Drafting Class: Day 1

So, I’ve struggled a bit with how to write this post and what to say. I think outside of the design aspect, this will be a good learning experience for me.

On the first day, we just went over the syllabus and supplies. Then, we spent some time cutting out our  8 slopers (two bodice front, bodice back, skirt front, skirt back, sleeve, and torso front and back). They were given to us on eight sheets of paper. We had to cut them out, glue them on manila board and cut that out again.


Ours are half scale, but we don’t know half of what. The instructor thinks it’s a 12 because it’s big on the size 8 half size dress forms. I was done in under 30 mins and headed out. Homework before Thursday is to trace out 5 darted bodice slopers (the one on the far left) on this numbered pattern paper. We’ll be working on the slash and spread method on Thursday.


So, the comical part is this: Of the 16 students, only 2 or 3 of us know how to sew. I mean *really* sew. There was a lot of talk in the room (at least five) who didn’t own a sewing machine. Yet, almost everyone wants to be a designer. I always thought that was kind of a joke on Project Runway. But, I guess there really are people who enter the design world who don’t know how to sew.

Also, most of us were on time, but at least on person came in 30 mins late and three came in over an hour late. It’s soooo different going to school as a 30 something adult.  The class is mostly early 20s with about three of us over 30.

Oh! I almost forgot. There are like two rooms of pristine, gorgeous, new industrial Jukis. But, they can only be used with an instructor around, ‘in case you have trouble getting it threaded’.  So, clearly, my goal is to become a teacher’s pet so I can get to those machines when I want!


  1. It’s so cool that you are going to a class. I was researching on classes around where I live, but the choices are pretty limited and expensive. I did see a pattern making class, a draping class and even a shoe design class!! When I feel committed enough to spend $400 apiece and every Saturday for 8 weeks, I will sign up…

  2. I can just imagine your SM lust and your strategic plan hatching in your head.

    Good luck on this class. Those machines sound fabulous!

  3. Not knowing how to sew but wanting to be a designer is like wanting to write cookbooks but not knowing how to cook. If you don’t know how the clothes are put together, how can you design? That always amazed me on Project Runway too, that some of them did such sloppy work. Sounds interesting so far!

  4. That’s funny to me also that the wannabe-designers can’t sew. What do the plan to do, hire a head seamstress and take her word that it’s done correctly?? It couldn’t be me.

    I’m lusting right along with you for the Jukis!

  5. Enjoy yourself!

    We have a young single housemate and it is all I can do sometimes to keep from rolling my eyes at his ridiculousness. He means well, he’s just inexperienced – and I was at least that ridiculous once upon a time, too.

  6. Sounds like fun! I took a pattern drafting class in Boston a couple of years ago, and it was great. We had to draft our own slopers though… no pre-drafted ones that we could just cut out and work with. 🙂 I’ll be curious to see how the class progresses.

  7. I bet you DO become the teachers pet 😉 And yes, it is a sad fact that many aspiring designers never bother to learn how to sew. Actually find that quite arrogant… My grandfather started a factory in Norway during the depression. He knew how to operate every machine and walked through several times a day talking with his employees. Maybe the car companies wouldn’t be in such trouble today if they had done the same…

  8. It’s actaully kind of wierd that they dont know how to sew, assuming they were at least somewhat inspired by Project Runway. Did they learn nothing from the Christian season? In which he was successful largely because he was a fast sewer? Too bad there is not a competition element to the class, becuase sounds like you’d totally win.

  9. LOL, I can just picture you salivating over those Jukis and scheming about the fastest way to get on one. And just think how much more you will benefit from the class with an understanding of patterns already, there’s no way the non-sewing folk can have the same feel for flat vs fabric.

  10. Maybe they will ask you back next semester or year as an instructor! 🙂

    That is funny about wanting to design without knowing how to sew. I never would have guessed. It seems so… I don’t know, audacious!

  11. This class sounds so great. Whilst I enjoyed my class last year, it was much more basic and far less structured than yours seems to be. I can’t wait to see more.

    I know what you mean about being a second time around learner. It always astonishes me that people pay good money for a course and then it all seems a huge hassle just to turn up. Ah well, more instructor time for you! Have fun.

