pattern tutorial

How to : Draft a top with yoke


Recently I have been well and truly in summer sewing mode, as I have been working on another pattern for Peppermint magazine (see my first pattern for Peppermint here). As it's a quarterly publication, the next release will be in Spring, which makes me feel as though spring is just around the corner. And makes me very excited! I am not a winter person at all, so I have been very much enjoying pretending it's spring and using luscious linen to make the sample. 

So, to keep the dream alive, that it is actually spring (I know I shouldn't whinge as winter in Sydney is very mild) I thought I'd post a follow up post to the post I did a couple of weeks ago on drafting a summer top.

I thought a good place to start would be with a few simple adjustments you can make to your simple top pattern (or even an existing top pattern you have) to add a bit more interest, starting with adding a yoke. 

What is a yoke?

A yoke is a panel that is inserted in the top of a garment to add interest. For example, yokes are often used on the back shoulders of shirts, but can also be found on blouses, tops, skirts and trousers. 

Trace the pattern


To start, trace a copy of the pattern you would like to add a yoke too. I am using the simple sleeveless top pattern that I drafted from my basic bodice block

Style lines


Think about the shape of the yoke you would like to create, and draw the style line on the pattern. I have included a few examples, but there are countless options of what you could do. Be sure to bring the style line to a right angle at the centre front (more details about this can be found here). 


For the sake of the example, I decided to go with a simple straight yoke through the armhole.  Before going any further, put a notch on the style line. This will help match the two pieces back together once they become two separate pattern pieces. 


Cut along the style line (or trace each piece onto paper) to create two independent pattern pieces.

What next?


There are a number of things you could choose to do now. You could leave the pattern as is (just add seam allowance and pattern markings) for a simple tank with a yoke panel line (which you could choose to also repeat on the back pattern piece).


You could consider adding volume to the lower panel to create more of a trapeze silhouette. You can do this by cutting and spreading the pattern until you achieve the desired silhouette (look at this tutorial for more details about how to do this).


Or even consider adding a box pleat at the centre front (this is a personal favourite of mine).

Finish the pattern by adding seam allowance and cutting instructions.

You may also like:



How to draft box pleats - Part 2


If you are a regular to this blog you will know that earlier in the week I published a tutorial about box pleats - specifically, how to insert box pleats into the centre front (or centre back) of a garment. I was planning to also show you how to put box pleats in other parts of a garment, but the post got a little long, so I thought I'd save it for today's post.

For this example, I will show you how to add two more pleats to the front of the skirt (either side of the centre front pleat), but you can use the same method to add as many box pleats as you like. 

What is a box pleat?


Just in case you missed the last post, here is a box pleat and an inverted box pleat. They are essentially the same, just the way the fabric is folded is opposite in each case, creating a different aesthetic (an inverted box pleat is a box pleat turned right side down). 

Getting started

To start, take the pattern you plan to add a box pleat (or inverted box pleat) to. I decided to use the pattern I drafted during the process of the previous tutorial (an A-line skirt with centre front box pleat). Trace a copy of the pattern without seam allowance.


2. Consider where you would like to add a pleat. Make sure it is not too close to the side seam, otherwise there will not be room for the volume of the pleat when it is folded in place. In this case, I am only adding one additional pleat, but you may want to add more. Draw a line through the pattern, where you plan to place your pleat (or pleats). 


2. Cut along the line - separating the pattern into two pieces (or more, if you plan to have multiple pleats). Label the pattern pieces if it is likely that you could get them mixed up.

Pleat width


Now, you will need to have a think about the size of your pleat. This is totally up to you. If you are struggling to work out the width of your pleat, have a play around with some fabric (or even a piece of paper), folding different sized pleats to get an idea of how it will look. Make sure you check that there is room for a pleat this width, in relation to the centre front / back and side seams.

Create the pleat


3. When you have decided on the finished width of your pleat, spread the two parts of the pattern piece apart, until the opening is double the width of the finished pleat. For example, if my finished pleat will be 5cm, I need to create a 10cm opening between the two parts of the pattern. Fill the gap with a piece of pattern paper and tape or glue in place.


4. Mark a line that runs through the centre of the opening. This will become the centre of the pleat.


5. Fold along both edges of the opening (bring the line towards you when folding).


6. Fold in each section of the skirt pattern, lining up each fold line with the centre line of the pleat. 

Transfer waistline + hem shaping


7. Just like with a dart, when you fold a pleat on a curved edge, you will need to adjust the edge of the pleat, so that when it is folded it will sit flush with the waistline.

With the pleat still folded (you may want to use a weight to hold the pleat in place), take a tracing wheel and trace along the waistline, transferring the shape of the waistline onto the folded paper underneath. Repeat for the hemline.


8. Unfold the pleat, take a ruler and pencil, and join the dots created by the tracing wheel to create a smooth curve. 

Add notches


9. Add notches to either side of the pleat, as well as the centre point of the pleat. 

Add markings to the pleat


10. You now need to use arrows to indicate which direction the pleat needs to be folded. An arrow can be drawn from each outside notch towards the centre of the pleat. For an inverted pleat, when it comes to folding it in the fabric, the folds will need to come towards you, meeting at the centre point on the right side of the garment. For a box pleat, it will need to be the opposite - the folds come together at the centre on the wrong side of the garment.

Stitching the pleat


Now have a think about whether you would like to stitch the pleats in place. This will depend on your fabric choice and the style of your skirt (or garment). You could consider leaving the pleats free, stitching down a few centimetres to give the pleat a little more structure, or stitch down 15cm (6 inches) or so, to really give some structure to your pleat. 

Mark a drill hole

If you would like to add some structure with some stitching, it is a good idea to mark a drill hole on your pattern, marking the end point of your line of stitching.


11. Measuring down from the waistline, at the centre of the pleat, mark a drill hole the distance down you would like to stitch your pleat. 

