How It All Started
I consider myself a pattern maker first and a designer second. I have always been fascinated with how things work. As a teenager I started making clothes by how I thought they were made. I would lay my clothes on top of fabric and cut around the outside edges and sew them together.
I never fully understood how or why garments were put together. After several failed attempts at various garments, I decided to save up all my money and buy myself a dressform. We had a Cloth World and I would go in once a week and look at the dress form I wanted. Over the course of probably a year, I was finally able to save all my money for my first big purchase. For a teenager in the early 90s, $100 was a lot of money.
The first thing I made for myself was a dress for my friend’s birthday celebration. The dress was so tight I could not sit down at her party, but I really don’t think anyone noticed. That was the first time I ever started to understand fit. It was another 6 years before I’d take my first pattern making class. During that time, I resorted to working with knits so the fit wasn’t as important.
The first day of pattern making was the best day of my life (at that period of my life). I finally understood how all the parts went together and why. I thrived in my draping classes because I learned how to make physical changes to a pattern with visual observations.
My school only scratched the surface of the knowledge I desired. School gave me a head start, but it was my drive to understand fit that I supplemented my education with experimentation. I started collecting all the books I could on pattern making and design. I loved it all, but I really struggled to understand the industry taught directions.
I questioned the why of things, but I never received answers except the parental “because I said so.” Most of what we learn as students is just accepted as fact, but I always struggled with that. I needed to understand why something was 1/4″ or 3/4″. What was the reasoning behind these “facts.”
As someone who never fit the mold of ready to wear, drafting for myself using these industry standard methods never worked either. Why didn’t they? And why do all the books teach the same thing? Why don’t any of them answer why?
When I started teaching, I enjoyed the challenge of my students coming up with an impossible design and helping them make it a possible design. I asked colleagues why we did something a certain way and the response was usually something around the fact “because the book teaches it that way.”
This was when I made it my personal goal to help not only me, but others understand why we do things. There are reasons for everything and just trusting what was done for 100 years does not mean it is correct.
I wrote my first book on running a small design business. It was a great project as it helped me unearth the problems those other books did not teach.
I had kind of forgotten that I loved writing as much as I loved designing. Visiting teachers years later, they were all surprised I didn’t become a writer and went the route of design.
The second book I wrote was on drafting undies. I worked on this book for months, experimented with everything. There were a handful of books already out on the subject, but most taught drafting for the industry standard model. I struggled to make it relate to myself. I pulled inspiration from everything, but I wrote everything based on my own experimentation.
A year or two later I began my journey on writing about bra drafting. This was even more elusive than panty drafting. There was some information out there, but none of it relevant to my body shape or size. Everything was shrouded in secrecy. I hated that. I concluded that drafting info was only provided to show the industry standard base size. But what about those of us who aren’t millionaires and want to design for ourselves.
I looked at bra design as a pattern maker. I needed to understand every aspect of it. I developed my own methods and within a year, my methods were being copied and published as other’s work. I get it, I do. Once the information is out there, its up for interpretation. I did a second edition that included a more unique grading method, but I still felt that the book was missing most shape specific drafting data.
I decided to make it my mission to find a better and more accurate way to get drafting measurements. I wanted to create a calculator to help. I introduced drafting with this calculator in the third edition as well as a new way to manipulate the drafts more like a traditional sloper for ready-to-wear.
In the months since the book release, I have encountered “silent” issues related to fit that I was previously unaware of. While I do not plan on writing another edition, I do plan to cover the issues on my blog. I have a few pending items to take care of, but I will be covering that secondary.
There will always an exceptions to the norm, what I hope you get out of my books and articles is the understanding to know how do make things for your own unique self. Just remember that because I don’t cover it, it does not mean the issue does not exist.
Until then, enjoy drafting.