The draft-at-home patterns in the shop are sourced from a very old, very hard-to-find French mail order system. These patterns, though illustrated beautifully in full detail, are sometimes a tiny bit more basic than they appear. The system assumed that experienced home seamstresses would be using these patterns, and therefore often didn't include things like facings, pockets, sashes, etc. These were considered easy enough for the sewer to draft themselves. The patterns included no instructions beyond drafting the pattern properly to one's size.
As mentioned in the listings, these patterns are intermediate to advanced and while sewing, you may get stuck momentarily on which seam to sew next or which way to drape something. Please know that you are always welcome to email me with your questions, but please also know that in any given day, between the blog and the shop, I get nearly 100 emails. I try to answer everyone's printing or drafting questions as quickly as possible, but when it comes to the sewing and assembly of these patterns, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I truly wish there were because I love to help, but the chances of me getting to your question in time are slim.
Please keep that in mind when you purchase these patterns. That said, this should in no way discourage you from trying these patterns! They are wonderful and once you get used the the system, the fit of the designs, the beautiful shapes and silhouettes are such a treat!
Below I have tried to answer your most commonly asked questions, I hope this makes the experience easier for you.
Q. How should I print the patterns, should I adjust my printer scale or margins?
A. Always print the measuring bands at 100% scale. Never adjust your margins. The bands will print accurately to both A4 and U.S. letter sized paper at 100% scale. The pattern pages themselves are a bit different. If you find the small numbers had to read, then you can enlarge and print those pages. It doesn't matter the scale of the pattern itself, only the measuring bands.
Q. I need to make my pattern in more than one size, but that's a lot of rulers for me to print. Do you have an already printed set of rulers?
A. Due to popular request, yes, we do! We got to work and created a full size, printed version of the rulers. All you have to do is cut out the ones you need!
Q. I have printed my measuring bands and not all of my measuring bands have increments in centimeters. Have I printed them wrong?
A. The increments on the measuring bands will be sized differently for each different band. This change in increments is what allows the pattern to be scaled into a different size for each band. When we refer to the measuring bands as “being in cm” we’re referring to the number at the end of the measuring band. This number in cm is meant to correspond to your bust or hip measurements. As long as you have printed to 100% scale, your measuring bands will be the right size.
—you can also look for the inch marker on the pages you’ve printed to confirm that your printer scaled to 100%.
Q. The pattern squares are a bit small for me to read the pattern very well. How can I make the squares bigger?
A. The measuring bands can be printed only at 100% scale if you want your patterns to be sized correctly but the pattern page with the squares and half-circles holding the pattern can be printed to any size. Try adjusting your printer settings so that the pattern prints to say, 200% scale. If this won't work, you can take the pattern to your local copy shop and have them blow up the images for you (it's not usually very expensive.)
Q. Which measurement do I use to choose my measuring band, my bust, hips or waist?
A. That should be indicated on the pattern page itself. If you are drafting a pair of tap pants or trousers, use your waist measurement. If you're drafting a blouse or full dress, use your bust measurement.
The 1950's patterns all have an indicator of which band you should use to draft the pattern piece. For patterns marked with a "P" use your bust measurement (P=Poitrine, French for Bust). For patterns marked with an "H" use your hip measurement (H=Hanches, French for hips).
Q. Do these patterns work with the Lutterloh tape?
A. No, though the principle is similar, the Lutterloh tape is designed quite differently and will not work with our draft at home patterns.
Q. I have already bought one of the 1930's patterns and measuring bands. Can I use the same measuring bands for my 1950's draft-at-home patterns too?
A. Sorry, but no. The bands changed a few times since the 1930's versions so using your old 1930's bands with your new 1950's pattern will scale the pattern much differently. Use the bands that come with the pattern itself to draft your pattern. I have my own sets colored with two different highlighters so I can easily tell the difference.
Q. I'm looking at the pattern and some points are marked with an X, and some are just dots. What is the difference?
A. The X's mark major corners of the pattern and the dots just mark secondary things like curves and tracing lines between the X's.
Q. The patterns don't have any markings for buttons or zippers. Does that mean they just slip over your head and fit or that I have to figure out some sort of extra openings/buttonholes/whatever for myself?
A. The patterns don’t show any markings for closures beyond the occasional “fermeture” (or closure) written next to a seam. This does not mean that the garment will just slip over your head. It is up to you to add your own zipper, buttons, or hooks and eyes to the seam of your choosing. Side seams are a great place to add them.
Q. In some of the pattern pieces there are dotted lines in the middle of the pattern piece - what does this mean?
A. This straight dotted line is an indicator of grain lines, if it is in the middle of a pattern piece (see below).
If the dotted line is on a straight seam line, then it is an indicator of grain, as well as an indicator that the pattern piece should be cut on a fold (see below).
Example: Both of the above pattern pieces are to be cut on the fold at center front and center back (the dotted lines).
Q. There is a solid line in the middle of the pattern illustration. What does this mean?
A. The solid line is indicating that you have more than one pattern piece in the half circle.
Example: The pattern above is two pattern pieces. First draft the entire piece, including the solid line bisecting the pattern. Draw the two dots in clearly to use as notches/ joining guidelines later. Your grain line is the dotted line to the left. Draw the grain line onto your pattern exactly parallel to this line, so that it runs the entire length of the pattern, through both parts 1 and 2.
Cut and separate the pattern pieces on this line and then add seam allowances to the cutting lines. You now have two separate pattern pieces. #1 should be cut twice, on the grain indicated there. #2 should be cut once, on the fold.
Q. Are seam allowances included in these patterns? If so, what is the allowance?
A. In the drafting instructions of your pattern, we clarify which of these patterns contain seam allowances and which don’t. You will also find this information in capitol letters at the top of the page containing the French translations.
For all lingerie patterns, seam allowances are included. The original source material never indicated just how much was included but through extensive testing, we have found that a 3/8” allowance works best.
Q. I'm not sure how my pattern pieces fit together… what am I missing?
A. The best advice I can give at this stage of your sewing project is to suggest that you cut a muslin/ test fabric piece for each and drape, pin, and test until it makes sense to you. Through trial and error you will most likely find an answer to your own question long before I can answer any emails asking for help.
--We hope to be able to provide a forum of sorts in the future where you can ask these questions, and hopefully, others and myself who have also sewn some of the patterns can post answers that you and future sewers will find helpful.
For how to draft a facing, you may find this article helpful.