Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Working with Graphed Patterns. 1805 Empire Stays.

I have severe costuming ADD which means I usually get bored with one project really fast and end up working on several things at the same time. So instead of being a good girl and working on the commission  for 1930's tea dress, I have started messing with some regency long stays. As I mentioned in an earlier post I have been planning to make a corset from Jean Hunnisette's book Period Costume for Stage and Screen.

Great book for any costumer!

This lovely book has a whole host of graphed patterns you can scale up and use as a base pattern for yourself or when sewing for others.
The pattern I chose to try my hand at yesterday is a ca. 1805-1810 pair of  corded long stays.

Pretty Empire stays with cording. I probably won't cord them just do some quilting.

For those unfamiliar with graphed patterns, they are in theory quite easy. the pattern pieces are printed on a grid in smaller scale in a book or other publication and can be enlarged to true size by using the squares of the grid for reference. the grid usually has a scale of  1 square to the inch or something similar, European publications will have 1 square to the centimeter....

bad picture of the graphed pattern I scaled up.

Which brings me to the first problem I ran into while trying to enlarge this pattern. It was in centimeters not inches, I did not realize this beforehand! Which of course is stupid of me, because i knew that Jean Hunnisette to be British and the Brits use the metric system! Duh! In my infinite wisdom I had assumed the patterns in this book to be on a 1 inch grid not a 1 centimeter grid . I had gone out and bought ghost line poster boards with a pre drawn one inch grid on them, I thought I was being so smart buying the poster board so I would not have to draw my own grid...
 See I suck at drawing straight lines. When i try to draw my own grid it get's all crooked making it useless for drafting. So I figured if I bought paper with pre drawn 1 inch squares on it I would avoid this problem. HA!
 I gathered all my drafting materials, and ready to tackle my task opened the book with confidence to discover that the scale is in metric! Crap!
First I tried  to just convert the measurements to inches, but it turns out a one inch grid was just to big to correctly convert something from a 1 cm grid. Then I figured if I just drew it on the one inch grid it would work cause I was going to hve to enlarge it anyway since I'm bigger than the original pattern anyway. Yeah, that did not work so well either... I really only need it to be bigger width wise not length wise, and the pattern turned out way way to long length wise, more like a mini dress than a corset....

the first attempt turned out a bit elongated...

 Then I tried to draw a metric grid, as mentioned above I suck at this and it turned out all crooked....
I had almost given up and decided to just break down and buy a commercially made pattern when I realized than my cousin who had visited from Germany 2 years ago left behind a blank notebook, with a 1 cm grid on all pages ( for some reason in Germany notebooks come with grids not lines.... no idea why but I'm so glad they do! ) Bingo!

The German notebook that saved my butt!

I went to my so called office ,which really is now princess Charlotte's play room but still holds the leftovers of a once organized home office space, and dug up the  note book! I taped a bunch of the pages together and voila metric drafting paper!
Once I had the correct size grid to work scaling the pattern up was pretty easy.

First draft of the corset pattern.

It's all cut out now and waiting to be enlarged to my size. But knowing myself I will do something completely different costuming wise before coming back to that...

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