Tuesday, May 18, 2021

benefits of a basic block

To continue with my coat adventure, I thought I would step back a little and look more closely into the pattern development.

I usually draft for men, and the process is direct as in I draft a shirt, or a waistcoat or a jacket from scratch. Tailoring doesn't start with a basic block, but women's wear does; a basic block is drafted and all the subsequent patterns are derived from the basic block. 

So, one needs a basic block to start with. 

I have seen many instances online of people developing a skin tight block, they take courses on how to do it, but I have noticed that many people struggle through that process only to find that they don't know what to do with it once it is done. I guess it is good if you want to create a judy for your particular shape, or create a very fitted shell to squeeze a foam judy into.  Having a judy of your size and shape can be a real asset especially if you are not a standard shape or size, but it seems a challenging starting point for most people.

I think the better choice is a block pattern that is fitted but still has wearing ease in it. 

I have a block that I drafted using on older (late1960's) version of the Muller et Sohn method. Technically, it was a draft for a jacket but I think it gives me a lot of flexibility to make a closer fit as well as a looser fit depending on what I want to make from it.

It has 4.5 cm of ease on the half pattern, so 9 cm total ease around the bust. To compare, the Natalie Bray block (circa 1950's) drafts with 5 cm of ease on the half bust (or hips if the hips are bigger).

I like the Muller version, it gives a lot of flexibility in that it divides the body up into sections back, armhole and front. The sections of the body have proportional formulas to which you add ease. I think it gave me a good idea as to whether my personal measurements fit within the proportional parameters to start with. 

The other aspect that I like is that as the bust circumference increases, the proportions change to reflect that. In other words there are size break proportional changes. 

Here is the basic chart. the english translation caption I believe should read: back width, scye width and chest width. 

As with any drafting process, just following the instructions as written is not going to produce a perfectly fitting model. Drafts need to be adjusted for the reality of the shape you are drafting for. This is something I don't think people are aware of.  Measurements are not shape. If your measurements are not exactly what the draft calls for and your shape differs, then you still need to account for that in the drafting and the fitting.  

In order to draft a personal block, I think you need a few specific measurements. 
Here is my basic list:

nape to waist back
across back
nape to bust point
nape to waist front (going over the bust point then straight down
bust point to bust point
throat to centre front waist 
across front (upper chest)
nape to shoulder, to elbow, to wrist
shoulder width from neck.

There must be a waist tape on the body to provide a destination point for these measures and I recommend a set of photos with the waist tape on in order to double check when drafting.

I like measurements that have defined starting and ending points.  I don't like weird measures like side seam, honestly, where are you measuring? or front waist arc from side to side. Really too random for me.

Even measuring from the mid shoulder is suspect. Can you locate and apply the measurement  reliably on your pattern draft? Using your t-shirt seam as a starting point? not for me. 

That being said, I know that learning how to use a basic block for pattern development and to adjust your pattern is a steep learning curve but for some it may be a good thing. 

I think having a set of your measurements would also help the user of commercial patterns adjust them with a bit more confidence. 

If you are interested in discussions about tailoring and cutting women's wear, you might want to check out this site. click on the bespoke cutter and tailor forum link. 

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