Learn How to Draft the Basic Pants Pattern, Part 1 (Introduction & Measurements)See my YouTube Channel for all my videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiWmFg4YtA0t30V5da3YUeA Subscribe to be notified of when I upload new content.
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Beautiful dreamer awake unto me.
Starlight and dew drops are waiting for thee.
Hello, this is Maria from Dresspatternmaking.com. In this video, I’m going to walk you through how to draft the Pants Block. I’ll be drafting the Pants Front first as the Front is used to help draft the Back. This is Part One of three videos on drafting the Pants Block, Inn these videos, I go through drafting the pants for 4 different figure shapes as shown below.
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Part 1 of these videos is Introduction & Measurements. The detail about these shapes and what I mean by “Standard” is covered in this video. If you have tried other parts making instructions in the past and the puzzled why you don’t get a good fit, this part explains the assumptions that are built into most parts block making instructions which assume the Standard Figure.
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Most Block Making Instructions originate in the Fashion industry where they work well for the Standard Figure that they’ve been designed for. But they don’t always work quite so well for Non-Standard Figures. The second part of this first video covers the measurements you will need to draft the parts using my instructions. Part 2 of these videos is where we start drafting the parts.
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The beginning of Part 2 is relevant to all the four figure types, up to when we get to the basic outline of the pants front. This point here – on this graphic, After that, in Part 2, I go through finishing off the Pants Front for the Standard Figure, and then I do it for my measurements. Still in Part 2 of the videos, I then draft the Pants Back for the Standard Figure and then the Pants Back for my figure – Maria.
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In Part 3, I go through drafting the pants for the other two figure shapes, continuing from the point in Part 2 that I showed you earlier. So I don’t start again right from the beginning. So I finish drafting the Pants Front and I draft the Pants Back for both of those figure types. Now I recommend that if you want to understand the shape of pant and how to get a better fit, I recommend you watch the instructions for all Four Figures, not just the one that might be more like yours.
00:02:07:17 – 00:02:29:09
Also, I’m not covering every single figure type and permutation, but if you watch all the examples, you should get a basic understanding of how the pant fits and how to draft your Pants Block to fit you. There are different shapes of pants with different amounts of ease. On the left I’ve indicated the shape of trousers which fall straight down from the bottom without cupping
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the bottom. They have wide legs and a generous amount of ease in the upper thigh, for example, 4 inches ease or more. When I talk about the Upper Thigh, I mean the thigh at the crotch level. In the middle I’ve indicated the shape of slacks. They are more fitting, following the curve of the body, but still have about two and a half inches ease in the upper thigh.
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Jeans are close to fitting and cup under the bottom. They usually have between one and two inches ease in the Upper Thigh. My instructions in these videos are for drafting Slacks. If you want a Trouser Block, or a Jeans Block, you can always create them from the Slack Block rather than drafting them from scratch. The instructions in these videos are focusing on Non-Standard Figures.
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Although I do draft a block for a Standard Figure, it is more for explanatory purposes. If you have a Standard Figure, you could also use these instructions, but you may find there’s too much information for you. You could use a simpler method with less measurements and get the same outcome. These videos are not limited to just the instructions for drafting the block.
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I’m also going into a bit of detail regarding Pants Fitting Issues, as they relate to Block-Making. Specifically for people who may have tried other block making methods for pants and who want to understand the issues rather than just follow connect-the-dot kind of instructions. I am the kind of person who prefers to know the why and how, and I guess I’m giving the information that I wish I had when I was first drafting my first Pants Block.
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If you have a Non-Standard Figure, you’ll get a much closer or a better fit following these instructions, but that is not to say that you’re going to get an absolutely perfect fit. You might still have some work to do afterwards to perfect the fit, but I should hope that you will have the necessary information to know what the problems are and how to fix them.
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Given that there are a lot of different figure shapes and different things need to be done in the block making process to account for things such as a longer crotch length or larger stomach, drafting just one block will not cover all of these issues. So besides the traditional hourglass shape, that is the Standard Figure, I’ll be drafting three other figure shapes.
