About Me

about-me

Hi! My name is Maria.

I studied Patternmaking subjects at Sydney Ultimo TAFE but I am not a professional patternmaker and have never worked in the fashion or the garment production industries.  As I started learning patternmaking and sewing from about the age of 40, if I can make my own sewing patterns, so can you.

As I make patterns and clothes for myself,  I only make women's patterns in styles that I like and think suit my figure.   The patterns you see on this website I have made based on my Personalised Block, and I have cut out and sewn the garments.  

Patternmaking Did Not Come Naturally To Me

Patternmaking and sewing did not come naturally to me.  I started later in life and what drove me can be summed up in the expression: "Needs must when the devil drives," or the more colourful version (courtesy of Blackadder): "Needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle".  I have struggled all my life to find clothing that fit well and looked good, due to my body "deviating" from the Standard Figure in a lot of ways.  I just got sick of not being able to find clothes that fit, in styles that suited me in fabric that I liked and decided I had to learn to make my own clothes.  I was sick of uncomfortable clothing.  You may think "Well then, why not learn to sew?  Why learn patternmaking?"

My full story about why I studied patternmaking rather than just sewing can found in the articles under My Story, and also in the article Fit vs Size.

marias-blocks

I really struggled in making my own Personalised Blocks and I didn't have anyone to help during most of that time.  I didn't know anyone personally who did patternmaking or sewing in the first few years (other than my classmates during the time I was studying at TAFE, but I didn't get to know any of them socially) and had to figure out everything for myself.  I had two difficulties: (1) getting correct measurements of my figure, and (2) understanding the concepts of the how the measurements translated to the 2D Block I was making.  In the process of persevering, I gained the detailed understanding I have of Block Making.

My Background & A Short History

I trained as a High School teacher but ended up in adult training, a position where I wrote lots of Instruction Manuals.  Due to health reasons, in 2006 I decided to start retraining in a field where I could work from home,  so I started studying Web Design and Graphic Design.   I didn't pursue formal qualifications, instead, I learned HTML, CSS and a lot of software (Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, etc) through Lynda.com (I love Lynda.com!) and studying the concepts of Graphic Design through textbooks.  My plan was long term - I had a huge amount going on in my life and I knew I would have to put my studying on hold every so often due to being busy or ill, so I just plodded along over the next ten years, studying when I could.  I remember thinking at the time that it was a ten-year plan, to guard against the possibility of my health making it impossible to hold down a normal full-time job.

After resigning from my last paid employment in 2012 I moved from N.S.W to S.A. and had a go at making a living through Web Design but that didn't work out. 

I was quite unwell for a while, wheelchair bound for almost a year, then bed-bound, while waiting for both of my hips to be replaced.  Recovering also took a very long time. Through all of of this, when I've been able, I've worked on this website.

Creating this Website

I worked on the content of this website for about five years before putting it online - two of those years were when I was unwell.  It took so long as I have built the site myself, taken the photos, created the graphics, written the instructions, made the patterns and sewn (and worn!) the clothes.   I wanted a certain amount of content before launching it.  There are a lot of Garment Elements still to be covered, and lots of Patterns to be made.  I plan on adding to the website on an ongoing basis; this website will be a work in progress for a number of years.

You don't have to make the patterns on my website to learn patternmaking through my instructions and exercises.  Rather than making full-scale versions of the pattern or sewing the clothing, you can just follow along with the Third Scale Blocks I supply and make a third scale version of the pattern.   This way you can learn and practice the theory.  After you are comfortable with the principles you can then apply what you have learned to make your own patterns that suit your style and figure.  (After you have first made and tested your own Personalised Block, of course!)

The Start of my Patternmaking Odyssey

maria

The image of me at the top of the page is a vector graphic I created using a photo taken in 2003, so yes, I am now quite a few years older than in that photo. 

To the left is the original photo.

The photo has some sentimental value to me as it relates to patternmaking.  The top I'm wearing is the first top I tried to make myself, without a pattern, before I started studying patternmaking at TAFE.  It was basically the very beginning of my patternmaking odyssey.  (It was more than a "journey"!!)

