When I started to offer my Online Pattern Design classes I was concerned about whether or not I could make them worthwhile. To say that I have been pleasantly surprised by the process of teaching online would be an understatement. I have come to believe that it is possible to provide one-on-one fitting assistance to my students that is as good as, if not better than, what I have been able to do when I have taught pattern design in person.
The big difference is time and how it can be used. When I teach in person there is a rigid schedule of when the doors will open and when they will close. In a classroom situation there is a given amount of material that needs to be covered in a specific amount of time. In a workshop environment there is inevitably some dead time for me when I need to be available but the students need to follow a sequence of steps. Different students learn at different speeds. With an online class, time and geography both become non-issues.
So how does it work?
In my approach to custom pattern design you start by creating fitted patterns called slopers. These slopers accurately show the shape of an individual’s body. Once you have a sloper you can move on to creating designs for specific garments. As nature never repeats the same shape twice, the key is to get the best possible fit for the sloper.
Designs are just a matter of changing dart and seam locations and adding fullness. The process of designing from a sloper is very easy. You can see all the design techniques in my An Introduction to Pattern Design eBook.
My classes for creating the basic slopers follow the same sequence. I use my book How to Make Sewing Patterns as the text and then show the various measuring, sewing, and fitting processes using streaming videos. You will actually be watching right over the shoulder of my demonstration model as she or he performs the necessary steps. The sequence is as follows.
- Take measurements.
- Draft an initial paper pattern.
- Cut the patterns out of fabric. I recommend gingham for the Upper and Lower Torsos and muslin for pants.
- Sew up the fabric for a test fitting shell.
- Adjust the fitting shell so it fits one side of the body. Do this by adding darts and adjusting seams as required. More class videos show this process for both working with another person or doing it yourself (DIY).
- Remove the fitting shell and transfer the darts and seams from the fitted fabric back to paper.
- Transfer the darts and seams to the other side of the fitting shell, then sew it up and verify the fit.
Some people will go through this process on their own using the information from my book and class videos with no problems. Others need assistance. When people in my classes need help with the fitting, they take pictures of the fitting shell on the body they are working on. More often than not the students are fitting themselves. The photos go into the class database where I can view them and make suggestions for changes.
With the permission of Judith Branham, I have included a PDF file which shows the process she went through to create an accurately fitted skirt sloper. Her fitting challenge was to adjust the patterns for an asymmetrical body so that resulting clothes would appear symmetrical. You can see a picture of her in a fitting shell before it has been adjusted for her asymmetrical body. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Here is a link to the Fitting Critique for Judith.
Judith did this entire process on her own, DIY, except she had her husband take the photographs. For her final project she created an award winning skirt design.
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