12. To complete the pattern, add seam allowance and pattern markings

You may also like:

Throwback Thursday : How to draft a hem facing


It's Thursday (somehow another week is coming to an end), which means it's time for a Throwback Thursday post! As I am still solidly in skirt mode from the skirt series I've been sharing with you lately, I thought it would be a good time to talk hem facings.

What is a hem facing?

A hem facing is a seperate pattern piece that is used to finish the hem of a garment (rather than just turning up the hem as you often do when hemming).

When should I consider using a hem facing?

A hem facing is a good way to finish a hem if you have a curved or shaped hemline (in the case of an A-line skirt or circle skirt, for example). It can also be used to finish a straight hemline if you would like to add weight to the hem (can help with the fall and drape of a garment), or just prefer this finish.


If you have sewn The Rushcutter, you will know that I included a hem facing in the pattern, to help you achieve a lovely clean finish.

Why can't I just do a normal hem?


The reason you cannot simply add a hem allowance to a curved hemline (left hand image) by extending the pattern beyond the side seam and centre front, as you often would to create a hem, is that when you have a curved line, the circumference of the cut edge will become larger than the hemline. When you fold up the hem (right hand image), there will be too much fabric and the hem will be unable to sit flat.

To avoid this, you will need to create a separate pattern piece - a hem facing.

How to draft a hem facing


1. To get started, take the pattern you will be making a facing for. I am using the basic skirt block, that has been adapted to an A-line shape. You can find how to do this, by looking at this tutorial

The process is the same for the front and back patterns, so I will just use the front pattern piece for this example.

2. Decide how wide you would like the hem facing to be. Anything from 3 - 15cm (1 1/4in - 6in) is okay (this is obviously a very broad spectrum, which will depend on your design and the fabric you are using). If you want anything less than 3cm (1 1/4in), I would suggest using bias binding instead. If you are not sure of what width to use, have a look at your ready to wear clothes, to get an idea. 

Mark the width you would like your facing to be on the centre front, measuring up from the hemline. Mark this distance on the side seam too. 


3. You will then need to mark the width of the facing at regular intervals between the centre front and side seam (every 10-15cm or so). Be sure to draw these lines perpendicular to the hemline.

4. Join the endpoints of all these lines with a smooth, sweeping curve. You have now created the shape of your waist shaping.


5. Take a seperate piece of pattern paper, and trace off the shape of the hem facing.

6. Before removing the tracing, mark a notch close to the centre of the hem curve (if you have a very wide hem, you may consider adding an extra notch or two), and transfer onto the skirt pattern with a tracing wheel. This will help when you are sewing the pieces together later (it is not crucial if you are making a narrow skirt, but if you are making a full circle skirt, then you will thank your past-self for being so diligent when notching the hemline!)

 Transfer the grainline onto the hem facing (which will be parallel to the centre front).


7. Add seam allowance to the body of the pattern (if you have not done so already), as well as the facing. I suggest 1cm (3/8in) along the long edges (the hem edge and the top edge) and 1.5cm (1/2in) on the side seam. You will not need seam allowance at the centre front, as the piece will be cut on the fold. For the back pattern piece, you can also cut on the fold, which will minimise bulk at the centre back seam. 

8. Add cutting instructions

Depending on the fabric, you may want to add interfacing to the pattern when you get to the cutting stage of the project - just keep this in mind.

You may also like:

How to : Add panel lines to a skirt pattern


Panel lines are a great way to add interest to a design. There are countless variations and it is a way to include more than one fabric in your design if you would like. I really struggle to keep a design limited to one fabric, so often add a contrast fabric with panel lines. Panel lines are also a good way to eliminate darts, without losing the fitted shape of the garment.

Now that our skirt blocks are done, it's time to have a play! In today's post I will show you the basics of creating panel lines on a pattern. This same principle can be used on all different patterns, so keep reading, even if it's a bodice or dress you're planning to add panels to. 


I will show you how to add panel lines where the darts are on the original skirt block. With these panels, you will no longer need darts, as the shaping required will be provided by the panel lines.

Mark panel lines


1. Take your skirt pattern and draw a line from the tip of the dart to the hemline, ensuring it is parallel to the centre front (or entre back if you are working on the back pattern piece).

2. Add notches to the line. This will help when you are matching the two pieces together later. I suggest putting one in line with the dart point and another on the straight part of the line.

Now that you have the line marked, you can cut the pattern into two pieces, or you can trace the pieces onto seperate pieces of paper (my preferred method).

Create side front panel piece


3. Take a separate piece of pattern paper, and place it on top of your skirt block. To start, you will be tracing the left side panel. Trace down the side seam, along the hemline, up the line you drew (Step 1), along the left dart arm (being sure that the transition between line and dart is a smooth curve) and then along the waistline. Transfer the notches from the panel line, and notch the hip line on the side seam.

4. Before removing the tracing, transfer the grainline, which should be parallel to the original grainline. Add pattern information and cutting directions (Front side panel / cut 1 pair).

Create centre front panel piece


5. Next, you will need to trace the centre front panel. Take another piece of pattern paper and trace down the centre front, along the hemline, up the panel line, up the right-hand dart arm and along the waistline. Once again, make sure your transistion from panel line to dart line is nice and smooth. Transfer the notches on the panel line.

6. Before removing the tracing, transfer the grainline, which should be parallel to the original grainline. Add pattern information and cutting directions (Centre front panel / cut 1 on fold).

Add seam allowance


7. Add seam allowance to both pattern pieces. I suggest 1.2cm - 1.5cm (1/2in - 9/16in). You may want to add more to the hemline, but for the sake of the example I have left the seam allowance consistent. Repeat process for the back pattern, and now you have a skirt with panels, instead of darts!

You may also like:

How to draft a shaped waistband


Last week, I showed you how to draft a straight waistband for your skirt block (it will also work for other garments, such as trousers) as part of The Skirt Series I have been running for the last couple of weeks. Today, I will be showing you how to draft a shaped waistband. 

