One pattern, so many possibilities!

I’ve been wanting to share a pattern cutting and sewing project for a while and this one is, I think, an ideal one to share, given the wealth of different garments you can create from one pattern.

Kimono style cardi made from organic cotton jersey and
parts of a beautiful embroidered linen table cloth

I had the pleasure of talking through the principals of making this pattern with John on The John Scott Show last week.

Trying on the kimono style cardigan on The John Scott Show

One of the things I love most about pattern cutting and sewing is the wonderful combination of technical and creative. Once you’ve created your basic pattern, you’ll then see just how many different items of clothing you can create from this one pattern.

So, let’s get started…

YOU WILL NEED

Pattern paper (approximately 80 cm wide and 2 metres long) depending on your body shape). If you’re really thrifty you can use sheets of newspaper, taped together.

Tape measure.

Sketch book for noting measurements and ideas.

Pencil and rubber.

Set square and/or ruler ( I wouldn’t be without my Shoben Fashion Curve).

Paper scissors.

TAKING YOUR MEASUREMENTS

Tie a length of tape, ribbon or elastic around your waist. This will prove to be very useful when measuring your waist and for taking the vertical measurement, from shoulder to waist.

For this design you will need to note the following, shown in dashed lines on my illustration below.

Bust – The circumference of your body, over the widest area of the bust

Waist – The circumference of your waist, over the waist tape

Hip – The circumference of your hips, over the widest part of your bottom/thighs

Shoulder to waist front – From the shoulder, at the side of the neck, over the bust, to the waist, with the tape measure hugging the body and not pulled straight

Shoulder width – From shoulder to shoulder. Imagine a seam line running around your arm socket for the points to measure from and to

Neck size – Around the widest part of the neck

Upper arm – Around the bicep area

The formula which I’ve devised for this project involves taking these body measurements, using some simple calculations and then plotting marks on your pattern paper to create the pattern. To begin with it will look like two rectangles joined together and then comes the fun part of refining those lines to create curves where necessary.

I suggest writing your body measurements in a notebook or sketchbook, just reserved for your made to measure creations. I find writing down the formula also makes it a much simpler way to make the pattern and to refer back to it, rather than keeping lots of numbers in your head. After all it’s supposed to be a fun and enjoyable process!

Note that we’re working on a half of the back and a half of the front as, apart from the front and back necklines it’s a symmetrical pattern. Once happy with the shape, we’ll be tracing off and attaching the front pattern piece to the back to eliminate a shoulder and upper sleeve seam. This contributes to the simplicity of the design and is flattering.

A note about ease! The two styles I made have different amounts of ease added. The black one, made in organic cotton jersey is very easy fit. I added 10cm ease on each side seam, therefore it measures 40cm more than the hips. This is quite a lot of ease but I’ve worn this a few times in the past few days and it feels very comforting to have enough fabric to cross it over at the front. There’s something luxurious about it.

Organic cotton jersey with a slub, feels gorgeous next to
the skin.

How about creating a quarter scale version of the pattern before making the full size one? After noting all the measurements, simply divide them by four and draw onto paper or card. You could even make a quarter scale mannequin and try out different design ideas, before cutting into large quantities of fabric. I usually add a 5mm seam allowance to mini patterns like this.

Using a quarter scale mannequin is a fun way to try out design ideas

Here’s a technical drawing of the first stage, of creating the pattern and the formula is as follows.

The basic shape drawn, based on body measurements, plus ease.

For the cream one I added 5cm ease to each side seam and sleeve (therefore 20cm total ease on the body and 10cm on each sleeve). A different look and feel, which I’m also really happy with.

A to B = Bust size……. divided by 4……plus 5cm (or 10cm) ease. For example, 100cm bust, divided by 4, plus ease = mark the line at 30 (or 35cm).

B to C = Desired length. If you have a favourite top that you love the length of, consider using this as reference. The black jersey style shown in this post measures 79cm from side neck to hem.

A to D = Neck size…..divided by either 3 for a back neck as shown in black or divided by 4 for a closer fitting neck, as shown in cream jersey.

A to E = Nape of neck to desired sleeve length measured over the shoulder and down the arm with arms hanging naturally.

I used the full width of jersey for the black one, therefore the pattern piece measures 70cm from CB to sleeve edge.

E to F = Upper arm ……..divided by 2……plus 5cm (or 10cm) ease.

A to G = 2.5 to 4cm, depending how low you would like the neckline to sit at the nape of neck. Both the black and cream style I made, A to G was 3cm.

Writing down each stage of the calculations simplifies the process and enables you to refer back if anything doesn’t look quite right.

Keep in mind that the way I teach pattern cutting, we’re focusing on fit and construction lines. Hem and seam allowances come later.

I’ve marked the shoulder width, half upper arm, bust point and hip width with pink asterisks on the technical drawing. I also mark these on the full size pattern when I’m making it, as reference.

Now comes the part where we refine those lines and add shape.

Back neck curve, front neck curve and under arm curve added. Shown in blue dotted lines.

Draw a line from G to D

Draw a line from D to the centre front, level with the bust point, and taking 1.5 to 2cm off the centre front from the bust level to the hem. Shown here in blue dotted lines.

Draw a curved line in the under arm area.

Check your pattern over, making sure you’re happy with the way it looks.

CREATING THE PATTERN FOR THE NECK BAND AND CUFFS

One of the reasons I love making notes on my patterns is that it’s very useful to be able to refer to measurements and calculations, especially if you use the same pattern multiple times.

To make the pattern for the band that runs all around the neck edge, both back and front, measure the construction line of the back neck and note it down. Measure the front edge from the shoulder notch to the front hem. Add these together and add seam allowances. For example the back neck on my pattern for the black cardi measures 14cm, the front neck to the notch measures 35.6 and from that notch to the hem is 45. Therefore the total is 94.6cm, plus a 1cm seam allowance at the CB neck and 1cm hem on the lower edge. I cut a single layer of jersey for this and allowed it to roll back on itself, on the long edge. I like the character of the fabric and wanted it to sit quite high on the back neck. The cut measurement for this band was 96.6cm by 26cm.

I left the pattern cutting of the cuff until I had tried the cardi on and determined whether I was happy with the sleeve size. I was then able to adjust the main pattern and create the cuff pattern. The size of this piece will be the measurement of the sleeve edge by the depth of cuff you require. The black jersey cuffs were cut 50cm by 10cm.

ADDING SEAM AND HEM ALLOWANCES TO THE MAIN PATTERN

Add a 1cm seam allowance on the neck edges, side and sleeve seam.

Add a 3 to 5cm hem allowance on the lower edge. I added a band/cuff to each sleeve and decided the finished length at the trying on stage.

Trace off the front and attach to the back pattern along the shoulder line to create a half pattern which can be placed to the fold of your fabric. Mark notches at the centre back neck, front neck and front edge, under arm and sleeve edge as shown in orange. These will be transferred to the fabric, and will make sewing so much easier. Depending on your choice of fabric, I suggest using a fabric marking pen of a suitable colour that shows up easily but isn’t lost in the fitting and trying on process as I’ve found chalk to be. Notches are approximately 6mm in length so that they are within the 1cm seam allowance.

Mark notches on the pattern as shown in orange
The full size paper pattern with cutting lines marked for a style with less ease and a shorter style with even less ease

Here are the videos I’ve uploaded to IGTV ..

Lay plan and sewing instructions coming soon…

All content Copyright © Jennifer Mills – The Sewing Skills Project 2014 – 2021