What is a basic block?

All pattern cutting should start with learning how to draft a basic block. But what exactly are these mystical “blocks” that we hear so much about? 

In short, the answer is that they are the foundation or starting point of all patterns. 

Still confused?….

Try to think of it this way…A block is the basic body shape,  they contain all the basic body measurements plus garment ease. 
They follow the body shape but don’t contour to it, which makes them the perfect starting point for most future patterns!

Here’s what my bodice and skirt block look like on the body.
You can see how simple they are and how they skim the basic body shape.

Once you’ve drafted your own block it’s SO IMPORTANT to toile or mock it up in calico. 

You’ve got to remember that when you’re drafting blocks you’re using a formula which is assuming that you are perfectly symmetrical. Which of course… none of us are!
So to overcome this and check out our shaping and curves we’ve got to toile, fit and amend our blocks.

If you can manage to get a great block that fits you well, then you’re setting yourself up for pattern cutting success! Here’s 3 reasons why:

  • Any "perfect fit" areas will transfer through into any new patterns you create
  • You'll get to know your proportions on paper
  • If you draft a pattern and it's not quite working how you expect, then a lot of the time you can locate the problem by referring back to your block and comparing it to your new pattern

Different types of basic blocks

As well as having our set of basic blocks (bodice, skirt, dress and trouser) we can also begin collecting blocks for any number of details or areas of patterns to use as the basis of future patterns. 

For example, I drafted a simple raglan sleeve so now I have a raglan block to start all my more complicated raglan designs from. 
I have lots of blocks that I constantly refer back to, here are just a few:

  • Basic shirt block (so handy to have a collar shape that I know I can rely on!)
  • Basic jacket and coat blocks
  • Kimono block
  • Culotte Block
  • Wrap top/dress block
It’s also handy to have some extra internal lines on your blocks so that you can easily use one block to trace off different types of fits. 
For example, I have internal lines on my bodice block around the armhole and bust area to show where I would need to trace off if I am wanting to do a top without sleeves (slightly smaller bust and narrower shoulder for anyone wondering). 
I also have the same thing showing different heights of necklines on on my block

How to draft a skirt block

So now that you know what a block is it’s time to start drafting your custom blocks! 

I’d recommend starting with the skirt block as this is by far the easiest in the set. 

Drafting from a book on your own can be hard and complicated so why not join me on in one of my classes where I take you through step by step how to draft!

If you would prefer to take a class in the comfort of your own home, then I offer an online class titled
“Pattern Cutting for Beginners: How to Draft a Skirt Block” via Skillshare.
If you follow the link below you’ll get 2 months for free when you sign up and access to hundreds of other classes too.
Keep an eye out for my new classes which I’ll be releasing soon! 

Buying basic blocks

We don’t all have time to draft our own basic blocks so if you’re looking to buy some then you can buy a basic bodice and skirt block from me HERE!
And I would also highly recommend the ones made by Shoben Fashion media if you’re after  more specialist blocks.

If you’re after some half scale blocks to experiment and play with then you can download mine for FREE here! 

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