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One of them is for my measurements and my figure shape. I have a triangular type figure as in the bottom part of the letter A – that kind of triangle. There is a larger difference between my waist and hips that is the standard. My Upper Thigh is small in proportion to my bottom, and I also have a large protruding bottom and a dropped bottom.
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The second figure I’ll be drafting for is Jane. Jane is actually very slim and has a smallish waist, but her hips are smaller in proportion to her waist than is standard, So her torso is squarer in shape rather than the ideal hourglass. She also has smaller Upper Thighs than standard in comparison to her hips. She has a flattish bottom, but she also has a drop bottom.
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The third figure Anne. The widest part of Anne’s hips is her High Hip so she has an apple shape, she has a large stomachm ger thighs are still smaller than is usual for her hip size and she has a flat bottom. Let me just clarify what I mean by the Standard Figure as it relates to pants. The Standard Figure has about ten inches difference between the waist and the hips.
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So you can see by these shapes how the Standard Figure differs from the three I’m drafting. However, I want you to keep in mind that these flat two dimensional shapes are very limiting in describing figures. The Standard Figure is not just about measurements, it’s about the proportion within those measurements, and that’s not obvious from these two dimensional shapes.
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Fit is not only about measurements, it’s about the proportion within those measurements. So this means that you could have the same measurements as the standard figure, but not have the same shape. So when I talk about Standard Figure, it is the figure that the fashion industry is making clothes for. It includes the measurements and proportions favored by the fashion industry.
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When you go clothes shopping, if you find it relatively easy to find ready-to-wear clothing that fits, then you probably have a fairly Standard Figure. You might not know what size you are, but if you try on one size and it doesn’t fit, then you go up or down to size and you find a size that fits.
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If you have a Non-Standard Figure, it doesn’t work like that. An example of that is you might get a pair of pants that fits you in the hips perfectly, but it’s just enormous in the waist. Obviously, you can’t go down to size for the waist because it won’t fit you in the hips and maybe you can’t even put a belt on because cinching the waist in makes it far too short in the crotch and it’s painful.
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So if you have a Non-Standard Figure, you may differ to the Standard Figure in some measurements, in shape, or in measurements AND shape. Now, there are two terms that relate to the structure of the pants that I want to cover. The top part of the pant is called the ‘foundation’ – that is from the waist down to the crotch.
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That’s the torso part. Below the crotch is the leg-line. When we’re drafting the block, it’s important to focus on the foundation first and get that fitting correctly. You might not like how wide the leg is on this block. You might not like the tapering of the leg, but that’s taste, that’s fashion. And you can focus on the shape of the leg when drafting your patterns.
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We are concerned in getting enough ease in the leg to sit down and move. But other than that, the shape of the leg is not the focus when drafting the block. We want to focus on getting the foundation correct – fitting well first. I want to go through the standard measurements that are commonly used for drafting pants, that most block- making instructions use for drafting them.
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Then show you where the assumptions are that create problems for non-standard figures. I’ll then go through the extra measurements that you will need to draft your pants to get a better fit. Basically, we will, with the help of the extra measurements, do the fitting steps that are generally done AFTER you draft the block. For example, generally you draft the block, you make your toile, then you go to the fitting section of a book that says, you know, if your toile doesn’t fit – these are the adjustments that you make – and see how you make the adjustments for a large bottom or large thighs or small thighs.
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Well, what we’re going to do is we’re going to try and get most of those main differences sorted out within the block making process before we make our first toile. First will cover the common length measurements. Pant Block Making instructions will often use four or five length measurements. That is, vertical measurements down the length of your body. Firstly, is waist to low hip.
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Secondly is the waist to the crotch level, which is also called the crotch depth. Waist to knee, which is the middle of the knee. And lastly, waist to ankle, You could alternatively do waist to floor, but we’re going to do waist to ankle. So those were the length measurements and now we come to the width measurements. Quite a few block making instructions only have two.
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These width measurements relate to the ‘foundation’ of the block. Remember, the foundation is the torso part from the waist down to the crotch. As we covered earlier, the foundation is what we really want to focus on for fitting. Now, the first of the two width measurements is the Hip measurement. So the circumference of the Low Hip that is defined as the widest part of your body below the waist.
