Pattern String Codes pt.2

Updating my previous entry, I got my custom fitting shell in the mail yesterday. From order to delivery, that was only 6 days which definitely qualifies as fast delivery particularly when you realize these were shipped from Canada.

Again as I said before, these were made up with minimal number of measurements, namely bust, waist, hip and CB length so it would be inappropriate for one to expect a highly refined pattern from the result. Still, some measures are telling to a pattern maker. For example, if the unseen customer has a comparatively large bust (36.5″) when compared to waist (25″) and hip (35″), one could draw conclusions that a modification for cup size would be needed. True or true? Here is a photo of what I got:

As it is, when I ordered a “two-dart” sloper, I was expecting two darts in the front, not one in the front and two in the back. I don’t think the average woman is well served by just one front dart so my expectations were that I’d be getting two so call that my failure to double check.

The back of the pattern doesn’t look bad but the front is wonky. The front is way too short. The pattern maker did something that I’d consider odd. If you look at the red line in the photo below, I’ve marked off the length which is 15.5″.

Fifteen and half inches is my CB length. I do not know why the pattern maker made the longest line of the front to match my CB length. I don’t get it. I’ve never seen anything like that. The pattern is at least 3″ too short in the front in its travel over the bust. Typically -assuming you don’t have kyphosis or inordinate figure variations- that front line should be about an inch shorter than the CB length plus one inch for each letter in cup size over an A cup. In other words, an A cup would have the front line an inch shorter than the CB, a B cup would be equal, a C cup would be an inch longer et cetera. This pattern was made for a B cup which is incongrous with a full bust that is 11.5″ larger than the waist. I’d like to think that just about any pattern maker would note the disparity and be mindful of resolving the differences because the front just wouldn’t look right. In the photo, the front looks squashed and artificially short. At least it does to me but then my eye is accustomed to my front looking longer.

Still, as I said before, it would be inappropriate to expect a basic fitting shell based on such few dimensions to represent an ideal pattern. You can only expect the pattern to be the starting point. In this case, I’ll increase the length of the front, managing the extra length with a dart originating from the side seam. The front neckline is also a little small so I’ll have to scoop that out. The back neckline looks fine. The sleeves are another story; they’re 24″ long. Normally I have to add sleeve length, I rarely have to cut it down (my sleeve length is 20″). If it were me having to make these things for clients sight unseen, I’d be asking for their height. I use a really old system of drafting based on body divisions of 8, however, the system only works on people who are height and weight proportionate. If you divide your height by 8 (called a “head”), your arms are (+/-) about 2 and half heads long. Your center back is typically two heads and so on. Even with that rough scale, I think the block approximation would have been closer.

I have yet to look over the pant block in any detail but other than a fine looking camel toe in the making :), it looks pretty good. Scooping out the front crotch curve a tad will eliminate the latter readily.

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  1. becky says:

    Given the problems, wouldn’t it make more sense to buy one of the big-four/(two?) fitting shells when they go on sale and make your own adjustments?

  2. Kathleen says:

    Given the problems, wouldn’t it make more sense to buy one of the big-four/(two?) fitting shells when they go on sale and make your own adjustments?

    The point was, people kept asking me if I liked the patterns from this company. I didn’t need a fitting shell, it was a review. Iow, I spent money for the purposes of educating my visitors. Maybe somebody will make a donation to cover ongoing blog expenses :).

  3. KellyT says:

    Thank you very much for your review of the Stingcodes bodice block. It was very interesting and brought up things that I would not have thought of; like the red line measurement.
    I thought Stingcodes would be a great solution for those of us interested in starting a design business, on a budget. After your review it looks like I would be better off to make my own block based on a pattern company sloper or hand drafted from a book, and standard measurements.

  4. Janyce Engan says:

    To my eye – these do look like they were generated by one of the CAD programs – such as Symmetry or Dress Shop – they may be just a straight up Gerber program or something like that – but given the description in Kathleen’s post – I’m guessing that they are “plug and play” – with some operator punching in the measurements someone has sent in, and not having an actual pattern maker double checking what comes out of the plotter.

    Granted – that these are suppose to be a jumping off place for design, but ideally you’d want to at least eliminate having to correct the darn thing.

    On that note – does anyone have a product or company they can vouch for – for a good set of standard slopers?

