Today it is time for another tutorial. As I have mentioned in my previous post, I found some early-1900s block patterns at the library. Now I finally got around to enlarging them. Usually I would have done this on a sheet of brown paper. But, right now, I don’t have my foot-long ruler and French curve with me. So I decided to try out a different, more tech-savvy way. For this, I used Inkscape, a free line-draw software you can download here. It is pretty basic and not always straightforward to use, but still very recommendable for patternmaking. It has an option to save your drawings in PDF format. Further down, I will explain how to turn these files into a tiled print-at-home-style pattern.
In this tutorial, we will draft this pattern piece from Antonie Steimann’s “Ich kann schneidern” (“I can tailor”) first published in 1908. It is the first side gore of a 4-piece corselet skirt. As it is a German publication, all measures are in centimeters. Length measures are indicated down the vertical lines of the block and the width measures are on the horizontal sides. Actually, this bit is quite universal and intuitive. ;)
Before we start, I should add a word of warning. The following steps will be pretty picture-heavy. But I hope things will be easier to understand this way, especially for the less computer-loving people among us. So, here we go:
Drafting the pattern:
Now, select “Document Properties” from the same menu to get your block ready for drafting.
In the dialog that pops up now, you have to change the units used in the document to those indicated in your pattern. This one is in cm, but you can also set it to inches, or whatever else you need. Set the length unit in both the “Default units” and the “Units” drop-down menu. This way you will later also see the length of your lines in the right unit.
Next you have to set the dimensions of your sheet. For this, you enter the maximum width (from point b to the right edge) and the maximum length (from point b to the bottom edge) of the block. In this case, the sheet will be 34 cm wide and 110 cm high/long.
In the same window, go to the “Grids” tab. Here we will create a grid to guide our lines later. Click on “New” to get started. Next, change the units to the same ones you used before. Now pick a spacing. Usually, the equal amount on both axes makes sense. I picked .5 cm and added a major line every 1 cm (or every 2 units as it says here). On the two lines below, you can set the grid lines to a different color to be easier to distinguish.
Move the tool tip to the top left corner of the page. Wait for the little cross and the text “Handle to grid intersection” appears underneath it. Then click once. Important: For an accurate pattern, always wait for the cross to appear before you click anything. Otherwise your measurements will be off by a bit…
Now we draw our first vertical line. It will end 7 cm from the corner point (point b). For this, you move the line tool straight down the edge. At the very bottom of the window, where it says “Line segment” you can see the angle and length of the line you are just drawing. For vertical lines the angle should always be at (-) 90 degrees. The angle for perfectly horizontal lines is 0 degs. When you reach the desired length, snap the line to the matching grid square. For this, just make sure the length stays as it is and the line stays straight and wait for the little cross to appear again. Then you double-click and your first line shows up.
Next we repeat the same steps for the first horizontal line which ends 11 cm from point b.
Next we will work down the right edge of the page and draw the horizontal guides you can see in the pattern above. For this, we will use the line tool to measure the distances along the edge. For this, you click on the right corner point once and draw a line like before. Only this time, you will click on the end point just once when you reach the desired length (5 cm in this case).
Moving right on from this point, draw the first horizontal guide line, finishing it off with a double-click, once it reaches the indicated length of 22 cm.
Now it is time to draw the first two lines of the skirt’s top end.For this, you first connect the end point of the guide line with the end point of the first side line we drew. In a next step, you connect the same end point upwards, with the end point of our first horizontal line on the page’s top edge. For the last of these three lines, you have to measure down 2 cm from the top left corner, like you did before. After clicking once, draw a line that connects with the end point of the previous line to form the skirt’s waistband.
Starting from the top right corner again, create the second horizontal guide. When the line is finished, connect its end point with that of the previous guide line.
Next our skirt will get its bottom edge. For this, scroll down to the bottom right corner of the page. As it is easier this way, we will now measure up 2.5 cm to reach the 107.5 cm indicated in the pattern. Now, connect this point to the one at the very bottom of the page’s left corner. Double-click, as always.
Now, go back to the other end point of this last line. Scrolling back up, connect it to the end point of the second horizontal guide line.
Going back to the top left corner again, draw the 20 cm long line shown in the pattern. From the end point, draw another, all the way down to the bottom left corner. For the next step it is important to draw these two lines separately. Now we will bend those lines in need of rounding. For this, select the “move nodes” tool from the sidebar. It is the second one from the top.
When using the nodes tool, use it gently and wriggle your lines around a bit. If you pull too hard, you will get some quite funky-looking curves. ;)
Printing the pattern:
Open the PDF file in Adobe Reader and select “File” -> “Print”.
In the print dialogue box, set the sizing options to “Poster”. The tile scale should always be at 100%. You can customize the page overlap you will need to tape together the single “tiles”, or printed pages, later. I usually go for the .01 inches you can see above. Make sure to always check both the “Cut marks” and “Labels” boxes! One will help you when aligning the pages, the other will name and number the pages to help you sort them.
Click “Print” and enjoy your pattern. :) If you need any help taping up the pages you just printed, please let me know. It takes some practice to go smoothly, but you can do it.
And this marks the end of today’s monster post. I hope it was insightful, and not too monstrous, for you. Let me know what you think. :)
Best wishes, Nessa