Saran wrap pattern making method #2

Continuing from the previous entry.
Before we start, the processes illustrated by photograph will be different from some of the instructions because I used a male model. I hope you appreciate this -as does he- it took some barter (a haircut), bribery and thinly veiled threats for him to allow me to do this to him. “Oh mom, is this going on your blog? Be sure to cut my head off, I don’t want my head showing…” Aren’t children lovely? I definitely had to work quickly; his tolerance for being a wrapee wasn’t enthusiastic. Also, I experimented with that new kind of plastic wrap by Glad; the stuff (kind of bluish) sticks to itself. I wanted to see if that would be an alternative product. You might want to try it. I liked some things about it -it’s easy to take up folds, see the photo below- but the material stuck to my son’s tee shirt. I ended up using layers of saran wrap on top of it for stability because it felt like it needed it.


1. This method may take almost an hour and you will be hot because plastic won’t let your skin breathe. Maybe a fan would help but don’t point it directly at the wrapee or the strips of polyvinyl film your partner is trying to wrap will go sailing.

2. Wear bra and panties assuming you are female; if not, do what you will. There was no way my son was going to put on a bra and panties -children can be so non compliant. Put a strip of strapping tape vertically over the front and back centers of the bra. This will prevent you from cutting through the bra later. (I didn’t do this)
Tie elastic or string around waist (I think 1/4″ elastic is best). Once it settles to your true waistline, tape it in place at the center back and front and sides if you think you need to. Again, I didn’t tape it into place. When I made mine, my elastic was snug enough to settle. To settle it at your waist line, bend at your side waist to one side and then the other (as tho you were stretching or exercising). If you are wrapping a male, you may not need either of these steps.

3. Put tape between bust apexes to make a bridge, so wrapping won’t collapse in the hollow between. Mark your bust points on the tape with permanent marking pen. If you are large busted, you may wish to skip this step like I did when I made mine (Robbie did the tape thing). I wanted to capture as much of the in-between the bust shaping as I could. Do as you will.

4. Locate top of back neck, center front neck, shoulder point, and bust points. Put strips or dots of masking or artist’s tape at these locations and mark on tape with permanent pen. It is sometimes difficult to find these points after wrapping. Draw a line on the tape along the preferred shoulder line. This time around I didn’t do this either. I marked my wrapee by finding the first thoracic vertebrae by feel (this is the uppermost bone that doesn’t move with the neck). I did the same with the shoulder tips.

5. Set up the ironing board at rib height away from a wall and rest your palms lightly on it. You can also set the box of polyvinyl film on it. This puts your arms in the ideal range of forward motion for drafting the armhole. Let the wrapper move around the wrapee, as opposed to having the wrapee twirl. Again, I didn’t do this but I’d strongly suggest that you do it. Call it a case of do as I say, not as I do if you like but I’m comfortable with working out the specifics of this on paper. Besides, I also know that I’m making a loose fitting bomber or letterman’s type jacket with my result.

6. Pull out a small amount of the film-about 4″-and cut off. You want long, narrow rectangles that are manageable. Wrap from below the waist up to the armpits, overlapping strips. Try not to wrap tightly over the bust. Above the armpits, lay strips diagonally over the shoulders. Use shorter strips around the neck and armhole. Be generous in overlapping strips so the form won’t fall apart when you cut it off.

I didn’t do this either. I used long lengths of wrap, wrapping it around my victim by walking around him. I think it’s interesting how Robbie and I used the same concept but with two different application methods to obtain the same result. I say you should go with what you’re most comfortable with. Time was of the essence with my model too; I had to work as fast as possible because he wasn’t going to tolerate it for long. Below you can see the early stages of the back and front wraps. I used long strips of the wrap over each shoulder line. I also taped them into place.

7. Put vertical strips of strapping tape up the center front and back. Put horizontal strips of strapping tape along the shoulder line. Use the permanent marking pen to mark these key points:
a. Center-back and center-front lines from neck to waist
b. Shoulder-blade tip on the back
c. Shoulder point
d. Neckline all around (cross-mark at intersection with top of shoulder)
e. Shoulder line (draw it with ruler)
f. Bust points
g. Waistline
h. Armpit all around
i. Side seams to the waist

8. Mark in the chest area near the center the following words: Right Front, Left Front, Right Back, Left Back.

As you can see, I didn’t do this either. I did all of my marking after the fact (see below, ready to mark).

Robbie did hers so scientific-like (as I said, the original exercise is to see what your body parts are shaped like; it wasn’t to actually make patterns from it). I had my son point to his nipples which I marked. I marked his belly button -and then he got sassy with me so that’s when I drew in the big smiley face…

…and then I drew in his waist. Then I eyeballed the center front and center back, the armholes and called it good.

9. Cut up the center front and center back. The strapping tape on top should have reinforced the film. Carefully lay your body wrap on pattern-drafting paper. Now, before I did any cutting, I used a lot of tape (clear packing tape). I placed two layers on center front, center back (actually, some across the shoulders front and back), around the neckline, around the very bottom and across each shoulder line before I did any cutting. Below you’ll see that I had my hand between the wrap and his shirt.

10. Now make a flat pattern from the result. Trim the excess from the neck and armhole. Cut along the shoulder and side seams. Cut from the side seam to the bust apex to let the dart open. Cut from the shoulder line to the back shoulder tip to open the back dart. Trace around a front and back half, adjusting for asymmetry and wobbly lines and lowering the underarm about ½”-3/4″. Draft a sleeve, using whatever method you’ve learned.

Again, I kept my pieces largely intact. I split the side seam only so far as I had to, to get it to flatten. Actually, that’s what all my cuts were. I imagine I’ll be updating this posting regarding the pattern I make from this so I’ll save my other photos for that demonstration. However, you can work ahead if you like.

A word of caution: The shapes from this wrap may look weird or wrong to you. Do not correct them! Every time I have corrected what I felt were mistakes, the block did not work. Conversely, once I finally trusted myself and did not correct the “error,” the block fit wonderfully.

11. The next step is where we depart from the tailor’s method.
If you’ve ever taken a flat-pattern class, you’ve probably drafted a basic bodice to measure. What you don’t figure out until later is that you really can’t do much with this block that you spent so much time on. The block is way too tight to be comfortable. Every time you draft from it, you have to fiddle to get enough wearing ease, let alone design ease. Here’s the secret: Grade it up. One size will do nicely.

I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out a long time ago. I graded mine up 2″ and the dummy blouse fit better than anything I’ve ever made. It was the most comfortable piece of clothing I can ever remember wearing. Later, I graded up my blouse another 2″ because I wanted a looser, more casual fit. If you’re making vests or coats rather than blouses, dresses, or tops, also grade up the block another time. In other words, you’d grade it up 4″ rather than 2″. Also, it may be a good investment to buy the grading book I mentioned in the first post because the book will cover a tremendous variety of sizes and styling for men, women and children. I don’t sell it but you can find a link to Handford’s grading book in the left sidebar.

Making a block with this method is not an exact science, but you’ll end up with a great fitting block. Best of all, you’ll get an anatomically correct view of your body. I will be grading up the pattern I make to a jacket so I’ll be using a 4″ grade. But, I haven’t gotten to that stage yet. That is still to come. And as ever, donations are gratefully appreciated.

There are 26 comments. Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *