“Diary of a Seamstress” – Draping

“Diary of a Seamstress” – Draping

Over on Instagram I created a hashtag #mydiaryofaseamstress to document my journey in school. I realized that there is so much I have to say, but an Instagram post isn’t enough to cover all my thoughts. I also want to pass along some tidbits of knowledge if I feel it can be helpful with your sewing journey. So I’m blogging about it now.

Currently for the spring semester, I’m enrolled in Draping For Fashion Design. This is the third class in and I’m already blown away by the amount of knowledge I have learned. This is not what I expected for draping class if I’m being honest. It’s so much more compelling than I ever expected. The amount of stuff I’ve learned in just three classes in makes me so curious to know how skillful will I be at the end of the semester.

Here is the lab work flow. There is three parts to the grade for each draped design assigned:

  1. Lecture is given about any new knowledge not learned yet. (So far it has been about  importance of grainlines, preparation of muslin, and common practices.)
  2. Teacher demos the drape of the assigned style.
  3. We recreate it on our half scale forms.
  4. Teacher then comes by and grades your drape. This is our first part of the grade.
  5. Once the drape is graded, any corrections needed to be done will be made at this point.
  6. Students will then transfer the drape and markings onto paper to create a paper pattern.
  7. Students will then cut the pattern out on fashion fabric and contruct the garment.
  8. The constructed garment is then placed on the half scale form for the teacher to grade. This grade is the second part of the grade.
  9. Lastly the draped muslin, paper pattern, and final garments are all turned in together for the final grade.

Let me say that draping is not easy… for me anyway. It’s starts by pinning CF to the form. Gently smoothing the fabric over to the first placement of the dart. Pin-clip-and mark waistline. Then the pulling of the hem to bring down the crosswise gain and create the flare. There needed to be two folds in this sweep the teacher said.  Oh and don’t forget to pin-clip-and mark waistline at the same time. That waistline area needs to be smooth and no puckering. RIGHT…SURE…OK… (all the thoughts in my head while trying to make this fabric do what I wanted it to).

Now draping the back.

So pretty much the same thing happens to the back but you have to make the crosswise grain fall in the same direction as the front. Essentially making them meet at the side seam.

Now establishing the hem. And guess what?! You do that from the floor up. Well in this case from table up. This was time consuming.


By the end of class I had draped my assignment, transferred it to paper, and cut out the pattern from fashion fabric.

Sometimes I eavesdrop on the other classes since they are taught in the same room. So when the clothing construction 101 class was cutting out their fabric I had to take note of this tip. They were all taught to place their pins in a certain direction and had lots of them all over. It was said that this was to prevent puckering in the pattern paper and to stabilize the fabric when being cut.

If there is any downtime or even after class I sometimes ask the teacher questions. Things that maybe related to what we are learning and sometimes things I really want to know about sewing. I asked her about horizontal balance lines (HBL) compared to the crosswise grain markings on the muslin. She explained to me exactly what HBL are and how they are used. This is something I feel is so important when assessing fit issues on a muslin. I have to admit I don’t always do this but really should so I make it a habit. Blog post on this subject coming soon.







Have you ever blocked your fabric before? Honestly, I didn’t before I went to school. I assumed it was only reserved for extreme cases of off grain fabrics. Like where it’s very apparent and you can see the weaves going on a slant.

So when we were preparing our muslin for draping in class (currently enrolled in draping classes for pattern making) our instructor explained how to block our fabric and why it’s so important. This was so eye-opening! I now can see why it’s so important to pay a little more attention to your fabric before you sew. I am only going to talk about woven fabrics in this blog post since knits is something I do need to study more about and soon will learn about later on in the semester.

Lets back up and talk about what is “blocking” your fabric?

Blocking fabric is when you are manipulating the yarns of the fabric so the crosswise grain and the lengthwise grain run into each other at a perfect right angle.

Why would you need to do this?

Having the grains off on a fabric will have an impact on your garment. Each grain on the fabric has a different behavior. So lets say if you cut a pattern piece out on the lengthwise grain but didn’t know it had a slight bias cut in it (because the grain was off to start with) your fabric will stretch over time. You can expect some waviness.

(Here is an example of a piece of muslin where you can see the grain is off. The selvage is straight on the wooden ruler and the bottom edge is not completely touching the bottom plastic ruler to form a 90 degree angle at the bottom right corner)

Here is a link to learn more about how a woven fabric is weaved to have a better understanding.

Why are grain lines so important and what does it mean? 

Like I mentioned before each grain line will behave differently.

*Lengthwise grain (warp) is the strongest, most stable, this runs parallel to the selvage.

