Module 8 | Creating a Garment - Core Basics


What are Core Basics?


What are YOUR Core Basics in your wardrobe?


Everyone will have a different idea of what this means.


For this exercise we are going to place the focus solely on tops and dress shaped patterns. If you wanted to make a Core pattern for your Skirts then use your Skirt Working Template using the same concepts defined here, it is not recommended to cut off a skirt from a drafted dress and use that as it may not have the best fit for you, darts may be in different places and it has been tested differently as a dress, you might find that it is not the shortcut that you expected.


In my wardrobe my core basics in this category are a combination of shapes and styles for undergarments and tops and dresses.


  • Undergarments - I mostly wear dresses for day wear as I feel they are more flattering to my body shape so from time to time I need to wear an underneath skirt as we used to call it when I was a girl, I think most people now call this a slip. A slip will help to add a layer of protection for the dress in that if the dress is transparent it will stop the world from gaping in, also it protects the dress from bodily fluids in Queensland this helps as you can sweat in this heat. Obviously alternately a thicker slip can add warmth for a colder climate. Or you might just prefer to layer your clothing as part of your styling. A Slip could also be worn as a hot day dress if you made it in a cotton fabric, or as a nightgown if made from a lovely satin or silk or even cotton fabric, actually a satin fabric is good for a slip as it makes your outer clothes easier to slip on if it is to be worn under a dress. A short slip to the Waist would in my book be called a Camisole top and would be worn for the same reasons as above but to go under a top or blouse or to be worn on its own on a very hot day or for an evening look or layered with beach wear or on a colder day with a jacket. It could also be worn as a vest under clothing for extra warmth. Of course a slip can be worn from the waist down under a skirt but you would deal with this by using your Skirt Working Template as discussed above. Slips and Camisoles can be any style, tight or loose fit, pretty or simply functional and really any length you feel that you need. Therefore with all these choices for a slip it makes sense to have a Flexible Pattern to deal with a slip long or short.

  • My core Tops would be Camisole Close Fit Top (not too tight) to wear with skirts/shorts and jeans or as night wear or lazy days T-Shirt again to wear with skirts shorts and jeans or as night wear or lazy days Vest Top, ditto These are the tops I can throw on for housework/daily activities/walking/beach, to wear with jeans or a skirt or shorts or just for hanging about the house in.

  • I wear mostly dresses in this climate as I feel so much more comfortable and I think they are more complementary to my body shape. I have some preferred shapes, round neck, V-neck, and boat-neck. I liked fit at the bust with a flare as it goes down to say an A-line or straight skirt skimming over the belly and hips to hide a few sins.

It makes sense for me to have at least 2-3 go to Flexible Patterns ready to go for me to make up dresses when I need one as part of the core of my wardrobe.


I can then of course add in Skirts, trousers, shorts, cardi/jumpers and jackets etc.


The type and style of garments you choose for your core basics and the timeline in which you add them are down to you to define. The work you previously did in Modules 1 and 2 will have giving you some idea of what you need in your wardrobe right now and some designs and styles that you would like to have.


The purpose of this unit is to give you a starting point to get some Flexible Patterns drafted for tops, and dresses if you still need some help in progressing a way forward and start to make some simple Core Basic garments.


If you can identify the items that you would use or need the most then by focusing your design/drafting to create a core set of Flexible Patterns then you will always be able to create a Basic Core garment whenever you need one. A little investment in the patterns will give you a wealth of options to choose from at a later stage when you are in the mood to make a garment up.


This is a good base to start from for your capsule wardrobe.


To make starting out a little easier I thought we could start by looking at a selection of choices and from this identify the core elements that you feel that you are most likely to need. The list of choices is endless but I have put a stake in the ground and listed some important ones to me. Obviously you could create your own table listing what is important to you if you want to and focus your efforts for design and drafting.


For this exercise all tables and design templates are available from the Document Downloads page for you to print out or fill in or sketch on your own ideas.