00:09:23:24 – 00:09:47:08
The second of the width measurements is your Waist circumference. Now, before we go any further, I want to talk a bit about the fact that this block is to the waist. Even if you hate waisted pants and all of your pants are low rise and down on your hips, you need to draft the block to your waist for various reasons. For one, if you want the draft,, if you want to draft the pants two inches down or one inch down from your waist, well, you need to know where your waist is to draft those pants.
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You need the waist as a reference point. Also, you may want to draft a jumpsuit, high waisted pants or other garments that need the waist. So you definitely need to draft the pants to your waist, but then you can make your patterns at whatever depth suits you. Now there are two other width measurements that are sometimes also used in block making instructions for pants.
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That’s the High Hip, which is generally around 4 to 5 inches down from the waist and the Calf. We will use the High Hip, but we won’t be using the Calf because I think we’ll be adding sufficient ease to the knee – so that also fits you in the calf. If you have really large calf muscles, you’ll have to take that into account when drafting your patterns.
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Now we’re going to look at some of the assumptions in the block-making instructions that use just the width measurements that we’ve covered so far. The Hip, High Hip and Waist. Those are not enough to draft a well-fitting block – for some of us. The first assumption is the length of the crotch extensions. They are shown as the pink lines in this graphic.
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The green lines are the hip measurement and the pink portion is the crotch extension. The crotch extension is the bit of fabric that goes between your legs to create the bifurcated garment. In most block making instructions, these crotch extensions are calculated as a proportion of your hip, But if you really look at the pants, you should notice that the hip-plus-extension is really the measurement of your Upper Thigh.
00:11:15:21 – 00:11:42:09
So your thigh at crotch level. So basically the thigh measurement is being assumed. When I say it’s assumed for a Standard Figure, it’s simply works out for that hip measurement. The calculation that they do for the crotch extension works out to be correct for the thigh, but for Non-Standard Figures, that crotch extension will mean either that you have too much ease in the thigh or you have not enough length in the thigh.
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So we will add the Upper Thigh measurement to the list of measurements that will help us get a better fit. So remember I covered earlier how much ease is in the trouser, the slack and the jeans? The trouser was about four inches ease. The slack; two and a half. Jeans; 1 to 2 inches ease. Well, to give you an example of how this makes a difference to me, if I calculate my back and front extensions on my hip, I end up with close to four inches ease in the thigh on a slack, which is apparently the amount of the ease needed for trousers rather than slacks. And for trousers
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I end up with five and three quarter inches ease, instead of four. So obviously it’s best to start with our thigh measurement and add the amount of ease that we need for a slack rather than use some kind of calculation based on our hip, which may or may not work out well for us. Now, the second main assumption that is made in most mock making instructions is related to that same extension. With a standard figure,
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the extension that’s calculated based as a percentage of the hip – not only gives the desired amount of ease in the thigh, it also just happens to magically end up with the correct crotch length for both the front and the back blocks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out so neatly or magically for Non-Standard Figures. And you end up with a crotch length that’s too short or too long.
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Or you might actually have the crotch length, but it’s all in the Thigh – where you don’t want it. So if we add the crotch length to our list of measurements and we make it exactly for our correct crotch ength, and we put it in the correct place – not just add it to the crotch extension, which makes it bigger in the thigh – then we will have a better fitting block at the end of it.
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Now, just on that same topic, some block making instructions say that if you don’t have the crotch length you need, then you extend the extension. But remember that that makes the thigh bigger. Earlier I mentioned that if I draft pants with instructions that base the extension on my hip measurement, I end up with too much ease in the thigh, much too much ease.
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And yet the crotch length is still too short. So I’ve already got a lot of ease. And if I then extend it further to get my crotch length, then I have just an enormous amount of ease in my thigh and then my pants end up looking like a very unflattering pair of jodhpurs. So now we’ll go through the measurements we need in a bit of detail, particularly to talk about how to take them and some exceptions for different body shapes.
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Firstly, waist to ankle measure, your Waist-to-Ankle down the side of your body, not the center front or the center back. Make sure that when you’re taking your measurements, you tie a piece of elastic around your waist so that you are always measuring from the same spot for the vertical measurements. Secondly, Waist-to-High-Hip and your High Hip circumference. Measure down 4 to 5 inches from your waist – again at the side of your body, not the center front or the center back.
