Before beginning to make any kind of garment it is necessary to analyze it and consider:

1.  The required measurements.

2.  The different parts of which it is composed.

3.  Suitable material with regard to (a) wearing qualities, (b) advantage of cutting, (c) expenditure, (d) ease of laundering, (e) ease of repairing or making over.

4.  The preparation of the material for drafting and cutting.

5.  The drafting of the pattern.

6.  The laying of the pattern on the material.

7.  The cutting out.

8.  The construction of the garment.

9.  The trimming.

10.  The pressing.

11.  The cost.

12.  The comparison of the finished garment with similar ready-made garments as to quality of material, workmanship, price, fit, and general appearance.

Cutting and Making of Garments

General Rule for the Construction of Garments

Under garment construction is included the making of a suitable garment for an individual.

This very important part of needlework includes the study and analysis of the garment to be made:

1.  The taking of measurements.

2.  The drafting of the pattern.

3.  The cutting of the garment according to the pattern.

4.  The joining of the different parts.

5.  The fitting and necessary alterations.

6.  The sewing and finishing of the garment.

7.  The application of trimmings, if these are used.

8.  The pressing.

Taking of Measurements

For the construction of any garment, no matter how simple, certain definite measurements are necessary. The taking of measurements is a very important procedure, because the fit and the elegance of the garment depend wholly upon the accuracy with which these measurements are taken. For loose, flowing garments, comparatively few measurements are required. For tight-fitting garments, more measurements are necessary, because of the great accuracy with which each part must be adjusted. A


Figs. 5 and 6. - Taking Measurements

Waist Measurements: 1, Length of back; 2, width across back; 3, bust measure; 4, underarm seam; 5, width across chest; 6, length of front; 7, waist measure; 8, neck measure; 9, length of sleeve.

Skirt Measurements: 1, Waist measure; a, hip measure taken 7" below the waist line; b, front length; c, side length; d, back length.

close-fitting waist always requires more measurements than a skirt. Measurements for a tight-fitting waist should always be taken over a corset cover. A waist is often ill-fitting, and if the measurements are taken over it, they are apt to be misleading. The measurements necessary for each garment will be given in each chapter, but the general principles give directions as to what measurements should be taken.


Fig. 7

Difference of various commercial patterns and drafted patterns

A. Drafted pattern. B. Commercial pattern.

Drafting and Placing of Patterns

The student is shown how to draft patterns for herself and thus be relieved from the expense of purchasing commercial patterns for the various garments hereinafter described. The pattern of many of the garments illustrated in this text are drafted directly on the cloth. This saves a great deal of time and paper. The cost of the commercial patterns used for the garments described in this work, figuring each at 15 cents, would be approximately $2.

If the pattern is drafted on paper, cut out the pattern very carefully on the traced lines and cut just as many parts as are required to make the cloth garment. Mark each piece with its full name on the right side. Cutting all of the pieces and marking them on the right side will result in economical use of cloth and aid in avoiding mistakes which are likely to occur, especially if the material has a nap or a right and a wrong side.

The material must be unfolded and stretched evenly on a large table. Fasten the material with thumb tacks, keeping the warp and the woof at right angles.

If the material is not even, it is well to pull the short corner. There is no definite rule for placing the patterns on the cloth. Place all the large pieces first and as economically as possible. Place the smaller pieces next. Be careful to keep in mind the right and the wrong side, the up and down, the stripes, the plaids, etc. The largest pieces should always be cut first. They should be placed with the widest part near the cut end of the cloth.

If a two or three piece suit is required, be sure to place all the parts of the pattern on the cloth before beginning to cut them out. This may save a great deal of trouble and inconvenience later on. The parts of the pattern should be placed on the material with the construction lines running in the same direction as the warp and the woof. The length of the. garment ordinarily follows the length of the selvage.

Cutting the Material

The cutting shears of 6 1/2" to 9" should be well sharpened. Cut with an even long stroke to the end of the shears to avoid notches in the cloth. As patterns are drafted according to the measurements taken, there will be no allowance for seams or fullness. After the parts of the pattern are pinned exactly and securely to the material, trace all around them with a tracing wheel, tailors' chalk, or tailors' basting thread. Which of these is used will depend upon the material. Then cut the goods, allowing for seams, hems, and fullness according to the garment and the cloth.

For ordinary seams allow 1/2" to 3/4"; for hems allow 2" or 3" to 4" according to the garment. If the garment laps in the front or in the back, care must be taken to make allowance for this lapping; otherwise it will be too tight.

Joining of the Different Parts

Join the different parts of the garment either with pins or with basting thread. Be careful that all the corresponding parts meet accurately, and also that the connecting points meet accurately.


When all the parts of a garment are pinned or basted together, it is ready for fitting. This should be done in order to discover any mistakes which may have been made. Mistakes do not always occur in the cutting, but they often occur through careless joining of the different parts.

In fitting, the garment is ordinarily tried on with the wrong side out. The seam projection on the wrong side makes fitting easier. Persons who have one side different from the other should always be fitted with the right side of the garment out. Both sides of the garment must then be adjusted. But for a person regularly built, only one side, the right side, is fitted.

Changes Made in Fitting

Waist too large: If the waist of a dress or apron is too large in the front or back, take in the surplus in the underarm seam. If it is too narrow, let out the underarm seam.

Front and back of the waist too long: If the waist is too long, take it up on the shoulder seam; if it is too short, let it out on the shoulder seam. If the waist is too high and narrow at the neck, notch it carefully all around. If a high neck is desired, take a straight piece of cloth and place this around the neck like a collar and mark it with pins or basting thread just below this line. Then notch carefully within 1/16" of this line. If the neck is too large, a condition which should be guarded against as much as possible, take up the back and the shoulder seams. If the armseye is too large, a condition which, like the neck, should be carefully avoided, take in the shoulder and the underarm seams. If the armseye is too small, notch it and cut it out carefully, especially around the lower curve of the armseye.

Skirts can, according to the needs, be changed from top to bottom. Sleeves, if too long, are taken in at both the top and the bottom in order to keep the elbow in its proper relative position. Many other mistakes may occur. It would be difficult to mention all of them. A little practice will enable any student not only to see mistakes, but also to correct them.


After the fitting, the alterations are marked with a tracing wheel, basting thread, or tailors' chalk. The seam of the garment is then opened and placed on the opposite corresponding side. This side is then also marked. Great care must be taken to preserve the symmetry of the garment. It is advisable to fit an altered garment a second time before the seams are stitched and finished, to make sure that every part is correct.


No definite rule can be given for the sewing and finishing of garments, as seams and finishings depend on the type of the garment and the material used. Regularity of both seams and stitches, whether done by hand or machine, careful sewing of fastenings, good buttonholes, a neat and clean appearance, are essential to the construction of any garment.


All pressing should be done, if possible, on the wrong side, but this is especially desirable on colored cotton cloth, wool, or silk. A bottle with a sprinkler top or a bowl of water and a sponge are convenient for pressing cotton garments. A woolen garment should be pressed on the wrong side, or if it must be pressed on the right side, a heavy piece of ticking should be put over the material to prevent it from becoming glossy. If pressed on the wrong side, a piece of cheesecloth dipped in water and wrung out well should be used.