Quite a few people were not in class today as there is still snow on the ground and transport system is not running smoothly. I arrived after lunch on the down side of an adrenaline rush as I had a job interview in the morning – more about that when I get some news.

Today we start on Unit 8: Developing Sewing Skills for Fashion, which basically means creating the outer layers – the dress. Initially we will be making the dress in a calico toile, so we can learn pattern cutting, try out different things, and make sure it all fits before we cut in to the expensive fabric.

I haven’t done much pattern cutting before, so this is all quite interesting. We are starting out with the bodice, so we have to:

  • Copy a basic dress block – dress or corset block provided.
  • Add 25mm seam allowance
  • Make a toile out of calico with opening at CB
  • Fit it over the corset
  • Put adjustments on to the original block.
  • Copy block with adjustments.

At some point we will also have to attach a sleeve or two.

I ended up choosing a size 10 as an 8 would be too small compared to my natural measurements.

Size 10 block My natural measurement
Front Back Total
Bust 23.5 cm 23.5 cm 96 cm 91 cm
Waist 19.5 cm 22 cm 78 cm 70 cm

Once the block was copied with seam allowance added, I cut out the pieces in calico. I forgot to bring my carbon paper, so I transferred the outline and the marking for the darts using blue water soluble pen. Unfortunately, due to my lateness, this is as far as got in the class.

Basic bodice front, cut on the double

Basic bodice front, cut on the double

Basic sleeve block

Basic sleeve block

Things to remember when using the blocks:

  • Get the front and match back piece.
  • Dress blocks have ease, corset blocks do not.
  • Blocks do not have seam allowance.
  • Measure the bust and the waist to check which is nearest size  – remember to deduct any darts
  • Block only needs to be copied from the waist up.


  • Bodice and sleeve – 18th Century


  • finish log book
  • sew up side seams on corset
  • add bias binding to bottom
  • sew up bodice toile for fitting