Hi! My name is Maria Prus-Grzybowski
I studied Patternmaking subjects at Sydney Ultimo TAFE but I am not a professional patternmaker and have never worked in the fashion or the garment production industries. As I started learning patternmaking and sewing from about the age of 40, if I can make my own sewing patterns, so can you.
As I make patterns and clothes for myself, I only make women’s patterns in styles that I like and think suit my figure. The patterns you see on this website I have made based on my Personalized Block, and I have cut out and sewn the garments.
Patternmaking Did Not Come Naturally To Me
Patternmaking and sewing did not come naturally to me. I started later in life and what drove me can be summed up in the expression: “Needs must when the devil drives,” or the more colorful version (courtesy of Blackadder): “Needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle”. I have struggled all my life to find clothing that fit well and looked good, due to my body “deviating” from the Standard Figure in a lot of ways. I just got sick of not being able to find clothes that fit, in styles that suited me in fabric that I liked and decided I had to learn to make my own clothes. I was sick of uncomfortable clothing. You may think “Well then, why not learn to sew? Why learn patternmaking?”
I really struggled in making my own Personalised Blocks and I didn’t have anyone to help during most of that time. I didn’t know anyone personally who did patternmaking or sewing in the first few years (other than my classmates during the time I was studying at TAFE, but I didn’t get to know any of them socially) and had to figure out everything for myself. I had two difficulties: (1) getting correct measurements of my figure, and (2) understanding the concepts of the how the measurements translated to the 2D Block I was making. In the process of persevering, I gained the detailed understanding I have of Block Making.
My Background & A Short History
I trained as a High School teacher but ended up in adult training, a position where I wrote lots of Instruction Manuals. Due to health reasons, in 2006 I decided to start retraining in a field where I could work from home, so I started studying Web Design and Graphic Design. I didn’t pursue formal qualifications, instead, I learned HTML, CSS and a lot of software (Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, etc) through Lynda.com (I love Lynda.com!) and studying the concepts of Graphic Design through textbooks. My plan was long term – I had a huge amount going on in my life and I knew I would have to put my studying on hold every so often due to being busy or ill, so I just plodded along over the next ten years, studying when I could. I remember thinking at the time that it was a ten-year plan, to guard against the possibility of my health making it impossible to hold down a normal full-time job.
After resigning from my last paid employment in 2012 I moved from N.S.W to S.A. and had a go at making a living through Web Design but that didn’t work out.
I was quite unwell for a while, wheelchair bound for almost a year, then bed-bound, while waiting for both of my hips to be replaced. Recovering also took a very long time. Through all of of this, when I’ve been able, I’ve worked on this website.
Creating this Website
I worked on the content of this website for about five years before putting it online – two of those years were when I was unwell. It took so long as I have built the site myself, taken the photos, created the graphics, written the instructions, made the patterns and sewn (and worn!) the clothes. I wanted a certain amount of content before launching it. There are a lot of Garment Elements still to be covered, and lots of Patterns to be made. I plan on adding to the website on an ongoing basis; this website will be a work in progress for a number of years.
You don’t have to make the patterns on my website to learn patternmaking through my instructions and exercises. Rather than making full-scale versions of the pattern or sewing the clothing, you can just follow along with the Third Scale Blocks I supply and make a third scale version of the pattern. This way you can learn and practice the theory. After you are comfortable with the principles you can then apply what you have learned to make your own patterns that suit your style and figure. (After you have first made and tested your own Personalized Block, of course!)
The Start of my Patternmaking Odyssey
The first image above is a vector graphic I created using a photo taken in 2003, the second is the original photo.
I created the vector graphic when I first had the idea of this website, to use on the About Me Page, and until recently this was the photo at the top of this page.
The photo has sentimental value to me as it relates to patternmaking. The top I’m wearing is the first top I tried to make myself, without a pattern, before I started studying patternmaking at TAFE. It was basically the very beginning of my patternmaking odyssey. (It was certainly more than a “journey”!!)
When I first had the concept of this website I created the vector graphic to use on the About Me page. However, I am now so much older that I felt I had to update the photo with the one currently at the top of the page, but I’m keep this one here for sentimental purposes.