Personalised Block class x 3 – skirt

No, Anita’s not testing to see if I’m done! I’ve spent 3 days at Studio Faro this week. Time well spent shortening, lengthening and tweaking 3 personalised blocks – skirt, pant, dress. I have high hopes of one day drafting the perfect Vivienne Westwood dress I once saw on the Studio Faro blog. Isn’t there just something so energising about the shared experience of a classroom? This sewist’s day is often spent in monastic silence, but put me in a classroom and I’m just so bloody enthusiastic!

Mimi and Alix were my fellow blockists – “Hi girls”. Honestly these girl’s bodies illustrated clearly the usefulness of a personal block. Alex is 183cm tall (6′) and Mimi is,  I estimate, under 150cm (5′) tall. It was pretty amazing to see how their blocks differed from each other. At 171cm (5’7″) I was closest to the median. Its surprising to see where the height/length is distributed. No single pattern company could ever draft to accommodate these 3 completely different bodies and thats why we’re here!

Anita conducts a full class, jam-packed with information and insider tips –  not a huge amount of time for chit chat, we were mostly heads down, bum up, faces buried in paper. 1 day was allocated for each block draft, we were asked to toile the blocks in our own time and return on the weekend for a fitting.

The basic blocks Anita uses in her contract design work are the very ones we used to draft our personalised blocks. We chose a size that best suited our personal dimensions. Our personal calculations were applied to each body dimension horizontally – plus ease. I am eternally grateful to have been born in the era of metric measurements. Adding umpteen fractions then dividing by 4 or 8 would cause my brain to combust! Here is a special fraction calculator for those of you imperial folk grappling with death by fractions!

We adjusted the vertical then the horizontal measurements by cutting and spreading/overlapping. I like this method, it makes visual sense and leaves a paper trail of what I’ve done. After adding seam allowances – voila  – the first draft pattern from which we made our first toiles. I’m optimistic about these blocks. How far out could they be if we’ve accurately and diligently applied our measurements?

pant -  1st fit
pant – 1st fit
after pinning out changes 1st fit
after pinning out changes 1st fit
exacting work on the front pant
exacting work on the front pant

Hmmm, measurements. When I took my own easily accessed measurements, they were out by 1-2cm each. If you can’t have someone who knows what they’re doing help you, it may be worth paying a professional. Any tailor, dressmaker or alterations person could help. But ultimately how on earth could I swivel around and adjust the back view? This was a deal breaker for self drafting blocks ‘home alone’. Disclaimer – I have invested in all of the Suzy Furrer drafting classes on Craftsy – they are great, Suzy is a fantastic teacher. But I had enormous difficulty assessing my own draft, especially from the back.

Skirt 1st fit - very few changes needed
Skirt 1st fit – very few changes needed – yay!

Anita’s approach has great benefits compared with drafting from a straight line on a piece of paper. I’ve done that too and honestly the draft has as much to do with which method one uses as taking accurate measurements and fitting quirks. I speak from experience having spent 3 days at an Aust. Sewing Guild Conference drafting a trouser block, only to have the facilitator scratch her head in defeat. I know Anita uses these blocks to draft from professionally; they’re tried and true, based on median measurements – so I can see how I diverge from the crowd too. Those fit rules can be used as a general guide to any pattern I use now. But I’m particularly looking forward to more self drafted designs.

The practise of actually applying my measurements plus ease to a pattern has always daunted me, but I guess it just has to be done and if it saves me making 5 toiles…

3 days of intense classes, 3 toiles finished and ready for critique – I’m off for a well deserved G and T!

Next post – my nemesis, the dress 1st draft and what I discovered about sleeves and the deltoid.



Add yours →

  1. First time commenting (and I just remember what the other barrier to entry was – that I had to register with WordPress. I think I have registration fatigue. But now that I’ve met you – you’re worth it!). Really enjoyed the past few days – great to meet you – and will be attending the Pattern Making class (mainly so I can work on that gorgeous Vivienne Westwood dress too!). Lots of learning for me as I’ve been a very seat-of-the-pants sewing until now. Doing nothing more than adding 5cm to the bodice and 15cm to the hems to get my 6ft body into patterns that weren’t drafted to accommodate it. Great fun and while I’m not sure I’ll ever be into extreme tailoring (aka Jacket 4.0) I’m looking forward to whatever comes next. In the meantime, let’s done our calico creations and hit the town!

    • I have often found registering for comments puts me off too! Yes, lets hit the town in our calico creations?! So great to meet you Alix. Did you know you represent the top 1 percentile anthropometrically speaking? We certainly gave the distribution curve a run for its money!

      • Ha ha – yes, I am definitely a physical outlier! Give me a chance to add those leather wrist straps to the oh-so-flattering sleeves and we’ll be good to go!

  2. Wow – you worked so hard to produce so much in so little time. I love the fitting photos – Anita was going for a very high level of perfection with those tiny alterations. You will be richly rewarded now you have such accurate blocks. I love the VW dress and may have a go myself now you have shared it.

    And the Aussie phrase “head down, bum up” is used by my ex-Melbourne PA on a regular basis. It does make me laugh.

  3. Those classes sound great! I really need to keep an eye on our adult education timetable. I’d love to have a go at drafting my own blocks, but I’d rather do it as a class than online…

  4. Anita is a brilliant teacher.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: