Pattern Cutting Courses
(002). YES. WE ARE OPEN. Our London based short pattern cutting courses are conducted by highly experienced professional pattern cutters and tutors. Our one to one classes are designed for every level of pattern cutter, from the complete beginner to the advanced professional.
We run class based courses in two locations in London – Greenwich SE18, or Walthamstow E10.
Or remote classes that you can participate in from your own home with live, real time tuition. Or a mix of the two.
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Specialist Pattern Cutting Classes.
Our specialist pattern cutter instructors run a number of specialist pattern cutting courses for beginners or intermediates. If you are searching for a particular area of pattern cutting that you do not see listed, we can create a course just for you, as long as we have a specialist tutor available :-
One To One Classes.
Our one to one pattern cutting classes, with private tuition are conducted from our fully equipped London studios in Greenwich. All equipment and materials are supplied by us.
Due to the current Coronavirus, we are getting loads of enquiries about e-learning, or online tuition. If you would like to know more about our online pattern cutting courses, we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
We also offer paired tuition for two people sharing the same goals and booking together. There would be a significant discount from the one-to-one price.
Small Group Tuition.
If you have a small group requiring pattern cutting tuition, please give us a ring to discuss your requirements.
How It Works.
Your tuition is by very experienced professional pattern cutters. One-to-one tuition ensures that you receive complete attention from the class tutor. You will learn much faster and more comprehensively. And the lessons will be designed specifically for you.
We use a combination of flat pattern cutting and draping. Although the standard size for pattern making is 12, we can use any size for our pattern cutting instruction. If necessary we can draft bespoke patterns for each student.
We teach our students how to learn for themselves. It is essential to have just the right ratio of practise and assistance. We encourage you to work with our mannequins, and to purchase your own if possible. If you need any advice about buying a mannequin, feel free to ask.
Reduced Rate For Pairs.
We can teach pairs at a reduced rate if they apply together and have the same aims in mind. The second student would have a 50% reduction, which would mean a total of 25\5 reduction for the two students.
Distance Learning From Home.
Uniquely, we run remote pattern cutting classes with live tuition, so that you can learn from home as and when you like. This means that you can choose to learn at weekends if that is more convenient to you.
In order for you to study at home, we do need you to have use of a professional tailors dummy. These are not cheap, but will last you a lifetime. If you are serious about pattern cutting, then purchasing a mannequin will be a great investment in any case.
You will also need an internet connection, and a modern phone with a camera in order to communicate effectively. And calico for toiling.
You will be using a mix of pattern cutting techniques, working both with flat pattern cutting, and draping on the stand. This will give you a way better understanding of pattern cutting than being taught pattern cutting theory using the flat pattern method.
We can tailor each class to your exact requirements. If you just want to learn how to draft a tailored sleeve, then we can provide you with the instructions and guidance, then check your results and advise on adjustments.
For beginners, the first thing we do is to get you to create your own block, using your mannequin so that your block fits your mannequin exactly. We would then instruct you on how to draft the sleeve for your block on the flat.
From this initial block, we can construct dress blocks, blouse blocks and jacket blocks.
Pattern Cutting Theory.
Theory is important in learning pattern cutting. But it can be over valued. Like any skill, pattern cutting can take many years to learn thoroughly. It requires exactly the right mix of theory and practise.
The biggest mistake that most inexperienced pattern cutters make is to rely too much on theory from pattern cutting books, rather than using their own eyes to see what is in front of them. Experienced pattern cutters do not cut patterns to a formula.
The best way to learn pattern cutting is to practise as much as possible, with access to experienced professionals. In order to get the best value from our pattern cutting classes, we recommend that you practise as much as possible in your own time, so that we can answer all resulting questions.
Pattern Drafting Systems.
Tailors however, do tend to cut their base patterns to a formula. But they are dealing with a limited range of garment types to fit a large range of body types. Tailors use their experience to choose a good drafting system and adjust it to suit. They then perfect the fit on the customer.
For anyone to become really good at anything, they need to thoroughly learn and understand the theory. Then they want to throw the theory in the bin. Our one to one lessons will teach you the theory and allow you to use this knowledge to practise and learn for yourself through experience.
Creating Pattern Blocks.
While it is possible to create each style from scratch on the dummy, most pattern cutters will create their own basic blocks for every type of style. Even if they prefer to use the draping method, to complete the pattern, it is useful to be able to start from a basic block shape that you know and trust.
The blocks may either be made for a specific mannequin, or for a particular individual or body shape. These blocks can be used for years, sometimes with minor changes, such as shoulder widths. You may want to create a block for your own stand, or a bespoke block to fit your own body measurements.
A pattern cutter may have a number of pattern blocks for each type of garments, or they may simply use previous styles as a starting point for the new styles. Basic blocks may include :-
- Blouse Block
- Skirt Block
- Dress Block
- Jacket Block
- Coat Block
- Trouser Block
- Jeans Block
- Shirt Block
Draping On The Stand.
Many of the best creative pattern cutters will drape their patterns on the stand. They may not be naturally inclined towards the restrictive nature of the pattern cutting process. Instead they stumble upon pattern cutting as part of the design process.
They might just throw a piece of fabric on a mannequin and start playing around with it to see what looks good. Then they take that fabric and create the pattern from it. This is the opposite to how most pattern cutters work initially.
We call this “draping on the stand”. Or “modelling on the stand”. Or “toiling”. Beginners tend to be too scared to use this method because it completely ignores any theory. But it really is the best way to learn how to cut patterns and to understand what is happening.
With the draping method, the designs are created on the stand with calico, then the shapes are transferred onto paper . This means that you can just play with the design as you make the pattern. This is the art of pattern cutting.
Some people will mix flat pattern cutting with draping, by starting with a block shape and manipulating it on the stand. Other people may initially use paper rather than calico. While paper is very unforgiving and does not drape, it is a popular way of working for many professional pattern cutters.
Using A Mannequin.
Using a mannequin to model on the stand is by far the best way to understand pattern cutting. I always suggest using a mannequin in conjunction with pattern cutting tuition.
A good mannequin is a great investment as it will last a life time, although it may need recovering once every twenty years or so. Using a mannequin you get to understand about pattern cutting rather than just learning theory from books.
Modelling With paper And Calico.
Although pattern cutters generally use calico for modelling on the stand, many will begin by modelling the paper pattern on the stand. They may construct a basic shape from a rectangle of paper.
They do this by pinning and cutting the paper to shape as they go. Or they may start from a basic shape. As paper is far more rigid than calico, the paper will normally only provide a very basic starting point. This can then be used to make a more accurate calico version.
Finding A Good Mannequin.
A good mannequin may cost around £600 from somewhere like Morplan. You can occasionally find them on Ebay far cheaper. The shape and size is really important for a pattern cutter.
It is worth taking some time to find out which one is best for you. It may be that a cheap, adjustable tailor`s dummy will suit you well, if you need to make patterns for a variety of sizes. Some people buy cheap shop dummies, but these can be very exaggerated shapes that bare little relationship with a real human body.
The best mannequins are pinnable ( You can put pins in them). This is important for a pattern cutter. Some are just for the torso. Others are for legs. And others still are for both. There are mannequins for swimwear and lingerie. Or for tailoring.
Pattern Cutting On The Flat.
The whole purpose of pattern cutting on the flat is to produce a shape that fits a body. So, ultimately it is how the garment fits on the body that counts. Experienced pattern cutters figure out ways of working that use a certain amount of theory gained from experience, but also working on the stand. Some of this is lost when we use computers to make patterns.
Even computer pattern cutters will often use draping to figure out how to make a particular shape. They may not use this for the whole pattern, but just for a part of the pattern.
In the flat pattern cutting method, we learn how to create basic block patterns, and then to develop them into individual styles by a combination of methods.
A pattern block is usually made in a thick card, or sometimes plastic. It needs to be durable. It is a basic template shape, used by pattern cutters to make further patterns from.
There needs to be a different block for each type of style. So, there may be a tailored jacket block, a fitted jeans block, a flat front trouser block, a pleat front trouser block, etc. This saves time, and ensures that there is a standard fit throughout the range.
In practise, many pattern makers will just use previous patterns to make new shapes from. Although it may start out as the same basic shape as the block, it may be altered over the course of several fit meetings and re-iterations of the design.
Slash And Spread.
What is slash and spread ? you may ask. This is a pattern cutting technique used in flat pattern cutting where the paper pattern is cut into and then spread open to add fullness. The same thing can be achieved on the stand using paper or calico, or the initial shape can be made on the flat and transferred to the stand for refinement. With experience it should be possible to just use draping.
Maybe you just want to learn about dart manipulation. Or how to cut sleeves. Or how to make pattern blocks. Maybe you want to learn how to cut swimwear patterns. Or sportswear patterns. We can offer you a number of one to one pattern cutting courses, tailored to your exact needs. Our pattern cutting classes are conducted from our fully equipped London studios.
Trial And Error Vs Tuition.
