Sunday, May 16, 2010

jacket pattern development

I've been thinking a lot about the process of pattern making especially since I will again be spending some time teaching this fall.

I find that if you understand how drafting works you can more easily adapt it to your situation by starting with the basic shape and methodically work through the changes required for individual proportions or figure challenges. I find this much easier to explain and demonstrate than decoding the old methods for disproportion which never fully explain "why".
I want to know that the changes I make originate from a logical progression of applying what I see in the body of the person I am drafting for.

This jacket pattern is another exercise in dealing with disproportions. I'll give you the info-
height: 6'5" tall
chest 114 cm (44 1/2")
waist 107 cm (42")
hip 120 cm (47")
Full upper chest, full front waist but not a belly, bigger hips, head forward and a bit of a dowagers hump, sloping shoulders.

On the left is more or less where I started. I drafted/outlined a proportionate pattern for a 114 chest for a person of this height.
The back:
His proportionate waist length would be about 1/4 height, but he measured longer due to the shape of his back. That lead me to slash my pattern across mid back and add extra length. I started with an inch right across then I reduced that amount in the back armhole by half.

The front:
step 1: he needed more width in the front waist area where his body is full so I slashed the front from hem to neck adding in what I needed at the waist.
step 2: the result from step one is extra fabric below the fullest part of the belly, so I reduced that by cutting along the pocket line and folding out the excess from the hem up to the pocket - creating a horizontal dart along the pocket line.
step 3: Extra length is required for extra chest girth , so I slashed the pattern across mid chest and added what I required here.
step 4: I don't need the armhole to get all that much bigger which is a result of the step above, so I then darted out the armhole into a gorge/neck dart that is hidden under the lapel.

Make a toile and fit it. Figures like this are worth the slight extra time a toile takes. On the left you will also see the changes from the toile fitting marked in red.
On the right is the cleaned up pattern that I used to cut the real fabric.

In these cases I adapt my drafting method so most seam allowances are eliminated (I kept them on the side seam here for some reason). When I do the final pattern I add them back in where I want them to be, which is usually adding them to the shoulders and vertical body seams. Unlike traditional tailored drafts, I never draft with seam allowances included in the armhole or style lines -I find it to be more accurate to mark the sewing line.


  1. Hi Terry,
    can you tell me what was the cause to redraft the front armhole with that red line?

  2. A couple of reasons.
    When I tried the jacket in muslin, it was a bit wide across the front.
    He has sloping shoulders and when I placed the pattern shoulders together, the red line was a better line when drawing in the armhole from back to front, as I was reducing the extra width in the front.