Before starting, though, I'd like to a little re-cap of a couple of things (which you may remember, if you read the previous waistband post).

two types of waistbands

Most waistbands on skirts or trousers are based on these two basic waistband shapes:


A straight waistband - which is a long rectangle that generally does not have side seams. 


A shaped waistband - which may, or may not, have side seams. 


Either option can be drafted for the skirt block, and which is better for you comes down to individual preference and body shape. For me, I am a little too curvaceous in the lower half to feel comfortable in a straight waistband (as the top of a straight waistband tends to gape on me).

If you followed the tutorial to draft a straight waistband, you will see the first few steps are the same, so if you'd like to go back to the construction of your straight waistband, then you can! If you haven't already drafted the straight waistband, not to worry, just skip over the next two steps and start with 'Take measurements.'

Trace your pattern


On a seperate piece of pattern paper, trace a copy of the straight waistband, without seam allowance.

Indicate the centre front and centre back.


Using the notches to guide you, mark the points of interest (front dart, back dart, side seam) with vertical lines on the pattern.


If you haven't already drafted the straight waistband, you will need to start by taking some measurements from your skirt block. 


Remember to measure along the stitch line, not the edge of the pattern.

Measuring along the waistline, on the front pattern piece:

1 - Centre front to first dart arm

2 - Second dart arm to side seam

On the back pattern piece:

3 - Side seam to first dart arm

4 - Second dart arm to centre back


There are several ways to draft a shaped waistband, including using the waist section of the bodice block to construct, but as I have not yet shown you how to draft a bodice block (but definitely plan to in the future), I'll show you how to draft the waistband using the skirt block.


Add the four measurements taken in the previous step together to find the length of the waistband. Remember this measurement gives you half the waistband, as the pattern piece can be cut on the fold. Draw a line as long as this measurement. 


Decide how wide you would like your waistband to be - consider a measurement around 3 - 6cm (1 1/4 - 2 1/4in). Draw a perpendicular line from either end of your original line, the height of your waistband.


Complete the rectangle by connecting the end points of the lines drawn in the previous step.

So now that you have the basic shape, it's time to get some markings onto your pattern piece.


Going back to your original measurements (from your skirt block), measuring from the right hand side of your waistband, mark in each point of interest with a perpendicular line. You need to mark the location of your front dart, the side seam and back dart. You can also label each end as the centre front (right hand side) and centre back (left hand side).

And this is where the tutorial takes a turn away from the straight waistband tutorial...

Label your pattern


Label each section of the waistband, with the following:

1 - Centre front

2 - Side front

3 - Side back

4 - Centre back

Measurements required

You will now need to find the difference between your waist measurement (where your skirt sits) and the top of your waistband.


A good way of doing this, is by putting on your skirt toile (as you can see, my skirt is a digital one!) and working out where the top of your waistband will sit (this will depend on how wide you are making your waistband). Take a tape measure and measure around your waist at the point where your waistband will end. Take note of the measurement.

Compare measurements

Work out the difference between the measurement you just took and your actual waist measurement. Take note of this number.

You now need to divide this measurement by 2 (as you will be cutting your pattern on the fold) and then divide it by 3 (as you will be distributing the measurement evenly throughout the pattern piece).

For example, if the difference between your measurements is 6cm, you need to divide that by 2, which gives you a result of 3cm. You then divide the 3cm into 3, giving you 1cm. That number (in this case, 1cm) is the one you need in the next step.

Waistband construction


Take that number and, on your waistband, mark a point to the right side of each vertical line (excluding the centre front and centre back), that distance away from the line. If you were to use the same numbers I used in the example above, for this step, you would need to mark a point 1cm from each vertical line. 


Label these points as A, B and C.



Cut down each vertical line, from the top of the waistband. Do not cut all the way through the pattern, leave a small "hinge" to keep the pattern pieces attached.



Being careful not to break the "hinge," rotate the centre back piece, until the slashed line overlaps point A. Tape or glue in place. 


Repeat for the 'side back' piece (which is now attached to the centre back piece). Rotate until the slashed line overlaps point B and then stick in place. 


Rotate the final slash line, aligning the cut line with point C.

As you can see, your waistband is no longer a rectangle! The top edge of your waistband is now narrower than the bottom edge. 

Trace the pattern


Take a piece of pattern paper and place it on top of your waistband construction so that you can trace it. 

Start by tracing the centre front (and labelling it as the 'centre front'). From the centre front draw a perpendicular line at either end of the line.


By doing this, you will ensure that you get a nice smooth waistband across the centre front and back (as you can see in the example above) - when the piece is cut on the fold.

Repeat for the centre back.


Now, using a ruler, or a hip curve, join the perpendicular lines (drawn in the previous step) with smooth curves, creating the waistband shape.

Add notches


Before removing the pattern from the construction underneath, mark each point of interest with a notch. These notches will make it much easy for you to sew the waistband to the skirt, without the worry of stretching the waistband. 


It is also a good idea to add notches along the top edge of the waistband. I like to put them in a different spot to the notches on the bottom edge, to save any confusion. 

Add a side seam


If you would prefer to have a side seam in your waistband (rather than all-in-one), at this point you should draw in your side seam.  Draw a straight line from the middle notch on the lower edge of the waistband up through the centre of the respective slash line (through the centre of the overlap).

Add seam allowance


You should have now transferred all the necessary details from your pattern construction onto your pattern. You can now add seam allowance to the top and bottom edges, as well as the centre back. I would suggest 1-1.5cm (3/8 - 5/8in) on the curved edges and 1.5-2.5cm (5/8in - 1in) on the centre back. 

If you have added a side seam, I would suggest adding seam allowance of 1.2 - 1.5cm (1/2 - 5/8in) to this seam.