    I have a huge project to undertake involving about 5,000 original Victorian/Edwardian patterns, and would like to find something that will let me get closer to a first draft modern-day body size without totally redrafting the patterns by hand and making a gazillion muslins.

    Janyce Engan
    Vintage Pattern
    Lending Library

  5. victoria kathrein says:

    Kathleen, we communicated before, I am the one from Chicago who is trying to make some logical sence of patternmaking – aka garment engineering. Could you point me in the direction of this eight head system you mentioned. I would like to read more about it.

    Thank you.


  6. Jan says:

    It almost looks like they thought you have rather forward thrust shoulders, but the measurements they required would not give any indication of that. I find that most people these days do tend to have a longer back measurement because of modern posture and a concomitant change in the shape of the sleeve cap. Just a thought.

  7. Tatiana says:

    Please forgive my ignorance, I’m an alien to American terminology (or part of it) – what is the CB measurement? (or where I can look for it?)

  8. Trish says:

    Jan, CB is center back.

    My other thought is that the block pattern looks terrible. I would be very disappointed if I had bought it. I think it is faster to draft from scratch than correct that weird pattern.

  9. Jessika says:

    It’s interesting to see what a pre-drafted sloper might be like – thanks for the review Kathleen! I’ve only used my own patterns and so it’s especially nice to see, even just for the sake of curiosity, what’s out there. I think the best way to get a pattern is truly from draping or drafting for a fit model. You only have to develop it once and then you have something worth having AND you really truly know the pattern inside and out. I’m sure the point of buying pre-made slopers is to avoid reinventing the wheel, but surely by the time one has corrected it, it would have been best to just make it yourself…at least you know it is right. :)

  10. Jane says:

    Wow, somebody actually makes money selling those things? When I used to teach fitting classes, I had my students get Vogues basic pattern. I haven’t done it in years so I don’t know if they still sell it, but it was Pattern 1000, I think. I was good and had some good information in the inserts about adjusting the pattern for different cup sizes. The problem with drafting to a fit model is when she quits and goes to work somewher else, I have to start all over. If I fit to my dress form and then find a model that is close, it doesn’t matter if she changes jobs. My blocks will still be good.

    If the patternmaker is good, it doesn’t matter how the pattern was developed either by hand or on the computer. Those are just 2 different tools. Like saying I used a Pencil or a Pen. It doesn’t matter, it should turn out the same.

    The sample sloper doesn’t look like the side seam and bottom of the dart are trued up. Kathleen, I am surprised you didn’t mention the shape of the front armhole. It appears very misshapen. Even though the front armhole should be scooped deeper than the back, that one looks like it should be filled in. Unless it is distorted by the way the picture comes through on my computer. Also, If you measure from the HPS (High point of shoulder) on both the back and the front. The front should be longer by the at least 1/4″ and sometimes more depending on the styling. (unless of course it is a forward laying shoulder like on an oxford shirt, etc.)

    By the way, Kathleen, I got my copy of your book and have enjoyed picking it up and reading what you suggested as the parts that I already know.
    I enjoyed reading your anatomy lesson when I comes to balancing a pattern. I have used those same principles from observation of the human frame even though I have no clue what the names of the various muscle groups are. Our cross back 4″ down from back neck is wider and requires extra room to move the arm forward as opposed to the cross front at 2″ down from front neck which is narrower.

    I would love to discuss with you about the back neck drop. Your instructions apply for blazers, jewel neck tops, etc. However, the issue of balance can be applied to garments with styling that allows the back neck to be much wider and lower. (Boat neck, open back, etc.) The garment then hangs from the HPS. It is the combination of relationship of the pieces to one another (like he picture of the front to back on your post), shoulder slope, side seam placement, neck width and drop, etc.

    There is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing a well balanced and clean hanging garment. I guess this stuff is my passion!


  11. jessika says:

    Yes Jane – I agree that its best to have a good dress form that coordinates with your company’s sizing scheme, but the fit model should match that as well…so even if one goes away, the new one should be a pretty close match. Luckily a designer really shouldn’t have to be developing slopers over and over. I just prefer to finish my pattens off on a person – then you can see how it fits in relation to different movements, etc. (also how it feels for them) Dress forms are ideal for working on designs from a sloper (when all the basic components of fit are in place) and they are wonderfully patient! :)

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