Pattern Block Basics

I thought I would extend recent a discussion from Facebook about pattern blocks. I was lucky enough to have perfectly fitting blocks made when I took a pattern making course many years back. But you know what happens when you hit 40, an extra inch or two is added to your padding overnight, so sadly I can no longer use them! 

Pattern blocks are the basic patterns for which other sewing patterns & designs are created.  There are usually 5 pieces to each set: a darted bodice - front & back, a sleeve plus and front & back skirt piece.  The bodice & skirt pieces can be joined to make a dress.

If you're at a stage in your sewing where you would like to experiment with your garment designs and alterations, pattern blocks are a great way to start.  You don't need to have them made to fit, there are many standard sized pattern blocks available to purchase. You them just draft (or trace) the size you require.

Once you have your pattern block you can then start to adjust the design. You never cut or alter the blocks as they remain in their orginal state.  Trace your block and then add your alterations.
When starting off, simple changes like adding or close darts, changing the silhoutte of a skirt from straight to A-line or tapering it in a little to make a very similar style pencil skirt are easy done .

There are a few options for you to get your own pattern block set, try these:
Laura Marsh Designs
  • Sew Essential in the UK has an online option where you can buy large colour posters and then you just cut out the size nearest to your measurements.
  • Laura Marsh Designs has full sized pattern blocks in a pdf that you can then select and cut your size.
  • Many books such as Lee Hollahan's How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns have multi-sized pattern blocks that you need to scale up yourself.

1 comment:

Tiff said...

Oh Jodie, I am baffled by this talk today! I don't cope well with any patterns... I just can't understand them! I admire everyone who can sew with them! I don't even try now, which is very sad! One day when I have time I am going to have another go! X