Add grainline and cutting instructions



Mark the grainline (parallel to the centre front) and add cutting instructions (cut 1 on fold).

If you have added a side seam, the grainline on the back piece will run parallel to the centre back, and the cutting instructions will be 'cut 2 pairs'. 

You may consider fusing you waistband, but that will come down to your fabric choice and design. 

You may also like:

Throwback Thursday: How to draft in-seam pockets

Photo from  Corey , one of my lovely pattern testers

Photo from Corey, one of my lovely pattern testers

I love pockets. I really do. I like to put pockets anywhere I can as they are oh so handy for phones and keys, but also very comfortable for hands!

This is a tutorial to help you with "in-seam" pockets - a pocket that is hidden... surprise, surprise... in a seam of your garment (normally the side seam). Yesterday I showed you how to sew in-seam pockets (with french seams), so today I thought I'd show you how to draft the pattern piece as it is a very quick and easy process (both pattern cutting the pockets and sewing them) and once you have a pattern you are happy with, you will be able to use it over and over again, with minimal changes.


For this tutorial you will need the pattern of the garment you are adding pockets to, as well as some basic pattern cutting equipment: a transparent ruler, a pacer (or pencil), some scissors and a small piece of pattern paper (just bigger than your hand).



1. Take the front piece of the pattern you are making pockets for. I will be using the basic skirt block (as we are in the middle of The Skirt Series) as an example, but you can use this same method to add in-seam pockets to any garment that has a side seam.

2. Think about where you would like your pattern to sit. A good way to do this is to put on your toile and put your hands where the pockets would feel comfortable. Mark the location with a pin.

If you don't have a toile, you can just measure down from your waist to work out a good spot. For me, if I am adding a pocket to a waisted garment, I will place the pocket 9 - 10cm (3 1/2 - 4in) down from the waist. 

Mark this point on your pattern piece. 

3. Now think about how big you would like the opening to your pocket to be. I suggest around 15-20cm (6 - 8in). Measuring along your stitch line, down from the point you marked in the previous step (the top of the pocket), indicate the bottom of the opening with another notch. 

Draw the pocket bag


4. I think the easiest way to get a good pocket shape, is by tracing roughly around my hand. To do this, place your hand on your pattern, as if it was in a pocket, and draw around it in the rough shape of a pocket bag (have a look at the in-seam pockets of some of your own clothes if you're not sure about the shape). You don't want it to be too tight around your hand, so leave a little bit of space between your hand and the line you draw.

5. Take a separate piece of pattern paper and, using a weight to hold the pattern in place, trace the shape of the pocket (leaving enough space around it to add seam allowance). 

6. While you are tracing the shape of the pocket, you can also trace the seam allowance at the side seam. 


7. Add a notch, roughly in the centre of the pocket opening, and then using a tracing wheel, transfer that notch onto the front pattern piece. This notch will help when you are positioning your pocket, when it comes to sewing.

8. Add a grainline to your pocket piece, making sure it is parallel to grainline on the pattern you are adding the pocket to (this will ensure that the pocket sits nice and flat, when it is sewn in).

Add seam allowance and pattern details


9. Add seam allowance to the curve. I suggest 6mm - 1.2cm (1/4 - 1/2in) to make the curve as easy as possible to sew.

10. Add a notch to be used as a balance point on the curved seam - this helps when sewing the front and back pocket bags together.

11. Add cutting instructions (cut 2 pairs).

When it comes to cutting, you may choose to cut from your main fabric, or something lighter, to minimise bulk.

Transfer notches


12. The last thing you need to do is transfer the notches from the front pattern piece, to the back, so that you can place the pattern correctly on the back piece when it comes to sewing. 


13. Lay the back pattern piece onto the front, matching the side seams at the stitch line. Transfer the three notches onto the back pattern. If your pattern paper is not transparent, you can use a tracing wheel to transfer the notches. And there you have it... You now have in-seam pockets!



If you are creating a pocket pattern for a garment with a waistband (like the skirt in the example), you may want to consider making your pocket piece so that it sits flush with the waistline. This can give you a lovely finish, and can prevent the pocket bags moving. 

To do this, simply draft the pattern piece the same way as the standard pocket bag, but continue to curve up to the waistline. To complete, add seam allowance, notches and pattern markings. 

Download a pocket pattern

Just in-case you'd prefer a printable pattern, instead of drafting your own, I have included one for you to download (just click on the diagram above, to start the download). It is a 2 page PDF, so nice and easy to put together. If you would like some help printing it, check out my tutorial on printing PDF patterns.

Happy sewing!

You may also like:

Drafting a waistband


In the last couple of weeks I've been showing you how to draft a skirt block to your own measurements, as part of The Skirt Series. In today's post I am going to show you how to draft a waistband for the skirt. If you have just made the skirt block and need to make a toile to see how it fits, I wouldn't bother making a waistband. You are better off whizzing up a quick toile, checking how it fits, and then once you are happy with it, making the waistband.

Two types of waistbands

Most waistbands on skirts or trousers are based on these two basic waistband shapes:


A straight waistband - which is a long rectangle that generally does not have side seams. 


A shaped waistband - which may, or may not, have side seams. 

Should I draft a straight waistband or a shaped waistband?

Either option can be drafted for the skirt block, and which is better for you comes down to individual preference and body shape. For me, I am a little too curvaceous in the lower half to feel comfortable in a straight waistband.

In today's post I will show you how to draft a straight waistband, and then next week I will get to shaped waistbands. And then you can work out which one is for you! The good thing about drafting your own waistband, is that you will be able to use it whenever a waistband is called for, and you know that you will get a great fit every time. 

Take measurements


To start, take your skirt block and take note of some measurements. Remember to measure along the stitch line, not the edge of the pattern.

