28 December 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Vintage Bodice

Once again I have been seduced by a Vintage Fashion Illustration promising so much in fit and style.  Add to that the fact that this bodice promised to be one of those fascinating one-piece patterns, so thoroughly investigated in the first half of the 20th century.  Manufacturers were looking for a  reduction of machine processes (costs) for the mass manufacture of fashion. This blog now has a great number (5) of these type of pattern instruction which I hope to develop into a more detailed post some day.

The rest of this blog post can be found at our new blog address on our website.  

22 December 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Erte Inspired Design

This weeks #PatternPuzzle was about targeting another of my favourite Erte designs and bringing this inspiration up-to-date.  As it turns out this is a truly challenging style.  I know I made at least two mistakes in putting these pattern making instructions together.  So please forgive any other errors you may find.  And because of it's complexity, I imagine I would have to produce at least 2-3 toiles/muslins to really get the design and fit to work well before attempting final cloth.

15 December 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Cowl Back Tee

We have had a good run lately with Cowl Drape styles and this week is no exception with the Cowl Back Tee.  Last week was the Vivienne Drape Dress featuring a Cowl Drape on the neckline and in the skirt.  And two weeks ago a reworking of The Drape Shift in a woven fabric for The Drape Shift - Woven.  You might say we are coming at the #CowlDrape thing from all directions.

08 December 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Vivienne Drape Dress

It was another short race last Saturday as the first correct answer came in 7 minutes after posting.  #PatternPuzzle fans are proving to be fast and accurate leaving me with an enormous challenge to find yet more interesting ideas to unpack.  

This weeks design is a homage to one of my favourite designers, Vivienne Westwood.  The understated neckline drape and off centre skirt drape are characteristic of her wonderful draped dresses.

01 December 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Green Velvet Drape

Green Velvet Drape - A homage to Ceil Chapman 1950 

Over a year ago I found the image of this amazing vintage dress on Pinterest, compliments of Mill Street Vintage.  Unfortunately (for us) it has been sold and is no longer in their shop.  So I made up the back view to hopefully balance with the wonderful design detail on the front.  

24 November 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Drape Shift Woven

The original Drape Shift #PatternPuzzle post has turned out to be the best performing of all our blog posts over the past two years.  It has pattern making instructions for the knit version of this design which is admittedly far more straight forward than the woven fabric version featured in this post.  So in response to many requests I have detailed here the pattern making instructions to make this design for woven fabrics.

17 November 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Curved Seam Dress

Once again our weekly #PatternPuzzle is focused on doing wicked things with darts!  The design is a classic in many ways and uses a very flattering diagonal seam.   The drape is sent in opposite directions to encourage the eye to take in the whole garment. 

All the pattern instructions have been moved to our new blog, on the website.  See you there!  :)

10 November 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Cowl Tube Top

It's a mean thing to present the fans with a rectangle as a #PatternPuzzle and expect them to describe the garment.  In my defence I did include a couple of very small notches as a clue.  In the end Mioara was able to produce an almost exact image of the idea in knit fabric. I think we may have been reading the same pattern making books.  ;)

I found this image on pinterest but have had no luck finding the original source material.  If anyone knows the origin of this piece I would love to be able to include the correct information here.

03 November 2014

Pattern Fundamentals - Gape Darts

Last Saturday we swapped our regular #PatternPuzzle for some #PatternFundamentals.  The focus of the conversation was GAPE DARTS and how to use them in your pattern making to get a better result in your first toile of new designs.  You may know them as contouring darts as suggested by Alexandria of In-House Patterns.

The first question for fans was do you know what a gape dart is?  And do you know when to use them?  All the pattern making instruction has been moved to the website blog.  Join me there! :)

27 October 2014

Pattern Puzzles - Balenciaga Blouse

The inspiration behind this weeks #PatternPuzzle post is this divinely simple vintage blouse by Balenciaga (circa. 1958-60) found in the MetMuseum online collections.  It has been sitting in my stash of great ideas for #PatternPuzzles for over a year.  :)

20 October 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Classic Drape Dress

The idea behind this weeks #PatternPuzzle is to use a classic drape style to show how the fitting darts in your bodice block turn into drape according to design.  And to also have a go at making my pattern making technique clearer for everyone.