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When I say 4 to 5 inches, if you’re quite short, make that four, if you’re medium height, four and a half. If you’re tall, make that five inches. So you are noting down two measurements; the depth you are taking the measurement and the circumference at that depth. Now your Waist-to-Low-Hip measurement and your Low Hip circumference, again, the vertical measurement is taken down the side of your body, not the center front or the center back.
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Generally, your low hip is the widest part of your torso below your waist and above the legs. You measure not only the circumference but the depth from your waist to where you are taking that measurement so that you know where down your body you are the widest. Now there are a couple of exceptions. If the widest part of your body is at your high hip, or if the widest part of your body is at your crotch level, I don’t want you to use that depth or that measurement as your low hip measurement.
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Now, I’ll give you the reason so it makes sense. We want to measurements between your waist and your crotch level. So if your high hip or your crotch level is the widest part, then consider your low hip to be two and three quarter inches above your crotch level. So take the measurement at two and three quarter inches above your crotch level and use that measurement as your low hip measurement.
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Do not use the widest part of your body at that for that low hip measurement. Okay. Now I just want to clarify, because if for the high hip, it’s obvious that you’ve got that high hip measurement there as part of your block, but if you’re widest at your crotch level, you might think, well, my block is not going to be wide enough.. If the widest part of your body is around your crotch level, then you will get your width through both your thigh measurement and the crotch curve.
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And it will make sense when you watch the videos where I’m drafting those blocks. So to reiterate, if the widest part of your body is at the crotch level – or if it’s at your high hip – for the purpose of drafting this block, you will consider your lower hip to be two and three quarter inches above your crotch level.
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And you will measure there and you will use the measurement that is at that level. Now, your crotch depth and upper thigh circumference. Tie piece of elastic around your upper thigh, right up at crotch level. Make sure the elastic is parallel to the floor – when you look at it from the front and the side. Measure down from your waist – down the side, not the front or the back – from your waist to the elastic. Again,
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…you want to note the depth measurement, which is the crotch depth. And we want the circumference, the thigh circumference. Now your knee depth and knee circumference; make sure you measure again down the side from the waist to the mid knee for the circumference. Make sure your knee is fully bent so you can sit comfortably in the pants. Now we need the crotch length and we need it split between the front and the back, which is not just the full crotch length divided by two.
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For example, my back crotch length is almost four and a half inches more than my front crotch length. Now the standard way to take this measurement is to get a tape measure and measure from your center front through your legs, up to the center back or from the center back through your legs up to the center front, from waist to waist.
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Getting this measurement correct is essential, but it’s the kind of measurement that you can take five times and get five different results and you’re not really sure if which one is right. So I have a suggestion of how to get this measurement correct. It is a bit fiddly. It might sound odd, it’s a bit time consuming, but it’s a crucial measurement to get right.
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And if you really, really want a well-fitting pair of pants, you might save yourself grief if you take my suggestion. So in the next slide, I’ll show you what I’m talking about. Now, this is hard to explain and hard to show you, because my real life one is no no more clear than this graphic that I’ve created to try and show you what I’m talking about.
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So you just have to pay attention and listen. It’s going to take a bit of time. I’m showing you here what I suggest you make and wear for 10 minutes. You’ll need to wear something like very close fitting pair of, like, a pair of bike shorts. You’re going to make this and wear it over a pair of bike shorts around the house for a little while.
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Sit down in it. Bend down in it and see if it’s comfortable. See if it pulls down the back or not. You will be sure of the measurement at the end, so you need a firm piece of elastic to tie around your waist. Don’t use really wide left. It will be hard to determine where your waistline is on the width of that elastic.
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Now in this graphic, the elastic is the orange bit, so you’ll then need a piece of twill type or some kind of very stable tape with no stretch whatsoever. So that’s shown by the black tape on this graphic. Now here are the instructions. Tie the elastic around your waist so that it’s firm but not too tight. You’ll need to get it over your hips.