Measuring along the waistline, on front pattern:

1 - Centre front to first dart arm

2 - Second dart arm to side seam

On back pattern:

3 - Side seam to first dart arm

4 - Second dart arm to centre back

Waistband construction


Add the four measurements taken in the previous step together to find the length of the waistband. Remember this measurement gives you half the waistband, as the pattern piece can be cut on the fold. Draw a line as long as this measurement. 


Decide how wide you would like your waistband to be - consider a measurement between 2 and 6 centimetres. Draw a perpendicular line from either end of your original line, the height of your waistband.


Complete the rectangle by connecting the end points of the lines drawn in the previous step.

So now you have the basic shape, it's time to get some markings onto your pattern piece.


Going back to your original measurements (from your skirt block), measuring from the right hand side of your waistband, mark in each point of interest with a perpendicular line. You want to mark the location of your front dart, the side seam and back dart. You can also label each end as the centre front (right hand side) and centre back (left hand side).

Add seam allowance


Add seam allowance to the top and bottom edges (I suggest 1 - 1.5cm). You can also add seam allowance to the centre back. I usually add 2cm to the centre back, to allow for the zip. Remember that the seam allowance you use on the waistband pattern, but be the same as the seam allowances you added to the skirt block, as you will be sewing these pieces together. 

Add notches


Add notches to the pattern. You will want notches at all points of interest on the bottom edge (side seam, both darts and centre back), while on the top edge I would suggest only notching the centre back and then one other point that is not in line with the darts on the bottom edge. This will help you know which way up the pattern should go when you are sewing. This may not seem necessary as the piece is symmetrical, but if you are using a directional print, it will help make sure you don't end up with an upside down print! When cutting I would also suggest notching the centre front on both edges. 

Add pattern details


Add pattern details and the grainline (runs vertically through the pattern), indicating that the centre front needs to be cut on the fold.

Button extension


If you would like your zip to run straight through the waistband like this, then your waistband pattern is ready to go and you can get sewing!


But if you would prefer the zip to stop at the waistline and then have a button to close the waistband, you will need to add a button extension to your pattern piece (which will only take a second).

Adding a button extension


The extension will only be added to one end of the waistband, so you will need to fold the pattern in half (down the centre front) and trace the pattern to create a full pattern piece. Do not add seam allowance to the centre back on the second side. At the centre back you will be wanting to add the button extension. The length of this will depend on the size of your button, though I would say 3-4cm should be fine. Add seam allowance to the extension and now it's done!

What are your thoughts on waistbands? Do you prefer a shaped waistband, or does a straight waistband do the trick?

You may also like:

The Rushcutter sew-along: more pattern alterations


In yesterday's post, I showed you a few alterations that you may want to make to The Rushcutter: lower the neckline, add or removing volume, shortening and lengthening the pattern.

Today I have a follow on post for you, as I was worried I might intimidate you if I put all the alterations in the one post!

Create a slimmer Rushcutter

The Rushcutter sewing pattern is designed to be over-sized, so there is a lot of ease in it. It may be a little too much for some of you, so, in today's post, I will show you how to slim down the dress a little. It is not overly complicated, but is slightly more difficult  than it would be on a more conventional pattern, as it does not have side seams!

I would suggest, before making any major adjustments to the pattern (like this one) make a toile, so you know exactly how much width you can afford to remove from the pattern.

1. To start, take the 'Side Panel' pattern piece. This is where we will be removing some width from the pattern piece. The grainline, which runs right through the middle of the pattern piece (and therefore down the side of the body) is where you will be removing the fabric from.

2. Work out how much you would like to remove, by referring to your toile. You will want to take the amount evenly from both sides of the dress. Divide the total amount by 2 and then distribute this measurement either side of the grainline (on the stitching line) - half on the front section  of the pattern piece (indicated by the single notches) and half towards the back (indicated by the double notches).

3. Cutting from the top, cut along the grainline, down towards the hemline. Do not cut all the way through the pattern. Stop a 2-3mm from the bottom, so that a small "hinge" of paper remains intact. You will now notice that you can separate the two sides of the pattern quite easily, without detaching them entirely. 

4. Now, swing one side of the pattern over the other (doesn't matter which one) until the points that you marked overlap. You will see that, by doing this, you have removed a slice from the middle of the pattern. Tape (or glue) in place.

5. By taking out this slice, the underarm curve will now come to a sharp point. Redraw the stitch line and the cutting edge, with a nice smooth line, to correct this. 

Now that you have removed some width from the side panel, you will need to remove the same amount from the raglan sleeve - as these two pieces are sewn together. 

1. Remember the amount we distributed either side of the grainline on the side panel? Take this measurement and divide it by 2. Measuring in from the underarm seam (remember to measure from the stitch line, if your pattern still includes seam allowance), marking a point the distance determined. Repeat for the second side.

2. Draw a line from the points marked, down towards the hemline, meeting with the original stitch line, at the line that indicates where to fold up the sleeve hem.

3. Redraw the cutting line, by adding 1.5cm seam allowance to the new line.

Re-draft the pocket

You may decide to make a short version of the Rushcutter. Megan, one of my lovely testers, decided to shorten hers to tunic length. Nice, right? The only problem is that you end up losing quite a bit of pocket depth. The easiest way to solve this is to simply re-draft the pocket piece, so that it will be your desired depth.

I will show you how I drafted the original pattern piece, so your new pattern will fit perfectly, just like the original!


1. Work out how deep you would like to make the pocket, you can do this by referring to the original pattern piece, or by holding the 'Side Panel' pattern piece up to your side and marking where you would like the pocket to start. Mark the point on the grainline of your pattern piece.

2. Draw a line, perpendicular to the grainline, from the marked point. Extend the line 5mm past stitching line on both ends (this is because the pocket panel was drafted to be slightly wider than the piece it is stitched to, to add a little volume).

3. Starting at one endpoint, draw a straight line that meets the bottom corner of the pattern piece, easing back into the original stitch line. Repeat for the other side.


