Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Contributions and Digital Drafting

Yesterday a post I had been working on for a few weeks went live on Sew, Mama, Sew.  I contributed a new tutorial for Lattice Smocking which is an update of my old photos and diagrams from this post.  Since Lattice Smocking is a hand stitching technique, it's a great project for summer travel.  It really does go along quickly once you get the rhythm and since you transfer the markings right on the fabric there's no need to bring along a chart.  I hope some of you will try it so you'll see how easy it is to make something that looks so special and difficult.



To highlight the Lattice Smocking, I designed a tunic for Bean to wear which featured the smocking at the neckline.  I've made other tops for her with smocking, but the Balmy Breezes Tunic is the first one I've drafted where the front pattern piece is designed with extra width at the chest such that once it is smocked according to the chart, the center front will perfectly fit the correctly sized front facing.  This was done entirely in Inkscape using my size chart measurements so no paper was wasted during the design process and I could be confident that the pattern pieces would turn out the exact size I was looking for.


I started by digitally drafting an A-line tunic that I knew would fit Bean who is a perfect 3T right now.  I printed out the pattern pieces I designed, cut out the pieces from some old sheeting, and whipped up a dress muslin to check the fit. Shockingly, the dress fit exactly I had thought it would.  Of course it's only shocking because it's the first time I had done it.  Now that I can trust that the computer really does use 1cm when I type in 1cm, the sky is the limit.  It's kind of an amazing feeling.  The time that I used to be stuck drafting with rolls of butcher paper alone in my sewing room can now be spent with my laptop sitting next to my husband on the couch.


Once I knew the A-line dress block would work, I modified the pattern to be slightly wider and more "flowy", lowered the neckline a bit, and of course redrafted the front pattern piece so that once the piece was smocked the resulting shrinkage (both horizontally and vertically) would be the exact size of the front facing.  All that took was a little math and a sample smocked piece so I could figure out the shrinkage ratios, and the tunic pattern was ready for another muslin.


After printing the new pattern pieces and working the smocking according to the chart I designed, I sewed the tunic together and tried it on Bean.  The fit was perfect.  So that's just two muslins.  Crazy, right?  I decided I liked how the vertical shrinking of the center front by the smocking turned the hem of the tunic into a slight high/low hemline so I didn't add more height to the front piece like I had for the width.  That was the final change I made to the drafted pattern pieces.


The rest of the work was spent on the pattern tutorial and adding the text/diagrams to the tiled pattern pieces.  The result is that in only a few week's time I was able to offer a great looking free pdf download to go along with my contributing post.  Now I've mentioned Pattern Workshop (*affiliate link) here before, but I really can't speak highly enough of that course.  Digital drafting is like a dream come true for me.  Lauren's course focuses on using the Adobe cloud programs like Illustrator, but even though I use Inkscape, Gimp, and Scribus there is so much information that she gives in the course that makes it totally worth the cost of the course.  (I've been gathering all my open source mods for the course so look for a post about how you can take her course without having to make the initial creative cloud commitment coming soon!)


It would have taken so much time for me to hand draft this tunic and then once I knew the sizing was right scan the pattern pieces and get everything converted to a digital format for a pdf download.  By drafting directly in Inkscape I was certain the sizing would work out (no slip of my hand or having an angle askew - not with the precision of a computer) and was able to completely skip the scanning and tracing part of the process.  That meant I was able to complete the entire tunic from start to finish, concept to final draft in only a few weeks.  That's even with barely having any free time since I've been watching a friend's 10 week old baby for her along with Bean all day.  Now that I am completely comfortable with the whole process, I know the next thing I'm drafting will go even more quickly.  That's pretty exciting.
photo via Imagine Gnats

And of course I'm even more excited to announce that I will be doing some contribution posts for Rachael over on Imagine Gnats.  We all know how much I adore her fabrics and patterns, but I have to say I couldn't be more excited to be even a small part of her team.  You should check everyone she already has on her team in addition to the ones in the photo above.  The rest of the bloggers she has assembled are so amazing and I just love the group. There is some really fun stuff coming up that I can't wait to be involved in and I hope all of you will enjoy it as well!

12 comments :

  1. That is so exciting to hear about your experiences drafting this pattern! I am looking forward to your post about the open source resources for pattern drafting since I just yesterday signed up to start Pattern Workshop. Thanks!

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  2. Helena you're going to love it! I'm hoping to get the post up by the end of the month, but for now I'll say that it's EASIEST to use the creative cloud, but pretty much everything that is talked about in the course can be done open source with a little extra effort. And if you're like me and already know the open source programs then really it's not that much extra work. There are a few other people in the course using inkscape so feel free to ask questions along the way!

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  3. Very exciting! I can't believe you made that. I mean, I can...but wow! And doing it digitally? Bravo! I can't wait to see the things you come up with.

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  4. That is awesome! I have never smocked, but this makes it look much easier.

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  5. So amazing! And exciting that it went so smoothly for you. It looks just adorable!

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  6. Thank you Amy! I'm really excited about it, but seriously this tunic is the easiest thing ever. It's a simple A-line design that is fancied up by some easy hand stitching. Big bang for your buck ;)

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  7. Shelly, I did the smocking for the tunic in the pics in about and hour tops while sitting outside in the yard watching my daughter run around one afternoon. Once you get the rhythm it goes really quickly. You could totally do it :)

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  8. Thanks April! It's still kind of surprising that geometry works haha. Who knew? ;)

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  9. Math is not my favorite thing and although I was pretty good at geometry, I try to avoid it whenever possible. ;)

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  10. super cool that you drafted it digitally!

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  11. It's the coolest Stephanie! Previously I drafted by hand and then digitized everything so it feels a little like sorcery to me ;)

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  12. I'm excited to try your pattern. And a big congrats on your contribution spot!

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