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Not According to Plan

January 20, 2011

This past spring I posted about a skirt I’d drafted and sewn using the wondrous instructions of Cal Patch in her book, Design-it-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified. With excitement and somewhat misguided confidence I said I was next going to take on drafting a shirt. And I did! But I never told you all about it.

This is the reason why.


In the spirit of exploring all things sewing related, I know I need to share it all with you — the good and the bad. And this is the bad.

Last year when I first got Cal Patch’s book, I set out to work through every set of pattern instructions, step by step. I was going to use her book to draft a brand new wardrobe in time for summer to begin. It should be said here that in spring lofty goals fire up inside me. Something about the sunlight and the chirping of birds fuel my daydreams and infuse my scattered attention with the kind of focus I rarely see. But it’s fleeting, which is kind of sad because I never quite meet the goals I have set. Summertime, with its backyard BBQs, long walks in the park, mini-vacations to nearby locations, gardening and cake baking always hijack my other plans. Not that I am complaining about having too many cakes to bake and mini-vacations to take.

Anyway, in preparing to draft and build patterns for my entire wardrobe I took each of my measurements. The journal that contains my measurements details the distance from my hips to my ankles, the space between my shoulders, the distance from the nape of my neck to my waist, and every circumference you can imagine. It’s a kind of humbling experience to take all those measurements.


As I prepared to make this failed shirt, I sat at the kitchen table with my journal, my measuring tools and a French Curve, carefully tracing, measuring and double checking all the lines and angles I’d drawn. I spent an entire Saturday afternoon taking my time with the project, entirely focused on the task at hand. By the time I finished I was so sure I would have a wearable finished product. But even with all that double-checking and attention to detail I apparently missed some vital step, although I can’t seem to pinpoint it. To the casual observer it would appear I simply forgot to measure my torso.

It’s not all bad though. I mean, look at these sleeves! They are the size of my arms and shoulders. They are made to fit my body. The neckline is just about right too, even without the collar. If I can gather some drafting confidence again and remember just how soothing it was to spend a day at the table drafting away, I can get started on my next attempt right away.

Does your confidence waver and quake like mine in response to small failures?

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 20, 2011 11:08 pm

    hi claire!
    the magic of Google Alerts sent me here… it looks to me like the shirt just needs to be much l-o-n-g-e-r, and smaller through the waist (but it will flare out again at the hip). the upper half does look divine! i really don’t think you’re far off… go for it NOW before the summer returns ;n)

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