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Drafting Patterns

birdlady1 | Posted in Patterns on

Hi Readers!

Well, I had my first pattern making test last night and I just could not do it so I walked out.  I was also not feeling well but I tried to start the test and was having problems.  My teacher tried to talk me into staying but I just was lost.  I will keep attending and trying to learn but I am so far behind in handing in my assignments (she is giving us until two weeks before the end of the term) to have them handed in.  Because of not doing this test (which is a 15% mark), I am going to have to repeat it.  An example of what we had to do last night was a straight skirt with an inverted box pleat.  I turned to page 282 of Helen Armstrong’s book and just got lost.  Does any readers have this 4th edition and did or do you have a hard time understanding it?  When my teacher first taught it, I was trying to keep up and didn’t say anything because I was too embarrassed.  The teacher reviewed it with us a week before we had the test.  I thought I had taken the working pattern with me, but I forgot it.  I want to try and do it from the beginning myself so I can understand it, but I having trouble doing so.  Has anyone got any suggestions?  As I indicated earlier, Helen Armstrong does not go fully through the steps.  Someone in my class said that some of it is common sense.  Yes, it may be, but if you are not experienced in doing it, how are you to know.  Can anyone help with suggestions regarding going through those sets without having to ask the teacher again.  By the way, I had a cold and was coughing at my desk.  I want to catch up with my assignments and maybe pass so any kind of information would be helpful.



  1. WarmDove | | #1

    Dear Birdlady1, You said the following:

    "An example of what we had to do last night was a straight skirt with an inverted box pleat. I turned to page 282 of Helen Armstrong's book and just got lost. Does any readers have this 4th edition and did or do you have a hard time understanding it?

    Has anyone got any suggestions? As I indicated earlier, Helen Armstrong does not go fully through the steps. Someone in my class said that some of it is common sense."

    I don't own the Helen's Armstrong book. I have read a number of other pattern design books. Working with the basic half sloper of your skirt determine the desired depth of fold. Lets say 1 inch and double it. You now have a two inch extension. At the end of the extension is your new center line.

    I hope this recommendation works for you and that you get over your cold very soon.

    You're not obligated to look at one text book. Sometimes the language in one book does not connect to us for some reason. Sometimes we need the another book to understand the first. Consider the public library for as an additional source for pattern knowledge.

    Edited 2/22/2008 1:45 am ET by WarmDove

  2. starzoe | | #2

    I don't recall your past posts so I don't know if you have ever sewn from patterns. If you have not had that experience I am not surprised that you have trouble drafting patterns. Maybe you have gotten in over your head.

    Is this course part of a series, or is it one that is not in a formal setting where you need a passing mark to continue? College? A design studio? Remember too that some great sewing talents do not have the gift to teach.

    Sometimes we have to accept that a dream is not going to be realized and just move on. I would dearly love to play some instrument and have had lessons on accordian, guitar, piano and dulcimer and failed miserably at them all. I did get to play the glockenspiel once in a marching band though. Now I get my music fix from CDs and classical radio.

  3. SAAM | | #3

    I'm so sorry you're having such a discouraging experience. I agree with Starzoe that at least some of the problem may have to do with the teacher. From your description, it sounds like she's moving fast. Plus, I don't think a teacher should assume people will get things through "common sense." Don't be afraid to ask the teacher to explain or demonstrate again the techniques she is teaching if you don't understand. That is what she is there for and what you are paying her to do. Plus, if you don't get it, there are probably others in the class who are having trouble as well and will be so glad you asked the questions.

    I wish I had some practical advice for you, but most of my "pattern drafting" has been just my own experimenting and playing around with pieces from patterns I have purchased. I've often thought about taking a drafting class to learn how to do it properly. I can, though, be your cheerleader. Take your time, ask lots of questions, including the "stupid" ones, don't be afraid to make mistakes, and don't let this setback keep you from following your dream. You can do it, rah! rah! rah! :)


    P.S. I hope you're feeling better!

