Fundamentals of Pattern Making: Waist Tucks

Fundamentals of Pattern Making: Waist Tucks

Rodarte, AW11, New York.

There are a myriad of ways that you can make fabric mould to the curves of the body and one option which was used to great effect in the Rodarte Autumn-Winter 2011 collection was through the use of small waist tucks.

The use of multiple tucks in place of darts became an integral part of the collection and appeared on many pieces, helping to create a silhouette with a nipped in waist.

Tucks are essentially very similar to darts but have the fabric released at the point, rather than being sewn all the way through to the apex of the dart. The basic method is similar to the approach used to create clusters of darts, as described in the post Fundamentals of Pattern Making: Viktor & Rolf Dart Clusters». So if you have a pattern that has dart clusters already, you can make a very simple change to the way that the darts are marked in order to change them to tucks, basically just referencing step 10 onwards in the following instructions.

Below are the instructions and diagrams for how to move the dart value from a bust dart to a cluster of 3 waist tucks. This has been done using the “Cut and Spread” method of pattern making. Essentially it is easiest to move the value into 3 dart shapes first, and then just mark them as darts.

  1. Trace off your pattern onto a new piece of card or paper so that you will not damage your original pattern. Next draw on 3 guidelines to indicate where you want your waist tucks to end up (I’ve indicated these in blue) You will also need to draw lines from the notches on your darts to bust point, note that this is not to dart point, but all the way to bust point (this old dart value is marked in red).
  2. Draw lines from the top of the new guide darts up to bust point. Then cut along the new guidelines from the waist to bust point, without quite cutting all the way through the card, leaving it slightly joined at bust point. You will need a small amount of card in there to be able to hinge the pattern. Also cut out the old dart value, which is marked in red.
  3. Next swing the bottom right hand corner of the pattern up to close out the bust dart and tape this dart closed. This will open up space between the 3 new guide darts.
  4. Tape this pattern to a new piece of card so that you can trace off the result of the cut and spread onto the new card below. Trace where I have marked in red, making sure to transfer the bust point onto the new card, as well as any notches which are along the red line.
  5. Next keep the rest of the pattern taped down but swing the pieces of cardboard for the waist darts to get an even spread of dart value. Basically the space between the pieces of cardboard is going to represent your new dart values so you will want them to be even. The pattern will still work if the dart value is uneven but you will get a better fit and nicer look on the inside of the garment if the dart value is the same. Where the lines bend will be the area of the new dart points. Measure between the gaps and make a mark half way along the line to represent your new guide dart point (this is marked in red, with the halfway points being marked in yellow). Do the same along the gaps in the waist stitching line, also marked below in red and yellow.
  6. Draw in the new darts as below, and draw some rough markings for where the new waist line will be (marked below in red).
  7. You can now remove the first pattern that we used for the cut and spread technique. Mark on the centre lines of the new darts/tucks.
  8. You can now cut out all of the pattern except for the waistline. Fold out the dart value on the waistline as indicated.
  9. Next you will need to create a blended line for the new waistline. Keep your original waist seamline measurement in mind when marking this, comparing the new stitching line to the measurement along the waist stitching line of the original pattern. Mark in new waist seam allowance. Cut out the waist seam while all the dart value is still folded out. 
  10. This is the step where you will need to mark your pattern differently depending if you want darts or tucks. For tucks, you will need to mark a squared off stitching line, and two drill holes that will be used to indicate the stitching line on the fabric for the machinist. Depending on the size of the tuck, you will need to mark the drill hole about 5mm in from the corner of the stitching line, so that it won’t be visible once the square stitching line is sewn. On smaller tucks where there is less space, you may have to simply put the drill hole halfway between the stitching line and the centre line. 
  11. Tucks seem to be marked in a variety of different ways by different pattern makers, so the important thing is to mark it in the preferred method of your machinist or manufacturer, or to make sure that they at least understand how you have marked your pattern. For the method shown above, I suggest notching the arms of the tuck at the seam allowance and using two drill holes. This means that your machinist will be able to match notch to notch and drill hole to drill hole in order to sew the tuck. Using arrows will also help to show which notches need to be matched, as sometimes if you don’t have an arrow, and have also notched the centre line of the tuck, the notches can become very confusing. Most pattern makers also circle their drill holes for production as a drill hole can be small and easily missed, but once circled will become highlighted to the cutter.
  12. To check that the finished pattern is correct, compare the stitching lines of the armhole and waistline for the old and new patterns. Even though you have moved the dart value in tucks the measurements should be the same – you have only moved the dart value, not made major alterations to the fit of the garment so you will not have wanted to make the armhole or waist line bigger or smaller.

Catwalk images from Vogue.co.uk» Technical images from The Cutting Class.

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