How to walk a pattern (collar)

[Edited 9/18/2018] One of the reasons I wanted a CAD program is so that I could do pattern tutorials.

My CAD trainer taught me how to walk patterns. I’m a big fan of walking patterns which you’ll know if you’ve hung out in these parts any length of time. Before you pass off your wonderful pattern to have a prototype made, you have to check it. Checking it mostly means walking the seam lines to make sure the pieces match up. Actually, everyone should walk patterns, especially people using home patterns. Then you’ll see it’s not your fault the seams don’t line up and you can fix it before you cut the piece goods.

For this example of how to walk a pattern, I’m using a pattern that was given to me by a dear friend. She was a DE (children’s wear) who ended up in a related line of work (embroidery). She gave me a complete set of graded patterns for this particular style with no strings attached. It was understood I could do what I wanted with them which in part meant education. So, we’re going to use Saundra’s pattern for this exercise. The summary caveats being 1) I didn’t make this pattern and 2) Yes, I’m allowed to use it.

At this date, I no longer have the software I used in the demonstration for this entry. I acquired another program called StyleCAD that has become the cornerstone of my practice; I would be out of business without it. But I digress; industrial pattern CAD software has a feature called “Walk”. You align at two given points and just edge the pieces around on the seams you want to line up. The part I love about it, is that if you come to a juncture (like the shoulder seam) while walking the collar over it, the software will ask you if you want a notch right there on the collar. I’ll walk you through the exercise in a moment because first I have to complain about the screen capture software that I’m probably not using right. I want all software to be like a toaster. Plug it in, turn it on and it’s supposed to read your mind. I don’t want to read the manual to toast bread. There’s a logical reason why nearly everybody does the same thing. It boils down to having to switch hemispheres (cognitive function) but that’s another story. What I’d wanted to do with my new screen capture toaster, was record a video but no dice. The software got very pouty and recalcitrant bouncing back and forth between zooming in on my CAD program. I’m probably doing the the equivalent of trying to make cheese or these days, avocado toast or something. The software is actually very user friendly but I can manage to louse up anything.

So here’s the jpegs of the screens:

First are the pieces (below). The collar is on the left, the bodice (joined at the shoulder seam) is on the right.

Because the pieces are mirrored, we’re only going to walk one side -the right side. Below the pieces are lined up in readiness.

Below, I’ve lined the CF notch of the collar, onto the CF notch (line really) of the bodice.

Below, I’ve started to align edges to each other. By the way, these pieces are shown without seam allowance for simplicity. That’s another thing that pattern CAD does, one click and it comes and goes. Speaking of, there is one sure-fire way to learn anything. It’s to have to teach it to somebody else as soon as possible. That would be you.

Below, I’ve continued to walk the edges, differences are slight.

Below we’ve arrived at the shoulder juncture. It won’t be apparent until the next frame following this one, but that shoulder notch on the collar is not, I repeat, is not matching that shoulder seam.

Below you can see a blow up of the area. The screen capture software is nifty! It puts in arrows! I’ve definitely needed that. Yeah, I know Illustrator does it but I don’t know how (skip the lectures, I have enough on my plate). Anyway, you can see how the notch is off. That should be fixed. Pattern makers have different standards for accuracy. Mine is 1/32nd (that’s a lie, it’s really 1/64th but don’t want to seem too picky). Non commercial products have looser standards; it really depends on the expectation of the downstream user. A sewing contractor is a lot pickier than an enthusiast sewer which is why the big 4 home pattern companies have more relaxed standards.

Below, the notch has been corrected.

Below, continuing to walk the piece around the back neckline.

Below is where the collar ends up. You can see the collar falls just shy of that notch on the back bodice neck. That notch is for the zipper, not the collar end. I’m undecided about what to do. Notch the point where the collar ends or let it go? The other option is to extend the collar to meet the zipper notch. The gap looks to be about 1/4″. I’ve decided not to decide for now. I’m not sure I like the collar shaping anyway. Recommendations from children’s wear people? Should that collar meet at CB or should there be a gap?

Below is a zoom out of the last position (above). Perhaps you can see why I don’t like the collar much. If you look at the first illustration in the series, the collar is basically shaped like a facing. When you draft even a flat collar like this one with no roll, you overlap the outside edges of the bodices at the shoulder line because if you don’t, the collar has a doop-tey doop right there on the shoulder line. I’ve never seen this one sewn up and on a child so I wouldn’t know.

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  1. Esther says:

    Oooh. I want an upgrade of the Optitex 8 that I am using. It doesn’t ask for the shoulder notch thing. Neat-o. The mirror thing is a little klunky too. BTW, I have all of my patterns rotated 90 degrees, just like when doing hand drafting. The nice thing about CAD is one can orient things very easily to which ever direction your brain works. One other nit is the colors. I work with all of my patterns on a black background and use different colored lines for the sizes. My eyes can’t handle looking at a white background for very long. That is another nice thing – you can set-up your draft area however you choose.

    As for the collar back, I usually work with buttons and buttonholes down the back. I like my collars to go to the center back notch because it looks cheap otherwise. Zippers might need a little space, I don’t know since I don’t use them often. It is hard to say with this pattern if the collar should or not. Sometimes the collar is cut back because the collar edge has some kind of trim like a ruffle or lace. Would need a style drawing to know for sure…

  2. Birgitte Mutrux says:

    “Speaking of, there is one sure-fire way to learn anything. It’s to have to teach it to somebody else as soon as possible. That would be you.”
    LOL, yes thank you very much. So true. This looks fascinating, almost makes me think I should learn pattern making. Almost.

