyway, long story short, I tried tweaking the muslin to my taste. I want a more noticeable tapering at the hemline. And a bottom hugging back.

What can I say, I have booty envy. Mine are a bit flat. So I’m unable to fill out normal cuts like some of you can. I’m not sure how one would achieve this. Can you just taper more at the back side seams? Have anyone tried that? Does it cause weird twisting of the side seams or rippling in the stitching (due to difference in degrees of bias between the front side seam and the back side seam)?

I checked out a few high street shops and noticed some pencil skirts seem to taper on CB seam as well as the side seams. I’ve never seen this in commercial patterns and pattern-drafting book. Have you?

My last resort would be to add back princess lines and use them to add more tapering to the back. I’ve done this before with previous pencil skirts, some of which were perhaps a bit too tapered – making going to the bathroom a bit troublesome, especially in dresses with such over-tapered skirts!

That reminds me I need to be careful that I don’t over do the tapering so that it’s hard to walk / sit / climb the stairs in, or go to the loo! (Note to self: must test drive the final muslin like Clio does.) That’s another gripe I have with existing pattern-drafting / fitting instructions – they may tell you how to add ease, but not why that much or why add it there. Not knowing the principles makes it impossible to adjust the instruction to update or personalize the fit.

That’s why I’ve ordered the reprint of Theory of Garment-Pattern Making by W. H. Hulme from the 1950s. It supposedly covers things like the effect of anatomy, proportion, and movement on garment design and pattern drafting. I’m hoping it’ll answer my question about what ease is really necessary where. Here’s Fashion Incubator’s review of the book.

In the meanwhile I tried the following changes:


  1. Increased the dart depths and made side curve above the hip shallower to match my bodice moulage.
  2. In the front I split the deeper dart depth into two darts per side. When I tried one deeper dart, it points right at the hollow between my tummy and my protruding thigh, so looked wrong. Splitting into two allows me to have one dart accommodate my tummy and the other my protruding hipbone.
  3. Moved almost all the hip ease to the front so that the back would hopefully hug my bottom better and the front accommodate my protruding thigh and forward limb movement (walking, sitting).
  4. 2-0alt-front-thigh Added the front ease for protruding thigh using the technique shown in Fitting and Pattern Alteration. The slight tilting up at the side seam seems like it might also push the ease forward rather than side-way and make the front view slimmer looking. I think the side-way expansion of the standard draft doesn’t skim my front-back body well, so makes the skirt look slightly too big and therefore frumpy.
  5. Straighten the side tapering (the original draft has slight curve) and made back side seam match the front side seam angle (for some reason, my original draft based on the calculation instruction came out with less tapering on the back vs the front).
  6. Tried tapering a little bit at CB below the hip as well. Above the hip I made the tapering less deep so it’d match my bodice moulage. Why? Oh, I don’t really know. Maybe “why mess with a moulage that seems to fit”?
  7. Shortened the skirt about 1″. I would never understand guidelines that recommend the same length for everyone.

Here’s the result:


I hope I’m not deluding myself here. I think the changes does make the skirt look smarter, more like how pencil skirts look on all you gorgeous gals. Short of getting booty boosting Spanx I think this will be as close as I’m going to get to a practical yet flattering pencil skirt without the princess seams. I might still add princess seams occasionally for a even more tapered look on some skirts. But for dresses this will definitely be as tapered as I’m going to go unless the fabric has more stretch.

Now should I try this out in a bog standard corporate wool? Or should I go for variations in some funkier fabrics? I already have three fabrics lined up for this silhouette, if not exactly this bog standard boring darts+CB vent pattern.


Custom Dress Form v2.0: part 4

As you’ve already met Q, let’s get straight down to business shall we.

Most of the following steps are a hodgepodge of Suzanne Stern‘s couture dress form customization instruction on Threads Archive DVD (issues 44, 45, 48) and Wolf Forms production process article again on  Threads Archive DVD (issue 141) and the How It’s Made TV segment on Wolf Forms on YouTube.

3-3 To recap, I’ve now got Q post reduction surgery and on her one flimsy PVC leg with a hefty wooden hoof. Next up was fattening her back up.

As she was originally my size with a fairly uniform reduction (1/2″ at CF, CB, sides), theoretically I can put an even layer of padding on her. But I might have complicated things a little bit by also taking in a little bit for the breathing ease that was wrapped into the original paper tape – I want the option to be able to make skin-tight corset or evening dress.

So one precaution I took was to cut rayon seam binding tapes measured to my key circumference measurements (+ a bit for overlapping & pinning / sewing close). After I wrapped an even layer of 2-1/2 oz cotton-wool blend upholstery padding, I wrapped these seam binding tapes around the padded form and made sure the fluffy padding can be compressed to the right size. If the tapes won’t close at the markings then there’s too much padding, if it’s loose then there’s not enough padding. Here she is with her lovely rolls spilling over the tapes!