*Crosswise grain (weft) perpendicular to the selvage is weaker than the lengthwise grain. Usually will have a slight stretch compared to the lengthwise grain.

*Bias and True Bias grains is the diagonal line across the weave (true bias is exactly on a 45 degree angle) and will have some stretch as the grains can possible give you. If garments is cut on the bias it will drape more than the other grains.

grains copy

*** This is why listening to the patterns grain lines are so important. The pattern maker is telling you which grain line the pattern is suited for. You should also pay attention to grain lines on interfacing pattern pieces as well. ***

How can you tell if the grain lines are off?

  1. The quickest way but not always the most reliable is when you fold the fabric lengthwise (selvage meeting selvage) and cut lines are met. There will be wrinkles on the folded side. When you try folding it again to remove the wrinkles, then the cut edges and selvages will not meet up exactly.


2. Remove a crosswise thread. This will allow you to see better if the crosswise grain is perpendicular to the lengthwise grain. If it’s not then your grain is off

3. In school we were taught to clip the muslin fabric into the selvage and rip it all the way across the cross grain. The rip will follow the weft yarn and show the true crosswise grain. When you take a look at your fabric you see if the crosswise grain meets the lengthwise grain at a right angle on all four corners.


Example pictured here on the piece of muslin.

How do you correct this problem?

It seems like there might be more than one way to do this, but I’m going to only talk about what I have learned to do. Take the corners of which you want to adjust. Tug on it along the bias. Give some good tugs all up and down the bias until the corners are now at a right angle. Crosswise grain should now be perpendicular to selvage. To double-check, take a L-Square ruler and place it on all corners to see if all corners are at a right angle.


(Red line represents the bias) This is the same fabric piece shown above .

Now you can see the fabric’s crosswise grain is now perpendicular to the selvage.

(Revised and added after publishing this post. The following information given to me by a professional in the fashion industry)

Why would grains be off on woven fabrics in the first place?

This was explained to me by Shilo Byrd her Instagram here. The reason why grains would be off or collapse is not because they are badly woven or because it’s bad quality. They collapse because of how the fabric is stored. Time and gravity will make this grain line fall and distort. When a fabric is woven it is woven horizontally to the floor and rolled on tubes. Those tubes are then stored horizontally on shelves. So sometimes when fabric is shipped or sold to another seller they have a tendency to store the bolts vertically. Which then makes the crosswise grain collapse.

Hope you learned a little something along my journey. Follow me on Instagram here where I share some more behind the scenes.



Things I’ve learned in school I never told you.

Things I’ve learned in school I never told you.


Currently I’m in enrolled at my local college for pattern drafting. Through my college there is a fashion department and within that program you have the ability to gain a certificate for pattern drafting. Enrolling in these courses is what I strongly felt was the right thing to do last year. I was trying to teach myself pattern drafting but kept having questions along the way that I couldn’t get the answers to, online or through textbooks.

After discussing the plan for which courses to take with the director of the department, my first class of the year was Pattern Drafting for Fashion Design 1. The course’s assigned textbook was Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong 5th edition. In this course we would learn the fundamentals of pattern making, learn how to draft all major styles, identify fitting issues, and design our own patterns. Final exam consisted of an actual test on paper asking some pattern making questions. Along with the grade we had to submit our own designed patterns. Garment sewn up and modeled.

I share my experiences on Instagram often and really share a lot about what I learn at school on InstaStories. But there are somethings I didn’t share because there was so much information I didn’t want to info overload you. So let me tell you them here.

1. Slopers

These are the foundation of pattern drafting. This is the 2nd skin shell that tells the pattern maker how to big to make the pattern they are making. All textbooks about drafting patterns usually start off with giving you instructions on how to draft a custom sloper. In my class we discussed a little about this, but we took a different approach to making our slopers. In a way, we draped them on ourselves using the help of the instructor to aid in fit. This meant using our own measurements to find a shell close to our measurements as possible, cut it out on muslin, then sew it up.

We would put it on. Then in front of a mirror the instructor and the student would fit adjust the muslin. She would explain how certain areas would need to look like and where certain markings would need to go. She would adjust accordingly and mark. Once everything was fitted and marked the student then needed to transfer that corrected muslin onto paper to make the sloper.

I was a little surprised by this because I assumed that all pattern makers drafted slopers from measurements . Which they do… so I asked the instructor why we were doing it this way. She explain that anyone can draft a sloper by measurements. It’s easy. You will have to fit it and make adjustments and fit it again. That would take some time. Doing it this way would help create a sloper faster (majority of the drafting done), then we can identify fit issues, and resolve them.

