September 15, 2014

Hidden pitfall in your work on pattern

Today I will talk with you about one tiny problem, which all of you, unfortunately, have in your pattern making, and you even don’t know about it. I had seen this mistake in the work of my College students and I keep seeing this problem in your work as well. To be honest, I didn’t give it a lot of attention before, but this behavior pattern repeating itself and it needs to change. 

Most of you cut your patterns not accurately and make a sloppy work. I can see it in almost all pictures, which you share with me.

We always talk about the right applying of the design on the shoe last, calculations during construction of the pattern, good fitting of patterns on the last, but we never talk about accurately cutting of the cardboard.

It was so natural to me that you need to cut all lines of the pattern (especially top lines of pumps, flat ballet shoes, and set) in smooth, curved lines without any bumps, ugly angles because that is how I always worked and that is why I didn’t emphasize it. That’s why I called it a tiny problem, small and unsuspected, but with great impact on your work.


Consequences of your sloppy work on your shoe pattern

1. You use your cardboard patterns to cut leather to make your own shoes. So when you have ugly cardboard pattern with bumpy lines, leather cutting will be difficult.  You will need to cut the same line with bumps on the leather and it’s really hard to do so on leather.

Hidden-pitfall pattern-1


2. If you have folding on your patterns, you will fold your leather pattern according to the edge of the pattern. And if you have an incorrect line of the edge you may get unequal uppers of both half’s of your shoes and at the same time complicate your folding.

3. If you have raw cuts in your upper and your cardboard pattern was cut inaccurately, at the end you will get low-quality shoes.

4. If you made a sloppy pattern of your shoe prototype (size 37), so when you will grade all other sizes, they will also have the same mistake.

5. Clean cut cardboard patterns testify the skill of the pattern maker. One of my teachers (one the best shoemakers I know) always checked the accuracy of my patterns and if I made a sloppy work on some patterns, even the smallest one, he made me redo it.

A quick fix to your sloppy pattern

1. You can attach a small piece of cardboard to the place where you have an inaccurate line on your cardboard and rebuild it.


2. You can sand the edges of your pattern with medium grit sanding paper (400-1000). Just don’t change the edges of your pattern too much. 

Hidden-pitfall-4Hidden-pitfall pattern

3. Redo your pattern. Don’t be lazy and make a new pattern, It is worth it.

The accurate pattern making it is not the pursuit of perfection; it is a requirement to make your own shoes in a professional way. If you want to learn more about different pattern making techniques, techniques to solve most of your shoe making problems, you are invited to visit this derectlry: “Shoe pattern and templates”.

If you have this problem and you think this post helped you let me know by leaving a comment right here.

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. Yesterday I spent most of my time fixing and correcting my pattern. I totally agree how important a clean lines it all makes sense now great article!

  2. Thanks for reminding us about our patterns –and the images were great examples. I liked the idea of straigthening the line in the paper with sand paper. I’ve used the fill-with-paper method on garment patterns before.

    I find that using the proper tools (rulers without dings, French curves, mechanical pencils with good points, etc) also helps to ensure that the pattern shapes are accurate and smooth. (My background includes many years as a 1st & production patternmaker in NYC. I, too, had a great pattern teacher in the business.)

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