When I was practising creating the croquis for the use of displaying my pattern concept (e.g. the croquis on the Home Page),  I practiced with a photo of me, and this was the one.  And, as I said, I used this one because this day was the Start of My Patternmaking.


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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thank you so much for this fantastic resource. Really useful, really detailed and clear. Brilliant!

Ted rAMBLER
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Hi Ted, thanks for the positive feedback, glad someone is using it. I do have plans to add a lot more information....

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comment - the Comment System hasn’t been advising me that comments have been...

Hi Ted, thanks for the positive feedback, glad someone is using it. I do have plans to add a lot more information....

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comment - the Comment System hasn’t been advising me that comments have been posted. Have to sort out that problem now....

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Maria
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Hi Maria,

You inspire me much (heart). Here our imagination is limitless and it turns to reality! I thank you for having us with you on your journey in dress and patternmaking.

REMY
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Hello Remy

I'm glad you are finding my information useful. I would like to hear about my readers are doing and making, and what their challenges are. How is your patternmaking going?

Maria
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Yes, I too have been on a similar journey, and on the way have amassed a stash of fabric for using when I have perfected the fit of a bodice! I can now see why doing the standard FBA did not solve the fit problems in my bodice front and am...

Yes, I too have been on a similar journey, and on the way have amassed a stash of fabric for using when I have perfected the fit of a bodice! I can now see why doing the standard FBA did not solve the fit problems in my bodice front and am looking forward to drafting a set of blocks. I would love to know how to relate the blocks to a commercial pattern, but I think in the meantime just taking elements of design from other patterns (necklines, sleeves etc.) will be sufficient.

Thank you very much for the incredible detail you have so generously posted here, and I hope to see you publish a book at some point, or run a class on Craftsy..

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Philippa
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Hi there. Great to hear from others who have had the same problems as I did. I remember the frustration I used to feel.....

When you say "how your blocks relate to a commercial pattern," do you mean how you could use your block to make the...

Hi there. Great to hear from others who have had the same problems as I did. I remember the frustration I used to feel.....

When you say "how your blocks relate to a commercial pattern," do you mean how you could use your block to make the necessary changes to commercial patterns?

Maria

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Maria
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Maria!

Thank you so much for creating this website. It's abundant with resources, and I feel a little more confident exploring patternmaking with your clear tutorials by my side. Your journey to how this website came about inspires me, and I'm...

Maria!

Thank you so much for creating this website. It's abundant with resources, and I feel a little more confident exploring patternmaking with your clear tutorials by my side. Your journey to how this website came about inspires me, and I'm sure it has inspired many others. I am excited to create clothing that's unique to me, and hope to someday share my journey with you! In a way, you're my virtual sewing teacher Wishing you all the best! <3

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Luxvna
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Thanks Maria for this insight into your life and pattern making.It is 2020 and I am near 50 started at TAFE Ultimo to learn pattern making which I have to say I am struggling with already! I love it though... crazy! Hope I get there, all the best...

Thanks Maria for this insight into your life and pattern making.It is 2020 and I am near 50 started at TAFE Ultimo to learn pattern making which I have to say I am struggling with already! I love it though... crazy! Hope I get there, all the best // Luisa

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Luisa
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Hello Luisa

Good luck with your patternmaking studies. Like everything, if it doesn't just come naturally you can still get there by perseverance.

Hope you're OK at the moment there in NSW, these are difficult times. Take care.

Maria
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You are such an inspiration to me, knowing that you went through the trail you went through and you came out of it in the end has really encouraged me to keep going. I too might create a website to document my ordeal. I have gone to several...

You are such an inspiration to me, knowing that you went through the trail you went through and you came out of it in the end has really encouraged me to keep going. I too might create a website to document my ordeal. I have gone to several classes, wasted money and I still do not have a personal block I drafted myself. I am using a commercial pattern that I quite like the fit of however I want to be able to make a personal block for different clients. I booked on to a pattern making class thinking I would be taught how to make a personal block but no we worked from a standard block sigh and before the lady can teach me how to make a bodice block I will have to learn a skirt block. So money down the drain basically

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Zinat Owode oyelaja
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Hello Zinat

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Have you tried to make your bodice block yet with my instructions?

https://www.dresspatternmaking.com/blocks/drafting-patternmaking-blocks/bodice-block

If you run into any problems...

