November 20, 2007

Measurements, Doubt, and Apple Pie

I spent a good part of my day studying measurement charts, patterns, and photos of one of my models. I had moments of doubt about my fit. It may sound silly, but I was debating whether I should shorten my dresses and by how much. Currently, my dresses are the perfect length if you don't want your girl to wear matching diaper covers or even a slip. They are long enough that if your girl decides to be bum side up, she will remain covered. This is not true of many RTW dresses from big box stores and bloomers of some kind are necessary.

But I want to have matching bloomers/cropped pants to coordinate with my dresses. I want them to peek out below the skirt hems, but not too much. Many of the Ebay fashionistas are showing dresses that also work as tops worn with pants. I like the look but the proportions sometimes bug me. I love the bloomers from the 1830s that girls wore beneath their dresses and that is the look I want. How short can I go and still have my dresses wearable as a dress rather than a top? Maybe I should have tops too? What are the dress lengths of other brands? What is the purpose of my bloomers?

Anyway, the debate has raged and I had lots of doubt of whether I should even be a designer. Should I even mention this on the blog? Maybe someone will steal my ideas (not that it is all that original anyway)? All rather silly....

I think every designer has days like this.

You see, I don't have a 3 year old I can measure whenever I have a quandary. I don't yet have my 3T dress form. I have to make up samples, schedule appointments, reimburse mothers, etc. It's quite a process and so I rely heavily on my measurement charts. I take my best, studied guess and then make samples to try on. I hate wasting time and bothering busy moms.

Anyway the result of the debate is to shorten my skirts one whole inch. Yep, all of that debate, fretting, and doubt for one whole inch. My bloomers will peek out just enough to be seen (unless the girl is bum side up :-) ) . The bloomer's primary purpose is to substitute for a slip, be worn separately, and coordinate with dresses in the line.

No sewn samples yet. All of this debate was in preparation for pattern drafting.

Parting shot of my apple pie for Thanksgiving.


  1. Of course you should be a designer! Every perspective brings something unique to the table, and yours is as valid as any other. I think you're right to shorten the skirt length to allow bloomers to peek out...very important to the prairie vibe you want to capture with the line.

    And your pie looks yummy--Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Esterh...I think we all fret unnecessarily...LOL

    Just wanted to stop by and say Happy Turkey Day! oh and pass a piece of that yummy pie!

    With friendship,

  3. I've been doing the same, pouring over measuring charts and re-working patterns. My 4 y.o. is my fit model, though, so I do have the luxury (ha!) of dressing her up when I need a fit, but it's by no means easier than having a dress form that won't want to dance around the room while I'm trying to check the fit.

    Thank you so much for your explanation below about the flat patterns. I meant to respond earlier, but then got caught up in the holiday madness. Anyway, after much pondering conceptually over the "right" pattern method, I was encouraged by your explanation, especially that it's the fit that matters, not so much the method for getting there. I know that probably sounds simple and obvious, but since I have no formal patternmaking training, everything is a learning experience and I sometimes get stymied because I want to do everything "right." So I finally put pencil to paper to draft Aldrich's and Armstrong's patterns and compare them to mine. My patterns are a more like Aldrich's classic, although my armhole shape isn't quite as cut out (so my armhole is somewhat in between her flat and classic). I think the shoulder width on her flat block is too wide, but I guess that's part of what creates a boxier fit versus the slimmer fit of her classic block.

    I did notice that Aldrich seems to modify the front armhole and lowers the front shoulder slope even in her "flat" blocks for wovens (on the infant woven on p. 25 and on the body/shirt block on p. 39), although it's not as pronounced as in her classic block (on p. 89). And when I cut out my front and back patterns for the classic block and woven flat block, the shape and contrast between the front and back of each are not that different. In other words, the difference in the armhole shape between the front of the classic and the back of the classic is very similar to the difference in the armhole shape between the front woven flat block and the back woven flat block (I laid the fronts over the backs and compared). Of course, the armhole shaping between the front classic block and the front woven flat block are significantly different, as are the back classic and back woven flat. I'm not sure exactly what that means, really, except that she seems to apply the "true" flat (meaning identical front and back except for the neckline) as you suggested to casual knit boxy styles like t-shirts (which she drafts also for older children on p. 45).

    Thanks again for all your explanations and for your great blog. Good luck designing your spring line--your dresses are adorable!


  4. One more thing about Aldrich's book that I find confusing. I do prefer her drafting method to Armstrong's (for children, I haven't done anything with either of their adult patterns)--it seems simpler because it uses fewer complicated measurements (I suppose because she makes certain educated assumtions about the slope of the shoulder, etc rather than using actual measurements).

    However, her book seems a bit schizophrenic, like several people drafted different patterns and she compiled them into one book. For example, the points (0,1,2,3, etc) are not in the same places in her various patterns--sometimes point 0 is center front and sometimes it is a point just above center front that lines up with the inner shoulder. Then her patternmaking steps are not consistent throughout. Sometimes she measures the width from this point 0 and then squares down and sometimes she measures the width from the center chest and then squares from there. Her patterns all end up with the same basic shape and I found following her drafting instructions for each pattern very straightforward. But I think comparing one pattern to another is difficult because in one pattern point 3 is at center chest and on another pattern point 7 is at center chest and point 3 is somewhere else. Maybe it's just my inexperience, but I found it more difficult when trying to compare, say, the chest width ease from one pattern to another, than if she followed the same drafting steps for each bodice.

    I do love both books as they are great at explaining how/where to modify patterns for different styles. And I like having two resources to compare--they are both a wealth of knowledge.

  5. Tiki,

    Thank you for your comments. There are a lot of things I like about Aldrich's book. But there are a few things I don't like, especially the shaping of her infant patterns. That is ok, though. The important thing is to start somewhere and modify things to your liking, to what looks "right" to you.

    I agree about the Shoulder Slope and Shoulder Width of Aldrich's pattern. This is one thing I modified on my pattern too.

    Good luck! I'll probably post your comments as a separate blog entry so others can find it easier.