4. Take a seperate piece of paper and trace a copy of the new pattern piece, being sure to also transfer grainline and notches onto the new pattern piece.

5. Add seam allowance to both sides and the hem (not the top edge, just yet). The seam allowance needs to be 1.5cm on each side and 1cm at the hem. 

6. Draw a line that runs parallel to the top edge of the pocket, 4cm above the original line. Fold along the top edge of the pocket.

7. Trace the seam lines onto the pocket hem (you want to do this so that when the piece is cut, and you fold the top hem of the pocket back to finish the edge, it meets the pocket smoothly).

8. You now have your pocket piece! Add markings and get sewing!

Relocating the shoulder dart

After trying on your toile, you may feel that the dart does not quite sit on your shoulder. If this is the case, you may want to move the dart slightly forward or backwards, from its original position.


1. Work out where your dart needs to be (by measuring in relation to the original dart) and draw a straight line running from the new location on the neckline, to the original dart point.

2. Focusing on the original dart, cut down the outside dart arm, from the neckline to the dart point. Don't cut all the way to the end, stop when you are 2-3mm away. Do the same with the line you just marked, also stopping a few millimetres from the end. This will create a small 'hinge,' which allows you to move this section of the pattern, whilst still keeping the pieces attached.


3. Rotate the cut section until you have closed out the original dart (one dart arm overlaps the other), and tape in place.

4. You will now see that you have opened up a new dart. To complete it, you will need to add dart shaping, and seam allowance to the new dart.

Okay, thats it for today's post. And guess what, tomorrow it's finally time to cut some fabric! Yippee! Let me know if there is an alteration that I didn't include in today or yesterday's post that you need!

You may also like:

Transferring pattern changes from toile to pattern


Last week I showed you how to make a toile, and what you should be looking for when fitting. In today's post, I will show you how to transfer changes from toile to pattern.

Lowering the neckline

The first change that I will show you is how to lower the neckline of The Rushcutter. I am all about the high neck on this dress, but I understand that it's not for everyone. If you'd prefer it to be slightly lower (or even drastically lower) it's not a difficult alteration to make. 

To start, take the sleeve pattern and the centre front panel pattern piece, and put them together. Place one sewing line over the other, so you can see how the pieces fit together when they are sewn. You will notice that on The Rushcutter sewing pattern, both the stitching line and the cutting line are marked, so that making pattern alterations is a little simpler. 

Work out how much you would like to lower the neckline by, by taking the measurement from your toile (measuring down the centre front) and mark it on your pattern piece. Make sure you measure it from the stitch line rather than the edge of the pattern. For the example, I only lowered the neckline at the front, but if you would also like to lower the neckline at the back, place a mark on your centre back too.

Before redrawing the neckline, you will need to fold the dart (so you can get the neckline all in one piece). The easiest way to do this is by placing the dart point on the corner of the table like this. The dart fullness should be folded towards the back.

Starting at the point you marked on the centre front, re-draw the neckline with a smooth curve, gradually easing back into the original neckline (unless you are also lowering the neckline at the back, in which case you will want your new neckline to meet with the point you marked on the centre back).

Before unfolding the dart, take a tracing wheel and trace over the new neck curve at the dart. This will transfer the correct neck shaping onto your dart. If you need some extra help with this, check out this tutorial. You will now just need to add seam allowance to the neckline and you are good to go!

Add or remove volume

The next thing I'm going to show you is how to use the cut and spread technique to add or remove volume from The Rushcutter. You may want to use this technique on the body of the dress, or maybe even the sleeve. 

If you have never used the method of cutting and spreading before, this example will basically show you how to do it. If you want to see it in more detail, check back on the blog later this week, as I am planning to do a post on this technique.

Pattern alterations are much easier to manage if your pattern does not have seam allowance. Remove the seam allowance from the pattern you are altering, or trace a copy of the pattern piece without seam allowance. This is really easy to do with The Rushcutter pattern as the stitch line is marked for you.

1. Draw two vertical lines through the pattern, which will cut the pattern into three equal-ish parts (this does not have to be exact).

2. Starting with one of the lines, cut up from the hemline towards the top of the pattern. Do not cut all the way through the pattern, leave a 1-2mm "hinge." The hinge will give you the freedom to move the parts of the pattern easily, but will still keep the pieces together. Repeat for the second line. 

3. Place the pattern on top of a piece of pattern paper, slightly larger than the pattern piece. Spread the pieces apart, by the desired amount, being careful to distribute the width evenly. When you are happy, tape (or glue) the pieces down carefully.

4. Redraw the hemline with a smooth curve. If the opposite edge has changed shape too drastically you should also re-draw the line.


The method is the same for reducing volume, you just need to close the cut and spread line, rather than open it.

Shortening pattern

There are two ways of shortening a pattern - the first is to simply remove some length from the hem of the pattern. This method is often used when a garment has been made up and then once it can be tried on and fitted, the length is determined.

The other method is to shorten the pattern piece by removing the length from inside the pattern piece. By using this method, the overall shape of the pattern piece will not be lost.

For this method, you first need to find the 'length and shorten line,' on the pattern piece you would like to shorten. I am using the sleeve from The Rushcutter as an example, but this method can be used on any of the pattern pieces.

Cut along the line to create two separate pieces.

Think about how much length you would like to remove from your pattern piece. Mark this distance on one side of the pattern, measuring from the cut line. Marking this point on the grainline will help ensure the mark remains perpendicular to the cut line. 

Draw a perpendicular line through this point, extending to either side of the pattern piece. 

Move the unmarked pattern piece (in this case, the lower part of the sleeve) to line up with the perpendicular line just drawn, and tape (or glue) in place. 


You can now redraw the seam lines on each side of your pattern with a straight line (or a curve, if your pattern piece has curved seams).

Lengthening a pattern

For lengthening a pattern piece, the concept is exactly the same. Cut up through the 'lengthen and shorten line' and separate the pattern into two pieces.