Hello Zinat

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Have you tried to make your bodice block yet with my instructions?

https://www.dresspatternmaking.com/blocks/drafting-patternmaking-blocks/bodice-block

If you run into any problems let me know and I'll see if I can help.

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Maria
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I can't even tell you how absolutely incredible your website and information is. I have been working for YEARS on slopers that still haven't fit me properly. Why do all the textbooks think larger busts are an afterthought!? Thank you SO MUCH...

I can't even tell you how absolutely incredible your website and information is. I have been working for YEARS on slopers that still haven't fit me properly. Why do all the textbooks think larger busts are an afterthought!? Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story and your hard work. I can't wait to get started by following your instructions for the upper bust measurement (which is truly brilliant).

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Christine
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Hello Christine

Glad to know you are finding it useful. I do hope you end up with a well fitting block. Please let me know how you go and if you have any issues.

Maria

Maria
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THANK YOU!!! I’m just starting to try to draft my own patterns since adapting existing patterns to my small shoulders, small breast, full bust and small taille hasn’t brought me anything else than a lot of frustration. I’m hopeful and so happy I...

THANK YOU!!! I’m just starting to try to draft my own patterns since adapting existing patterns to my small shoulders, small breast, full bust and small taille hasn’t brought me anything else than a lot of frustration. I’m hopeful and so happy I found your beautiful website, with lots of information that’s understandable for a hobby-sewer. Will let you know how I’m doing along the road!❤️

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Gemma
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Hi Maria,

Thank you for this wonderful resource. I am 53 and just started this year at TasTAFE in Fashion Technology. Of course now with the COVID situation I have been home for two months with some random online learning with TAFE. We are...

Hi Maria,

Thank you for this wonderful resource. I am 53 and just started this year at TasTAFE in Fashion Technology. Of course now with the COVID situation I have been home for two months with some random online learning with TAFE. We are expected to learn so much at home! So last night in my mental struggles (trying to make sense of an online teacher video on dart manipulation) I came across your website - via Pinterest. The information is so helpful and things are starting to make sense.
Thanks.

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Lora
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Hello Lora

Hello fellow Australian (most of my visitors are from the US, the UK and other places), and fellow TAFE Fashion Technology student. (Though I never finished the qualification; I never planned to, I just did the subjects I was...

Hello Lora

Hello fellow Australian (most of my visitors are from the US, the UK and other places), and fellow TAFE Fashion Technology student. (Though I never finished the qualification; I never planned to, I just did the subjects I was interested in!).

Glad you found my website. So you have seen the 40+ examples of manipulating darts in the Principles Menu? I hope with the main page explaining dart manipulation, and with those 40+ examples, you will have no further problems with the concept.....

Are you doing the course purely for interest as a hobby, or for working in the industry?

Back in the day when I did the Fashion Technology course at TAFE, it cost about $200 a year, regardless of how many subjects you took. Those were the days!! I don't know how I would have coped doing it via distance learning though, as I said, it did not come naturally to me, and back in those days there was nothing online. Which was when/why I first had the idea for this website.. back in 2005. Actually, what happened was that I wrote up all my notes with all these detailed graphics after my first year, and took that notebook (looked like a textbook) into my second year class. My teacher was impressed when she saw it, and suggested it would make a good textbook.... That was when the germ of the idea was planted. I do have to say that I had a really good teacher, I don't remember her name, but she was brilliant. I just loved going to patternmaking classes. (And as I was only doing it as a hobby and didn't care about the qualification, I didn't have to do the boring subjects like OH&S!).

I hope you persevere, I can't tell you what a sense of achievement I have being able to draft my own patterns and make clothes that fit me well.

