Missa’s Sense-Making Mathless Draft

If you have a wider bust, the side front piece may refuse to be flat in the boob area.

If you have a wider bust, the side front piece may refuse to be flat in the boob area.

To deal with this,place a velcro right under the bust line velcro, from the shoulder-tip line to the side line.  Make sure this new velcro is the same length as the segment of the bustline above it.

To deal with this,place a velcro right under the bust line velcro, from the shoulder-tip line to the side line. Make sure this new velcro is the same length as the segment of the bustline above it.

Cut the sideline of the body to open out a little dart.  This will allow the piece to flatten completely.  The stand I'm working on has about a B cup. The dart that's opening is less than half an inch, so I'm going to stick my side seam back together and ignore this dart.

Cut the sideline of the body to open out a little dart. This will allow the piece to flatten completely. The stand I’m working on has about a B cup. The dart that’s opening is less than half an inch, so I’m going to stick my side seam back together and ignore this dart.

Pin (or somehow flatten) your front pieces.  The full set should have four pieces. (It's starting to look like a block!)

Pin (or somehow flatten) your front pieces. The full set should have four pieces. (It’s starting to look like a block!)

Trace around all your pieces.  I use little dashes.  Also, mark important body markers like the waist, bust, and hip lines.

Trace around all your pieces. I use little dashes.

Take your pieces off the muslin.  If you have to stack them, make sure they're green side to green side so they don't do the velcro thing!

Take your pieces off the muslin. If you have to stack them, make sure they’re green side to green side so they don’t do the velcro thing!

Use a ruler (or straght edge) to straighten the parts that should be straight: the bottoms of all pieces, the shoulders, center front and (for straighter figures) the center back.

Use a ruler (or straght edge) to straighten the parts that should be straight: the bottoms of all pieces, the shoulders, center front and (for straighter figures) the center back.

Just a note: many pattern drafting books tell you that center back is always on the straight. The Moulage draft builds a tiny curve to shape the small of the back. A lot of bodies have a fair amount of junk in the trunk these days, and require a fitting angle below the waist. In these cases, trying to force the center back of the body to be on the straight of the grain will cause weird grain issues and possibly fit issues. Sometimes the same thing is true of center front for extremely chesty women (especially implants!). If you look at older patterns, like from before the 1920s, we used to know this and accept it as normal. We’ve just gotten lazier as pattern makers. :( Anyhoosies….

The armscyes are currently angular, and arms aren't like that.  Use a curve to smoothly connect the guide lines from the draft to make something that looks more reasonable.

The armscyes are currently angular, and arms aren’t like that. Use a curve to smoothly connect the guide lines from the draft to make something that looks more reasonable.

This looks better.  You will need to repeat this process for the back armscye, and both the front and back neck lines.

This looks better. You will need to repeat this process for the back armscye, and both the front and back neck lines.

I don’t have pictures for those. I got a little excited because I was close to done.

Cut around your pieces.  Leave about an inch of seam allowance, in case anything needs to be adjusted.

Cut around your pieces. Leave about an inch of seam allowance, in case anything needs to be adjusted.

You can cut both sides of the body if you want. It’s probably a good idea to fit the whole body on a RLHB, because live people move. With a stand, half is fine. She has seams to guide you.

I'm going to start attaching the backs.  First, fold the princess line seam allowance of the center back piece under at your pencil line.

I’m going to start attaching the backs. First, fold the princess line seam allowance of the center back piece under at your pencil line.

Bring the center back piece over top of the side back piece.  Match the waist lines

Bring the center back piece over top of the side back piece. Match the waist lines

Pin.  Pin just like this - horizontally, not upsy-downsy.  If you do upsy-downsy the person you are working with will never speak to you again.

Pin. Pin just like this – horizontally, not upsy-downsy. If you do upsy-downsy the person you are working with will never speak to you again.

Continue pinning, matching body lines as you go.

Continue pinning, matching body lines as you go.