13 October 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Kimono Wrap Dress

We had a fantastic time on Saturday with the #PatternPuzzle.  Jump over to FB and check out the most amazing contributions made by our fans, with drawings no less.  :)

This kimono styled dress was quite a challenge in the pattern making department.  Firstly you have to decide if the wrap over is an authentic two-layer wrap or if you are going to seam the pieces together.  I've gone for the two layer option and included a zip in the CB seam as the only place where the two bodice layers join.

06 October 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Erté Jacket

My first introduction to Erte was the year after leaving fashion college when my Dad gave me a copy of this book for Christmas.  I was such a pattern making novice at the time, I had no idea how I would ever achieve such challenging designs.

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

11 August 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Japan Skirt - no block required!

Rectangle skirts are nothing new.  What maybe new is the way you work your rectangle.  This particular pattern has been hanging on my pattern rail for at least 8 years.  Originally developed for merino ponti, grading up and down in sizes allows you to cut this pattern in a variety of knit and woven fabrics.

You'll find thePDF Sewing Pattern on the website.

04 August 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Tuck and Panel Dress

Our fans made quick work of the #PatternPuzzle on Saturday morning.   In the end they realised that most of the design detail was on the back of this garment with the front remaining quite clean.

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

21 July 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Apron Dress

The going was tough early Saturday morning with very few attempts at guessing the detail in the #PatternPuzzle.  Julie Eilber came the closest when she suggested it may be pregnant manatee.   Later in the day Em Pea Horgosi came to the rescue and provided all the answers.

We would quickly like to apologise for the blatant use of the watermark in this week's posts.  We have been experiencing an unusually high level of IP theft lately and hope to discourage more by making it difficult to remove all the watermarking.  We are hoping it will not ruin the viewing experience for all our fans.  Frankly we hate it and are searching for a better solution to protecting our stuff while still being accessible to our fans.  :-/  Ideas on a postcard please!

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

14 July 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Drape Collar Extension

Saturday was fun with loads of great answers in our #PatternPuzzle.  The final piece of the puzzle was the 'long pointy thing' that had nearly everyone stumped.  The grown-on band collar is an extension of the front drape in this bias cut top.

You'll find all the pattern making instructions on the website blog.

07 July 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Shoulder Drape Tee

The Saturday #PatternPuzzles have featured many 'on-trend' fashion styles and this week is no exception.  The shoulder drape featured is currently popular and turns up in many fashion collections.  Our fans were excellent at spotting all the design detail and solving the puzzle.  When confronted with such a complex patterns my approach as a pattern maker is to divide the pattern making into several stages to some order to the job. 

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

30 June 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Turnback Thinking

The Double Turnback Drape is not especially new.  We have featured it twice in our #PatternPuzzles and although it's not the most challenging pattern to cut, it is so attractive in its simplicity.  

This particular design detail is featured across many fashion ranges and is relatively easy for the enthusiast sewer to interpret, using patterns they already have in their stash.  However its success relies heavily on two important features that we will make the highlight of this weeks post.

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

16 June 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Draped Peasant Dress

Last Saturdays #PatternPuzzle pays homage to Yohji Yamamoto’s SS 2002 collection. Fans made very light work of our pattern pieces and had the puzzle solved by lunch time. Gloria Lucia Sandoval went to all the trouble of printing out the puzzle, cutting and assembling the tiny pieces to make sense of it for everyone. :)

The Draped Peasant Dress has a strong oriental flavour with a Kimono sleeve and a classic but restricted print & colour palette. Inspired by the back view of this Yohji Yamamoto (SS 2002) gown, this kimono styled dress features contrast fabric, a gathered neckline and waistline drape.