  12. don’t tell anyone, but teachers looooove adult learners–they’re motivated, focused, already have a work ethic, etc. Those Jukis are yours.

    I’ve heard that whole “wannabe designer” thing from a gal who owns the Bernina dealership in my area & teaches beginning sewing at the local community college. She just shakes her head….

    have fun!

  13. Have fun! What a great experience for you. I had heard that a lot of designers don’t know how to sew! Hard to believe. You may be teaching sewing very soon. Thank you for letting us into your new adventure. I checked out some of the prices in Philadelphia and maybe someday I will try. I am anxious to read more about your experience!

  14. This sounds like a great class. I live in Waldorf, MD and would love to take this class. I am going to look into it for the summer?? I hope they offer it. It is about an hour away for me but with the long daylight hours in the summer I could handle it. Enjoy!! I just did a pants draft from the Threads article 134 (I think) It turned out really well.

  15. So many things struck me from this post.

    1) Having hung out at Fashion-Incubator (https://www.fashion-incubator.com) for several years now, I’ve learned a lot about new designers. It was interesting to read about the make-up of your class.

    2) Having done my college education in my mid-thirties, I can vouch for professors loving adult students. As long as you do the work, you have it made!

    3) Didn’t they teach you from Day One to cut off the pattern outlines? 🙂

    4) Having just bought my own industrial machines, I know you will love them, although sewing curves becomes more challenging. Must. Practice. More.

    Looking forward to more posts about your class!

  16. I’m in a sewing class now that is teaching us how to make slopers using 1/2 sized mannequins. Unfortunately there are not enough people in the class to keep it open, so tonight will most likely be my last class.

  17. People who don’t know how to sew think they can design. Strange. It’s easy to sketch something that you think looks interesting or cool, but that doesn’t mean it can be constructed! Just because you think you can draw a nice picture of your house with a balcony protruding into the back yard doesn’t mean you can hang it off the house and expect it to stay up, and fabric is the same, only softer.

    Enjoy your class!

  18. ah, Cynth got to the Mizrahi comments first – I thought he was very nice to the kid but very firm about the need to learn to sew and really work at it. The kid just went on and on about his talent as a draftsman and artist and Mizrahi just kept coming back to the core point: Learn to sew, kid.

  19. Very tactfully said. Hmmm. I know the crowd that’s over there and I’m not surprised. Enjoy the class for us all who wish they could be there with you!

  20. I had to watch the Isaac clip! Many people may not know who Molly Parnis is, but I do! He’s right, though, sewing is a basic fundamental skill to making realistic, reproducable garments.

    Your class sounds like great fun – keep us posted!

  21. Is this the class you had to get the prerequisite waived? If so, how did all the others get in? Sounds like lots of fun. I hope you get out of it what you want and the instructor doesn’t end up only assisting the beginners!

  22. Yeah. Last spring in my post-msn program I took a class where the instructor actually _waited_ ten minutes for the people who were coming in late. That after I busted my tail to get to class on time after a full day in the clinic- and I was the only post-msn student there (the others were full-time grad students). I hear you.

    It sounds like you’ll get some fundamentals out of the class, and as for the Jukis…they are yours, obviously. The teacher must be so glad to have someone who knows how to use them! 🙂

  23. I am soooooo jealous! Please keep us updated on your class, so I can continue my pity party!

  24. Can I live vicariously through you for a while? 🙂

    teacher’s pet: well worth the price of chapstick.

  25. When I took my pattern drafting course, there was a lady in her 50’s, I was in my 40’s and the rest were right out of high school age! Very different personalities,and work ethics, but a very enjoyable course 🙂

  26. Sounds very interesting! I wish there was a community college closer to me that offered those classes. The nearest one is 45 minutes away and when you have three little kids at home waiting for you, that’s a bit too far. For now, anyway.

    Keep blogging about your class. I love hearing about what you are doing there!

  27. When I took some design classes, I had people like that too. I didn’t get why you’d even think about taking classes like that if you can’t sew. Lord knows you couldn’t pass the class without creating an entire garment!

  28. I’m not at all surprised, sounds very like my class at college! Except that the reason we weren’t allowed to use the machines had to do with the dreaded ‘elf and Safety. UK society is turning into a nightmare because of Health and Safety regulations (we are all an eejit 10 year old under the law!!).

    Anyway, off my soapbox, there were 3 girls in my class who had completed a full degree at art school in Fashion Design and were now attending night classes at Cardonald to learn how to draft patterns and how to sew properly. They admitted that they’d just flung things together in their degree course and some of them had used staples for the catwalk show at graduation!!!

    Then there were a couple of people who’d thought that starting with Pattern Drafting would be ‘easier than learning to sew’. My jaw kinda hit the floor.

    It was also the case that about 5 or 6 of us would be finished way ahead of the others and usually had to go home early. Going all that way to work for half an hour. I really hope your teacher is the sort to give you extra work so you can learn more.

    Bit strange they don’t know the scale and measurements their half size blocks are for!?

    Also very strange that you aren’t drafting that stuff from scratch. I’d take your Mrs Stylebook diagrams with you and see if you can start drafting something in your spare time in class, if you start to make a mistake she can give you a nudge in the right direction.

    Do the Juki’s have knee lifts? Oh boy, that was some co-ordination thing to get used to, but it’s hard not to want one on your home machine after – be careful, don’t get addicted 😉


  29. So glad you’re going to keep us updated on your class! Looks like it will be a lot of fun–and I hope beneficial. Hope you’ll soon be whizzing along on the Jukis. Sally

  30. If you don’t know how to sew, you don’t even know enough to know that you don’t know enough about drafting, if that makes any sense. As Marjie said, if you can’t sew you can come up with brilliant but technically unfeasible designs that are therefore useless. Loved the Mizrahi clip; that kid needs to get his butt behind a sewing machine and then he’ll find out what his beautiful drawings are worth. Maybe they’re brilliant, maybe they’re useless, but he’ll never find out until he turns paper into cloth.

  31. The Isaac clip is interesting. Who knew that Molly Parnis did not sew! I just got one of her pant suits @ an estate sale. Nobody ever heard of her so to them, it was just another wool pantsuit. And, it’s cool.

  32. I am glad you are taking a pattern drafting class but please don’t discount the experience of the instructor. I took some pattern drafting classes a few years ago when I had more time and we started out with slopers like that. I wish I had taken it more seriously because I honestly feel like I need to take everything over again because I didn’t take it as a serious learning experience. I enjoyed it but I didn’t buckle down and do all the work and so I didn’t get the benefits. And our instructor was very nice and very expert.

  33. I completed this course a few semesters ago. I too was amazed that most of the students could not sew. I was so glad to have older students in the class who sewed. We older students spent quite a bit of time helping the non sewers. I didn’t mind and enjoyed every moment of it. Wait until you see the ambitious designs they will want to complete?

  34. Ooooh! It’s so exciting to hear about other people learning to draft – takes me back to when I was learning!

    Like others, I am a little surprised that you aren’t starting off with drafting your own slopers, but it isn’t necessarily crucial to learning how to manipulate them. I would totally advise it though for when you start to do this for yourself. There are lots of drafts out there that are easy to find in addition to the one in your text. My personal fave for the bodice block is from the Costume Technician’s Handbook, but pants block in it is kinda weird.

    I just love slashing and spreading! (ooh, almost sounds dirty) This course is going to make you feel like a god(dess). I’m not joking, enjoy it! Once you learn the fundementals of pattern manipulation you feel like you can do anything! You also start to deconstruct all garments you see down to their component parts and re-draft them in your head to figure out how ‘they’ did it. The world’s your oyster baby!

    To Beth (Beebee): the circles are for radii (radius plural). For example, the one that worries you on the front bodice sloper is the bust radius and used to help draft strapless designs and bustiers.

  35. At least you didn’t have to draft full-size slopers on oaktag as I did in an FIT evening pattern making course.

    I also tried to learn pattern making before I knew how to sew; I figured I’d streamline things by teaching myself how to alter patterns so when I made something it would fit.

    What a crazy idea.

    Three-quarters of what we had to draft was incomprehensible to me because I’d never sew these things.

    I”m taking some FIT evening courses this winter. Everyone comes early and crowds around the teacher.

  36. I think I read that Chanel didn’t know how to draft patterns; she could only drape on the body.

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