When you hear 'Chinelo Bally' you'd be forgiven for thinking of last year's Great British Sewing Bee winner. Inexplicably, Chinelo wasn't actually crowned the winner, but her enviable talent and creativity when it comes to freehand drafting and all things sewing, have certainly got her far since the show. When Pavillion asked if I wanted to review a project from her brand new book, Freehand Fashion, I couldn't resist having a go at chanelling the legend that is Chinelo!
However, having to fit this project into the margins of my time resulted in a major error. I chose to make the Hi-Low Top for speed's sake, knowing full well it wouldn't suit my shape. Although I enjoyed the freehand drafting process very much, it's a crying shame that I won't be wearing this top.
There were so many interesting things about the process though, that I barely know where to start! The book first takes you through drafting blocks for pretty much any pattern piece and then it moves onto the projects where you can put your blocks into practice. Drafting your pattern pieces involves taking detailed measurements that you plot onto muslin fabric or paper, drawing lines or curves to join them all together. Best of all, seam allowances are included at the plotting stage, so you don't have to worry about adding them in later!
I played it safe and drafted my top onto paper, as I felt drafting onto fabric could have resulted in additional waste. In hindsight, I should have gone with fabric and treated it as a proper muslin, to test the fit along the way. Naively, due to the number of measurements required, I thought fit was a sure thing. Turns out it's not and in the end I was pretty unhappy with the bust dart placement, the armhole shape, the way the neckline sits and the overall bagginess. I ended up having to take the side it by a couple of centrimetres each side and it's still not a great fit.
The biggest lesson I learned from this experience is that having Chinelo's book doesn't automatically equip you with Chinelo's skills. There's still a lot that can go wrong when drafting all-important curves, but nothing a bit of practice can't rectify, I'm sure.
The fact remains that I thoroughly enjoyed the meticulous drafting process, which I found oddly therapautic. With Chinelo's guidance, I'm inspired to nail freehand drafting, if only to tackle some of the more advanced and seriously stonking patterns in the book!
If you'd like to have a go and stretch your skills, then Pavillion have offered up a free copy to a lucky reader in the UK. Leave a comment with your email address below, by midnight (GMT) on Saturday 21 November!
Don't just take my word on all this though, English Girl at Home and Pavillion Craft have already shares their reviews, with more projects coming from:
The Foldine - Sunday 15 November
Lady Sewalot - Monday 16 November
Almond Rock - Tuesday 17 November
House of Pinheiro - Wednesday 18 November