BJD Sewing for Beginners; Drafting a Pattern and the 'Fabric Skeleton'

Pattern time! Woohoo! I guess we’ll start with a tiny disclaimer;

For those of you that already make your own patterns and are familiar with the whole detailed process of taking measurements, etc., obviously this is a bit different. A lot more eyeballing and rough sketching and never do we ever whip out a measuring tape. WHY?! You may ask. But fear not, I will tell thee.

I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶l̶a̶z̶y̶.̶

IN TRUTH, ever since going to fashion design school for a year I have not wanted to do any kind of ‘professional’ sewing or drafting. It stopped being any fun for me (I even made a video about this indirectly back when I was still in college, Art School and You? Maybe?). So now I do it the easy cheater way and that works great for me, thumbs up, A+, or maybe more like a steady C but that’s okay because I’m not here to make my VAST FORTUNE. Obviously. ̶̶I̶’̶m̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶t̶t̶y̶ ̶m̶u̶c̶h̶ ̶f̶a̶i̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶e̶y̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ (-д-; )

For those that aren’t familiar with the process of drafting patterns, W̶̶E̶L̶C̶O̶M̶E̶ ̶T̶O̶ ̶H̶E̶L̶L̶

Just kidding! T̶H̶I̶S̶ ̶I̶S̶ ̶T̶O̶T̶A̶L̶L̶Y̶ ̶T̶H̶E̶ ̶R̶I̶G̶H̶T̶ ̶W̶A̶Y̶ ̶T̶O̶ ̶D̶O̶ ̶T̶H̶I̶S̶ ̶Y̶E̶P̶

Just kidding! But this is a good starting point, so you can start to understand basic construction and get a hang of the geometry of things! Plus, unless you are planning on making sewing your career or part-time gig, this is probably as deep as you’ll ever want to get into it. Hooray!

So everything we went through was pretty basic, but let's dive into how we got there.

The best way to learn about sewing is to look at garments you already own. Take one of your shirts (I'm assuming you own at least one shirt, yes?) and flip it inside-out, including the sleeves. Let's examine this 'fabric skeleton'!

Fig A

I bet you can already see the shape we made in this video, but I'll reconstruct it anyway since there are some small differences.

So the first thing you should really be paying attention to on any garment is how it's made. Looking at it finished doesn't tell you much about the construction, so you've got to peek at the skeleton - the hems and seams. You can tell this isn't a particularly fancy or expensive shirt because of all these serge lines, although that makes it a great candidate for understanding each different piece.

Fig B

Here's a close up of the seams just to show you how they're done. By the way, for those of you newbies, these seams are all 'serged' together. This is a technique that can be done by hand (but only if you want arthritis) but is 99% of the time done by a machine that sews the edges of fabric together as it cuts, leaving you with clean edges semi-resistant to fraying. While useful, it isn't considered pretty to look at, so the fewer of these serge lines you see in the skeleton the higher quality the garment probably is. This is more true in human clothing than BJD clothing, but I thought you might be curious ^_~

Back for figure a;

If you were to take apart this skeleton you can see you'd end up with 5 major parts. Did you catch them all?

-Left Sleeve

-Right Sleeve

-Back of the shirt -Front of the shirt -Neckband

For now we'll ignore the neckband because a lot of BJD clothing is made without one, but it is something we'll talk about in a later video so it's nice to know it's there :)

In this first pattern drafting video we mostly focused on creating sleeves (in most cases the left and right will be identical) and body (much more common to be identical in BJD clothes vs human clothes). So already our 5-piece fabric skeleton has come down to just two pieces; the sleeves and body.

Let's take a quick look at what we did against this human sized shirt. Click through this slideshow to see all the steps we took in the video.

If we digitally take apart my shirt (lol) we can compare the two very easily.

Hopefully this helps you see where I'm getting this basic shape from. Of course, you will notice some differences. Some of these, like the size and shape of the neck, are because the pattern is different. The human shirt is really more of a cap-sleeve shirt than a basic t-shirt, and it has a plunging v-neck. It's also a bit more fitted.

Some differences, however, are because BJDs are not scaled the same way humans are. Art dolls may have crazy weird proportions like giant hips and zero waist, or extremely long legs with short torsos. These are things you can account for as you move forward with your pattern making.

That's all I have for today! Let me know if you have any questions ^_^