When I began my degree at London College of Fashion I knew my limited skills at pattern cutting would need to be honed. Thankfully our tutors suggested the fantastic Winifred Aldridge books to help guide us through – and I do the same to you! Not only do these books provide the instruction to create those all-important blocks, they also give a multitude of options for altering the blocks to different styles and silhouettes.
Let's go back a step for those left confused at the mention of “blocks”. Pattern blocks are a basic pattern to create a bodice, a sleeve, a pair of trousers, etc. that you can alter to create a more stylized version of that garment. A basic bodice block, for example, if used without alterations to create the garment, would make a rather shapeless top with no interesting features. However, if the paper pattern is changed by adding new darts to shape the piece, or lowering the neckline, then the garment is transformed.
Before you dive in here however, I give you a note on the simplest way of block adaptation – the movement of a dart! Darts give shape to a garment and your positioning of them can be for both aesthetic reasons and to fit to certain body types. In the women's-wear book from Winifred Aldridge dart movement is very common but could be confusing if you have never done it before. The best way to begin is to try moving them to different places on a smaller version of your block first (image 1). Cut out the dart as it is placed on your block (image 2) then draw a straight line from the point to the centre of where you want your new dart to be (image 3). Cut down this line leaving the piece connected by a few millimetres (image 4). Close the original dart so the opening is now in its new position (image 5).
Try moving them to a few different places on different blocks so that when you do it on your actual pattern you will be a pro!