Pattern cutting is not easy to master. It takes years of experience, with constant learning and practise to become fully competent. Most learning either comes through trial and error, or tuition. Most pattern cutting students do a class, then forget about it until the next class.
The secret to getting the best value out of any pattern cutting class is to be given the knowledge and skills to be able to go away and practise in your own time, before returning for further teaching. During that practise the student will encounter a number of problems that are can be answered during the next pattern cutting class.
Pattern cutting students straight from college do not have the skills or knowledge to be able to work confidently on their own as a pattern cutter – unless they have been able to use their own time on top of teaching time, to practise what they have learnt. It is practise along with good teaching that is the secret to becoming a proficient pattern cutter.
We have had many ex fashion students who have really struggled to find work as a pattern cutter. They just havnt been given the required skills or experience. We help provide both the skills and the experience, allowing our students to develop the extra confidence that will greatly increase their job prospects.
Our pattern cutting course involves one-to-one tuition. This means total attention from your tutor. We can however, accomodate two, or even three students at one time. So, if you have a friend or colleague that is interested in learning with you, we will try to help.
Pattern cutting is only a very small part of a student`s learning at a traditional fashion college. The student will normally sign up for a four year course. This course would involve learning a wide variety of subjects, such as millinery and embroidery.
This is fine if that is what you want, but no good if you just want to learn pattern cutting. The student – teacher ratio allows for very little one to one teaching. There are a number of highly respected, and even world class places to learn pattern cutting in London, but they dont offer the flexibility that we offer.
If you want to learn your pattern cutting using a particular size, then we should be able to help construct the base patterns to work from just for you.
Part Time Course.
If you find it difficult getting time to do pattern cutting course, we are happy to work with you to find times that suit. That may mean learning part time, or flexible times.
An important part of flat pattern cutting, dart manipulation is used to move suppression around the pattern by pivoting from the dart point. The dart may be incorporated into a seam, or into gathers or ease. fullness
While we can teach you about such things as dart manipulation, block creation, pattern balance, etc, we also like to teach you how to discover and learn things yourself.
We supply all pattern cutting equipment, although we are happy for you to bring your own to our pattern cutting class.
All our pattern cutting tutors are highly experienced in their fields. We cover virtually every area of pattern cutting from mens and ladies tailoring through to underwear, lingerie and swimwear. In fact there is probably no aspect of pattern cutting that we do not cover.
Although we offer one to one tuition, we can also accommodate extra friends or colleagues who are keen to learn side by side. There would be an added cost for each extra person, but would be a great cost effective solution.
Pattern Cutting Books.
We have all used pattern cutting books to help us with learning skills in the early stages. Even very experienced pattern cutters may still consult reference books from time to time. Pattern cutting books certainly have their place in teaching the subject.
They can be very useful, but they can also be a hindrance. I often come across inexperienced pattern cutters who rely on theories or formulae from books that prevent them from actually understanding how pattern cutting works in practise. In my opinion far more would be learnt working on a mannequin rather than using a book.
Collars And Sleeves.
Even some experienced pattern cutters have areas of pattern cutting that they have problems with. Many struggle with collars or sleeves for example. They may spend years not understanding how to cut different sleeves for different armholes, or they use a basic formula taken from a pattern cutting book.
They may know the formula, but dont quite understand the logic. The sleeves dont turn out quite right.
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Tips To Learn Pattern Cutting.
I think that there are three very valuable tips for anyone who wants to learn about pattern cutting :-
Tip 1 – Buy A Good Mannequin.
A good mannequin will last you a lifetime. Buy as good a mannequin as you can afford. My preference would be to buy a full mannequin with torso and legs, so that you can do all types of garments.
It also uses less space than having two separate mannequins. But these can be very expensive, so you can just by the torso now and the legs later. If you cant afford a new one, then look out for a second hand one that is a decent shape.
Tip 2 – Practise.
It is very important to be constantly practising by using your stand to see what works and what doesnt. You may just want to work on the stand to develop your shapes, or you may want to begin with flat patterns that you can try on the stand.
But what happens on the stand is far more important than any theory. Dont be afraid to pin your paper pattern on the stand. You can pin it together and tear into the seams where it curves. Paper is totally inflexible, so it will show up any imperfections with the shape.
Tip 3 – Top Up Lessons.
You can teach yourself a lot just by working on the stand, and you can learn a lot by working with more experienced colleagues, but you will learn far more by being able to combine these with top up pattern cutting lessons, where you will get far more attention from the pattern cutting teacher. The trick is to have the right ratio between teaching and working on your own.
If you have any further queries, please check our fashion courses FAQ page.
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