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?
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.
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.