Open the pattern pieces by the amount you want to lengthen your pattern piece by. Tape a piece of pattern paper onto the back ofthe pieces to fill the gap.

Redraw the side seams with a straight line, and you are done!

I think that's enough pattern altering for today's post, in the next post I'll show you how to slim down the dress by removing some width from the side panel, move the dart on the raglan sleeve (View A), move the shoulder seam (View B) and adjust the pocket.

You may also like:

Throwback Thursday: How to add seam allowance to a sewing pattern

Last week, I showed you how to draft a skirt block from your own measurements, and then how to add shaping to the darts at the waistline, as part of The Skirt Series.


Before going ahead and making a toile to see how it fits, you will need to add seam allowance and pattern markings (which will be in tomorrow's post). 

What is seam allowance?


Seam allowance is the extra space you add around the edge of a pattern piece so that it can be sewn together.

If you do not plan to make up a toile of your pattern (in the case of pattern blocks), then there is no need to add seam allowance. When you are using a block to create a pattern it is much easier to use it without seam allowance and then add seam allowance once the pattern is complete. 

How do I add seam allowance?

I find that the easiest way to add seam allowance is with a long transparent ruler. Not to worry if you don’t have one though, you can just use and ordinary ruler and mark the seam allowance width at intervals along the seam and then draw the line through all the points.

I have two different rulers, which I find super helpful. One only shows centimetres, but also has lines to indicate the millimetres in between. This one is very handy for when I'm adding 6mm seam allowance to a neckline or 12mm to a seam.


The other, which I have used for this tutorial, only show has a line for every 5mm. If I am using a 1cm / 1.5cm / 2cm seam allowance, then this is definitely the one I reach for, as there are a lot fewer lines to get confused by!

Before getting started

Before getting started, have a think about the seam allowances you plan to use. I know some commercial patterns use the same seam allowance on every seam, but I think you are much better off changing the allowance depending on the seam. This will help you get a much cleaner and more professional finish.

The seam allowance required will have a lot to do with the fabric you are using, and how you will be finishing the seams too. For example, if you are making a silk chiffon top, it is best to use a narrow seam allowance, so you are not left with bulky seams that show through. A silk chiffon top is a delicate piece of clothing, that is not worn everyday and is normally hand washed, so it can afford to have smaller seam allowances. But, if you are making a pair of trousers or a coat, you need seams that a stronger (particularly in places where tension is put on the seams - e.g. the crotch of trousers) and therefore need a seam allowance that is wider than what you would use for your chiffon top. 

Standard seam allowances

I have put together a table to help guide you with how much seam allowance to add, but as I said, it is up to you! If you click on it, you can download a printable version of the table. It may be handy to put up on the wall in your sewing room!

Adding seam allowance to your skirt block

This tutorial will show you the method I use for adding seam allowance to a pattern, using a skirt block as an example. This method can be used to add seam allowance to any pattern.


Decide on how much seam allowance you will be adding (using the table above if needed) and find where the line is that indicates that width on your ruler. 


Lay that particular line (the width of your seam allowance) along the side seam of your pattern.


With a sharp pencil, or pacer, draw in your seam allowance, being careful to keep your ruler in place. Be sure to extend the line past the original line by a couple of centimetres (this helps when we add seam allowance to the other seams).


After marking the side seam, it's now time to move on to the hip curve.

If the seam you are adding seam allowance to is curved (which it is in this case) you will need to mark the seam allowance with a broken line. Line up your seam with the ruler and draw a small line (in this case, two lines).


Then pivot your ruler to you next point (I tend to do this every 1 – 1.5cm) and continue marking the seam allowance with a broken line.

For tight curves (such as the bodice neckline) mark your seam allowance guidelines closer together to ensure a smooth and accurate curve.


Continue pivoting until you have gone around the whole curve.


Next, on to the waistline. Before starting to add seam allowance, extend both dart arms, as well as the centre line, by a few centimetres. This will help when you are adding seam allowance to the top of the dart.


Mark the seam allowance on the waistband, and then follow the angle of the dart, when you get to the first dart arm. Repeat for the other side.


Continue along the waistline, towards the centre front, pivoting the ruler when necessary. 


The centre front does not need seam allowance, as you will be cutting this piece on the fold. Just extend the centre front line a little beyond each edge, so that it can intersect with the seams on the other sides. 


Mark the hem allowance by measuring down the centre front and side seam from the stitching line. 


Join the points to create the hemline. 


By this stage, you should have worked your way around the whole pattern.


Now to do something about those broken lines. 

Draw in your curve by joining the broken lines to form a smooth curve. You can do this by carefully pivoting your ruler, using a French curve or something else round (like a large mug or plate depending on the shape of the curve). A good way to check if your curve is smooth is, with the pattern flat on a table, to crouch down and look at the curve at eye level. You will quickly see if there are any sharp points!


Repeat for the back pattern piece. And you are done, your pattern now has seam allowance!

I would love to know if I have convinced any of you to try doing some pattern making yet?

You may also like:

How to grade between sizes


For many women, your measurements will range across several sizes, and you will need to grade between sizes after you print your pattern. The Rushcutter pattern has a lot of ease in it, and I have said already that you should really check the finished measurements before deciding you need to grade up a size at the waist or hip. But, this technique is one you can use on all nested patterns, to grade between sizes, and after saying all this, you may still feel you would like to grade between sizes for your Rushcutter!

In yesterday's post in the Rushcutter Sew-along, I showed you how to use layers to print only the size (or sizes) you need.

How to grade between sizes in a nested pattern

When your pattern is printed and assembled, take a contrast coloured pen or pencil and a ruler.


With your ruler, draw a diagonal line from one size line to the next. As you can see in my example, I have gone up from a size A at the bust, up to a size C at the hip.


