(Warwickshire, about £180. No affiliations - have a look for a course near you by googling.)
If you click the link above you'll see it takes you to a 5 day course to make a beautiful tailored jacket from a pattern you've drafted yourself to fit your body.
Ultimately I'd like to do something like that, although I don't feel I have the shape and height to suit a tailored jacket!! But the principle of making something to fit remains the same, and my own 2 day course started at the beginning of things, by making a bodice pattern to suit my measurements - couture I guess!
What's involvedI'm a beginner dressmaker having only started a few months ago, so had no idea what to expect from a pattern drafting course, but was hoping I could find out more about how to make clothes which fitted my body shape - not all commercial patterns do that terribly well.
This is what we were aiming for.
So what's involved in pattern making? Well an astonishing amount! I can't talk you through a step by step process because everyone is different and the pattern making and the fitting and adjustment of your toile is personalised to you. I'd suggest a course or similar, where someone can stand beside you and put in pins and pleats, darts and tucks to your toile to get a close fit. but I can certainly take you through what's involved on a broad basis.
The first step is to measure your body accurately - you may find you need someone to help you with this. Do it 2 or 3 times perhaps just to make sure, as this is what everything - literally - hangs on.
Simple mathematical calculations
To begin, you take a sheet of pattern paper and mark a completely straight line. All your drawing stems from this line, and there are many simple mathematical calculations using your measurements, which will then enable you to put in the shape and end up with a pattern piece like the one above.
I've got to be honest, I found the drawing quite difficult to begin with, simply because it was so strange and I had no idea what was involved or what I was doing. I was a little slow at the start, but was given lots of help from our tutor, Lee, and managed to catch up in the end and not only make a bodice but also draft a sleeve.
Below, this photo shows my basic shape bodice, but has extra bits. It looks a little scary, but it's complex because of all the alterations that I made after trying on the calico toile. This is a front and a back bodice block (the different coloured pens make it easy to identify the front and back pieces) and you trace off a useable pattern piece onto another piece of paper, but all your alterations go back on the block. Little notes and explanations are scribbled on as reminders. You also need to add a seam allowance, in this case, 1 cm.
So, day 1 was spent making this as accurate as possible and then tracing off front and back pattern pieces and cutting the shapes out in calico. This was then stitched - first the darts, then the sides and shoulder seams. The back is left open so that you can try it on for fit.
Having made the bodice shape and tried it on, you need a jolly good friend to help you to put pins in the places you need bits added or taken away. First you need to pin the back to the seam allowance then look at yourself in a mirror, deciding what you like and don't and what's comfortable.
My first fitting. The toile needed a tuck to make the front sit properly. The boob darts at the bottom went too high - basically they should stop where your nipple is. The armhole also needed a tuck as it was gaping, and I felt the shoulder length was a little too much. You can just see some pins on the front.
The toile was removed and those alterations were put onto the block and new pattern pieces were traced.
Here's an example of why it's difficult to give you a step by step; to make a simple tuck in the front of the toile, meant after the alterations were transferred back to the block, the new pattern piece when cut, wouldn't lie flat, so I had to cut on the bottom of the pattern piece and insert an extra bit. Doing that made the toile too large around the waist so I also had to adjust the darts to take up the extra.
We got there and I now have a piece that fits reasonably well although I am going to make it again at home in the peace of my studio with acres of time to think!