Learning pattern making

My dream is to draft my own patterns rather than spending hours trying to get a commercial pattern to fit me.

Enter Sarah of Workspace Fashion and Design Studio.

Sarah was the magician, who wrapped me up in duct tape for the dress form. She helped me create a bodice and sleeve block and now she is teaching me how to draft patterns using my personal blocks.


We have spent a lot of time playing with paper and Sarah taught me how to rotate darts and how to create a lot of different designs simply by manipulating the darts.

It is so much fun!

We have also looked at contouring and my bodice block now have all the contour lines for future reference, like avoiding gaposis on necklines or creating more fitted designs.

These lines helped us design a fitted bust section for the cover for my dress form.


Today we made a half scale pattern for a dress I would like to make. It is loosely based on a sketch I have seen on the internet. This is the result made up in paper and pinned to Sarah’s half scale dress form.


I feel happy with the result and my next challenge is now to make the pattern using my blocks, and of course then make it up. This may take me a while, but I’m really excited about it all.

By the way, I totally love the half scale dress form for trying out a pattern or a design before committing and using a lot of paper testing various options in full scale.

They are so cute 🙂

Did you notice the pretty pale blue corset in the background? Sarah runs classes teaching corset making. Can you be too old for pretty corsets such as that one? It would certainly help to keep some of my extra ‘fluff’ under control.

I think I will enroll in her next term of classes. It will be a lot of fun, and who knows, my husband might even approve of such pretty underthings. 🙂




Duct tape fitting double – part 2

It took me a while to gather all the supplies I needed to finish my dress form.

My aim was to preserve its shape and make it as durable as possible. I soon discovered that wadding was useless in preserving the shape, as it was too soft. Newspaper, however proved to be perfect. It was easy to obtain, could be scrunched up to create bulk and it could also be packed tight to make the form very firm.

Pillows were excellent at preventing the neck from being bent or flattened, and they kept the form upright.

The most difficult problem to resolve was what to use for a stand.

A base and stand from an old standard lamp may have worked, except that I didn't have one and I couldn't think of a way to get one. I searched the net and found instructions on how to build a stand from various hardware supplies, but my husband is not into woodworking and we don't have a workshop.

After a much thought, I decided to make the stand out of PVC pipe. It would be clean, lightweight and easy to do. The biggest problem was finding a five way joiner for the base, but that was sourced, and I was on my way.

I joined two short pieces of PVC to a T and thereby created an internal support under the shoulders. The main pole was then attached to the T making a kind of coat hanger for the stand. I stuffed newspaper all around this support and filled up the body with the scrunched paper making sure that all hollows were filled and made firm. This took me a little while as I also had to make sure the main pole stayed in the middle and that I didn't distort any parts of the body.

I was very pleased when I was finished and checked the bust, waist and hip measurements – they were all correct.

I had one final problem to solve. How to make the base of the form. Initially I thought of using ply wood, as cardboard proved not to be strong enough to support the shape at the hips. I roped my son into cutting out the shape as I knew he had the required tools and know how.

He rang me a couple of days before our arranged 'workshop date' suggesting I used core flue instead of ply wood. This was a brilliant idea. It is strong, clean and best of all – I could cut it myself.


Being able to cut and trim the core flue myself was a real bonus, as my template was not one hundred percent correct. Trimming a little bit here and a little bit there – and the base was ready to be fitted. This is a progress photo. I taped the base all the way around.

And here is the final result.

It has my exact proportions!

It is strong and sturdy!

I couldn't be happier.

Actually, it would be brilliant if I could make a linen cover so I can pin patterns and fabric onto it.

This will be my next challenge in a month or so.

First I have to go on a holiday 🙂





Duct tape fitting double

This week in my class at ‘Workspace Fashion and Design School‘, Sarah helped me make a duct tape copy of ME!

Yes, I agree. These are not very flattering shots. I will spare you with the worst, but this is how the afternoon unfolded.

There is plenty of information on the web about how to do this. We used cloth duct tape initially. This type of tape doesn’t stretch so it will give a firm base. A bonus is that you can just tear it, so you don’t need scissors to cut the lengths. Next we used regular duct tape, which behaves very differently. It stretches and can therefore be moulded around curves a lot easier. Unfortunately it requires scissors to cut and it tends to stick to anything you don’t want taped, such as hands, scissors, table etc. The best thing about this kind of tape is that it gives a smooth finish.



Sarah then cut through one shoulder of the cast and down one back princess seam to be able to get it off. It was a simple to stick it all back together again and then we began a process of stabilizing it by cutting out cardboard shapes to fit the neck, armholes and the bottom section. Sarah was a wizz at this, eyeballing it and getting the shapes right first time every time. These cardboard pieces did help the body to retain its shape, however, I need to stuff it full of newspaper/wadding/? to preserve it.

Sarah warned me against using expandable foam. It is very hard to control and creates a horrible mess, so I’m not going to go there. There are some funny examples on the internet of how the foam process can go horribly wrong.


I bought som PVC tubing and a T-joint to build an internal framework, just need to find the saw! I also plan to use some cardboard under shoulders, dĂ©colletĂ© and back probably with some wadding to prevent distortion. I’m also thinking of stuffing the boobs with some 80’s style shoulder pads.

Do you have any other suggestions of how to preserve my dummy?

I also need to give it a name. Sarah suggested Dolly because it is like a big doll and Its for dressing and undressing. So far I haven’t thought of a better name, so I think that will be it.