Thursday, June 21, 2012

Learning patternmaking all over again

I am one class away from completing Moulage class with Kenneth D. King, and I feel ready to slowly move away from commercial patterns and conquer patternmaking and integrate it into my sewing.

I must add that I did take couple of patternmaking classes, but to be honest, both the teaching and the results didn't live up to my expectations. It is different with Kenneth's method. I've seen his students using moulage method in their sewing and I know it produces well-fitted garments. Being able to control the pattern and make your own designs is very liberating. So, I decided I will learn this method! What I need is a better drafting foundation and detailed reasoning of the steps. 

Here is my plan:

Let me elaborate on Suzy Furrer's book. I am using it because Furrer had the same teacher as Kenneth D. King, Simmin Sethna, and the method she describes is relatively similar to Kenneth's. I like comparing both sources for more reasoning behind individual steps. 

From what I understand, it took both, Kenneth and Suzy, two years of daily study to complete Simmin's course, which was based on couture patternmaking method she studied at Ecole Guerre-Lavigne (now ESMOD) in Paris. There is a good article about Simmin and her students on Soma magazine website if you want to learn more.

I want to learn what Kenneth and Suzy learnt, and classes with Kenneth and the books I mentioned is all I got. I will try to blog about the progress as regularly as possible, and will as well post the reviews of the sources I use. It won't be a draft-along type of posting (for that you need to consult the books or take Kenneth's class), but more of a review, where, based on final results, you will be able to see whether the method works. 

Have you tried making your own patterns, readers? If not, why? and if yes, how did/do you learn patternmaking? Does it work for you?  


  1. it was apart of my programme at university and though i do prefer it, it's more time consuming. so much easier to alter an already drafted pattern.
    i do how ever draft for knock-offs

  2. I would love to do a course on pattern drafting but haven't got round to it yet. Look forward to seeing your first garment.

  3. Hi Marina,
    I am currently learning couture pattern drafting from Jamileh Kamran. Her design studio/school is tucked into one of the historic districts of Little Rock, Arkansas and her methods are the real deal! She is a gem of a person, and I feel so lucky to be learning couture methods under her watchful eye. I hope to complete the entire course in 14 months. I have learned so much, most especially about fit and how to achieve this. I am still very much in the learning curve, but I am very grateful to understand the basics of form and function and how this relates to pattern drafting. I have completed patterns for skirts, a pair of fully lined pants, blouses, and a Chanel style jacket all drafted to my size. If you have a chance, check out her website, AND, all the best with your own drafting. I look forward to seeing the results. Happy Sewing, Darby Logan:)

  4. I'm looking forward to seeing your results and learning from your experience. I really enjoy your couture projects. I didn't have the good fortune to learn from Kenneth King in person, but I did teach myself how to create the moulage from his CD book, and from that I created a dress that was inspired by a vintage Chanel that I saw in a book. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. Like you, I relied on Kenneth King's CD books and on Suzy Furer's book. Both helped me to successfully draft my dress pattern. Of course, I have to credit Susan Khalje for teaching me the couture techniques I learned and helping me achieve the finished product. I'm looking forward to reading about your experience!

  5. Hi Marina,

    I've been following your Couture Challenge series over at Burdastyle which inspired me to go couture for the first time on one of my projects!

    I recently drafted a basic bodice block and skirt block using tutorials (over at Burdastyle) and have made two simple dresses and a skirt from them. (Here's a recent self-draft.) The two trickier adaptations I have taught myself are a deep cowl back and princess seams. All of my information on how to adapt a basic block into a certain design has come from trawling the internet, observing garments and patterns I already own and a healthy dose of trial and error.

    I've found that drafting my own patterns, at least for what I have attempted so far, has not been a particularly rapid method - it usually takes me two muslins - but I have had successful results. However, I think I am reaching a point where I need professional instruction if I am really going to learn to draft without just guessing and hoping for the best! Like you I'm interested in the reasoning behind the steps - I love theory and detail. What I've found is that the secrets of pattern-making are fiercely guarded: finding the key to good fit is like panning for gold. I'm going on a one week course in July to learn bespoke drafting which I hope will start me properly on the road to confidently approaching pattern-making.

    Can't wait to see what you discover in your drafting quest!

    Alix x

  6. Really exciting journey... Ps the blog looking fab.

  7. I took Kenneth's moulage class and it really does help you fit everything much better. I actually used my moulage as the shell on top of my dress form which I subsequently padded out. (Oh Lord the nightmares I had looking at Monique's figure as she mimicked me accurately!). Even if you don't take Kenneth's class, one can easily work through his Moulage CD Book as well as all his other CD books. The key is to take accurate measurements and make a muslin. I think I have all his CD books and recently drafted a sheath dress, a pencil skirt and a pair of pants. I also converted the pants pattern into jeans pattern. Enjoy the class!!!

  8. Best wishes to you! Check out my blog

  9. I'm more of a pattern alterer...pattern making is a little more involved than I can wrap my head around so I'm in awe that you're taking these classes to draft your own!

  10. Not relying on commercial patterns is so liberating, I'm sure you'll find it worth the effort to learn how to draft! I began sewing historical clothes, and one of the points was to create new patterns from paintings and so on. Great way to learn, but oh so many muslins!

    Nowadays I've read some books on patterndrafting, and modern patterns are starting to make sense. Having made a block pattern that fits, I realise why commercial patterns is pointless. We're talking huge alterations... If commercial patterns fitted with minor alterations, like an FBA, I would have been less inclined to take the time to learn drafting. Now I'm very glad I know how to take it from vision to garment without having to search for a commercial pattern!

    Have fun learning to draft!

  11. I took Kenneth's moulage class thinking that I would use it to alter commercial patterns. Not really easy to do. I am interested in the book you mentioned to take me into drafting my own patterns as well. I look forward to seeing how you like it.

  12. I also used my shell on my dress from and padded it out to fit. That was a very good use of my shell.

  13. I've been learning, slowly, with help. I took a short-term, intensive pattern making course a few years ago, but I don't find it all that helpful for dealing with my real person's body issues.

    I hope to take Kenneth King's moulage class the next time it is offered.

  14. i taught myself some patternmaking way back from a Müller un Söhne book. That works quite fine.

    I think draping is a very good idea too... not just for drapey things... i once found a tutorial on-line for draping a bodice and i did follow that... i think a very good idea is to make (draft or drape) yourself a few basic patterns along with toiles and then manipulate those according to your needs every time you make a new garment.

    agnes / iiiinspired

    p.s. congrats for the prize you won!

    p.p.s. i never heard about moulage... i just checked it... so that's then essentially draping on the form... should work very fine!

  15. This is such an awesome post for a clothing manufacturer– thank you so much!



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