The following Table – Basic Core Capsule Options Table looks at four different fit options Casual (very wide such as a tunic), T-Shirt (the fit of a very comfortable T-Shirt), Slim (close to the body but not tight), Fitted (a very close fit) listed down the side. The rest of the table shows some design choices such as Neckline Shape that you saw in the Style Sheets during Module 2. Of course there are other options not listed here such as Sleeves i.e. No Sleeves, Cap Sleeves, Short Sleeves, Three Quarter Sleeves, Long Sleeves etc.


This is meant as a starting point, of course you could create your own table with your own style options to choose from.


If you are happy with the options shown you can print of a copy from the downloads page and tick off the options you would pick for garments that you would wear regularly and therefore would benefit from Flexible Patterns for them. As you fill it in think of the type of clothing you where and what you are doing when you are wearing it as I detailed at the top of this Unit.

The following table shows you my personal preferences.


By filling in the table you can visually see where you need to focus your drafting time thereby giving you the core elements that you need whilst maximising your effort.

If you need a little help visualising the outfits draw them out. Have a look at these quick sketches which show how different a garment looks using 8 different lengths.




You will find a blank design template in the Design Templates document on the Document Downloads page if you want to have a go and sketch out your own options.


Once you have determined lengths, other basic style options are added in.


Here is a diagram showing how a top looks so different with extra seams added.


Other design features can be added later such as ruffles or pockets or top stitching.


Referring back to my choices in the Table above it looks like I would benefit from drafting the following Flexible Patterns to help with my Basic Core Garments;

  • A T-Shirt fit Flexible Pattern for a Vest style top with a Wide Shoulder option, for a Boat Neck/Round Neck and V Neck at mid-depth in the Front with no extra seams down to Hip Bone length. To give me some further flexibility with the pattern I might draft one option for the Back and several Front pattern piece options that I could swap around - A Round Neck Vest A V-Neck Vest A Wider Shoulder Boat Neck A Wider Shoulder Round Neck A Wider Shoulder V-Neck

  • Another Flexible Pattern I could create could focus on a Slim fit. - A strapped Camisole pattern for my undergarments/nightwear with a low neckline front and back with zero seams finishing at the Waist with an extendable option of taking the pattern down to above the knee and a straight skirt shape - A Slim fit top either Vest or Wide shoulder extendable to Hip Bone/Low Hip/Above Knee/Below Knee and Maxi length, using either an A-Line or an extra flared skirt. With Boat/Scoop or V/Neck options at either Mid to Low Neckline Depth. Adding seamlines will create extra dimension to this Flexible Pattern. As this is my favourite fit there is no doubt a lot of options chosen so I could define my favourites further for this and then prioritise where I would start. For instance I might start with the following; A Vest Top with a mid-depth round Neckline with a 0 or 1 seam option for both front and back to Hip Bone Level extendable to Low Hip. A Wider Shoulder Top with V-Neckline mid depth with 2 Seams for both Front and Back to Low Hip. Both options being extendable to Above Knee and Below Knee and Maxi for an A-Line Skirt a skirt with extra flare.

By determining the options that you need and tubulising them in this way it can start to focus you on a drafting list and combining this with your sewing priority list from Module 2 you should now be getting some focus on where to start. With my choices above I know very clearly that I am looking at drafting 2 patterns with some flexible options to create a pattern pack for my Basic Core garments. Over time I would add in more pattern pieces to this Core Basics Flexible Pattern and keep track of all of the pieces on the Pattern Record Card.


From this core set of Flexible Patterns I can make all my slips and camisoles, and nightdresses, T Shirts, Slim fit Vest Tops and wider shoulder T-Shirts, and slip fit dresses short and long. To change things up more I can add sleeves, pockets, seams, zips, ruffles, embroidery, beading accessories and so on.


Your Basic Core Pattern Set will grow overtime as you can add to it extending the pattern set and extending your uses for it as you can use these patterns as a starting point for other patterns that you wish to make that may be more complex with gathers or pleating etc.


Don’t forget to preserve your Basic Core pattern set as they may be the most often used patterns that you have and you will want to make them last as long as possible.


You make these Core Basic Patterns from any of your Working Templates including any you have created for stretch fabrics.


