Monday, May 02, 2011

Top Draftalong # 8 - The Basic Block Patterns

Hey there! Did you watch "The Wedding" then? I must confess I was somewhat mesmerised. I'm a bit of a patriot and one of the things I think the UK does pretty darn well is "Pomp and Pageantry". Love it. But, back to the oh so serious business (?!) of bodice blocks/slopers.

After much jiggery pokery on the laptop (and no small amount of colourful language on my part) I have, for your use, basic block patterns in 3 sizes. Downloadable in PDF here:

Size 12 (UK) 34" Bust
Size 14 (UK) 36" Bust
Size 16 (UK) 38" Bust

Now, I suspect I know what some of you are thinking, because I've been thinking it too. What happens if you're smaller than the 12 or larger than the 16? The book addresses this question as follows:

" If you are a different size to the three illustrated here, then buy a very basic blouse pattern in your size and use this as your block pattern..."

Hmmmm. Yes, well that is an option if you don't mind spending the money, and you may already have something in your stash that will fit the bill. But personally, I wouldn't go out and spend money on a pattern JUST for this. There's a possible candidate in a smaller size available free on Burdastyle here . But, you could also grade the block patterns I've provided up or down to fit you, using this nifty tutorial from Megan Nielsen. Don't be put off by thinking grading is hard or complicated. It needn't be. Megan makes it super easy, and since all our fitting will be done further down the line, at this stage you just need to get the pattern roughly to your size. This seems to me to be a fab fuss free way of doing that AND you'll be using the same pattern that all our future examples will be based on, which is one possible area of confusion eliminated. Anything that's simple and avoids confusion is flippin' brilliant in my book! Having said that, read on as you may not need the size you think...

Selecting the right size 
According to the book the patterns provided are sized to fit as follows:

UK 12 = 34" Bust - 26" Waist - 36" Hips
UK 14 = 36" Bust - 28" Waist - 38" Hips
UK 16 = 38" Bust - 30" Waist - 40" Hips

The book also states:

"When you later measure the full scale pattern you will find that it is larger than the chart measurements. This is because ease has been added to allow for movement. Without ease the blouse would be skintight and movement would be extremely restricted. If too much ease is added however,the blouse will be baggy and lose it's fitted appearance."

It doesn't specify how much ease has been added though. At college we drafted our blocks/slopers to be pretty skintight with little or no ease beyond the minimum wearing/moving ease. So I wondered how much had been added to the block patterns in the book. So I made up a size 12 and checked. The pattern measures 38" at the bust  which means 4" of ease across the bust. At the waist though,there seemed to be an awful lot of ease. 10" of ease to be precise! As you can see from the pic, it worked out at 36" at the waist (18" doubled). It's allegedly sized to fit a 26" waist. So it looks as if these toiles/muslins are going to come up pretty loose. I just thought it worth mentioning as you may want to take this into account when deciding which size to print off.

The other point worth considering is your cup size. As I've discovered recently (thanks Gina, Zoe et al!) it is somtimes better to go by your upper chest (aka high bust) measurement. I've since discussed this with my tutor and the general rule of thumb is if you're anything over a B cup (most commercial patterns are drafted to a B cup apparently) then select the pattern whose bust measurement is closest to your chest measurement. We can add in the extra at the bust point later (Full Bust Adjustment)  but this way the rest of the pattern should be in proportion. I'm a D cup and if I go by my bust measurement when selecting a pattern, it usually ends up disproportionately huge everywhere else. Falling off my shoulders and bagging across my upper chest. Sound familiar to anyone else? Gina has a great post about this subject.
Considering the amount of ease in these patterns I'm going to make my toile/muslin up in a size 12 (woo hoo!). My stats are 40-34-40 but as I'm a D cup I'm going by my upper chest which is 36". So if the 12 measures up at 38" bust and 36" waist, I'll need to add in a little at the bust point( fullest part) but apart from that, in theory, the waist should give me 2" of wearing ease just as it is. I want my block/sloper to be a more fitted base from which to draft, so I'm going to have a go with the 12 first and see how I go.

In summary, anyone up to a B cup choose the size that matches your bust measurement, but bear in mind if you want your block/sloper more fitted you may want to drop down a size due to the amount of ease included in the patterns. (Grade the pattern if need be)
Anyone over a B cup, choose the bust size that most closely matches your chest measurement, but bear in mind if you want your block/sloper more fitted you may want to drop down a size. (Grade the pattern if need be). If any of this is unclear just email me.

Note: If you took your measurements at a particular "time of the month" and tend to retain water or are subject to weight fluctuations in relation to your cycle, consider whether you need to take this opportunity to measure again before we proceed. (Thanks to Casey for pointing this out)

Printing the Pattern
The most important thing to remember is to make sure your printer or PDF reader does not change the scale of the pattern when it comes to printing it out. Some printers will shrink the image to fit set margins. Be sure to check your printers settings are set to "no scaling" or "original size" or something similar. In case you've not played around with the scaling on your printer before, I took some screenshots of my printer windows as they appear in a couple of different applications, to show what I mean. These are images of what your printer window may look like, and what to look out for.

All of the images in the PDFs I've provided (apart from the single page scale drawing at the start) need to be printed at 100%.
Uncheck any boxes that say things like "shrink to fit" or "fit to page" as this will most likely change the size of the image and the resulting pattern will be the wrong size. Check any boxes that say thingslike "original size" and "no page scaling" and you should be good to go.

Print a test page
Select one of the pages in the PDF file and print it on it's own. Measure one of the squares. It should be 5cm  x  5cm. If it is then go ahead and print the whole pattern. If not, play around with your printer settings until it prints out to that size. Once printed, keep all the pages in number order.

I'll follow this post up tomorrow with one on assembling the pattern as I don't want to put too much in one post and overwhelm anyone. Sorry for the delay,but it took me alot longer to tweak everything than I ever imagined it would. But I felt it was essential to get it as accurate as possible, even if it meant being super late. At least we won't have to scale the patterns up now. The pattern will seem a little pixelated/blurry when you print it as it's been enlarged so much from the original scanned image. But fear not. It will be fine for our purposes!


  1. Thanks so much, Portia! I've printed out my pattern and read through the information. I will read it through again when my children are engaged with something that allows me to concentrate more, since this is all new to me and I'm a little nervous, to be honest.

  2. I know that feeling Sheri! I can't concentrate with LT running about the place either. Don't worry. You'll be fine. :)

  3. Your doing a wonderful tutorial and I do wish we would get out house put back together so I could follow a long better!!!! But I know these post will be on your site and I can go back :O)...

  4. Baby went to sleep on time tonight, so I hope I can get this going! My husband helped with measurements :) The Royal Wedding was lovely- what a beautiful bride! I kept misting up. I always do since my own wedding. Thanks for doing the work for us!


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