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

09 June 2014

Pattern Puzzle - ‘The Blank' by Ruth E Richman 1948

So it's a weird one this week.  Over sixty years old and born of a time that valued efficiency in manufacture over effective use of resources.  Patent #2,454,208, invented by Ruth E Richman in 1946, was filed as:
'An object of the invention is to simplify the manufacture of blouses, coats and similar garments by constructing them from a blank consisting of a single piece of material.'

And Ruth was not alone.  We have located at least six different patents, spanning turn of the century to the 1960's, that focused specifically on one-piece patterns that minimised the time spent in manufacture.  We have preciously showcased a The Patent Blouse that similarly features a one-piece pattern with minimal seaming for greater efficiencies in production.  So certainly a popular idea at the time.

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

02 June 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Mioara Cretu Outfit #2

This weeks #PatternPuzzle is a thing of genius from our regular contributor, Mioara Cretu, gifting us the most baffling#PatternPuzzle of all time last Saturday.  Mioara teaches pattern making at a Romanian university and has a weakness for jersey one-piece patterns!

And for all our fans, you have done a wonderful job this weekend finding the answers to such a challenging puzzle.  Congratulations  :)  Now it's time to confess that I stared blankly at this puzzle for days when it first arrived.  The skirt I was able to work out but it was the twist in the top pattern that had me really confused.  

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

28 April 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Kimono Twist Dress

Every week new fans turn up to comment and solve our #PatternPuzzle and this week was no exception.  Steph Go was in early with a comprehensive answer revealing the main parts of the pattern piece.  Then Julie and Lynn turned up a little later to finish off the puzzle.  You'll find the rest of this fabulous pattern making post on the website in my well-suited blog.

If you'd like to learn my method for creating Twist Drape Patterns I have a detailed worksheet for making Jersey Twist Patterns. For just a few dollars you'll get the same training you'd get if you came to the workshop in my studio.

Check out the First Sample post on the blog.


21 April 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Waterfall Drape Skirt

Zuzana Grimm had her ahha moment on Saturday afternoon and solved the #PatternPuzzle.  Julie and Vicki gave her a good start in the morning with some great detail.  The weird pattern shape is a one piece pattern for a ruched jersey skirt with waterfall drape.  Although I am using the basic skirt block for woven fabric, I will select a block two sizes smaller than usual so I can cut the pattern in a two-way stretch jersey.  That would give me a fit with negative ease of 6cm for this style.  

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

14 April 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Twist Panel Jersey Dress

Once again the much favoured Jersey Twist is featured on the Saturday morning #PatternPuzzle.  A big thank you to all our fans that come along to play and watch.  :)  

This week there is an addition to our #PatternPuzzle post with the inclusion of imperial measurements for our US fans.  Huge thanks to Lisa at Poldapop Designs for pointing out how much easier this would make the teaching of our worksheets in the states.  Lisa is one of the first teachers to take on our Basic Skirt Draft Worksheet as a teaching tool in her classes.  The results have been positive so we will work hard to provide imperial equivalents in all our pattern making instructions.  :)

YOu'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

07 April 2014

Pattern Puzzle - The Wrap Drape Dress

This weeks #PatternPuzzle was a tough one!  When you look at the weird pattern shape we posted on Saturday, you are looking at the most complex pattern piece in the style.  In this weeks puzzle, in addition to the side seam drape, it's all about understanding the construction of the front wrap and how that relates to the CF seam.  It is a mock wrap in that it is secured at the side seams to create a more reliable shape.

All the pattern making instructions have been moved to the website blog here. :)

We love to hear from you so please leave you pattern making questions in the comments section below.
Enjoy  :)

31 March 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Double Drape Tee

A big thank you to everyone who came by our Facebook Page on Saturday to play the #PatternPuzzle. You were all able to identify most parts of the pattern but found the shape at the neckline confusing.  Once you turn the pattern up the right way you'll see the large open shape is in fact two pieces of drape that overlap.

