This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
Drafting patterns to individual measures is a step of preparation toward becoming a designer of clothing, a step which not only trains both eye and. hand to greater accuracy, the eye to keener appreciation of line, but aids in a better understanding of the construction of garments. To approach the subject by means of simple problems, is the purpose of the following instruction.
The simplest problem with which to begin the study of pattern making, is the plain shirtwaist having a sleeve with fulness at the top. Such a pattern, (fitted and corrected), can be adapted to many uses; from it can be developed tailored waists, with back or front closing, lingerie waists, silk blouses and boudoir jackets. Corset cover, chemise and night-gown patterns may also be developed from this pattern with the expenditure of very little time and labor.
Before drafting a pattern for any garment, it is well to examine a completed garment from as many points of view as possible. In Fig. 180, p. 313, is shown a completed shirtwaist. Study this carefully and note the following points which will be of interest when drafting the pattern:
The seams in this waist are: the shoulder, underarm and sleeve seams; also seams which join the placket facings and the cuffs and the sleeves and collar band to the waist. Fulness, held by gathers, is found where one part of the waist is larger than another, where the sleeve is set into the cuff and armhole, and where the waist is placed to the band.
Now turn to Fig. 38, in which are shown the pieces of a drafted shirtwaist pattern, placed on material ready for cutting a trial waist. These correspond in their parts to those of the completed waist, except that they represent but one-half of the whole garment, because when cutting from material, two thicknesses are usually cut at one time. There is but one front, one-half of a back, one sleeve, one cuff and one-half of a collar band. The waist band and placket facings are straight strips of material, so do not require patterns for cutting.
Now look at Fig. 80, showing a shirtwaist which has been blocked out on a dress-form. This is called a draped pattern. The waist is plain and smooth at the shoulder and across the chest. At the waist, in both center front and back, there is fulness, which has been folded away in small plaits turning from the center, and may be held in place by a tape pinned about the waist. Further study of this pattern will help us to discover what measures would need to be taken for a drafted pattern which should be drawn to accurate measurements of the figure for which the pattern is to be made. In order not to be short-waisted and pull up above the skirt belt, nor drag from the neck band, it must be long enough in the center back, center front and under the arm; therefore we need to take three length measures - the length of the back, length of front and underarm measure. Before taking any measures, a tape should be placed around the waist in an even line.
The length of back should be taken from the bottom of the neck band (or bone in back of neck) to the bottom of the tape at the waist.
Length of front should be taken from the bottom of the neck band (or hollow of the neck) to the bottom of the tape at the waist.
Underarm measure should be taken from the lower edge of the armhole, or the hollow of the arm, to the bottom of the tape at the waist. This can best be done by placing the tape measure at 10-inch point over the short arm of the square and the square directly under the arm, being careful that the shoulder is not raised out of natural position, and measuring to the bottom of tape at waist; then deduct 10 inches from the amount above the waist tape, to get the correct measure. This measure averages about one-half the length of back, so that for a shirtwaist one may safely draft it so, but the measure should be taken for a test measure.
Let us turn again to Fig. 80 to see if we can discover other measures we may need for drafting the pattern. We have provided for the waist being long enough at all points, so we should next look to having it large enough to meet around the figure, and broad enough in each of its parts to admit of free, unrestrained movement of the body and arms. We find the largest round measure of the body at the fullest part of the bust, therefore our first round measure should be the bust measure. The waist must also fit at the neck and waist, so measures must be taken of these parts of the body. The waist must also be wide enough across the broadest part of the chest and back, from armhole to armhole. This necessitates the taking of other measures, the width of the front and the width of back.
Bust measure should be taken (standing behind the figure) around the fullest part of the bust, an easy measure, one-half way between bone in back of neck, and the waist, keeping the tape straight across the back.
Waist measure, taken around the waist, a comfortably snug measure. Neck measure, taken around the neck at the base of the neck, an easy measure.
Width of hack should be taken across the broadest part of the back between the shoulders, usually about one-quarter way from neck to waist in center back. This measure provides a point of location for the back curve of the armhole.
Width of front, taken across chest, usually about 2 inches below hollow of neck. This measure gives a point of location for the front curve of the armhole.