Cotton dress with screen printed border.
Rayon dress with draped bodice.
Both dresses are based on the the same pattern.
When it comes to clothes I am a creature of habit. In fact my style hasn’t changed much since I was 17. I still favor vintage looking blouses, cardigans and fitted dresses with clean lines. The only new things that has sneaked into my wardrobe since 1989 are jeans and various lycra jersey garments. It’s not that I’m not interested in new styles and fashion. I love reading fashion magazines, and have collected American Vogue since 1992. And my bookshelf is packed with issues of Patrones and Burda magazine, but to be honest, I seldom make anything from them.
Since I love making the same styles over and over I decided about a year ago to apply the concept of blocks to my sewing. A block is a basic pattern from which you create many different styles, for instance a coat block, a jeans block or a skirt block. This is standard in the clothes industry, but it’s definitely something that can also be applied on a hobby level. The idea behind a personal block is that the fit is great and the style and shaping is exactly like you want it. It can be based on a pre made pattern or drafted from scratch using personal measurements. I have done the latter. I learned the basics in a pattern making class, and have learned the rest from pattern making books and just plain trial and horrors (there has been a large amount of wadders along the way, getting proper fit is hard). So far I have made the following blocks:
Fitted top (for cardigans and sweaters made of stable knits)
Close fitting top (for lycra jersey)
Very close fitting top (for ribbed fabrics that tend to grow)
A-line skirt (for knits)
Darted a-line skirt (for wovens)
Fitted bodice for blouses and dresses
I make the blocks out of stable poster board. Ideally I would like to use oak tag, but it’s only sold by rolls here in Sweden, and it’s really expensive, both the price of the roll and the shipping.
This is what a couple of my blocks look like, it’s the front bodice and skirt that were used for the dresses above.
Obviously it took a lot of alterations and additional drafting to turn my blocks into these two dresses, but the main benefit was that they both fit me perfectly without any tweaking.