JUST how much should be undertaken in the matter of pattern drafting in public school work has been a question of considerable discussion. There is no doubt that the technical consideration of the subject belongs to the vocational school; as it is usually taught it has little or no place in the average secondary or elementary school. This is the decision of most educators who have given the subject much thought. Their opinions have probably been formed largely on account of the manner in which the subject of pattern drafting has been presented. Too often the subject is approached with only one idea in mind, that of producing the most satisfactory pattern for a particular garment, with but little consideration of the underlying principle by which the pattern is constructed. In such teaching the making of the pattern is the desired end in itself rather than merely a means.
A great many patent methods have been devised for the laying out of patterns. They are accompanied by their own rules, squares, angles, and peculiar instruments for the development of curves, proportions, etc. Such purely mechanical effort is out of place in educational work. It is not desirable that the public schools should undertake to do much in pattern drafting as a professional subject. There are, however, a few points which can be intelligently approached and which, for that reason, should not be ignored.
Students who are studying sewing to the extent of garment making should certainly understand taking measures and applying those measures in laying out and constructing simple patterns.
In presenting the subject of pattern drafting and garment making there is always one almost insurmountable difficulty. With each change of season and, in fact, even oftener the styles vary so much that the particular cuts and proportions which were considered good taste at one period are soon cast aside as out of style.
Throughout this text it is the purpose not to cater to particular styles and fancies, but to present only fundamental principles which should form the basis of all styles. The human form is the same from generation to generation and therefore the essential principles involved in fitting the human form do not vary materially. These are the ideas which this discussion in pattern drafting attempts to present. Care has been exercised to avoid any hard-and-fast set of rules to be followed mechanically for such procedure fails to develop independence of thought and judgment which should be brought to bear in every step. Pattern drafting will thus be treated not as an end in itself, but as a means toward a clear comprehension of the art of making garments.
Skillful dressmakers do not rely upon some memorized set of rules for drafting. They must be sufficiently in command of the subject to be able to make their own patterns intelligently, or to use commercially prepared patterns and to alter them and adapt them to the figure at hand and to the particular style to be presented. In set-ing forth any single set of rules for pattern drafting there is great danger of enslaving the student to the mere detail of the system rather than to give that student a broad conception of the function of the work which is necessary to the development of independent thinking. If a student develops a keenness of taste and appreciation, learns how to utilize commercial patterns, and how to adapt them to different figures and styles, from an educational standpoint the work must certainly be pronounced a success.
Freehand drawing is exceptionally beneficial in connection with this work. Students should learn to draw the various curves incident to pattern construction freehand rather than to attempt to follow definite or specific rules. After all it is a matter of developing the judgment which the work seeks to bring about. Any little girl who has ever attempted to make a doll dress has some appreciation of the necessity of a pattern. In fact there would be no better way of impressing the general function of patterns than to drape some cheap material or paper about a dress form, and then by freehand cutting remove the surplus parts and develop the material into a pattern which could be satisfactorily joined into a fitting garment. The problem of fitting the human form neatly and gracefully is always the problem to be considered when patterns are being developed.
It is sometimes thought that on account of the many changes brought about by styles - the fact that sleeves are sometimes large at the bottom while the next style may call for the fullness at the top -the skirts are sometimes full at the bottom and other times narrow -would make it impossible to present any definite instructions for drafting. Such is not the case for, as was previously set forth, the human form does not vary, therefore, the foundation plan upon which all patterns are drafted remains identical. The commercial companies that prepare patterns are able to use their foundations to develop whatever patterns are required to meet the passing styles.
In this discussion an effort is made to present a simple straight line method whereby patterns for typical garments may be dratted. There are really only a very few general types or shapes of garments; for illustration, the waist represents the fundamental principles from which an almost innumerable host of modified garments have been devised; the variation in shapes of necks, collars, sleeves, shoulders, etc., etc., are but minor points in the art of waist making; the scientific principles - the foundation elements of the garment - are scarcely disturbed. For illustration, the pattern of the tailored waist makes no effort to follow any set style, for it can readily be appreciated that this drafting could not change from time to time so as to keep in line with the small variations in details which may be brought about in those garments. Definite instructions are, therefore, given for making a foundation waist pattern, and suggestions are offered showing how this foundation pattern may be altered to meet the variations of style.
The standard skirt is the type from which almost unlimited modifications are developed to suit the dictates of fancy; petticoats, under skirts, princess slips and all their kindred are outgrowths of the one foundation.
A skirt pattern is, therefore, presented in a manner similar to the waist pattern. Whether a skirt should be made of five, seven or any number of gores is a matter to be dictated by fashion, but the foundation principles upon which this skirt is constructed do not vary, therefore, in this discussion, directions are given for the drawing of a foundation skirt pattern. It can then be constructed of any number of gores, and made with any other minor details which fashion may dictate without violating any of the principles herein presented.
In each type garment presented in this chapter, an effort is made to carry out this same idea. From these type garments practically all of the common garments can be developed; this is explained somewhat in detail in connection with the presentation of each type pattern.
For drafting patterns according to the straight line method you should have the following equipment: one yard stick, pencil, tape measure, ruler, drafting paper (Manilla wrapping paper 30" to 36" wide; the wide paper is more desirable).