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Comment was last edited about 3 weeks ago by Maria Maria
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Hi Maria,

I will definitely work through the dart material you have. Your website is amazing. So grateful to have found it. Learning online is really not ideal with TAFE. Its a course I have been wanting to do for many years but put family and...

Hi Maria,

I will definitely work through the dart material you have. Your website is amazing. So grateful to have found it. Learning online is really not ideal with TAFE. Its a course I have been wanting to do for many years but put family and other studies first. I loved textiles in highschool and did really well but was not encouraged to pursue it.
I would like to get the qualification. It is a lot more expensive now! Not sure my direction with it. Wouldn’t mind teaching it to Year11/12 and having a small business.

Thanks again

Lora

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Lora
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Hi Maria,

I've just posted a comment to say how amazed I am by the site. It's just the thing I was looking for. I have a large bust and altering commercial patterns seems so hit and miss but I've tried blocks in the past to no avail. So I'm...

Hi Maria,

I've just posted a comment to say how amazed I am by the site. It's just the thing I was looking for. I have a large bust and altering commercial patterns seems so hit and miss but I've tried blocks in the past to no avail. So I'm really excited to give this a go. The goal I have in mind is to recreate the dress from breathless. I've attached a pic of it I've been trying to use Simplicity 1459 as a base but it's been an absolute mess.
Do you think If I can get a good fit with your block method it would be possible to recreate? I've sewed for 9 years now but with all the fit issues of late I've just been really put off the last year. Thank you again https://dixiediy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/jeanseberg.jpg

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Rehanon
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Hello again Rehanon

This pattern is a fairly simple to draft, BUT.... two things....

(1)
If you are wanting the EXACT effect with the stripes.., you're not going to get it. The reason being you have an F Cup. It looks to me like she has a B...

Hello again Rehanon

This pattern is a fairly simple to draft, BUT.... two things....

(1)
If you are wanting the EXACT effect with the stripes.., you're not going to get it. The reason being you have an F Cup. It looks to me like she has a B cup maximum, maybe even an A cup. Why does that make a difference?

The stripes seem completely horizontal on the bodice. If you look at the image I've attached (I've drawn lines on a piece of calico), you'll notice that when the bust dart is closed, the lines are not completely horizontal. The bigger the bust cup, the more the effect will be different.

If you are not after the EXACT effect, but rather just the general effect, then we come to the second problem:

(2)
If you have an F cup, you will probably end up with a very large side seam dart. Now I will attach the same graphic that I attached to your first comment, but I will do it as another comment because I can't seem to upload 2 attachments to one comment.... So look at that graphic and note that the C Cup Dart size on the Standard Figure is much smaller than the dart on my block, even though it's also a C cup. Notice how big my F Cup Dart is. Your F Cup dart may not be as big as mine, it may be bigger...

If it's as big a mine, a pattern that uses one side seam dart in a close fitting garment is just not ideal. Really large darts are problematic and for that reason for really large bust cups, you are better using styles such as Princess Lines where the dart incorporated into the Styleline. If you changed this pattern to a Princess Line, then you won't be able to get the stripes to line up and it won't look anything like it does in the picture. You could however make it your own and try creating a 'similar but different' style where you have the lines going in different directions. I'll attach a third image of tartan dress I made that might give you an indication of what I mean (although it's checks rather than stripes).

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Comment was last edited 4 hours ago by Maria Maria
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Look at the dart sizes.... Image how the stripes will look when you close up the darts.

Comment was last edited 4 hours ago by Maria Maria
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This dress uses an armhole princess line instead of a dart. I've put the Bodice Front Side pattern pieces on an angle because I coudn't match the stripes horizontally. (It actually adds more interest if the stripes go in different directions).

(I...

This dress uses an armhole princess line instead of a dart. I've put the Bodice Front Side pattern pieces on an angle because I coudn't match the stripes horizontally. (It actually adds more interest if the stripes go in different directions).

(I also did a bad job with the side skirt as I could have matched the stripes there... )

Your challenge will be getting your stripes to work..

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Comment was last edited 4 hours ago by Maria Maria
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