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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: Kay F in IN
Date: 06-12-2005, 08:41 PM (1 of 3)
I am wondering if anyone has tried the book by Helen Joseph Armstrong second edition named Patternmaking for Fashion Design.
I tried to make some clothes using this book, but I believe I know what one error for my overweight figure is. That error was in not allowing enough ease for the way my fat spreads. I have since read the book Sewing For Plus Sizes by Barbara Deckert, and I now see that I must use greater ease than smaller counterparts. I think had I used those ease amounts the drafts would have been more correct.

The other unsurmountable obstacle with the book by HJA is that the draft requires drafting only an under the bust dart. This dart is formed by some of the other numbers used in the measurements. However, since I have a pretty good roll of fat around the middrift, I cannot have a reasonable sized dart to form. Anyone know of a way to draft this way but by establishing a side dart?

No, I could not figure a way to make the dart under the bust and then simply move it to the side. It is because of the way the drafting steps are done that this dart simply comes out wrong. One cannot move a wrong sized dart and have it come out right in the end.

So if anyone has the clue I need to fix this, I would love to know it. Thanks.
Kay F in IN
User: Kay F in IN
Member since: 06-09-2005
Total posts: 10
From: DragonLady
Date: 06-12-2005, 10:38 PM (2 of 3)
However, since I have a pretty good roll of fat around the middrift, I cannot have a reasonable sized dart to form. Anyone know of a way to draft this way but by establishing a side dart?

First, redraft the pattern with the correct ease and make the dart the correct size.

Next, cut out the dart and tape it closed (the same way it would be if it were stitched.

Then, starting at the outside cutting line, draw the center line of the side dart you want. It has to start at the cutting line & end at the highest point of the bust. When you have it drawn correctly, cut it out and spread it open.

You will end up with exactly the same dart you started with, but it will be the new position.

Edited to add:

When you draw in your seam allowances, you may want to shorten the underarm dart about an inch. Just draw a line straight down from the point, then carefully taper it to meet the existing dart legs.
"No more twist! No more twist!"
User: DragonLady
Member since: 11-10-2004
Total posts: 152
From: Sewswiththread
Date: 07-17-2005, 02:53 PM (3 of 3)
Dear Kay,

I used the Armstrong book (third edition) on patternmaking in school (and professionally since) and found it to be quite good. If you still have questions that I can answer for you about it, I'd be happy to. It sounds as though you are having some of the same fitting problems I struggled with for my figure.

Dragonlady has offered you some good advice on moving the dart legs, but didn't explain why what she was suggesting would work. May I suggest you try the following experiment to explain why you can move the dart legs to any seam allowance and they will maintain the exact same fit? (I have my students do this in the first class.) Please don't just read this. When you actually do it you may have a big "aha" moment like me and my students have. It is worth the five minutes it takes.

In the back of your book there is a set of half and quarter sized pattern pieces. Make five copies of the front bodice, quarter size. Carefully cut out all 5 and lay them on top of each other so you can see they are identical. Now carefully tape the dart closed on each of them. Again, lay them on top of each other to see they are identical.

On the first bodice, cut a line from the waist seam to the bust point. On the second bodice in the pile cut a line from the center front line to the bust point. Next one, cut a line from the neckline to the bust point. On the fourth cut a line from the shoulder seam to the bust point. On the last one cut a line from the armscye (or sleeve seam) to the bust point. Lay all the bodices on top of each other with the intersection of center front and the neckline as the matching point. You will see the bodice shapes are no longer identical. Now stack up the bodices with the bust point as the matching point. You will find that each bust dart is the exact same angle!

By changing which seam the bust dart legs intersect with you haven't changed the bodice front fit (the dart angle creates the fit you want), you have only changed the length of the dart and the styleline of the garment. Now for the really surprising news: this works on any dart, whether it is on a front bodice or back pant leg or a sleeve!

Isn't this interesting and fun?

The little bodices you've cut out can also help you to see which designs will use more or less fabric when they are cut out. Generally, the shorter your dart legs, the less fabric the pattern piece will use up when you lay out your patterns to cut.

Dragonlady suggested you shorten the dart so as to create a softer fit around the breast. To use the sloper pattern to draft a pattern without this adjustment creates a very pointy breast dart, think 1950s. We wear differently shaped undergarments now that create a rounder breast. Just remember when drafting a pattern and moving the dart legs around to use the sloper with the bust point on your bust point and you will get the same fit no matter where the dart legs go. If you use a pattern/sloper with the shortened dart (which creates ease for a softer, less pointy fit) you can't "rotate" your dart without creating distortion in the fit of the pattern piece.

As far as the other problem you're having, it sounds like you have diagnosed the problem pretty well. You are having an ease problem. What you may not realize is that the instructions in HJA's book for drafting a basic pattern set are for a sloper, which is a garment that allows for minimal movement while wearing. We who have grown up in our age of loose fit find this restrictive, but it does in fact function. What I'm trying to say is it isn't your figure that is the problem. The problem is you are used to a lot of "design" ease in the fit of your clothes. The sloper is the most basic fit you can function in. If you subtract from it you can't function as well and you lose range of motion. If you add to the measurments of the sloper when using it to design your clothes, you are crating "design" ease.

For example, if you use the skirt sloper to create a pegged skirt you make the hem of the pattern smaller than the sloper measurement and when you wear the pegged skirt you definitely have limited movement! That is if you can walk at all in it. (This is why pegged skirts generally have vents or slits at the hem to allow more range of motion. Without a slit or vent you'd have a hobble skirt, so early 1900's!)

For another example, if you use the skirt sloper to create a basic flared skirt like HJA (on page 243, 3rd edition) you are adding to the hem measurement and creating design ease on top of what it take for you to move in the garment.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck to you. I think you're going to have a lot of fun,
User: Sewswiththread
Member since: 07-17-2005
Total posts: 2
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