All of the patterns can be made in the obvious choice of jersey knit fabric but there is nothing stopping you creating the patterns to be used with other fabrics such as silk, satin, crepe, rayon, Tencel, bamboo, linen, cotton etc. etc. Think about the garments purpose, how it will drape, ease of use, laundering etc. when making a decision about fabric.


It goes without saying that you have every choice in colour or pattern and embellishments to jazz up your Basic Core into a next level garment.


An example of an extendable Core Basic Flexible Pattern

Here is an example of how you can create a Core Basic Flexible Pattern for you to read through or work through to get you going.


Consider that a pattern is a piece of a puzzle that you are fitting together.


Add to that concept that you can cut up your puzzle into as many pieces as you like then you can start to see how you can swap in pattern pieces wherever you want to.


To get this concept flowing lets chew this over a little (please forgive the simplicity of this imagination exercise for a moment).


Imagine for a moment some pattern pieces for a Top.


You may have a pattern piece for a Top one for the Front and one for the Back.


You may have more than one Front pattern with multiple Neck shapes and similarly for the Back.


You may wish to extend this Top into different size length Tops or you might wish to make it into a dress. Rather than creating a new pattern each time you simply create an extension piece for each length you are interested in having or extending down to. As you extend the pattern down you simply use the next extension piece and slot it below the last one.


Each extension piece may require a hem, and therefore each extension piece would need to have a separate pattern piece that is its very own Hem pattern piece and once you choose your length you place all the extension pieces down to that length then you add on the Hem piece for that specific extension. You would need to create separate Hem pattern pieces for each extension as the width and truing would be different for each extension.


See where I am going with this?


Regardless of whether you add seam allowances or not on the pattern pieces you can lay them onto the fabric as you please to extend your garment for the length you desire, rather than having lots of larger pattern pieces. Which helps with flexibility, ease of use and also storage.


Of course most shop bought patterns have lines on them where you can cut your pattern so this is not a new idea, but then what you still need a trued hem for a better quality finish.

To keep the strength in your pattern pieces you can then preserve them to make handling easier and it makes them more durable.


To work in this way you will really need your Pattern Record Card to help you organise your pieces, and labelling is a must to ensure you keep track of everything.


Lets look at this working example.

  • A Vest Top with a mid-depth round Neckline with a 0 or 1 seam option for both front and back to Hip Bone Level extendable to Low Hip or Above the Knee or Below the Knee as an A-Line Skirt.

Explanations of drafting Necklines, Extending a bodice pattern down to a skirt length are explained in Module 6 - Create a Flexible Pattern and you will also need to review how to make a Facing Pattern, manipulating Darts and Truing a pattern and adding Hems so these topics will be used and mentioned but won’t be repeated again here.


You can choose the same options that I have or choose different design selections.

This really is a little test of what you have learned so far.


Draft a pattern for the Front and Back by drawing around your Bodice Working Template with around 1 ½” to 2” wearing ease I made the following design choices.

  • Shoulder length 3.5”, measured from the End Shoulder Point.

  • A mid-depth round Neckline.

  • A Slim fit in the side. Remember what wearing ease you already have in your Working Template, 1 ½ to 2” is a good slim fit.

  • Manipulate all darts including the Waist Dart to a French Dart - remember to cut the pattern off at the Waist to manipulate the darts for the upper section I drew the darts to the Lower Bust Point, and backed off 1” and created a ½” seam allowance for the Dart. On a large bust it can help to curve this dart for a better fit.

  • Determine the height of the Base Armhole and redraw the Armhole if required. I used around 1” to 1 ½” lower than the Base Template which you may have already done on your Working Template.

  • I have decided not to use the Waist Shaping so I have taken the same amount and lowered the Neckline and Shoulder to accommodate this.

  • Create the Back draft the same as the Front.

  • At this point I would true the Pattern pieces to ensure that both the Front and the Back Draft Guidelines and seam lengths all line up.

  • The next step is to extend for the skirt for the Front and the Back draft. The bodice is extended to the longest skirt length to start with which in this case is to below the Knee for both the Front and the Back draft (25” from the Waist for me) and I added an extension and insertion 1” and 2” respectively to make the skirt into a more A-Line Shape which will close the lower Waist Dart.