You're going to do the same with the fronts - turn the center front princess line under, and match it with the side front princess line.

You’re going to do the same with the fronts – turn the center front princess line under, and match it with the side front princess line.

Areas with a lot of curve, like the bust, need pins closer together.

Areas with a lot of curve, like the bust, need pins closer together.

With the side seams, there's no easy way because neither one is straighter than the other.

With the side seams, there’s no easy way because neither one is straighter than the other.

I'm choosing to do back over front, so I've folded the back under at the side line.  To do this, I had to make a snip at the waist.

I’m choosing to do back over front, so I’ve folded the back under at the side line. To do this, I had to make a snip at the waist.

Pin the sides.

Pin the sides.

And the shoulders.

And the shoulders.

See? I do actually know how to use pins. :P So why is it that She Who Hates Pinning is suddenly telling you to go gonzo with pins? Wouldn’t it have been easier to baste the darned thing?

Yes. And hella faster. But if we baste it, it’s way harder to size anything up during the fitting. And also the seam allowances are on the outside and it makes people look bigger than they are.

Carefully transfer this mass of pins back to the person or thing being fitted.  If you're working in half, like me,  you'll be happy to know that the velcro has enough grip to hold muslin lightly.

Carefully transfer this mass of pins back to the person or thing being fitted. If you’re working in half, like me, you’ll be happy to know that the velcro has enough grip to hold muslin lightly.

Check to see that the center front is indeed at the center front, the princess lines are in the right place, and that the whole assembly is the right size and shape.

Check to see that the center front is indeed at the center front, the princess lines are in the right place, and that the whole assembly is the right size and shape.

There is probably some really egregious wrinkling at the sides.  That's that 1" seam allowance.

There is probably some really egregious wrinkling at the sides. That’s that 1″ seam allowance.

If you're satisfied with the overall fit, go ahead and clip the seam allowances.

If you’re satisfied with the overall fit, go ahead and clip the seam allowances.

That should greatly reduce the wrinkling.  Actually sewing it up will improve things further.

That should greatly reduce the wrinkling. Actually sewing it up will improve things further.

Once you decide that you’re all fitted up (and if you followed the directions and placed all the velcros correctly, I believe this should be a fairly fast process), you’ll want to protect the block you just made. You could transfer it to a heavier paper and cut it out in that, or apply a pretty beefy interfacing to the backs of the fabric pieces to stabilize them and prevent stretching and warping.

If you have a dress form at home that’s smaller than you are, you can make up a new cover using this block. Cut two each of all the pieces (ie, give yourself a seam at center front instead of cutting on the fold), sew them together and chuck a zip up the center back. Add stuffing or some other padding around the smaller form, and put the new cover on. Check the fit and adjust the amount of stuffing as needed, then zip her up!

You could also make a torso form, but you’d need to make a stable base, a neck, cover pieces for the armscyes and neck, and probably an armature inside. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve seen it.

If you do a lot of historical work, you can pretty easily use this method to get a block of your body while corseted, thus answering the eternal question, “Where exactly are my boobs right now?”

You’re also in an awesome spot for making an eight panel Victorian corset from this – just nip in the waist a bit at the fronts and sides, and decide how high/low you want it. You’re in an equally good place for a modern bustier, and not in a bad place for knits, which also work on zero to negative amounts of ease.

What you are not in a good place for is making a straight skirt. This bock has no ease built in, so if you try to just use it as a skirt you won’t be able to walk. That’s no bueno. You need to add at least 1″ of ease around the hips for walking and sitting. This can totally be a starting point for modern clothing, but you’re really going to want to work up a set of ease-added blocks as starting points. A good rule of thumb is to drop the front neckline 1/2″, drop the armscye 1″, add 2″ of ease around the bustline, a 1/2″ – 2″ around the waist (depends on application), and that 1″ around the hips.

I’ll be working on a printer friendly version of this, much like the one for the basic conic block, but I didn’t want that process to slow down posting this even further.  If you’re just dying to send me some love for this draft, please donate through any of the free items in the shop.