(My bodice slopers)

2. Seam allowances

As a self-taught sewist I learned most of my sewing from the commercial pattern companies (the big 4 chains). I thought early on that all seam allowances in clothing construction was 5/8″. And that Indie sewing companies just picked a seam allowances based on fabric type HAHA! I was wrong. We are were taught at school that all woven fabrics would have 1/2″ seam allowances because they were mainly sewn on sewing machines. Knit garments are sewn at a 3/8″ seam allowances because in the industry knits are sewn on sergers or overlockers. So basically if you are going to use a serger to make the garment you use a 3/8″ seam allowance. If you plan to use mainly a sewing machine to construct the garment you would use a 1/2″ seam allowance. Trim down certain seam allowances. For example lets say a collar, you would trim down the seam allowance to 1/4″ and down to 1/8″ on the corners.

3. Curved hems

Anytime you design a curve on a hem or alter a pattern which then changes the straight hem to a curve … just make a hem facing. Trying to do a fold over hem on a curve will give you lots folds and puckers. If you don’t want that just make a hem facing pattern piece.

4. Grainline of a Sleeve

On a sloper the sleeve is the only piece that has a grainline. This is debatable. (But I’m going to talk about what I learned at my school for this blog post only.)  When doing a muslin the sleeve should have some markings on it to help aid fit. This is the grainline and the bicep line.  If the pattern piece has an elbow dart or an elbow marking transfer that as well. Draw a line from one corner end of the cap (stitching line) to the other. This is your bicep line. Measure that line and mark the center. Draw a perpendicular line through the bicep at the center mark. Extend that line all the way to the top of the cap and all the way down to the wrist. That is your grainline. Key things to look for with those lines. Bicep line should be parallel to the floor . If it drooping or pulling high up then you need to alter the pattern. The grainline of the sleeve should be centered with the side seam when looking at the person from the side.

pattern piece 3

(My sleeve sloper)

5. Measuring pattern pieces and learning ease

Early on in the semester we were given the task of mearsuring pattern pieces and told to fix all fit issues by just measuring. That also meant to adjust the pattern. WOW what a big task for beginner pattern makers right?! Luckily this was something I learned and implemented in my sewing before school. So doing this was a breeze but really understanding why you do it is what opened my eyes and appreciate this tedious task. We also briefly talked about how much ease is ideally wanted with every fit catagory. Here are the reasons why its a good idea to measure your patterns:

  1. Being comfortable with measuring. Some people don’t measure their pattern pieces , but doing so will allow you to correct most fit issues on paper before making muslins.
  2. It teaches you know where to properly mearsure on a pattern. Learn the location of major fit points. (ex: bust, waist, hips, biceps etc.) Most indie patterns don’t have these labeled on their patterns. So knowing where to measure will make fitting so much easier.
  3. Learning about how much ease is in each fit category will help you guage what to look for when sewing up a garment.

Example : If the bodice pattern (woven) is intended to be fitted,  then around 2″ of ease is needed in the bust for the bodice to be fitted. It can not be your exact measurements because that is like your 2nd skin and there is no room for movement. I take my bust circumference (36″) add 2″ of ease = 38″ is what I’m going for (roughly) to have this garment fitted.


I’m sure there are plenty more little tidbits I can share but these are the things that came to mind one day when thinking about school. There is so much information that I learned going to school than I ever did on my own.

(My final design project for the semester) Lightweight poly button up top.

Spring Wear

Spring Wear


It’s beautiful right now in southern Arizona. Once the new year rolls in, my head says it’s Spring time! So that’s when the wheels start to turn for spring wear. We don’t get snow here in southern Arizona and it stays around the 60s F in January. Kinda sounds like Spring time right?  Let me just say I had my eyes on the Fulton blazer pattern from Alina Sewing & Design for some time now. I knew I needed to sew it. I love the notched collar, different options and that it is designed for stable knits!


There is one problem… sometimes when I’m shopping for stable knits I don’t see a wide range of color or prints. So I got really excited to see that not only did Stylish Fabrics had a good selection on stable knits but they had a wide range of colors to choose from. I wanted a color that would be great for spring and that would be versatile to dress. Came across this Heavyweight Ponte Roma in the denim color. It’s PERFECT!!! Another perk is that this fabric is wrinkle and crease resistant too!


(Fabric content: 65% Rayon 30% Nylon 5% Spandex. This Ponte is a double knit interlock)

Whenever I get my knits I like to test out the stretch on all grains. Even on the straight of grain to see what I have to work with just in case. Obviously the main stretch is in the cross grain but if you are ever in trouble,  with certain pattern pieces like pockets or trim you can get by with that.



