Most frequently asked questions
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Why doesn't my drafted block fit accurately?
What is a basic block?
I've made a basic block. What do I do now?
We provide a range of tutorials that teach you how to pattern cut your blocks into a range of different designs, adding necklines, sleeves, body panels and much more. You can find all of our available tutorials in the Courses tab on the menu.
All of our tutorials are geared towards digital pattern cutting in Adobe Illustrator, however, you can still follow these tutorials to produce patterns using the paper pattern process, since the techniques used are the same for both digital and paper pattern cutting.
What is a PDF pattern?
How do I print and construct a PDF pattern?
My PDF pattern printout is missing some lines.
As a workaround, save the PDF to disk and open the PDF using the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for viewing and printing. Download Acrobat Reader for free here.
What is an ePattern?
An ePattern can be imported or opened in a variety of different editing suites that accept the .SVG format, however, we highly recommend using Adobe Illustrator to edit and customise your ePatterns, as it by far the most comprehensive package available, plus all our tutorials are created within Adobe Illustrator.
What is a toile?
What is a dart or dart manipulation?
A dart in a flat pattern has two important properties: its point, the point in the pattern at which the dart aims or converges, and the intake, or the amount of fabric taken in or removed. Since the dart can extend toward any edge of the pattern without affecting fit, the length of the dart intake at the edge of the fabric is not a good measure of dart intake. Rather, the angle subtracted from the pattern by the dart is what determines the dart’s intake.
Manipulating darts in flat patterns
As long as the focal point of a dart and its intake remain the same, a dart can be rotated around its focal point, or stylized in one of several ways without affecting the fit of the garment.
Slash-and-spread dart rotation
An easy way to rotate a dart on a flat pattern is to slice a straight line from the dart point to another edge of the pattern (the slash). The two pieces thus created can then be pivoted (spread) at the dart point to shift the dart to the position of the slash.
Pin and pivot dart rotation
The pin and pivot dart rotation technique requires tracing a new pattern from the original. First, the pattern with the dart to be rotated is set on top of another piece of paper on which the new pattern will be traced. A pin is pressed into the dart point to hold that point in place. Then one leg of the original dart and an arbitrary part of the original pattern is traced onto the paper. This tracing starts from the one dart leg and continues from there to the new point where the dart will reach the outside of the pattern piece. The pattern is then rotated around the pinned dart point until the other dart leg lines up with the traced dart leg. Tracing can then continue from the same spot on the original pattern. The pattern is then removed and the new dart legs drawn between the dart point (marked by the pinhole) and the gap in the pattern created during rotation.
Named Dart Styles
There are two kinds of darts that are common in blouses for women:
Vertical Darts – These are sewn from the bottom of the blouse to a point generally around the bustline. This type of dart may be found in the front, rarely in the back of a garment and are used by the garment maker to pull in the bottom of the blouse towards the wearer’s waist.
Bust Darts – These are short triangle folds that provide space for the breasts such that the fabric under the breasts isn’t hanging, rather is fitting closer to the wearer. There are several subtypes of bust line dart: Center, Waistline, French, Side seam, Armhole, etc.
What is seam allowance?
WHY DO I NEED SEAM ALLOWANCE?
It is the extra material needed to prevent the seam from fraying and eventually coming apart. If a garment is sewn together without seam allowance, it will no longer be the correct size as the line of stitching will encroach into the fit of the garment, therefore making the garment not the intended size.
ZERO SEAM ALLOWANCE
Drafting your pattern with no seam allowance is common when the drafted pattern will be further altered. Generally,seam allowance is only added once a pattern is finished and ready for toiling or mock up in material. We always recommend making a toile or mock up of your drafted pattern first, to check the fit before adding further design elements.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF SEAM ALLOWANCE TO USE?
Standard seam allowances tend to be 1cm or 5/8”. Your sewing machine cover plate will most likely have a line at this distance from the needle. Measure the distance between the needle and the markings on your cover plate and input this as your desired seam allowance. When constructing your garment, line up the edge of the fabric with the markings on your cover plate to ensure you are stitching the correct distance from the fabric edge. Use this standard seam allowance for all your patterns, allowing you to know how far in from the edge of the fabric to stitch, thus constructing your garment to the correct size.
What is ease and how does it affect your block?
What is Ease?
Ease plays an important role when building a pattern, it determines how your garment fits. Ease is the difference between your actual body measurements and your finished garment measurements at the bust, waist, and hips.
The amount of ease added to a pattern changes the fit of your block. There are generally two types of ease that can be used when drafting your basic blocks: wearing ease and design ease.