Also, if you found this useful, please share it.  It’s really the only way FaceBook will ever hear about it.  ;)

24 thoughts on “Missa’s Sense-Making Mathless Draft

  1. Laura says:

    I want to go do this right now, but Joann is closed and I don’t have enough velcro. This is GENIUS.

    3 years ago | Reply

  2. thelacedangel says:

    This. Is. AWESOME.

    3 years ago | Reply

  3. taoknitter says:

    Yep, brilliant. Sharing!!!

    3 years ago | Reply

  4. Laura says:

    Also, check it out – would have been easier if she had had Velcro, lol. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/42643527697406419/

    3 years ago | Reply

  5. Anna-Carin says:

    Brilliant! I’d never have expected velcro to be the best drafting tool since tin foil… http://www.sempstress.org/demo/how-to-clone-a-doll-and-darn-near-anything-else-without-a-ruler/

    Somehow I was expecting a method using blank paper measuring strips, a pencil, and a dressmaker’s square – but this looks even more exciting!

    3 years ago | Reply

  6. e_Rugby says:

    Soo excited. So many questions!

    1) Does this work on male bodies? /without major changes? (Main difference is them usually being less “bumpy” in front, no? – so maybe some measurements/velcro strips can be omitted?)

    3) can anyone who’s tried this already post their rough measurements and velcro usage? It’s sold in 5 m units here, and is kinda expensive, so I don’t want to buy way too much – I realize I can pre-measure the relevant distances – will do and post the result if I remember to.

    2) and this is me being a drafting noob: Is it more acceptable to add ease at the sides of the resulting pattern pieces, or in the middle?

    4) Is there a good online ressource detailing how to draft x (darted bodices, blouses, skirts, pants) from these? I know where to find instructions on how to do bits and pieces of what I want, and have a book or two, but the currently-ultimate(tm) way of arriving at blocks deserves an accompanying comprehensive drafting blog/forum/online classroom.

    (hoping someone else than Missa knows how to answer some of these – you’ve done enough!)

    5) Is there any demand for a German translation for the instructions? I’ll have to do a rough one for whoever ends up taping me anyway, so if it’s any help I can spend the extra time for a proper and understandable one.

    Oh, and re: differently-coloured velcro: I found the green for plants and black or red for cables and stuff – it’s twice as broad, so you’d have to cut it along the middle, but it might work for style lines etc. Alternatively, take a sharpie to it, sew coloured ribbon down the centre or maybe experiment with dying? I know it’s vile and plasticky stuff, but I also know some people have had success dying buttons.


  7. Lori Jackson (@JacksonmominOK) says:

    I’d just like to say that I love you. Seriously.

    3 years ago | Reply

  8. e_Rugby says:

    Warning: massive textdump ahead, but I’m not setting up a blog for the sake of one post.

    To avoid future misapprehensions, I’m female. (That’s where mentioning electronics gets you) Just thought it’d be nice to make the boyfriend an equally well-fitting shirt. Turns out he’s not interested in standing still long enough.

    Gamma-testing write-up:
    I’m1,60 tall, with a proportionally longer torso than legs, European size 40 (US 8) top and 42 (US 10) bottom. Bought four rolls of velcro totaling 20m (22yd), had about half of the last one left afterwards.
    With two people unfamiliar with the process, the taping procedure alone takes about 2 hours.

    Bleeding obvious tip #1: if you’re the tapee, and the taper is unfamiliar with the process, talk them through it beforehand. So they know what they’re aiming for, what’s important, etc.

    Especially make sure that they see how the velcro behaves, what to do when a dangling bit of tape accidentally sticks where it shouldn’t and how to gently remove it without disturbing the others.

    Also locate the harder-to-find reference points before velcroing, maybe mark stuff like your shoulder tip (eyeliner or such for skin, tailor’s chalk and similar on clothes).

