Category: 212.403 Elective

Evaluation of the tailored garment & digital pattern-making project

Looking back, I never expected I’d be where I finished this project. While pattern making in Adobe Illustrator was one of the things I wanted to learn in this class, I didn’t think it will be the forefront of my project. If only I knew the multiple things I can achieve with the program, I would have started there and really pushed myself further into learning all about pattern making and grading digitally. In the beginning I thought I’d be learning the old school, high end way of making suits, but half way through, thanks to the circumstances presented bu Covid-19, my interests had changed. Don’t get me wrong, I love tailoring and everything about it. But this project had reawakened my childhood hobby of computer graphic design that I had almost forgotten I enjoyed. That was the most unexpected part about this project. To be able to apply my old computer skills onto my newly learned fashion skills is very exciting and rewarding for me (not wasting my high school in front of the computer that is).

I learned so much in this paper that I wanted to keep going and keep learning more of the process of pattern making digitally like grading, and more complicated projects. I hope to one day use this skill and sell patterns online. Why not.

The first part of the project also did not disappoint. I kept learning about tailoring and how to draft a block and patterns as part of my digital pattern making learning to understand how a tailored jacket is produced from the beginning. There’s more to learn in tailoring that the research process is on going. I would love to one day make sample in different fabrics to see how tailored garments behave and what interfacings are best in which fabric. I would love to learn more detailed pocketing, like the inside details. I still need to dive into proper pad stitching and other hand stitching needed in tailoring but for now, what I got myself into are enough for a 12 week project.

I surely made a lot of mistakes during this paper. Having no structure to my week and day was my biggest drawback. It was difficult to transition from studio space to home space especially when home space, for me, was to relax. It took me weeks and weeks before I got myself into a good routine, but even the. It was easy to break it. Not having space and having too much time suddenly was what set me back into having a more refined project planning. If there’s something that needs great improvement from, it was be a more thorough project planning.

Nonetheless, I have enjoyed this paper so much that I will take the structure of this paper (learning history, researching process, sampling) into my future fashion endeavours. But most importantly, I have learned so much in this paper that I know I will be bringing a set of new skills with me outside of University. And! Now I can up my Illustrator skills a few levels on my CV.

Model of a classic notch jacket

This is the preview of the patterns in a model in Adobe Illustrator. It is saved as a .ai file and cardboard is extendable. This is where pieces can be copied for manipulations or fixed. Ideally, however, there is a separate cutting table (a larger cardboard separate from this file) so as no to accidentally save the wrong configurations.

** I did a plan for facing and lining but the program crashed before I saved it. Unfortunately, the recovery file (which usually works) failed. Moving houses lessen my time to redraft it.

Printing as mentioned in a previous post, can be done straight from Illustrator. But can also be made available as a PDF. The picture above is a template made available by PatternLab London where centimeters and inches are included to make sure the printing’s been done on a full scale version. I have also included the PDF version for viewing (and download) where the patterns are made into half-scale, as the Internet is a very public space.

Print PDF

Printing and Sampling Process

There were a few reasons I had to sample the patterns at home. One, the country was on Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and printing wasn’t on the top computer essential business. Second, there are e-patterns being sold online that would need to be printed on a regular A4 sized paper. This is another potential online service that digital pattern making has the advantage too. Finally, home printing is my cheaper source of printing, especially after University. Knowing this gives me extra chance on making at home pattern making possible, even if it’s just for myself. The one thing I didn’t get to try as the lock down extended was having this sent to commercial printers so I can see how much and how well this can be done. Maybe a project for next time

I chose to sample on half-scale due to time and fabric constraints. Putting together a tailored jacket is not a new experience for me as I’ve done it in two previous papers. The purpose of this sample is to make sure that the patterns were effective in this method of pattern making

Drafting a two-piece sleeve for a Classic Jacket

Here is two-part video of how I drafted the two-piece sleeve pattern often used in a classic tailor jacket. The experience was a pretty long one as it is my first time drafting the sleeve patten at all. I don’t think I’ve ever done it even on paper. This is the beauty of digital pattern making that I like most. I was able to fix my mistakes multiple times without damaging the paper. Oftentimes, I’d rub off pencil markings in one area that weakens the paper causing a tear where an important detail could be drafted. Frustration usually would lead me to starting over onto a new paper, which adds to the waste. Here I can take note, delete or make the mistakes a different color so I can reference back to it.

Most of the problem took place at two important areas, that I didn’t think was that important. First, the mirroring of the front arm scye was in an incorrect space. My first attempt I only moved the curved line the same amount the straight line did the, but it wasn’t a true mirror. Instead, I copied and reflected both the curve and the straight line, so it retains the same distance.

Second, was the movement of point O from the reflected front pitch. My notes instructs me to move the point .3cm. I did, but basing only with the photo and without instruction on the direction, I thought it needed to move towards the left. After catching Robyn at the last minute of one of her classes when Mary Ellen was away one Wednesday (I still didn’t have this problem when I spoke to Mary Ellen), we figured I moved the .3cm the wrong way and it should have moved towards the right. That fixed the ease problem allowing me to put the correct amount of ease on all sides of the sleeve. The separate video will show me correcting this mistake.

This part of the process was more manual that I still needed a “pen and paper” (in my case, digital) to put all my notes down so I can keep track of my numbers. This is when pen and paper pattern making wins, because writing numbers, for me, is far more effective and faster when written down, especially when there’s a need to highlight and color code the lines. While all of that is possible digitally, the pen and paper version is just faster and more efficient than typing.