This currently popular style is featured in many fashion collections.  The drape from the left side of the top tucks under the right shoulder drape and is attached into the right armhole seam.  Using the Knit Block I have set out the Pattern Plan below with the dashed lines indicating where the drape will be added for both sides of the garment.  

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

27 March 2014


The Jersey Twist #PatternPuzzle is being tested.  What I love about finding willing pattern makers to test our pattern making instructions is that we can focus on being the best possible writers of pattern making instructions.

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

24 March 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Tucked Drape Skirt

Our Saturday's #PatternPuzzle attracted a few new players and some very interesting answers.  Turning the pattern shape upside-down for the puzzle post will always challenge perceptions.  By the afternoon Doris had identified the shape as a skirt, then Andra gave us the detail of all the features in the skirt.  These draped skirt styles are a good place to start if you are new to draped patterns.  

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

17 March 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Jersey Twist Dress

There was a great conversation around the #PatternPuzzle last Saturday on our FB page.  The final but essential clue of a CF twist was offered by Renee Bock to complete the puzzle.  This style is in many ways very similar to previous puzzles featuring twists.  A full list of similar styles, with links, is featured at the end of this post.

You'll find all the pattern  making detail on the website blog.

10 March 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Drape Twist Jersey

Gathers, drape and twists in jersey seem to be the favourites for most of our fans.  This weeks challenge is no different, with this drape style that could be made as top or dress.  It is hard to imagine that the weird shape below would make the style sketched above.  Once again we have produced a one-piece pattern, eliminating the side seams.  

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

03 March 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Jersey Ruche Skirt

Last Saturday's #PatternPuzzle was one of those strange shapes that gave little idea of it's final shape.  But in true form our fans were able to solve the puzzle.  The style we are looking at is a ruched, drape skirt that relies on the two-way stretch of the fabric to pull over the hips without a zipper opening.  

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

24 February 2014

PatternPuzzle - Sporty Glamour

Inspired by The Cutting Class post, Tucks and Gathers at Prada, and Prada's divine combination of feminine styling with casual, sports trim, I could not resist this challenge.  The full show from Prada is worth the viewing. :)  The style that caught my eye is this sporty frock (below) with crew neckline and bead and sequin embellishment.  A wicked combination.  :)

You'll find all the pattern making detail on the website blog.

17 February 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Homage to Charles James

 Once again that fabulous designer from the 1950's, Charles James, is the subject of the #PatternPuzzle.  I believe the dresses photographed below are of the same design and at first the differences were a little confusing.  In the end I decided they were in fact two different versions of the same design as the proportions in the garments vary a great deal.  Perhaps the same design made for two different clients.  My sketch and pattern are a reasonable facsimile of this design.

The puzzle below, posted on our Facebook Page on Saturday, is of the very full circle skirt and the front and back bodice.  

10 February 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Jersey Ruche Dress

We had a fabulous #PatternPuzzle conversation last Saturday with four different players contributing to the solution of a complicated style.  This pattern shape is the front and back dress as one pattern piece for the body of the Jersey Ruche Dress.  The sketch below illustrates ruching in the shoulder line and down the right hand side of the dress.    Also note the sleeves have different treatment for the right and left side.  The right sleeve is a raglan style that includes the shoulder piece.  And the left sleeve is the regular set-in sleeve.

Learn more about pattern making with my PDF worksheets.

You'll find all the pattern making instructions on the website blog.

03 February 2014

Pattern Puzzle - Asymmetric Tuck & Gather

For the first time ever in the short history of our #PatternPuzzles it was solved with in the first answer.  Mioara  Cretu showed her pattern brilliance and described all the design detail in one go.  Another first for the Saturday morning #PatternPuzzle.  The design featured below is a draped dress with asymmetric seaming and the addition of drape for the tucks and fishtail.

You'll find all the pattern making instructions on the website blog.