Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sewing 101: Self-drafted vs. Commercial Patterns

I personally approach patterns 2 ways: 1.) draft my own based on existing garments 2.) use commercial patterns.  Here are my personal views of when to use each if you are newer to sewing.

Drafting based on existing garments
  • Use for simple silhouettes like sleeveless blouse-y tops, shift dresses, OR freehand draft skirts based on rectangles (1, 2, 3)
  • Pros:
    • Nicely mimics the fit of something you are familiar with
    • Free
  • Cons:
    • Not always suitable for more complicated garments
Commercial Patterns
  • Use for complex garments like long-sleeved tops, darted bodices, intricate seaming, non-pajama type pants
  • Pros
    • Are essentially packaged tutorials with clear directions on construction, helpful tips, and patterns in multiple variations.  For example, one pattern will contain sizes 6 through 14.  This is fantastic for people (ahem, me) who have different sized tops than bottoms. 
    • The larger pattern companies like McCall's, Simplicity, and Butterick are often on sale at your local fabric store for ~$1
    • Want to go designer?  Vogue offers big name designs from famous names like Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Rebecca Taylor, and Badgley Mischka.  These are typically more expensive (~$5 on sale), but still a great way to tackle more complicated / innovative designs at home.
  • Cons
    • Despite providing measurements for fit, variations in individual bodies mean these still require adjustments and alterations.  For example, I have a narrower frame than average and need to adjust my patterns this way.
    • Basic garment types are easy to find, but you can't always find an exact match for what you're picturing.  In this case, I piece together several patterns or draft part of my own.
Basic Commercial Pattern (McCall's M5972) for a Bodice
Blue arrows indicate dart placements
Red boxes for details like measurements and where to lengthen or shorten

Examples of patterns from

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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