Pattern corrections you shouldn’t pay for 1

Posting will be light this week; I’m preparing for a class.

While I was correcting a set of patterns last week (I didn’t make the originals), it occurred to me to mention what some of what those corrections might be, because you -like this DE- shouldn’t have to pay for most of them. The original pattern maker should redigitize these corrections into the system at no additional cost to you. At the same time, I came up against a couple of grey areas. Pattern makers have their preferences. How do you know when something is an absolute, requiring correction, or a preference? That’s an area I’d like to explore later on.

Style 1001 was an elastic waist pull on pant, no pockets.
I’d been given the heads up that the contractor said the grainlines were off. They were. This contractor has a good eye, most people wouldn’t check for it (the pant didn’t have a horizontal stripe to match). As it happens, the pattern maker did an extra step that made it more obvious. Should I show you how to check those?

The thing that bugged me about these was the waist casing for the elastic. The elastic was 1.25″ wide (that’s why we need to know these details) but the notch to turn the casing was set at 1.25″. That may seem okay to you but what about an allowance to trim a bit off when serging that edge before hemming? What of “turn of cloth”? What of ease of elastic movement within the casing? What of varying stitching practices? For the latter items, the waistline casing needs to be 1/4 to 3/8 wider than your elastic. In my opinion.


  • There weren’t any style numbers on each pattern piece. That can be deadly.
  • The sketch sheet was a little off. There were solid black lines at the hem and waist. In a sketch, this looks like a separate piece. If it’s a stitching line (these were), the lines should not be solid but staccato.
  • The waistline also took a drawstring (yet another reason to increase the size of the waist casing). The spec sheet specified a bias cut drawstring. Can you think of a reason that a drawstring should be cut on the bias? I can think of a couple of reasons of why it shouldn’t be (stability, grows in length, becomes narrower in diameter). Am I missing something?

Other things weren’t wrong, more a list of annoyances. Too many notches is always an annoyance. This particular pattern wasn’t bad but a sister style (1002) made from this same pattern, had them in spades. Weird.

Pattern corrections you should pay for 1
Pattern corrections you should pay for 2

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  1. Marie-Christine says:

    A bias drawstring might tie in a nicer, rounder knot/loops? Might not stretch much anyway once it’s stitched because it’s not really wide? I’m really stretching here..
    I totally agree about adding to the casing from the original elastic width, the same size would be utterly stupid.

  2. Timo Rissanen says:

    Re: drawstring. Bias/rouleau tends to form a rounder cord than a straight strip. I was taught to stretch the living daylights out of it during sewing and once pulled through (with steam) so it wouldn’t stretch further. But from a design point of view… naff, 99% of the time, in my very humble opinion (whether bias or straight). Too fabricy. Which isn’t a word, sure, but I can’t explain it another way. Like self-covered buttons maybe 80% of the time.

    Absolutely agree about casing allowance, esp. with drawstring. Learned that the hard way.

    Solid lines: a trouser fly is the most common area where I see this mistake. Once, with a client that I knew was soon to be former, I actually patternmade it as sketched. Ha.

    Here’s a question to everyone (and I apologise if this has been discussed already – ignore if the case). If you have a self-belt or tie, folded along the length with an angled rather than a straight end, what should the end of the pattern look like? There are two options, and I was once told by a machinist one way was easier and neater to sew, so have gone with that for years, until in the past week have been faced with four patterns by someone else that are the other way. Sorry, without sketches this is hard to explain but hope you get my drift.

  3. Anir says:

    To Timo’s question

    I’d say the belt should look like an arrow, opened flat on the end. This way when sewn the sharp point only has one seam allowance to be trimmed out–or when cut.
    If the belt has an inverted chevron then the point has to be sewn and have two seam allowances crammed into it. Easier to sew the arrow than the inverted chevron.

    I remembered a third way–though this might be more couture. The end is one inverted chevron and one arrow so that the seam allowance that runs the length can be placed in the middle of the belt, not on an edge. Not too hard to sew, but you’ve still got relatively a lot seam allowance to cram into the point. This makes a really nice belt though–especially if you make the seam allowance wide enough to fill the finished belt–gives it body and leaves out the seam allowance lumps.

  4. Timo Rissanen says:

    Thanks Anir; I should have been more specific – I did mean two ways if the seam was along one of the edges. And thanks, your way is how I’ve been doing them. In this situation I’m the junior patternmaker (by 30+ years) and thus not comfortable with questioning anything (out loud). I also thought maybe I was missing something but didn’t want to encourage any more talk out of the person in question… It’s incessant as things stand.

    As for the third way you describe, some years ago I worked in a shirt factory, and was asked by the machinists to make epaulette patterns this way. And yep, the seam allowances were half the width of a finished epaulette, to give added body – these weren’t fused, as fusible interlinings were frowned upon in this factory, though used in the less expensive women’s shirts. But as Anir says, the finish you get with the technique is quite nice.

  5. Kerryn says:

    It always drives me insane when elastic casings don’t have adequate turning allowance in them! The elastic rubs on the fold of the fabric and is uncomfortably sharp and will eventually wear through.

  6. Dana says:

    Love these discussions on technique. Always helpful to hear someone else’s thoughts on one method vs another. I’d never come across the belt/epaulet technique Anir and Timo described.

    Still thinking about that patternmaking book Kathleen? I always print out the posts on related subjects here but my binder system is not nearly as easy to wade through as a book. Please!

    Are you going to share more on how the contractor caught the grainline problem? Thanks.

  7. ioanna says:

    I second the request for a pattern book! One of the first chapters could be “Things most pattern books get wrong or don’t teach you at all” :) Oh I can already see it!

  8. Quincunx says:

    Late to the party here, but intrigued by Timo trying to describe the unpleasant texture of drawstrings. I know that the reaction to self-fabric drawstrings and covered buttons is described with the phrases used to make mock of cheaply done home sewing (“loving hands at home”, “Becky Home-Ecky”, etc.), but none of those describe the work, only the maker.

    Calling bias tubing “rounder” though, that does remind me that my inept becky-home-ecky bias tubing feels firmer and more made-for-purpose, closer to the qualities of cording, than flimsy spaghetti straps cut on the straight grain. (Although with hindsight, if I just -had- to have a drawstring that was a perfect match with the fabric, I would now buy filler cord to put inside said tube, bias or not.) Of course, can’t forget that bias also doesn’t fray, and that you don’t get those annoying shabby-looking threads fraying off of the ends of your bias tubing, the way you do from spaghetti straps.

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