    As in all measurement-taking endeavours: get a tall mirror (also allows you to see what your taper does without moving around), make sure there’s enough space for the taper to walk around you, make sure the room is heated so the tapee is comfortable. Wear a well-fitting bra if applicable.

    The mirror also helps if the tapee has posture problems they don’t want reflected in the draft. I tend to stand with uneven shoulders, but I don’t want my clothes to encourage that behaviour. Same possibly applies for some hunched shoulder cases. I find it difficult to keep my shoulders level if I can’t see them, even with the mirror I was tempted to draw a black outline of how I should stand.
    I seem to recall for someone who tends not to stand up straight it helps to give them something to look at at eye-level or slightly higher. So go ahead and place a laptop on a shelf, then play your favourite TV series on it.

    Taping process is fairly straightforward, muddled through the upper cross-body velcroes somehow. Figured it wasn’t too important to get them absolutely right since we’re essentially “gridding” the body anyway. major question was where the median shoulder point lies. Is that what it’s called? My dictionary failed me, so I’ll have to find the same point in a german drafting instruction somewhere to know how to call it. And then learn how to describe it to people.
    Also it’d be useful to mention stuff like not making any tapes that cross the bustline too tight before you actually start taping those velcroes, and mentioning beforehand which velcroes will be doubled or offset. Not a problem if you read ahead, though. Non-Pro-tip: If you end up telling your velcrowrangler to just run the center back tape along the spine for convenience’s sake, you can carefully cut it apart in the middle and afterwards not have to move the CB line manually at all.

    After taping, even if you’re really cold from standing around in your undies, do not put on your favourite bulky wooly sweater. The velcro will know, even if you think you’re keeping a safe distance, and latch on to you immediately. Also make sure you weigh down any pattern piece you’re not currently using, because they might want to curl in on and stick to themselves. That said, as long as your velcro junctions are reasonably tightly fused, and as long as you’re careful, you can usually always separate rogue strips as long as you can remember which were the intentional joints and which the accidental ones.

    I got away with laying out the 4 resulting pieces and folded muslin on an ironing board, for instant pinnability. The velcro actually adhered to the muslin a bit, and even that was only kinda useful, since it hampered my ability to slide the pieces around without distortion. Turn the muslin around, lay it over a light-table, and trace through to the other side for instant mirrored pattern pcs. Also make sure to mark at least the bust and waistline or thereabouts for additional reference points when pinning it all together. Halfway through pinning I started wondering whether I should have trued my traced pieces, probably the combined fault of my lax attitude towards exact tracing and the light-table shortcut and the one inch seam allowance.

    By then my tapewielder had (deservedly) gone off to do his own thing, so I hid a separating zipper in all the needles (I’m quite tolerant of pinpricks as long as they’re self-inflicted, so the zipper went on upsy-downsy. I then played “hunt for the rogue pin” when I took it off. The boyfriend is somewhat paranoid of random pinstabs to bare feet.)

    Muslin fits fine as far as I can tell with all the wrinkles, except for some weirdness at the armscye (I suspect we didn’t place that velcro high enough). The pattern pieces are seriously bizarre (major swayback, massive bum – seen from the front I don’t have much of a waist, but if I compare the waist/hip differential to any “normal” pattern I seem positively hour-glass shaped), and there’s no way my CB could ever lie on straight-of-grain (especially below the waist).

    Brainflash – pants block. My thought was to go the usual route from skirt block to pants block, but theoretically one should be able to directly mold that region by gridding it in velcro as well. No more worries about preserving crotch curves and rise etc. Only you’d possibly have to do a second copy while sitting down:)

    Once more, apologies for the long comment, and massive props for developing the method and putting it out here.

    Now off to file a patent for the direct creation of coat blocks by putting on a bulky sweater before taking measurements.


  9. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    This would be awesome for dealing with people with unusually squared/sloped shoulders, asymmetric shoulders or scoliosis.

    And the double-sided Velcro does come in nifty colors. :)
    https://www.levitthookandloop.com/velcro-brand-one-wrap-tape.html

    3 months ago | Reply

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