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So it needs to stretch that much, but it needs to be firm, elastic, and it needs to fit comfortably around your waist once you’ve tied it off, measure two halfway marks, keeping the marks away from the tie and mark the halfway points with a texta – a permanent marker. On one of those halfway points fold over and sew down a piece of twill tape sewed onto the elastic
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so it doesn’t move – so over the elastic, make sure it’s firm. So put this on over your hips, onto your waist. So that sewn end of the tool tape is at your center back, and pull the other end of the twill tape through your legs and bring it up over the elastic. Kind of like using your your tape, except with your tape, you’re not going to wear it around and you’re not going to want to sew your tape measure.
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So hold it there and pull it tight. Let it loose till it feels comfortable, but not too loose. Mark the point at the front where it’s fold over or put a safety pin in there and take it off. Once you’ve taken it off, sew the twill tape and cut off the rest of the tape, maybe keeping just a little bit in case you need to let it out again. On the sewing machine,
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sew down the second end. When it’s sewn – and it will look like something something like the graphic shown, put it on over your bike shorts and wear it for 10 minutes. Sit down in it, see if it pulls down at the back. If it pulls down a tiny fraction, that’s okay. If it pulls down a lot, you’ll need to let it let it out a bit and re-sew it
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If it’s loose then tighten it. When you’re absolutely sure that it’s the right length, you’ll need to reach between your legs and mark the point between the front and the back. Put a safety pin in there or market somehow, Use the seam in the bike shorts that would indicate where the front ends and the back starts because the bike shorts will sit in the correct place for your body,
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generally… With that point clearly marked, take this off and measure the back length and the front length. You’ll need to decide whether you need to measure from the top of the elastic or the bottom of the elastic. Make sure you’re consistent. And as I said, that elastic should not be very wide, so hopefully it shouldn’t make too much difference.
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Now keep this tiny little sumo nappy or whatever you want to call it. Don’t throw it away – seriously! So if you when you make your toiile it seems that the crotch length might be wrong and you’re not sure that the front and back ratio is correct, try this on again, if only to confirm that you’ve got it right. If something is wrong on the toile, at least you can be sure of your crotch length.
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Seriously, I have tried mine on a number of times. You know, when I started this and I and I still have it and it has been invaluable. So again, it’s time consuming, it’s a bit fiddly, but if you are at all unsure about your crotch length, I suggest you do this. Now, one last thing for this video, because next we are going to start actually drafting the pants.
00:22:20:02 – 00:22:39:15
And as I said, that’s in part two. Now I just want to cover the amount of paper you’re going to need to draft your pants. Now, firstly, I’m going to show you how much you need for the pants front. You’ll need a similar amount, but a bit wider for the pants back. If you’ve got wide enough paper, it actually helps to do them side by side because it means you don’t have to re-draw all of those guidelines –
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– the waist to ankle or the crotch depth again, If you draw all the way across the paper, wide paper, you do your front and your back next to each other. And those guidelines can be used for both. So for the front, your paper needs to be approximately 12 inches wider than your thigh measurement divided by two. That’s your upper thigh measurement.
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One of the measurements we needed. So take your upper thigh measurement divided by two – add 12 inches. That is going to give it a little bit of room at the sides. We don’t want to be scratching around for enough room. The length of it needs to be your waist to ankle, plus an extra six inches or so again.
00:23:16:12 – 00:23:45:11
So we’re not scratching around trying to find the room if we need to move up and down at the back. Okay. So this is the introduction and measurements finished. The instructions start in Part 2. Now I’m three quarters of the way there in Part 2 and I’ve got a lot of Part 3 done already. It’s just these … yes, the graphics the amount of graphics, the amount of work has taken me a lot longer than I originally had hoped.
00:23:45:19 – 00:24:06:00
So today is Sunday, the 24th of May. And I really, really, really hope to have Part 2 out within the next couple of days. As I said, I’m three quarters of the way there. If I work on it all day tomorrow, it’ll be up by Tuesday. But it will be done as soon as I can. And Part 3 shortly after that.
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Most of the work’s done. I’ve just got to finish it off. Okay. So this is Maria from dress pattern making. See you in Part 2.
Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me.
Starlight and dew drops are waiting for thee.
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day.