    Edited 2/22/2008 12:09 am ET by SAAM

  4. fiberfan | | #4

    One of my favorite references for pattern drafting is Harriet Pepin's Modern Pattern Drafting on http://www.vintagesewing.info  This book was published in 1942 so the styles aren't current  Perhaps looking at another drafting book will help.


    1. cookymom | | #5

      Dear Bird Lady,

      It sounds as if you are a beginning student in a class with experieenced people or students who are ahead of you. I'm taking computer classes and I have some of the same issues. 

      It's hard for me to keep up so I take the class, keep notes and the very next day go back into the lab and repeat the class, sometimes more than once to make it stick.  

      I also find one or two buddies so I can ask them a question when I miss the instructor's point. 

      Keep us posted on your progress.  I've found some very helpful tips on this board and rely on other readers who explain sewing steps clearly when I'm scratching my head.

  5. Tatsy | | #6

    Dear Birdlady 1,

    As a teacher with decades of experience, I can tell you not to let this disheartening experience stop you from retaking the class or pursuing pattern drafting in some other way. First of all, the brain doesn't function when we're not feeling well. Everything looks worse. Secondly, I've found that I can repeat the same information in the same way and kids will suddenly pop up with "Well, why didn't you say that before?"

    The brain is a funny thing. When working with my adolescents I've found that they need to hear most brand new things six or seven times before they can begin to take it in. After that, their interest and knowledge usually take off. Try reading through the material--just scanning it is fine--at least six times. Pretty soon pieces of ideas will begin to stick together and things will get clear. Besides, pattern drafting can be counter-intuitive.

    Stick with it.  Hope you're feeling better by now.


  6. AmberE | | #7

    Hi Birdlady: Wanted to catch up with you and see if you've had any luck on finding resources. I haven't had a chance to ask my teacher, but I did see a DVD by Connie Crawford that looked like it included pattern drafting. I have used her draping book and found it quite helpful, so you might want to look for this DVD. Keep me posted!

  7. amapola | | #8

    Hello, I sympathize with you. Been there done that. This is what I did. I read the chapters four or five times. Underlined words did not understand and looked them up in the dictionary. I wrote down all the questions, page number, paragraph that I did not understand. This way you can show the teacher exactly where the problem is. She will answer you because you have all the details there for her. She does not have to look it up. Remember the people who write textbooks are so engrossed in the subject and 90% of the time they forget that we beginners are not on their plane yet. Don't give up. I would get so angry at the author that I used to hit my pillow to get the anger our of my system. Then washed my face, Comb my hair , had a cup of chocolate and then after I calmed myself down I began to get what  they wanted me to learn. Many times the authors change words to say the same thing and that can  be very frustrating because you have to go back, re-read to discover what they have done. Mind you the author is unaware that  he/she is doing it. This is due to the fact that they work with the subject and forget that people are beginning. Hope this helps. Good luck Amapola

  8. sewchris703 | | #9

    Just saw your post/question and wanted to know how you were doing.  I have Helen Armstrong's 4th ed.  It was the text book in the pattern making class I took about 2 years ago.  Are you getting confused between figures 2 and 3?  Figures 1 and 2 on page 282 show drafting the A-line skirt.  Figures 3 and 4 on page 283 are about drafting the pleat and only show the center front section of the skirt (that's the shaded part).  Then figure 5 on page 284 show putting together the drafted pleat to the rest of the drafted A-line front skirt pattern and 2 ways of finishing the top of the pleat area of the pattern.



    1. Beavette | | #10

      This thread is pretty old, so you are most likely beyond the need for advice but...my two cents worth anyway:I took this class in the 80's, I have the first edition of this book. I scanned the page covering the inverted box pleat....maybe this older version will help...or.....maybe not.
      Don't give up.....I had to take two of my classes over when I was at Design School....It happens, but makes us a better designer/sewer.

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