I just wrapped up my first round of Garments for Quilters: Wearable Muslin at A Quilter’s Folly this week. I had a total of five students split between the two sessions. Did all five students walk out with a finished garment? Nope, but all of them walked out with a better understanding on fit and a pattern that was made for them.
The Laurel was a great pattern to teach from. Easy to construct, with only two pattern pieces to keep track of (we skipped the sleeves). The darts in the front and back made it easier to fit the garment. All of the sizes were printed on the pattern with fairly clear cutting marks.
One thing that patterns fall short on, is that they assume that people are sized like Russian stacking dolls. This applies to all manufacturers. It’s impossible to grade patterns any other way. Their goal is to provide you with a starting point. In a perfect world, all patterns would be for body type (just like swimsuits). This would give customers a better starting point.
When I explained pattern sizing to my students, I mentioned that it’s best to cut out a larger size and work your way down. I also made them check their measurements against the actual pattern pieces not just the booklet. Colette was pretty transparent about the finished garment size. It was printed on the outside of the pattern booklet. Many manufacturers still print their finished measurements on the actual pattern pieces (the staff at your local fabric stores tend to frown upon opening up the pattern to get this information).
The other thing that patterns don’t account for is gravity. As people get older, their shoulders start to curve forward, boobs are no longer perky, bums get flatter, etc. I have referred to it as redistribution. You might weigh the same, but things are NOT where they used to be when you were younger.
We spent a long time in class accounting for gravity pre and post construction. We added two inches to a pattern back to account for haunched shoulders before cutting out the dress. Post construction, we took in the back darts, and side seams, raised the shoulder seams and/or offset the front and back shoulder seams, lowered or extended the bust darts and curved the center back seam (a full length mirror and a fit buddy are key to getting your garments to fit). When all was said and done, all the marks were moved back to the pattern for future use.
I am in the process of adding sessions of Laurel Pt. 2 (remixed) to the calendar at A Quilter’s Folly, in addition to another round of the Wearable Muslin Class. My Thursday night session got a sneak preview of what the second part is about. Two students used an invisible zipper instead of the centered back one I taught in class, and one student lined her dress.