Monday, February 2, 2009

"Standard" work on cutting

I recently found this book at Powells and found that it had all kinds of patterns in it that used ideas that I have been curious about. I have started thinking that most of the patterns that I draft are too flat. By this I mean that the shaping of seam lines is less varied than the shapes of the body part it is covering. I imagine that this is due to many iterations of pattern drafters truing all the subtleties out a garment. Whether or not this is true I have no idea but it makes sense in my head. At work I do many patterns on much smaller things than the average frock coat but I have learned to love the tiny 1/8" and 1/16" of an inch adjustments that take a pattern from fine to awesome. The most interesting thing I have discovered about these adjustments is that they often take the pattern away from the mathematically idealized version and involve asymmetric darts and extra "bend" allowance in areas that are hard to stuff properly. (I'm thinking more of back pack straps than frock coats.) This has led me to think that all of the areas in sewing where we make straight lines on curved parts of the body might be the wrong way to approach things. So while I was thinking about this I found a book called "Standard" Work On Cutting (Men's Garments) 1886. That's right this book was written in 1886. Now before you start thinking that you don't want to make a frock coat for the corpulent figure (pg 20) let me ask you a couple of questions I have been wondering.
Why is it that the shoulder seam for men's dress shirts doesn't sit at the apex of the shoulder (or there abouts) and is in fact cocked forward by a large amount, and what exactly should that amount be?
How come it is so hard for me to find pants that fit well in the rear? And why do we draw a strait line in the rear crotch curve when its one of the curviest parts? For more on this look at the fashion incubator site for insight on butts, camel toe, and jeans fitting.
How come the interior line of a relaxed hanging arm is so much smaller than the exterior line but our sleeves are patterned symmetric?
There are these and many more questions but I would like to show you this book.

Look at these crotch curves! It all makes sense!

Look at the angles of the shoulder seams?! Look at everything.

And finally because this book was written so long ago it's copyrights have expired and you can download it for free from Google books. Take that Powells! Wait, No! I didn't mean it. Come back Powells. I love you. I swear I'll never cheat again, I promise!

P.S Sorry for all the exclamation points. Sometimes I just get carried away.


hannah said...

Can't wait to download the book -- I was actually just having a conversation with my boss, tina, before I left work tonight, about drafting sleeves and adding curves, ease, etc, for the various bends in the arm.
It's funny because the common thought is that flat patterns will give you a "flatter" garment (i don;t know, that always seemed a little literal to me.) while draping gives you one more true to human form -- in my limited experience I've found the opposite to be true. When I drape, I end up truing and balancing and fussing around with the pattern later on paper, and i think remove alot of subtle curves. But working with blocks, like i do now, I'm learning all sorts of subtle little tricks to get a better fit.
On a separate note, pre-fashion week mayhem is in full swing and although I keep meaning to post a long list of things, there is really no way it's going to happen in the next two weeks. i apologize. It's already and hour and a half past my bedtime and I only just got home from work.

sfriedberg said...

If you prefer a physical book to a download, reprints are available from Lacis ( for $18.