The Vermeer Project: Stage 3

project-vermeer-paintingThere are a lot of historic clothing patterns available on the internet for free. 300 years ago, you didn’t have the variety of design you have now. The variety lay in what you did with the basic underlying garment.

A sacque gown, for example, was pretty much the same construction no matter what. But the trim; now that’s where things got exciting.

So, designs were not copyrighted the way they are now, which means you can copy ’till the cows come home. Not to mention, I imagine any patents would be defunct now anyway.

The problem is that any available patterns don’t print off the web in the appropriate size. They’re ity bitty and you’re expected to get things to the right size on your own. Last time around, I used a copy machine to enlarge. This time, I didn’t have the time so I had to use alternative means.

There are a few ways to make a pattern bigger:

  1. Use an overhead projector and move it around until the correct size appears on the wall and trace onto paper.
  2. Use a grid method. 1/8th of an inch to a full inch scale. Graph paper comes in handy.
  3. Use the radial method where you draw lines radiating out from a central point and perform some sort of magic and create the larger pattern.

Enlarging patterns with the grid method.

I had thought I would try the radial method but I didn’t have much success with that so I used the trusty grid method. I happened to have graph paper which helps immensely. After a few hours of work, I now have basic pattern pieces. For this jacket, there is a shoulder piece, a front, side, and back bodice, and sleeves.

The next step will be to create a working version out of old sheets. Unlike the patterns you purchase in a sewing store, these do not have markings or seam allowances or anything remotely helpful. Therefore it is very important to have a sloppy copy you can tweak until the fit is just so. Then you dismantle and cut out your good fabric and voila!


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