Russian drafting: girdles, panties & bras
My friend Rita lent me some of her Russian pattern drafting books -Russian pattern drafting being my some time obsession but if you saw some of these, you’d understand. Case in point is one book on the pattern drafting of lingerie such as girdles, panties and bras (I confess to keyword stuffing but too few would know to search for “foundations” which is what these items are called). The book I’ve culled from is copyright 1976 but the paper quality is such that it requires careful handling. I’m still researching as to whether this title is available (please don’t ask if it comes in English, I sincerely doubt it and unlike the Japanese books, you do need to read the text) but suspect it is not. Truly, I think the greater kindness would be to shave off its binding, scan it page by page and reprint it on sturdier paper but I wouldn’t know how to have that conversation. But I digress.
From a previous entry on hat pattern making, you can see the Russians do things quite a bit differently.There is a lot more math to it -take for example, this page of formulas of which I can make neither hide nor hair.
The most novel approach is their concept of body mapping by means of contour rods and or a 3D pantograph (there is a better word for this tool but I can’t think of it just now). Transcribing contours with rods is nothing new; it’s been a common if not archaic practice in anthropometry. This book illustrates it as shown at right but there is a photo of the same as used by Rockwell International’s Space Division in Roebuck’s book on page 35.
Speaking of the image at right, in the right side of the picture, the torso pattern looks very similar to anatomically correct doll patterns.If you strip away bust shaping, you get a much different picture of human anatomy. The former varies greatly, the latter not so much.
The other drafting concept used heavily in this book is measuring and application via triangulation. We don’t do much of this in Western drafting (to include US, UK & German). A sample of what I mean is below. On the left, measures are taken. On the right, the measures have been applied in a draft.
Triangulation means to measure from one fixed point to another and from there to still another -some argue this is more accurate. In western drafting, we measure mostly on planes, cross sections of the body (illustrated by the contour rods above) or what we call Cartesian coordinates. I don’t know that I have ever drafted via wholly triangulated measures but we all do a variation of it probably every day without realizing it. Say in determining the placement of a detail on a bodice; you determine design placement based on a triangulated measure (down from neck, shoulder or above bust dart end) as opposed to the X-Y Cartesian coordinates. It seems logical that triangulation is probably the best method of the two for highly contoured garments like bras and girdles.
On the other hand, measuring via planes (body slices if you will) is fine for most applications. The results also provide insight, take for example the image at right which displays various anatomical landmark points of measure overlaid on each other. [The image would probably be more effective if color coded.] The concept of examining the body in terms of planes (slices) isn’t new, Wampen popularized it in the 1800′s.
If you are interested, I uploaded more images of triangulated girdle drafts. I realize nobody makes girdles anymore unless they’re into historically accurate garments or into re-enactment but I think the drafting of them is useful because they must be tightly defined and contoured to fit the body in the same way corsets are. Anyway, see these images if you’re interested:
- Triangulated shell, draft one,
- Triangulated shell, draft two,
- Triangulated girdle, draft one (I opened with this),
- Triangulated girdle, draft two
I look at this and this other one and don’t know what to make of it. Any guesses?
So that’s my off-the-wallness for the day, don’t know if you enjoy pondering these sorts of things but I do and I remain eternally grateful for people who lend me stuff and humor my perseverations. -Speaking of, now I’m intrigued, I think I will have to draft a garment via triangulation as a point of comparison to see how differently it comes out -if at all- as compared to a control pattern. Or you can and share your results.