Today I went to a professional seamstress to get properly measured, a two-hour process that took over 40 measurements (!) to complete. I then took my precious, precious numbers home and started drafting a sloper from Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s book Patternmaking for Fashion Design. I drafted the front of the sloper tonight and will draft the back tomorrow morning. After I finish drafting this sloper, I will sew up a quick muslin to make sure that this sloper is approximately right, then draft the jacket sloper, and use the jacket sloper to draft the lapel. (I am tempted to redraft the entire pattern using the techniques in the book, but am sternly refusing. As much as I am enjoying playing with this, I do have to finish the coat someday! and preferably before high summer.)
Drafting the sloper was a lot of fun, and felt just like doing high school geometry, which I absolutely adored. Draw line from A to B, square a line this long to C, take 3/4 of the length along that line and mark off D, and so on. I have a lovely little photo here:
The process is very analytical, and appeals greatly to my mathematical brain. It’s fun!
All of which may seem a lot of tedium on the road to completing a coat, but I am reminded of what my T’ai Chi instructor used to say: in China, the Tai Chi masters would never ask each other, “Did you practice Tai Chi today?” Instead, they would say, “Have you played Tai Chi today?” The distinction is between practice, which brings up visions of grinding away through repetitive exercises, and play, which is spontaneous, adaptable, and fun.
This, of course, harks back to the whole idea of “effortful study” and Walker Percy’s “reclaiming the creature”, but it’s too late tonight to dive into philosophy – I should have been in bed an hour ago! So I’ll just say that, sidetrack though it is, I’m deeply enjoying my excursion into flat pattern drafting. As the boy says in The Phantom Tollbooth, “As everyone knows, the main purpose of going from point A to point B is to see what’s in between.” I am taking an incredibly long, roundabout journey between A and B, but the views are terrific!