Let’s talk about pattern. This was the first time using a pattern from Alina Sewing and Design and I was excited to try. I was impressed by the amount of information given in this pattern. It made the pattern drafting student in me jump for joy. The very detailed final measurements chart was extremely helpful and what blew me away was the information given of intended ease (see fit guide section of instructions). I personally think this will help so many people find their perfect fit and quickly be able to make pattern adjustments accordingly. The adjustments I made to the pattern was widening the width of the bicep, add a little more to sleeve cap height, and shorten the blazer by 1″. You can expect that lack of sleeve cap height to yours will result in some drag lines.


(I originally picked a size 8 based on size chart but after a muslin I ended up with a size 10)alinap1


I’m very active on IG stories (WinMichele) and usually show all my behind the scenes of whatever I’m working on at the moment. I was measuring my pattern pieces (like I always do) and mentioned how I was planning to adjust the sleeve cap height. Later I got questions on “how does someone find the sleeve cap height?”  So let me explain it briefly…

  1. Draw out your seam allowance on your pattern. (This is important) You need the original pattern without seam allowance.
  2. Draw a straight line from one end of the sleeve cap (armpit location) to the other. (That line is your bicep)
  3. Measure that line and find the center (divide that number by 2). Mark the center.
  4. From the center point draw a perpendicular line through the bicep line. Extending it all the way from the shoulder to the wrist.
  5. From the bicep line to the top of the sleeve cap (shoulder area) is your sleeve cap height.

Now you can compare this to yours.

pattern piece 3

Sewing this blazer up was a dream, so easy. I love how Alina has a video tutorial on almost every major part of this pattern on her blog. Especially when it comes to sewing up the collar. I try to stick with sewing majority of the garment with the serger since the seam allowance was 3/8″. There were areas I did have to sew with the sewing machine for better results and reduce bulk.


Here’s to happy sewing and pretty Spring wear!


This blog post was sponsored by Stylish Fabrics. All opinions and suggestions are expressed by me with complete honesty.

Closet Fabric Challege

Closet Fabric Challege

There is someone in the sewing community who I think is such a sweetheart and that I love following. Her name is Faith from @faithstjules . She announced that she would like to have a challenge where in the month of January we would repurpose any old clothing we no longer want. This was perfect because there has been a project I have been procrastinating for quite some time.

There is a picture I found on Pinterest that was from Alexander McQueen. Its a frayed edge jean dress with some rhinestone appliqués. I fell in love. I was thinking that the pattern pieces seemed small enough to be able to repurpose some old jeans for the dress. I also thought since I’m learning more in school for pattern drafting that I could possibly draft something like that. So here I go!


On a side note I did purchase some appliqués but they were from a seller on Etsy outside the US. So I did not receive them in time for the challenge due date. Oh well, the dress I think is pretty cool by itself.

(Patterns I drafted)


 Now for the dress…


Drafting the Poppy Dress

Drafting the Poppy Dress

The coolest thing about going to school for pattern drafting is that I can use what I learn and do something with it. I’m trying to push myself and practice more. Trying to look at pictures and get inspired to draft more.

I wanted to to make a dress that was inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest. So I got started drafting a dress. This meant there would be an partial elastic waist and a button up front.

(next photos are from InstaStories. I share the process as I go along on that platform)

Overall it’s a dress … I’m not too overly excited for the results but I’ll have to figure out what else I could do to it.

Emilio Pucci Inspired Jacket

Emilio Pucci Inspired Jacket

Who knew Pinterest would be addicting?! That said, I obviously was browsing and came across a picture of an Emilio Pucci jacket. It looked like a quilted faux leather jacket that had a unique quilted detail design. I was like whoa!!! Saved that in my board for inspiration just in case.

Fast forward a little bit of time and I’m browsing along the aisles of Joanns Fabrics. There sitting pretty was this faux leather fabric that had a quilted stitching design on it. Guess what?! It was almost identical to the Emilio Pucci Jacket!!!!! You got that right I wanted to get it but I had to wait until a Joanns famous coupon popped up to get it.

Well let’s fast forward just a little more. I wanted to make this jacket and was looking threw my pattern stash and found the perfect pattern jacket to make it out of. NewLooks D0565.

There is one problem… the pattern isn’t made with a lining just facings for the jacket. That’s no problem because I’m going to school for pattern drafting.

Away I went drafting a lining for this jacket and wha la!

It fits and has plenty of movement for the jacket!