One term I taught a sort of after class in sewing to some interior design students who wanted to learn to sew. The class also attracted two brothers, welders, who I suspect were most attracted to the interior design students.
The brothers each made a very competent pair of velvet pants as their first project.
These guys didn't say much. But after watching me lay out a pattern one turned to the other brother and said,
"No worries. You cut her out flat and make 'er round."
Just like sheet metal work apparently.
This comment has stuck with me all these years as I believe it nails the secret to good pattern making, and to the signature characteristics of a good pattern.
You see fabric is flat but people are round.
To make the flat fit the round and all the round aboutness requires seams and details that are not themselves straight or flat. It also requires larger areas to be broken up into sections, or by things like seams and darts so the flat fabric can shape around the terrain. This is why a two piece sleeve hangs better than a one piece one, and why you don't get so many wrinkles and pulls in the upper chest in tops with darts.
So after decades of sewing so many patterns (I am a pattern motivated sewer) I have to tell you that just looking for these two things helps me identify a pattern that is more likely to fit (or be fitted with a few adjustments) than another:
1. There is curve to the seam lines where appropriate
2. There has not been any skimping on pattern pieces
New sewers in particular are too afraid of multiple pattern pieces. Remember those 3 or 5 easy pieces patterns the big four used to sell?
If it looks like a pillow case in the layout it is going to look like a pillow case on the body you've got.
No amount of tweaking is going to change this.
Which brings me to Indie patterns.
I have a few on taxi-ing around the RV runway at the moment and I am not sure where to begin, based on the little I know and have observed above. Sewaholic and Stylearc I don't put in this category anymore - their patterns are too good and the drafting too fine.
But I was intending on making up the very famous Scout Tee from Grainline. I have the pattern and there have been a million versions made, about a million more hacks and countless blog posts written about how it has been tweaked to fit, often over multiple iterations.
I could use a decent pull over top in a woven for warmer weather.
But compare the Scout - front, back, sleeve and with Stylearc's Vicki top:
See what I mean?
The Vicki has a front seam that would allow for gaposis adjustments, a small front dart so you would still get a fit in the shoulders and room in the bust and in the back sort of raglan seams that could very easily be used to function as back neck darts if you needed them. This would fit your modern computer working (forward shoulders etc.) , bust having, woman.
In other words you could work from the stitching lines already in the Vicki to get a great fit without much effort or knowledge. But in the Scout you would have to add these things which would require some pattern drafting skill, and in a pattern meant for beginners, not the point.
And fit matters.
Nearly every new sewer I have know who has thrown in the towel, or more often the sweated on garment thrown into the garbage, has done so because it just didn't fit or feel right.
All of this is an on ramp to the Bootstrap Boyfriend jeans pattern I am now in the process of assembling.
Here is a shot of the layout which should give you an idea of what already I think this pattern has potential:
We will see how this sews up.