Wearing ease is the most commonly used fit and gives the minimum amount of extra room needed to allow for comfortable, non-restricted movement, allowing you to sit, move, raise your arms and breath easily. Any more ease than this is considered design ease.
“Automatic Fit” analyses your unique measurements and adds the correct amount of wearing ease to create a comfortable fitting block.
For example, let’s look at design ease on the waist. Place the tape measure around your waist and expand it until you are happy with the distance from the body in terms of your design. To calculate how much design ease you need, subtract your actual waist measurement from this design measurement. The amount left over is the design ease. This concept also applies to both bust and hips.
Negative ease is often used when a basic block needs a far closer fit for…
What is an automatic or custom fit?
Create a well fitting and comfortable basic block can be complicated, especially when it comes to knowing how much ease you need. Unless you are a seasoned pro, you might not understand how much ease should be added to get the best fit results. To help you, we have provided an “Automatic Ease” setting for all our basic blocks. The Automatic ease setting analyses your custom measurements calculates the optimum ease (using percentages) and applies it to your block during the drafting process. We are constantly refining our ease percentages, via our testing group, to ensure the fit of our basic blocks.
Torso block example:
Bust ease: 9% of Bust measurement
Waist ease: 6% of Waist measurement
Hip ease: 5.5% of Hip measurement
Using automatic ease should produce a comfortably fitting block each and every time, however, there are always exceptions. We provide a Custom ease selection allowing you to override the automatic selection and manually change the amount of ease on your basic blocks.
What is the correct method when taking my measurements?
You can watch our measurement tutorial videos by visiting the profile page and troubleshooting guide. You can also click the help icon next to each measurement when in the Profile page, to view instructions for each measurement.
How regularly should I update my measurements?
What is a standard size chart and why don't my measurements match?
Why don’t my measurements fit the chart?
Don’t worry this is not uncommon. The standard size chart is used purely as a guide when drafting basic blocks. Women come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and not all women will fit a standard size exactly.
So what is a standard size and what does she look like?
The standard woman is a composite figure whose measurements are based on what any successful manufacturer or retailer say they are. Her figure changes at the whim of the fashion industry or whatever is perceived to be the “ideal” form, at that point in time. She is symmetrical, with an upright stance and she has aesthetically pleasing proportions. She is considered “ideal” when her measurements satisfy the majority of consumers for that particular manufacturer. Unfortunately, there will never be a universally accepted standard size because of the vast array of shapes and sizes present both regionally and internationally. Also, standard size charts are based on surveys taken from 1000’s of women’s measurements and are therefore closely guarded by the company as they have a substantial commercial value, which means understanding or defining a standard size is almost impossible.
What are they used for?
Standard size chats are predominantly used by students, professionals, and retailers to create mass-produced clothing that fits the “majority” of their customers or clients or to create high fashion garments that fit a
The standard size charts that we provide, should only be used when speed is a necessity, to quickly produce a basic block, or when taking custom measurements is not an option.
Producing a custom size.
Amending a standard size chart.
If your basic measurements fit our standard size chart but there are just one or two measurements that don’t fit, you can always save it as a profile and amend it to suit your needs – dramatically speeding up the process of creating custom profiles.
Why am I getting an error message when entering my measurements in the profile page?
If you receive an error message, it is most likely that the measurement was entered incorrectly. Please re-take the measurement, paying close attention to the measurement video tutorial provided. You can also click the help icon next to each measurement when in the Profile page. If the error persists, please check our standard size charts or troubleshooting guides to better understand our size range and whether your size is available.
Why am I getting an error or warning message when drafting my basic block?
You might see an error message appear when drafting your blocks in the lab. This is quite common and could happen for one or two reasons:
Either you have failed to enter a measurement into the profile page, that is required to draft your block. To resolve this issue, simply click the ADD MEASUREMENT button to bring up your selected profile. You will see a similar red warning message appear under the measurement that is missing – Enter your measurement to resolve the issue. Your measurement must fall within the Min or Max leeway for your measurement to be accepted and the warning to disappear, both on the profile page and within the Lab.
Another possible reason is that you have entered a measurement that falls far outside the minimum or maximum leeway for that measurement. The lab can not draft blocks that are based on wildly inaccurate measurements, as it might cause the block to break. If this is the case then you will need to revise your measurements.
Should I register an account or be a guest user?
For a registered user, PatternLab maintains a permanent library of your order history and profiles. You can also specify certain preferences that the system will remember from one access to another, such as your preferred measurement unit (centimeters or inches).
For a guest user, orders are confirmed with an email which contains a link to instantly download your purchases, which you can access subsequently as many times as you wish. Any profile you create as a guest cannot be guaranteed to be available the next time you use the system. When you create a profile as a guest and then immediately register as a user, the profile will automatically be added to your new