If you are a size A at the bust, and then a C at the waist, you will need a sharper diagonal line.


If you do make this adjustment to your pattern, be sure to change all relevant pattern pieces, so that the pieces still fit together. 

You may also like:

How to print and assemble your PDF sewing pattern


Today in the Rushcutter sew-along, it's time to print out our PDF pattern!

Some of you may already have the printing, trimming and cutting of PDF patterns down to a fine art, but for those of you who hear the phrase 'PDF pattern' and shudder, I'm going to show you that it's not too bad at all!

Opening the file

Download the pattern to your desktop and save it (this way you will be able to access it whenever you want). Open the file in your preferred PDF viewer. I use Adobe Acrobat (if you don’t have it, you can download it for free here).

When you buy the Rushcutter, you will receive three different files – the pattern, in both print-at-home and copy shop format, and the instructions. They will come in a zip file. The pattern is designed so that you can print it on A4 sized paper or US letter sized paper. The copy shop version is designed to print on 3 sheets of A0 paper. 

How to use layers

The pattern was designed to have layers embedded. This means that you can select only the size (or sizes) you would like to print! Layers make it much less confusing to cut out the pattern, and also saves on ink (and paper in some cases).

When you have the pattern file open in Adobe Acrobat, look to the left hand side of the screen. You will see a vertical panel with a few options available. Click on the icon that is called ‘Layers’ (third one down). This will open up your layers panel, so you can see what layers are available in the file.


You will see that there is a separate layer for each of the available sizes, the in-seam pocket (the same for all sizes), as well as for the ‘pattern info,’ ‘grid’ and ‘tags.’ There is an eye icon next to each layer, and this lets you know whether the layer is visible or not.

Turn off (by clicking on the eye) all the layers you don’t require. Remember to keep the ‘TAGS,’ ‘GRID’ and ‘PATTERN INFO’ layers on for all sizes.

Printing the pattern

Before printing the file, you will need to check the scaling settings on your printer.

You want to print the pattern at its true scale (the scale it was designed in). To do this, go into your print settings and select “actual size” or set page scaling to ‘none’ or ‘turn off page scaling.’

Checking scaling

Print only Page 1 of the pattern, and check that the test square measures exactly 5cm x 5cm or 1in x 1in. It really needs to be precise, so if it is not quite right, you will need to go back and check your printer settings again. 

Check both the vertical and horizontal measurement of the test square, to ensure the scaling is right in both directions.

When you have the scaling right, you can print the remainder of the pattern. In most cases, you won't need to print all the pages. There is a printing plan on page 6 of the instructions, to help you work out which pages you do and don't need.

Assemble the pattern

Cut around the border of each page - one long side and one short side (keep your choice of sides consistent between pages).

Align the circles so that 1A matches up to 1A, 2A with 2A etc, and tape or glue in place.

Continue working along the columns and rows until you have attached all pages. Loosely cut around each pattern piece required so that the pieces are easier to manage. And you are ready for cutting! (Unless you need to grade between sizes... Which is what I'll be covering tomorrow!)

You may also like:

A tutorial: How to add dart shaping


Welcome back to my latest addition to the blog: The Skirt Series. In yesterday's tutorial, I showed you how to draft a skirt block.


At this stage the pattern is drafted, but it is not yet complete. There are still two things to do before we can go ahead and make a toile - we need to add dart shaping and then add seam allowance. I will cover dart shaping in today's post and then next week I'll get to adding seam allowance.

What is a dart?

Essentially, pattern drafting is the act of making something two dimensional (the fabric) fit around something three dimensional (the body). Darts are a way of doing this and are most commonly used to create shape around areas of the body that are curved - the bust, shoulders, elbows and waist, but can be used pretty much anywhere - whether purely for fit, or also as a design detail.

What is dart shaping and why do I need to think about it?


You may have put a dart in something before and noticed that the dart has changed the shape of the seam that it lies on and is no longer the smooth line it once was. In the example, I have folded the dart, and it has caused the waistline to become very sharp and angular. This is because we have lost 3cm to the dart, which is what gave us our nice smooth curve.


To prevent this from happening, you need to add dart shaping. This will ensure that once your dart is sewn in your waistline (or which ever seam your dart is located) it will remain a smooth line.

Let's get drafting!

Take one piece of your skirt (I will be starting with the front), or any other pattern piece that you are working on, that has a dart. Your pattern should still be on a larger piece of paper (not yet cut out).


You will need to fold the dart, so you can predict what will happen when you sew the dart when you get to making it up in fabric. Think about which direction the fullness of your dart will be pressed once it is sewn, this will decide which dart arm you need to fold.

Generally vertical darts are pressed towards the centre front (in the case of front darts) and the centre back (in the case of back darts). It seems reviews can be mixed when it comes to more horizontal darts, but I tend to push mine up up.

Fold along Dart arm # 2, down to the dart point, being careful to fold right on the line, to make a crease.


Working with darts on a flat surface can be difficult so move over to the corner of your table (hopefully you have a square or rectangular table like me, otherwise a big book will do the trick), placing the point of your dart on top of the corner of the table.


Fold the dart, by placing Dart arm # 2 on top of Dart arm # 1 (this is when that crease comes in handy). You will quickly see that it is much easier to get the dart to sit flat when it is sitting on a corner.

You will see that your seam would look like if you were to sew it without adding dart shaping. Not great, right?


Use a weight to keep your pattern in place on the corner and then take a ruler and pencil and redraw the waistline with a nice smooth curve.


Take your tracing wheel and trace along your new seam line - particularly focusing on where the dart is folded (go over this area a couple of times to ensure the markings transfer through the fold).


Unfold the dart and you will see the markings transferred from the tracing wheel.


Take a ruler and join the dots to form a nice smooth line.

And there you have it, a dart with shaping!

I must say that this little tip is one of my favourites. Do you have a favourite pattern cutting technique?

You may also like: