Hey guys! So I realize I’ve been doing lots of the actual work stuff lately, and not as much of the how-I-do-it type posts. I started drafting myself a T shirt block pattern last week and thought this might be a good one if you want to follow along. WARNING: It’s gonna be long with lots of pictures. This is gonna be few parts. But its a good solid base pattern if you’ve been struggling to find things that fit, or just want to be able to design your own and deviate from the pattern books.
Which was exactly my starting point. Bored out of my mind when I went to change over my dresser for summer, staring at plain old clothes, or things worn out because they predate my kids. Shopping online and in magazines wasn’t turning up the cuts and patterns that I want, mainly because a clean classic cut with a hint of style isn’t what’s en vogue right now. Plenty of boho chic, athleisure, oversized drapey shirts, Ts with words about how much you coffee, plus the actual infamous bizarre fashions coming out of Nordstrom that make me think designers are legitimately trolling us this season.
What I’m looking to add to my wardrobe are casual tops that I can actually mom in and throw in the wash, that still have nice design details. Not a plain T shirt from Target, nor something fancy from a store that will need pressing and handwashing. (I have enough of that from my pre-kids wardrobe staring at me from my closet.) Because heaven help me if my kids launch themselves at me after lunch with peanut butter and jelly hands. There are days when I’m a walking mac and cheese dishrag, and most of my everyday clothes need to be able to roll with that. But that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to sacrifice my style for it.
Which brings me back to my sketch pad. Having a basic block pattern as a starting point, I can design whatever details I want that I know will fit me. I can control the fabrics I like and the colors I want to wear. I can alter the fit for my short torso and cut of the sleeves to be something interesting. Draft different necklines. Add collars. Whatever I actually want in clothes instead of finding something nearly perfect and thinking “If only this was shorter/softer/stretchier/whatever instead.”
I’m going to start with the most basic fitted T shape, which will become my block, and let me manipulate the pattern from there to do whatever I want. Block patterns are different from traditional dressmaking slopers, in that they’re a basic building block pattern for you to use in this way, not the standard darts on a shell we all know from pattern drafting textbooks. If you want to read up more about blocks, I highly recommend reading this from Kathleen Fasanella’s insightful blog. Her knowledge and experience always blows me away when I want to really fine tune whatever I’m drafting or making.
If you want to follow along at home, I am going to be starting with a pattern that I know and have worked with before, and make tweaks to get myself to a block: McCall’s 7021, which I used for the peplum tunic shirts I made last fall. Sure, you can draft one from scratch, but the point is to not have to make countless iterations to get to where you want to go. Since I have a pattern that I’ve used and worn for awhile, I know how this one fits me and and can easily go forward with it as a starting point. If you’d like, go to the store and grab a basic T pattern close to the block you want to have. And here’s where the personal style element comes in: your block can be anything that YOU want as a base pattern. If that means raglan sleeves, a swing body shape, something with a peplum, anything. The only element I’d make sure it has is a sleeve, and not a drafted tank or a sleeveless garment, as having a sleeve draft to start from will give you more opportunities for iterations. Round up a few of your favorite shirts from your wardrobe that have elements you want in your block- the perfect length, the perfect bust measurment, a fabric that you like the stretch and recovery of. We’ll take everything into account next week. Til then, get out and enjoy this beautiful summer weekend! So much is in bloom right now, I can hardly stop to appreciate all the gorgeousness. Hoping you find hidden roses in your side yard too.
Love from Wisconsin,