Making a Collar with Stand for a Classic tailored jacket

I decided to create a variation of the collar where the stand is separate. This allows the collar to be shaped around the neck giving the design a more tailored finish. Here’s a fast version of the process. Probably one of the easiest to make after experiencing it at the Winter class paper.

Making The Pockets

Probably one where I did most of the trial and error, remembering from past pattern making experiences of adding pockets but also making it as classic as possible. I found that I understand jet pocket more than the welt pocket.

Making the Top Collar

Drafting the top collar pattern in Adobe Illustrator. Here I was able to use new tools to make the pieces unite together quicker and faster than making new lines and connecting them to where I added volume. It is perhaps the easiest edit I’ve made.

Tracing Front and Under Collar patterns in Adobe Illustrator

This is the preview of how I traced the under collar and the front patterns of a classic notched jacket drafted in Adobe Illustrator.

A very brief history of Sewing Patterns

I say very brief because I focused much of my energy hunting down the extensive history of suits and tailoring. In the last week of the class was I fully able to research the history of pattern making, which was quite interesting. I didn’t actually think of how far along pattern making had been a practice in dress making in general. So this is what a brief history of pattern making looks like. First of all, the main purpose of clothes was to cover the body, and fabrics were expensive to produce. Before the production of clothing became apparent, garments were draped over the body, tied or in the rectangular cut. The fit was a luxury for the wealthy as the concept of fashion progressed [1]. Form-fitting garments advanced in the 13th century, which expanded to dressmakers and tailors [2]. According to Dickson, Charles Daillac, a master tailor from France, “began making patterns out of thin pieces of wood”, in which tailors’ guild fought against in fear of revealing trade secrets [5]. Marcel Tassin, tailor to King Jean Le Bon, later made his patterns for the king’s clothing from cardboard, which was accepted by the tailoring guild eventually and by the end of the fourteenth century, dressmaker and tailors use patterns [5]. It was continued to be refined in the following centuries that patterns became so important that in England, tailors were including their patterns as inherited pieces in their wills [5]. In the mid-fourteenth century, guide books on construction and cutting were published by tailors [2] and the earliest surviving tailors pattern was found in Juan de Alcega’s Libro de Geometric Practica y Traca in 1580, the time when Spain dominated European fashion [1]. Emery continues, citing Kidwell, that “Garasault’s Descriptions des arts et mètiers (1769), and Diderot’s L’Encyclopédie Diderot et D’Alembert: arts de l’habillement (1776) played a crucial role during the Enlightenment to disseminate practical knowledge” [2] in “measurement, cutting, garment fit and construction” [1]. Home sewing manuals were also made available especially in the late 1700s providing full size patterns for practical clothing.

A modern reproduction of measuring tape before the invention of the version we know today. Photo from
The development of various technologies allowed for the progression of pattern making. According to Emery [2], there were key technological advancements that developed the pattern industry. First, around the 1820s, the inch tape measure was invented and revolutionized the pattern making industry as it allowed tailors the ability to measure the proportions between body measurements and development of a drafting system [3]. Before the availability of tape measure, tailors and dressmakers had various and unreliable ways to measure the wearer’s body and the clothes. One is which, according to Paul White from the Mood website, uses a strip of paper notched at one end to indicate the beginning of the strip [3]. The paper will have non-standardized codes using cut and marks on the paper to indicate the half measures of the body (fig 1) [3].
Second, the invention of the sewing machine in the 1850s sped the production process. A machine designed with “a curved eye-pointed needle moved in an arc as it carried the thread through the fabric, on the other side of which is interlocked with a second thread carried by a shuttle running back and forth on a track” was a feature of the machines designed by both Walter Hunt and Elias Howe, with the former’s unpatented [4]. Howe’s machine was widely copied and manufactured, including a design by Isaac Merritt Singer, the largest sewing machine manufacturer [4]. Third, dress forms were developed and were made available to the average home sewers in 1860s. Finally, postal service were made available that allowed the manufacturing of patterns and be sold and sent to home dressmaker. In 1854, Godey’s sold full-scale patterns by Ellen and William Jennings Demorest and Frank Leslie’s Gazette of Fashion included foldout full-scale Demorest patterns obtained through mail order [2]. Graded patterns available for home sewing was made available by Ebenezer Butterick, a former tailor [2]. He began making patterns for children and menswear and later expanded to include women’s [2] . His familiarity with grading sizes allowed him to offer a range of sizes when most of his competition only offered one size garment [2]. James McCall competited in 1873 offering patterns with a range of sizes printed on paper [2]. The invention, development and refinement of computers introduced computer-aided designs and pattern making in fashion as well as other industries. This system of pattern making made manufacturing of garments faster and easier in a globalized society. The full history of computer-aided design and pattern making is written in the article Computer-aided design—garment designing and patternmaking by Yamini Jhanji found in Unfortunately, I’ve tried the library online resource and its access to google scholar, it, sadly, has no access to this article. This is definitely one to read.
  1.  “The History of Pattern Making”, Alabama  Chanin Journal, accessed 9 June 2020,
  2. Emery, Joy Spanabel, “Patterns and Pattern Making”, The Berg Companion to Fashion, accessed 9 June 2020,
  3.  White, Paul, “A History of Measuring”, Mood Sewciety, accessed on 9 June 2020,
  4. “Sewing Machines”. Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed 9 June 2020,
  5. Dickson, Carol Anne, “The Pattern Industry”, Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion (Berg Fashion Library, 2010), accessed 9 June 2020,

Tracing Jacket block pieces from its draft in Adobe Illustrator

Here’s how the pieces were separated from the draft of the block. Again at a faster speed. I later fixed the curve of the hips after evaluating the Massey blocks available in Accumark.