4-1 4-2

A second precaution is to use my moulage pattern for the thin non-woven interfacing that covers the fluff. This way, I can adjust the padding to better fit the cotton drill moulage cover that will be Q’s final skin.

First though I needed to do a final check on the moulage fit. So I made the cotton ticking moulage cover next:


OK, there still seems to be some draglines in the photos. It actually doesn’t look as bad in real life. As I’m not a starlet who’ll be papped on the red carpet for the tabloids I gave myself permission to ignore the less than perfect photographed results.

5-1So with moulage pattern checked, I cut and pinned together the thin non-woven interfacing version. I then put this on Q with CF closure and checked the amount of padding again. Most of it was fine. It was a tight fit, but with a bit of careful tug and occasional spot fusing with a dry iron, I was able to rein in the fluff and get the interfacing moulage on.

The bust was a problematic area. I had to add extra padding to fill the bust out. I also used the underwires from an old decent-fitting bra to check the bust shaping. A pin was hammered in between the girls to get the cleavage right. Once it all checks out, I fuse the interfacing to the padding with dry iron on wool setting. The pins holding the interfacing moulage together came out after I’ve fused the seams.


Here’s Q after interfacing wrapping, still sporting her rolls:


Next up is a thin cotton jersey cover. I needed this extra layer because my cotton ticking cover doesn’t cover the neck.

6-16-26-3 6-4

This was actually a hand-me-down from Big Bertha, my previous Duct Tape Double. So it was already shaped to fit my figure and just needed closing off at the neck and armholes.

Again, I hammered pins in to create the underbust and cleavage shaping. The bottom, like the interfacing layer, is folded over the hem edge and in this case stapled to Q’s cardboard bottom using a staple gun leftover from my collage days. (The interfacing was just fused to the cardboard.) … And where have the rolls gone?

And this brings us up to date and those photos of Q in her cotton ticking  moulage skin, which is made with a center back zipper so it can be taken off if I ever want to check the fit on myself again.


The ticking I got from John Lewis’ home decor fabric department is relatively thick – probably mid to heavy-weight. It covers any stubborn left-over rolls. You could probably use drill or canvas as well. I stained mine with cheap tea to give it an antiqued look. And although I added a CF bust fish-eye dart, I still hammered yet more pins for a more defined cleavage. The key circumferences are thread traced with top-stitching threads to guide future draping projects.

The neck and armholes I could have just left with the jersey covering. But as I had some craft brass wire mesh and decorative floral head tacks in the stash, I added metal looking caps to make Q look even more like the Wolf Forms. The mesh is wrapped around a cardboard layer, then tack in the center to the cardboard layers already covering these holes. More pins are hammered in closer to the edge of the disc to make it more secure. One downside of this prettification is that the cut edges of the wire mesh is a bit scratchy. Hopefully they won’t snag any fine fabric draped on Q.

finished-detail1 finished-detail2

And look, Q takes pins no problemo! I could pin into just the ticking cover or I can stick one right into her. The middle pin is as far as the pin will go and it looks pretty secure.

So mission accomplished. Well done Q!

Now obviously not everyone’s going to go through the trouble for a dress form. So maybe I’ll write up some tips & learnings from my experience next time.

TNT Knit Block…or is it?

So, while we’re on the Knit Block detour we might as well finish this conversation.

As you know, I’ve been using my adjusted Burdastyle 2012-09-123 T-shirt as my tentative Knit Block. And it’s been working OK. No major complaint apart from the sway-back type puddle in the lower back. So I thought I’d try designing with it.  Nothing fancy, just a simple U-neck T.

bs201209123mod1_0dsgn-1 I was going to make it with 3/4 sleeves. But the fabric I had in mind was a $1/yard remanent from FIDM’s Scholarship Store in LA, so not enough for long sleeve. No problem I thought. I’ll just make a short sleeve version.

Straightforward right? Sadly no.

See those pulls emanating from the neckline towards the shoulder? I had no such problem with the previous makes based on this Knit Block. It could be the fabric, though this one seem just as stretchy. My bet though is on the short sleeve. All my previous makes were long sleeves. I think maybe the weight of the long sleeves pulled the shoulder seams in place. So I hadn’t really noticed that the shoulders were really too short.

Here’s how it compare with my zero-ease Moulage pattern:

Apology for the confusing extra lines – they’re for the blouse/dress, jacket, & coat slopers. I’m waiting to test them out with muslins before separating them into heavy paper Blocks. The heavier red lines show the Moulage.

The shoulder is about 3/8″ too short. Waist is zero ease, and Bust & Hip are both currently negative ease (even accounting for the bit taken out by the Moulage darts).

I think I need to redo the Knit Block, get back to basic principles. Specifically, where it’s OK to have negative ease and where it should be kept at zero ease. And maybe figure out a totally zero-ease Knit Block for those less stretchy knit fabrics.

And I thought I was saving time by starting with a commercial pattern for knit! Sometimes there’s no substitute for learning properly, especially if one intend to get creative with pattern making.