I’ve been waiting weeks to share this post with you! I was recently lucky enough to be offered a space on the pattern cutting course at Ray Stitch, running over 6 Wednesday evenings. My dressmaking experience isn’t huge, I am certainly a hobby sewer and wouldn’t know where to start with drafting a pattern from scratch. This means that when I get into little problems when I’m sewing I have no idea how to resolve them – potentially leading to meltdowns and patterns in the bin. I turned up at my first class not knowing what to expect but super excited to learn! R did a ‘Recreate your favourite garment’ class a few weeks back and had only good things to say about it. The class size is only 5-6 people which is perfect for this type of activity and if you haven’t seen Ray Stitch’s classroom in the cellar you need to get yourself over there – it is a little sewing dream.
The class is taught by Alice Prier who has been a pattern cutter for over 20 years. She has her own made to measure business and teaches pattern cutting too. She knows so much about pattern cutting that we all spent a lot of time quizzing her for as much information we could get. A brilliant, enthusiastic teacher!
Over the six week course we all made a skirt, bodice and trouser block. From these we can now, in theory, create a huge variety of patterns and they’ll all be fitted perfectly to us. We started with the skirt as this was the most simple block. Simply put it just needs to fit over your widest bit and then back in at your smallest bit, with darts to accommodate the difference between these two measurements. For myself, and other curvy people, we need more darts to spread this difference (which does explain why some commercial patterns and RTW clothes don’t quite fit my arse/waist combo).
Every week Alice would bring in a selection of skirts, tops or trousers that she had designed and made so that we could see examples of how our blocks could be manipulated and changed to create so many different garments. I found it so helpful and inspiring to see the variety of designs we could now create and it also helped me visualise how changing the pattern would change the final garment.
The 6 week course is broken down into two week chunks where you focus on a different block. In the first week we created the block itself from all of our measurements and in the second week we would look more at how to alter the block to create different patterns.
We used these little mini blocks to practise changing the block and dart positions to create new designs. They were really handy for helping me visualise how the dart placement would change the overall look of the garment – Alice taught us how the garment needs to be balanced in order to look and hang right on the body.
We moved on from skirts to bodices and then finally trousers. I have never made a pair of trousers (pjs don’t count) so I was really excited to learn a bit more about their fit. When we had sewn up our final muslin of our blocks (quickly drafted into close fitting patterns) we all lined up to be adjusted by Alice.
Adjustments were made – in the photo below you can see where Alice took mine in a bit at the sides. We then transferred these back to our paper blocks.
I really couldn’t recommend this class more. If you’re looking to take your sewing to the next level and learn a bit more about how patterns actually work then this class is perfect for you. You can see all of Ray Stitch’s upcoming classes here.
I’m so excited to use my blocks to create my own patterns. I didn’t think I would ever be able to do that alone! I will of course share any successes, and failures, here.
PS. Forgot to mention, classes come with wine!