Patternmaking and Handcrafted Clothing Patterns

Patternmaking and Handcrafted Clothing Patterns

Fun fact:  Did you know that a Patternmaker, was once otherwise known as a Junior Engineer? 
What is a patternmaker?  According to wikipedia, a patternmaker is a skilled worker who produces patterns on paper or fabric for use in the clothing industry.  Apparel patternmakers draft patterns based on a designer's sketch of a style. 
A patternmaker needs to not only understand patternmaking, but also understand the design principles of the designer.
If you have read one of my earlier blogs, you will know that I’ve developed many of my patterns after hours and hours of study in the costume departments of museums in LA and NY in the 1990s. This is when I started in the fashion industry as a designer for a better contemporary dress company.  This is when I developed a niche in the Alternative Bridal Market and sold my designs to specialty boutiques across the country. 
Not only is vintage clothing admirable from the outside, turning the garment inside out is even more fascinating to me.  To see the techniques that were once used before the machines were made for mass production, profits and consumerism. 
The vintage inspired small batch clothing items that I create, cannot be mass-produced without cutting corners every step of the way.  You may find similar clothing styles, but compare the quality of craftsmanship, fabric and fit. 
My vintage inspired designs and classic silhouettes are timeless, modernly romantic, and ladylike.  I so want to bring back the appreciation of handcraftsmanship, skill, and uniqueness of small batch clothing.  Clothing that is not mass produced.  Rather Brigitte Hart Dresses is a clothing brand that takes great care in creating items that are special, individual, and that speak to your soul.  Clothing that is more of an investment, and items that you will hold onto because they make you feel that they were made just for you because they fit properly.  Clothing that you won't find at every other store you enter into, because the fabric that is used is 100% natural and sourced ethically and stands the test of time when cared for properly .
One of my favorite things is to make handmade paper patterns.  With many years in the fashion industry, I have developed quite a few pattern blocks and silhouettes that are my "go-to" patterns.  I know that they fit and are sized 4 - 16. 
With these patterns, I can just about develop any type of pattern without having to start completely from scratch. Once you have that perfect pattern that fits properly, you can use it over and over to make new designs.
Nowadays, one of my new favorite things is pattern manipulation. Taking my existing patterns, I alter them for my new collections or use them to create a custom fit for special orders.  When creating a new collection, I use the pattern blocks in my inventory that are most similar to the the new design.  I lay out dotted pattern paper and place the existing pattern on top and trace it onto the dotted paper.  From there I add new style lines, new hemline, added flare or reduction in width.  All the rulers and tape measures come out to play. 
I always like to cut a sample of the new pattern in a lightweight fabric that can hold its own shape, or I will use tissue paper, then all the pieces are basted or pinned together and placed on the dress form.  Making any adjustments at this stage, then adjusting the paper pattern accordingly, saves time before I cut and sew my final sample (proto-type).  

I love the way patterns come together. The measurements, style lines, adding ease, aligning notches, adding seam allowances, then cutting it out, making sure it is balanced and all the notches are marked correctly.  It’s amazing how the slightest adjustment makes all the difference in the world. 😊
Handcrafted patterns is Slow Fashion.

I get a real delight in the craft of making patterns for my Small Batch Clothing Brand. The way the pattern is developed and then the way the fabric pieces are sewn together to create a piece of clothing that fits and feels good on is something I value as skill.  I have been perfecting this skill over the course of my lifetime.  I do not think a machine can produce what I can make.  I make things with all my heart, mind, and soul.  It is a very meaningful series of focused actions for me; one that has great intention and purpose.  It is a gift that I can share with others.  I know it isn't brain surgery, nevertheless, it is a noble skill that has been passed on from previous generations, and it brings great joy throughout the process and especially upon its completion.

Can a machine be delighted in the product it produces?
With the way of digitization, has this profession of skilled patternmaking become a lost art?
I will leave you with a quote I recently read:

It has been said that “it is difficult to think of any introduction of machinery into already existing workshops which had any other object than of lowering the costs of production and increasing the quantity of things made, and therefore profits. No machine has ever been invented for improving the quality. Nothing has ever been done better by machinery than it has been or could be done by hand. The only things which can be said to be better done by machinery are things, like fountain-pens and typewriters, which could not otherwise be made at all except at a price which would make their use absurd, and indeed impossible except for those persons who don’t really need them.“

-circa 1933. - Eric Gill, Beauty Looks After Herself.

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