"" the girl who makes things: The Building Blocks

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Building Blocks

Hello bloggerworld! I hope you're having a good October and getting stuck into some exciting projects for Autumn. I have a rather exciting project of my own in the pipeline which is due to commence: I'll be making four bridesmaids dresses for big sister's wedding. This is going to be a long and steady process, but I have until next July so I'm not panicking too much now.

Bridesmaids dresses aren't what I've decided to post about this chilly Friday night though. No, I've been doing something I've wanted to do for such a long time: making pattern blocks.

If there is one thing I want to get out of all this dressmaking, it's that I want to get good. I mean really, technically good. I want to know and understand how a garment is constructed. I want to strip it down to the basics and start from scratch, then build my way up to working out how patterns are designed and made. Eventually I'd like to be at the stage where I don't even need to buy patterns anymore, I can just see a design I like and whip up my very own creation. Of course, I'm sure I'll still buy the odd pattern, there are so many beautiful ones out there.

I started with this book: How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan. I bought it online a while back when I decided I wanted to up my game in the sewing stakes. It was highly recommended by reviewers and it seemed to be easy to follow.

What attracted me most to this book, though, was the instructions on how to make basic pattern blocks. It even provides pattern block templates you can scale up and use.

A few weeks ago I bought myself some graph paper and sat down one evening to scale up the blocks out of the book. I then cut the pieces out, drew round them on some chart paper, added a 1.5cm seam allowance and, hey presto, I made my very first pattern blocks.

I used the blocks to make up my first toile (apologies for the terrible Instagram quality). Obviously the fit was far from perfect. As you can see from the photo, there was far too much excess fabric round the boobs (I am quite flat chested). 

Queue my very first Small Bust Adjustment! There's lots about Full Bust Adjustments in Bloggerland but that's not much use for those of us who are less well endowed. I did, however, discover this amazing tutorial from the blogger Moobeam. She is a talented lady, she even made her own wedding dress!

The bust adjustment went swimmingly, and as you can see from the picture below, the fit is soooo much better.

Once I'd made all the necessary adjustments using my toile, I then redrew the pieces on to more chart paper and, ta dah, here are my final blocks.

Where do I go from here? I don't know, the possibilities are endless. I'll probably move on to master the collar next. But for the time being, I'm happy to have achieved my first steps towards serious sewing.


  1. This is incredible! You are really inspiring me to go out and start actually making my own clothes from a pattern or something (I've really not done that at all!), I feel like I wouldn't know where to begin :/ taking things that are already made is much easier for me

    Miche from Buttons and Birdcages

    1. Hi Miche, thank you! You should definitely have a go at making something from scratch, it's so satisfying. I don't think you'll have many problems if you already do lots of sewing with your refashions!