In the elementary school it is not wise, nor indeed is it usually possible, to teach elaborate dressmaking. It is, however, advisable that girls from the sixth or seventh grade up should have some experience in cutting, fitting and constructing the simple garments they wear or that may be worn by their younger sisters or brothers. Drafting of pattern is frequently given to accompany garment-making in the higher grades of the elementary school, although its principal use is in the high school. It is of doubtful benefit in either when it is given with set dictated rules, for it does not develop independence of thought or of action. To be sure, each girl may through it make a pattern for herself or for another, but she has usually gained little in understanding how to adjust the draft to changing fashions or how to cut and fit easily when she is away from the teacher. The real service which drafting may render has been lost in such cut and dried lessons. The good dressmaker and the able woman in her own home do not rely on drafting to make every new pattern; they are superior to it. They can take any one they have and adapt it to a new purpose. They completely cut it over or increase or decrease it where necessary, and obtain good results. The aim of a course of lessons in drafting should be to give each pupil ability of a similar character. Freedom from set rules and the knowledge of how to go to work is much more necessary than merely having a good pattern. Drafting, therefore, should be a means to an end, and not solely an end in itself. Through it the students should learn the form of the body and the way patterns are made. They should be able to appreciate good line, to utilize and alter any pattern so as to conform it to different figures or to changing styles. The elementary school cannot go far in this work, but it is important that the right start should be made. A child likes to cut her own doll clothes, and the teacher, in even the fifth grade, can help her to improve upon her crude efforts and can gradually lead her to see that certain principles when followed, lead to exactness, as well as to beauty, of result. As the girl grows older, the teacher can help her to comprehend the use of the different parts of paper patterns. She can gradually lead her up through the simple doll clothes she has cut, to the understanding of the way to draft an accurate pattern. No matter how clever a demonstrator a teacher is, she will fail to give as much help to her class, while explaining a draft, as will be obtained by each child in her own efforts toward making some pattern for her doll or for herself. The regular patented systems of cutting are of less value in the schools than the simple free-hand ones, for, in the former, manufactured curves take the place of those drawn by hand and the means of getting results are often purposely obscure. The free-hand drawing also leads the student to better feeling for good form and line. Lessons in art should be closely connected with drafting and making of pattern. The Professional Schools of Paris teach pattern making by the modeling of the material on the figure, as they feel it leads to freedom of thought, to beauty of line, and to personal independence and expertness. A freehand drafting system may be an excellent step between the free cutting of the early grades and the pattern modeling, but it must be taught intelligently. Each girl through these lessons should gain in ability to quickly cut and fit a waist, coat, or skirt of any kind. She should gain in original ideas and in the ability to utilize any picture she sees or pattern she may have.
Household Arts in the Grades. Handwork should begin in the kindergarten and continue to each succeeding grade of the school. This has been realized in a large number of the public school systems of the United States, and courses of manual training are to be found at present in various phases of development, for they have been introduced from many standpoints. The attaining of practical ends solely and the serving of purely educational ideals are illustrations of these varied aims. The possible subjects in handwork are unlimited, but random choice accomplishes little. The selection should serve some worthy aim beyond the making of the mere article itself.