  • Re-join the upper and lower pattern pieces for the bodice, you may need to add a little paper on the side and under the Waist join point to fill in any little gaps. If you cover more than ¼” of the lower pattern piece at the side then add this extra back onto the base, you can get away with ¼” as the fabric will be somewhat on the bias when it gets to the base of the skirt and can stretch slightly in the seam. Firm up the seamline in the side to make it flow at the join and true the pattern again.


  • Add your Grainline and Notches for the French Dart and to indicate join points with Notches on the neckline for a facing and in the Side on the Front and the Back at the Guidelines to help match it all back up when constructing.

  • Note that the pattern may be cut on the Fold at Centre Front – otherwise two separate pieces would join to make a seam in Centre Front.

  • Label the Pattern pieces.

  • At this point you would create your Test Garment to check for fit.

  • Once you are satisfied with fit and any alterations have been written back to your Master Pattern decide if you are adding seam allowance to the sides, Neckline and Armhole, you will need to decide if you are going to add seam allowance to the Centre Front - if you do then you will always have a Centre Front seam. I choose not to add any seam allowance at this point.

  • Now you can start to cut up the pattern into the different sections for the extensions you require in the skirt to make it into a more flexible pattern. In this instance I am creating an extension from Hip Bone to Low Hip then down to Above the Knee then down to Below the Knee.

  • A word about vertical seams here. If you know that you might want multiple vertical seams at some point in this pattern such as a Princess line it makes sense to mark the seamlines onto the pattern before you cut off the extensions and then each extension piece would need to be cut along the vertical seam lines also including the Hem pieces. This means that potentially each extension may have more than one pattern piece. Leaving seam allowances off would allow you to keep the pattern more flexible as you could separate each piece for each seamline required to add the seam allowance when cutting fabric but also place them back together again if you wanted create a garment without the vertical seamlines. You will then have lots of pieces to keep track of so getting organised with your pattern record card is really essential. If your pieces are quite small you may need to store them in an envelope to keep everything together.

  • Ensure that you have a Guideline marked for the Lower Hip and also mark one for above the Knee, following the curve of the Base. Label each section and add a new Pattern Number and add Grainlines.

  • Cut along each of the Guidelines, if you are following this exercise for the Front you will now have 4 pattern pieces, the Upper, the Hip, To Above Knee, To Below Knee.


  • Add paper at the bottom of each pattern piece create a 2” Hem with a ½” Seam Allowance and true the Hem and Seam Allowance add the Grainline and Label the piece. Then cut the hem off.


  • You will now have 8 pattern pieces as each pattern piece now has a hem.


  • Repeat this process of cutting each section and creating Hems for the Back draft.

  • Create a 2” wide Facing pattern for the Neckline Front and Back. On this sample I would use a binding on the armhole.


  • Print off a Pattern Record Card and note all of the pattern pieces to organise them and keep track of them.

  • Preserving the pattern pieces will help to protect them but also make them easier to handle.

When you come to fabric cutting you simply pick from your Flexible Pattern pack the Upper piece and the extensions that you want and the hem required for the bottom extension used. If you have used vertical seamlines such as a Princess seam you will need to collect all the pieces you need. They then get placed onto the fabric like a small puzzle and held in place by weights while you mark the fabric with chalk. You could use a blob of blue tack to keep everything lined up between the joins if you think this helps.


You can obviously also use your Flexible Pattern as a base to start a different pattern if you want to shift up a level to a more complicated design.


Add you can of course add to your Flexible Pattern pack for example creating a pattern piece for the top with a different neckline for example as the rest of the pattern is the same and the pieces will still slot together. So while you are drafting why not give yourself a few Necklines or change up the Shoulder length so that you have a little pick and mix going on. Then you could also add Sleeves, pockets, collars etc. etc. You can really go to town and maximise the time you spend on drafting for this Flexible Pattern as these are your core patterns and the ones that you are likely to make the most clothes out of.


I wonder what choices you are going to make or what Flexible Pattern ideas you come up with?




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