One of the things that I have been working on teaching myself over the past several years is making clothing with out a pattern. My late mother in law used to tell us how her mother who worked in the garment industry here in New York used to be able to just look at a garment and then just cut freehand into fabric and make dresses for my mother in law and for her little sister Yetta.

That, to me, seemed like the coolest thing in the world. I asked my mother in law if she learned how to cut garments that way. And she said " My mother once said that she would teach me. She started and then grabbed the scissors away and said , ' You will never learn!' " So my mother in law never did learn how to make clothing without a pattern.

My friend Paulette told me that her mother in the West Indies was sent away to a neighboring island to a school to learn how to do the same thing. Unfortunately, Paulette's mother is dead, and Paulette never learned this precious skill from her mother.

I have done my best to learn these skills from books and with lots of experimentation. I first learned how to make kimono like jackets from Virgina Avery's excellent book, Wonderful Wearables. Over the past years I have managed to increase the vocabulary of the sorts of clothing that I do make. At this point I make most of what I wear. Most of my clothes are drafted either based on my measurements or using existing garments as a guideline. Usually I don't do line for line copies of existing garments, instead I use the garment as a sort of a guidepost for where my body parts are in relation to each other.

I find that working this way is a fast way for me to produce a garment. Usually the process from start to finish takes less than an hour. Often I can have a finished garment in about 30 minutes. Clearly, some things do take longer. Sometimes I get stuck and face a problem that I can't solve in one session. I might put the garment away for a day , or a couple of months. then looking at the garment with fresh eyes, and perhaps with some new skills learned in the intervening time, I can fix whatever was dreadful about the garment.

Anyway, I just found a terrific blog that shows drafts for all sorts of cute clothes. There is lots of great stuff there.


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