What is a Basic Block?

by | Dec 5, 2023 | All Documentation, Basic Pattern Making | 0 comments

What is a Basic Block?

Basic blocks are fundamental, foundational patterns, like bodices, skirts, trousers, or sleeves. They serve as the starting point for crafting more intricate finished patterns or complete garments. They are professional tools used to obtain an accurate or perfect fit, on the person or model they were drafted for. Once a perfect fit has been obtained, they are used as a base, foundation or starting point to create the finished pattern. Basic blocks do not feature any design elements such as lapels, pockets, or collars, etc.

Depending on the supplier, they are drafted using body measurements. PatternLab. London uses 27 key body measurements to draft all of our blocks. Other suppliers might use more or fewer measurements.

Ralph Pink explaining the structure of a basic block on a mannequin in a pattern making studio, with paper patterns displayed in the background.
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What are Standard Basic Blocks?

Standard basic blocks are drafted using a set of standard size charts which contain standard body measurements. They are designed to fit most people within a specific demographic (e.g., Young Women 160cm – 172cm). They are not bespoke, or tailor made. These blocks are used in the commercial fashion industry and usually come in sets of sizes such as: UK4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, etc (UK 4 – 24). They are a useful way of making a single style of garment fit hundreds of people reasonably well but not accurately.

Get a Library of Standardised Basic Blocks

 

What is a basic block Bespoke Basic Block Pattern Making Basics

What is a Bespoke Basic Block?

Bespoke basic blocks are drafted using a single person’s body measurements. They are designed to fit one unique person and are used in tailored, couture or bespoke projects. Blocks drafted using bespoke measurements should fit the person they were made for accurately.

Draft a Bespoke Basic Block in The Lab

Where do Basic Blocks Fit into the Design Process?

Basic blocks are a pivotal step in the life cycle of designing a clothing collection or an individual garment. Here’s a simplified view of this life cycle: First, the initial design concept is developed. Next, a suitable block is chosen to match the design, as demonstrated in this instance with a jumpsuit basic block. Subsequently, this block is transformed into a finished pattern by incorporating design elements like pockets, collars, and a fly. Finally, the completed garment is constructed based on the finished pattern.

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What are the Benefits of Basic Blocks?

Once a basic block has been drafted and fit-tested, it can then be stored and used time and time again as a reliable base pattern to create hundreds of different finished patterns. Having a library of b blocks speeds up the pattern making process dramatically especially if the pattern maker knows the block fits.

A pattern maker working in the commercial fashion sector might have a single library of basic blocks in sizes: UK4 – 24 that works for a large range of projects. A bespoke pattern maker, on the other hand has many unique clients, therefore they will have a library for each unique client.

Drafting and perfecting the fit of a block is time consuming and expensive, therefore, pattern makers tend to keep their basic blocks private.

Where can I find a library of Basic Blocks?

How Many Basic Blocks are there?

How long is a piece of string? A pattern maker that is specialised in shirt making might have 10 basic shirt blocks to use as a short cut to quickly create new shirt styles. The body of the shirt might be used to make 4 different shirt styles with different sleeves for example. It all depends on how specialised the pattern maker is. Compare that to a pattern maker working on a whole collection of different garments. They might only need one or two basic shirt blocks.

At PatternLab. London, we provide the most popular or common basic blocks for Women, Men & Children, provide our customers with the ability to create a wide range of styles.

Shop Our Entire Collection of Basic Blocks

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Draft and adapt basic blocks in adobe illustrator. Digital pattern making
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What are the Key Features of a Basic Block?

Basic blocks possess distinct features and markings that distinguish them from finished patterns. Below are some typical examples of these features and markings.

Wearing Ease:

Wearing ease provides the minimum amount of extra room needed to allow for comfortable, non-restricted movement, allowing the person to sit, move, raise their arms, and breathe easily in the basic block. Wearing ease is the minimum ease used when drafting basic blocks. Any additional ease is called design ease and is used for finished patterns. All our basic blocks, feature wearing ease.

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Labels & Identification:

A basic block may have labels or identifiers to indicate the name of the block, its standard size or the profile or person it was drafted for, and any specific notes related to how the block should be cut on fabric.

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Body Lines:

The bust line, waistline, and hip line, among others, are crucial markings on a basic block, indicating the exact placement of key body measurements. They assist in achieving a proper fit for the garment.

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Centre Front (CF) and Centre Back (CB):

The centre front and centre back lines indicate the vertical midline of the garment’s front and back respectively. These lines help in identifying the centre back and front and alignment of the pattern pieces to maintaining symmetry.

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Fold Line:

A fold line is a marked line on a panel (usually the CB or CF) that indicates where the fabric should be folded in half. It ensures symmetry, proper alignment, and efficient use of fabric during cutting and construction. By aligning the fabric edge with the fold line, you can create symmetrical pattern pieces and optimize fabric utilization while cutting.

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Notches:

Notches are small, line markings placed along the edges of the block’s panels. They help in aligning and matching different panels during sewing.

Conclusion

In conclusion, basic blocks are the unsung heroes of fashion and pattern making. They provide the essential foundation for creating well-fitting garments, whether bespoke or standard. These versatile templates streamline the design process and are indispensable tools for designers, pattern makers, and sewists. Their significance is immeasurable, ensuring that every garment not only looks exquisite but also fits impeccably. Having a library of reliable basic blocks will increase your ability to create stunning finished patterns and garments.

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