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Pattern Making

birdlady1 | Posted in Patterns on

Hi Repliers!

Thank you for your feedback and words of encouragement.  I have been sewing.  I am not an expert but have also taken classes in garment construction.  I am not taking these classes in order to become a designer.  I am doing it as a hobby.  The school I attend is a real great school and as I had indicated in my earlier e-mail, I have had this teacher before.  She is very good at what she does.  I took this pattern drafting course before and could not stand the other teacher who taught it.  The class was so bad that I did not even go to the first test and did not go back.  Of course I did fail.  This teacher lets us go along with her.  The unfortunate thing for me is that by the time I am up to where she was, she is onto the next step.  My teacher did have a chat with me and did say that sometimes I may be trying to analysis things to much.  She said that if you look at the way the patterns are drafted, it is not that hard.  I realize what she is saying but she has been working in this type of field for years and knows how to draft a pattern.  She has told us that she doesn’t even look at how Armstrong does hers.  I know I have a tendancy of being over anxious and then cannot think logically.  I am going to keep going to classes right until the  end.  If I fail, then I will repeat it again.  I was reading Armstrong’s book and someone stated in the book that there may be mistakes made in the book.  I thought I read a few threads readers say that some of the steps being taken to complete some of the patterns were incorrect.  How can someone as inexperienced as myself do it right if it may be wrong in the book?  One example (I may be wrong) is on page 241 of Armstrong’s book.  In figure 3 and 4, it shows two centre front pieces.  Should it not show the back and front centre pieces?  From page 240 to 241 it expalins how to do a Basic Flared Skirt.  How does a person with no drafting pattern experience know that may be the creater of this drawing made a mistake?  I know it is common sense to figure it out but when you are a beginner, you go by the words and pictures shown from someone who has had experienced and who wrote the book.  Am I correct in my thinking?


  1. marymary | | #1

    birdlady1, you don't say which edition of Armstrong's book you are referring to.  I have a couple of the editions and, yes, I have found mistakes.  It sort of puts all the information in question when you know that some of it is incorrect, particularly if you are a beginner.

    Are you using a textbook in your class?  Which one?

    1. birdlady1 | | #2


      I am using Armstrong's 4 edition.  If you have the 4th edition, could you verify if I am right or wrong?


      1. marymary | | #3

        I have editions one and two.  Sorry, I can't help with four.  I don't think I will ever buy one of her books again.

  2. Teaf5 | | #4

    How frustrating for you! However, you may be expecting too much from a single book. Each of us visualizes and creates in different ways, so that a book written by one person with one learning style may not be very useful to someone with another learning style.

    As a very, very experienced sewer who can make up my own patterns, I still read everything I can in order to learn more. Often, though, the description or diagrams make no sense to me at all; they're not incorrect, but they present information in a way I cannot follow.

    And you have to remember that just about anything creative can be done in a number of different ways. When your instructor warns against "analyzing too much," she may be warning you that relaxing and experimenting may be a better approach to this kind of process.

    You might want to get additional references to supplement the text you are using. I like the For Dummies series and authors who use a lot of photos and diagrams. You can also get a lot of visual information online. It's definitely worth it to keep trying, so good luck!

  3. WarmDove | | #5

    Dear Birdlady1:

    You said:"I know I have a tendency of being over anxious and then cannot think logically."
    ----Sounds to me like you are very precision orientated person. That's a gift that will serve you well in not only generating garments that are beautiful but well made. But because your need for accuracy is so high you can become easily discouraged or frustrated when something doesn't turn out well the first time. You have to give yourself permission to experiment and make mistakes. A design or alteration of a sloper is an approximation of what you want until you fit it to the body. Pattern making is theory, experimentation and then realization. Designers have to go back to the drawing board too. Look at the people who try out on "Project Runway." Many of the participants work in industry and they make mistakes.

    You said:"She has told us that she doesn't even look at how Armstrong does hers."
    ----The instructor has had lots of experience so it is easy for her. She should have had more empathy for your situation as a beginner. I simply think this was a rude, condensing comment. Not only does it show irresponsibility, in her defensiveness, she suggested you were the problem instead the book and herself. She's trying to defer blame. Don't let her get inside your head.

    You said "I thought I read a few threads readers say that some of the steps being taken to complete some of the patterns were incorrect. How can someone as inexperienced as myself do it right if it may be wrong in the book?"
    ----I don't know if it is applicable in your case but often book sellers, publishers, and or educators strike deals with each other that is not advantageous to students. It makes them money but gives students grief.

    If it was me I would ask her a few questions and point out these errors. For example is she aware of any other portions of the book that was inaccurate. I would ask her why she picked the book over others that are in marketplace.

    In the meantime, it would serve you well to get copies of other pattern books to compensate for what her book isn't teaching you. There are just too many ways to do the same thing and many ways to say it.

    I wish you well and much success.

    -Warm Dove

    Edited 2/22/2008 4:49 pm ET by WarmDove

  4. jjgg | | #6

    Just out of curiosity, what were the parameters that were given to you to draft this pattern? Were you given a basic block and told to change it to a flared skirt? were you given just a set of measurements? How was this test set up?

    I have the 3rd ed. of this book, the basic fared skirt is on pg 243 -244, I assume the pictures and most of the text is exactly the same, fig. 3 & 4 are clearly labeled center front / center back - now this may have been left out of the next edition as a mistake, but mine are clearly labeled. and then fig. 5 shows the front superimposed on the back and how to blend the side seam.

    The directions in the first paragraph tell you you have 2 ways of doing this - slash and spread or pivot.

    The directions for figures 3 & 4 clearly state what to do to change the A line skirt to the flare.

    For the straight skirt with the inverted box pleat, what was your problem? did she give you the hight of the pleat for the back? In the book it's 8 inches, but that is a design issue. I found the directions to be very straight forward and explicit about how to do the box pleat.

    In your class are you working off of class slopers (or blocks?) does everyones drafts have to get stacked up on top of the others and be identical? if we were off by more than 1/32 inch we were dinged and points taken off! My teacher would stack up all the drafts from everyone in the class and they had to be perfectly aligned.

    Yes, there are a few errors in the book, but not many of them. Overall this is one of the better pattern drafting books out there (and I have lots and lots of them) It is very comprehensive covering pretty much every angle of design you could want. I collect old flat pattern books because some of the fashions of bygone eras are so beautiful.

    What is it that you don't understand about this? it seems clear as mud to me.

    But I do agree with the poster that said some people just can't do all the things they would like to - I can't carry a tune to save my life, as much as I would love to sing and play an instrument, or be able to do higher math - my brain and body just can't do it.

    Edited 2/22/2008 10:48 pm ET by jjgg

    Edited 2/22/2008 11:44 pm ET by jjgg

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