Tip for checking your patterns

When you are checking a pattern, particularly a complex one, it’s easy to get lost in the process. Sometimes you forget whether you walked whichever seam with another and so on. To help you stay on track, here is a technique I teach in my classes.

I take a sheet of paper and draw a rough sketch of each pattern piece -if the pattern is digitized and you can print out a mini mock up of it, so much the better. If doing it by hand, the sketch can be rough. It doesn’t need to be pretty.

Once you have your pattern sketch together (a sample is represented in the left side of the panel below), take a highlighter and mark off the seams as you’ve walked and checked them.

The panel on the upper right is a representation showing the princess seams have been walked. The panel on the lower right shows the sleeve cap has been walked into the front and back armhole.

I will post additional tips on how to use this tool more precisely in the forum tomorrow. For now, I’m preparing for my co-blogger Stu to show up for a four day visit! Much geek excitement will ensue…

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  1. dosfashionistas says:

    When you are making your pattern in the computer, do you walk the pattern in the computer or after it has been printed out? If you walk the pattern in the computer, it is important to strip the seam allowances before walking the pattern. (And, of course, important to add them back after.)

  2. Sarah: it depends. The checklist idea works either way whether checking in the computer or manually.

    Most of the pattern work I get is working off someone else’s pattern. In these cases, I really prefer to check the pattern manually first. Reason is, I’m not always doing the corrections; sometimes the customer is doing it. Anyway, digitizing the pattern and then checking it amounts to extra costs to the customer if they’re correcting it (because it will have to be digitized again). Generally tho, I prefer to do a rough check before digitizing. On more complex stuff, it is easier for me to do a correction manually and digitize that. The other reason is, sometimes a customer is 100% certain their pattern is ready for grading but it’s not (so they don’t want to pay for corrections). So, giving it a fast check beforehand means I can bounce it back to the customer if it’s not a go.

    With respect to your mention of allowances, absolutely. One must remove the allowances (or have not yet added them in yet) to walk the seam lines.

  3. dosfashionistas says:

    The checklist is a great tip. Certainly better than just keeping it in your head which is what I used to do.

    I mentioned walking the pattern in the computer because sometimes that is where the pattern starts, and it is useful to walk the pattern before it is ever printed out. I am not familiar with other systems, but the old Microdynamics system has a feature that will remove all seam allowances with one click, very handy. I still use the old system, even though it is not supported by Gerber any more.

  4. שושי says:

    כל הכבוד על האתר שלך והמון המון בהצלחה.

    יש לי 2 שאלות ואשמח אם תוכלי לעזור לי.
    1. אני תופרת מטפחות ראש מגוונותע עם הרב חלקי בד והשאלה היא האם יש שיטה לגזירת כמויות רבות שלהבד במקום למדוד ולסמן בגיר חייטים?
    2. כמה עולה לקצר שרוול של ג’קט עם ביטנה?

    תודה רבה רבה וחודש טוב.

  5. Paul says:

    I was reading this article with much interest, and it struck me that a modification might work just as well. One could mark the actual pattern pieces with a small colored dot on each seam which had been checked. I use color coding for fabric categories, and also an orange marker to identify which copy of the pattern is my file copy. Why not a specific color marker which is not assigned to any other function, such as turquoise, or lime green? It’s not a big deal to draw out all the pattern shapes on a sheet, but it strikes me that dotting the pattern seams would be even less work. I’m going to give both systems a try. Thanks Kathleen

  6. Kathleen says:

    The problem with marking the hard copy pattern itself is that it is subject to later revision and altering -said changes would require a subsequent re-checking. Meaning, you could become confused over which seams of the modified pattern had been re-walked.

    Likewise, it is not unknown for others to modify patterns without the benefit of oversight. People using the pattern aren’t likely to know it and may have false confidence if it has been marked as correct.

    A seam marked as correct may not be, so what does one do? Cross it out, then correct, and reinstate? What if the project is complex and requires cross checking with other pieces and you are called away in the middle of it and forget where you were? With the confusion of markings on the pattern, it is easy enough to happen.

    Personally, I re-check every pattern -even my own- before I use it. I think it is a good work habit. Meaning, if one habitually re-walks a pattern prior to usage, there is little to gain and potentially much to lose from permanently marking the pattern. I suppose this wouldn’t apply if one didn’t have many patterns and had tight control over what ones there were. The problem with being a pattern maker for hire is that you must send patterns out to customers who are known to alter them. Some deliberately, others accidentally (shaving off edges because they used a rotary cutter!).

  7. Paul says:

    I take your point. Very wise. I normally do not let the originals of my patterns out of the shop. If the client wants to send it somewhere for grading, digitizing, or whatever, they have to take a copy. Of course, if I change the pattern myself, I’m sure I could forget what had been checked, sad but true.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I’m distinctly uncomfortable with this:

    I normally do not let the originals of my patterns out of the shop. If the client wants to send it somewhere for grading, digitizing, or whatever, they have to take a copy.

    Or maybe I misunderstand about the nature of your business.

    Industry pattern makers make patterns for the convenience of customers, the customers own the patterns (not us) because they paid to have them made; they get the originals and are free to do with them what they will.

    In the case of hand patterns (as I suspect yours are), giving a copy to a customer either represents inconvenience or extra costs to ourselves. A copy implies a soft copy tracing while the original is typically a hard copy -soft copies are of little advantage to a client because they can’t readily be traced. I don’t understand why you’d give a soft copy to a customer but retain a hard copy for yourself. If anything, I give the hard copy to the customer and retain a tracing (soft copy) for myself in the event changes are ordered and we don’t have time to ship the pattern back or whatever. … I’m afraid I don’t understand…

  9. Paul says:

    Yes, I understand your point. I suppose I should have said it clearer. I make hand patterns. And normally, if I know the pattern is going to be sent off, I make a copy simultaneous to making the original, cutting through both layers of paper at one time. The only additional work is marking the pattern. It is quicker than tracing for me. I will certainly let the client take the only original copy if they so desire. But I am dealing mostly with rather tiny companies, who don’t understand how easy it is to lose a piece, or destroy the only copy that exists if they have taken it. I do consider the patterns their property, but I want to make sure that all the work and time they have spent with me in meetings and fittings isn’t wasted when the pattern comes back missing pieces, or having been altered.
    I do certainly have a couple of clients who are nice to the originals, and take what care is needed, and understand the process from original to digital to marker, and so on. But in most cases, I’m the only one involved in this process who thinks about this stuff. I’m dealing with mostly very small start ups, and there’s a steep learning curve, as you know.

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