  3. Lois says:

    Yes, definitely we home sewers need to Walk our patterns. Never heard the expression, nor exactly what to do before, but there are sure a lot of complaints over on Gatherings when commercial patterns do not work. This would be one more insurance policy we can take out on our sewing. I have a home sewing CADS program, and I think I will also Walk those patterns before sewing. Good habit to get into.

    Love the toaster analogy. Totally rings true that I often end up with cheese toast when I thought I was working towards cinnamon toast.

    Thanks for another entertaining and informative blog. Lois

  4. Penny says:

    You can walk your dog, and you can walk your pattern, but you can’t walk your dogs pattern.

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. heidi jung says:

    “the collar has a doop-tey doop right there on the shoulder line”
    Please, Kathleen, what does that mean??
    heidi, who is not so good with english

  6. Robin says:

    What fun! For you and for us. So is the Optitex CAD software AND the new plotter new stuff just so you can write tutorials?
    Girl you know how to pick good toys! I am a homesewer who bought Bernina My Label just to play with a cheap & accessible product using Optitex.
    I have used Snag-It to record a video of navigating through screen shots and it was adequate. But where I work, we have people who look for and try out lots of software for us and we used something else for most of our education materials…. I would recommend it, but the technology is already outdated and we dropped it. Keep playing, you aren’t going to melt the cheese in the toaster!! It can be done.

    Keep up the great work Kathleen, your blog is insanely useful.

  7. Penny,

    I have a whole folder for my dogs’ patterns! They are small dogs – one is barely 5 lbs – living in a cold climate. I keep them equipped with snowsuits for outdoors and sweaters for indoors. (It’s true that I don’t walk the patterns, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t.)

  8. LisaB says:

    Thanks for the reminder about walking our patterns. I’m thrilled to benefit from your learning CAD.

    I’d also like to see a further explanation of “doop-tey doop”. That’s a highly technical term I haven’t come across before. ;-)


  9. Does anyone have a favourite CAD system other than PAD which I’ve used that runs on a mac ( once you go mac you never go back) I know I can run it on windows via bootcamp but I’m wondering how the security would work on that. Gerbers has some pretty anal ones that were quirky even when installed correctly ( nothing like working on a deadline and getting locked out of your workstation)

    Not that I need it or anything like that….

  10. Sabrina Cove says:

    I am a sales executive with OptiTex and have been following the blog for the past year.
    Esther, If you would like information about upgrading your version 8 please feel free to contact me, i can be reached at 212-629-9053 ext. 202.
    Jo – are you located in the UK? the product you are talking about is unique to the UK market. if you would like information about different version, i will be happy to assist.

  11. dosfashionistas says:

    I also think the collar looks strange. I have worked for a couple of children’s wear companies, and one of the looks we often worked with was a large collar similar to this. We always straightened the collar slightly to build in a little roll so that the neck seam didn’t turn to the outside. And the collar was never wider than the neck it sewed to. I do think it likely that the shortness of the collar in back is due to allowance for lace trim.

  12. Gidget says:

    The collar extends to just shy of the zipper (abt. 1/16″?) on my nieces’ dresses as well as my own dresses, one, a 20’s flapper style, having a lace collar like that one. I Suspect a small gap is to prevent the zipper from catching. The look being a pseudo-short-short poncho nautical look??

    I know what you mean by the doopty-doo, being a circular cape with squared edges. Asking as a neophyte:

    If the collar were cut on a bias, A) Would it aid the seamline to roll towards the neckline? and B) would it ease the doopty-doo’s to lay flatter? Just trying to understand fabric handling in relation to patterns.

    This was really neat to see. Thank you for such great information!

  13. Amitai says:

    Nice seeing those screenshots made by you :)
    Here are my 2 cents about walking – I walk pieces in order to check a shape, not for placing notches. It is easier for me to check the segment length (F8) and when adding a notch to place it exactly where I need (you will see it in the notch properties). So walking on several pieces is cool, but I save more time by not walking.
    Another remark is that usually I try not to place pieces over each other, people tend to forget them and bad things happen. In a case I need to place a single piece I will always lock it first (F3), again this is just a better practice and mistake prevention.

  14. Donna says:

    Hi, I just found your blog though another that sent me to your entries on Welt Pockets. I don’t know how I have missed it for so long! You are amazing. I just have skipped back in the archives over a year. Saw a couple of comments on Pattern Review and there is no contest between the two. You outrank by far! Thanks for all the freebie information. I am going to list you at the board forum I frequent and maybe that “make a donation button” will be put to work. I will use it the beginning of next month. Limited funds but you deserve a few from me! Thanks again!!!!!

  15. Hello,
    Anna Asnis of Specialized were talking of your helpful website yesterday.

    I remember so well meeting you a few years ago in Atlanta. Please know that I value your work and would very much like for you to see the Benefits the Asian programmers have put into PAD over the past 4 years. I remember you said that PAD may not be as good if it was developed in China.

    The truth is. PAD got 10 times better. Especially in it’s ability to work with other software. I’d love to sponsor your site and show you the improvements in a demo if you have the time.
    Thanks for sharing your walking collar………….and your website.
    Sincerely, Kristine Gloviak

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