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Friday, 27 March 2015

Designing and Making a French Beret with Cap Part 2

In the first part of this series we have conceptualized the design of the beret we wanted to make. It is time to start drawing up a pattern. I don't know how many of you are interested in the mechanics of drawing up a pattern, but I'll walk you through the process. Alternatively, you can buy the pattern online on by following this link.

Even though it is possible to buy larger sheets of paper, I am going to be designing the pattern on A4 printer paper, because that is common to most houses. The first step is to make sure that I have enough large sheets of paper. To get that, I glue four A4 sheets of paper together as illustrated. I made 3 large sheets of 4 papers each.

I determine the size of the beret I want to create and draw the two axes of the beret, indicating the length, width and centre point. Add 1,5 cm to each of the four furthest points of the axes. This is to ensure a 1,5 cm seam allowance all around when you sew the beret.

A beret is by definition off centre, so I now move my centre point 2,5 cm to the left and 2 cm down.

I now try to find the best circular shape that would be visually appealing. I keep going round and round until a shape starts to emerge that I like.

Once I have the shape, I use a marker to mark the lines I want to keep, completely ignoring the ones I did not like.

This shape becomes my master. I will continue to use this one to trace other parts of the pattern. Always work from a master when designing patterns. Every time you trace a shape, it becomes a little distorted. Working from one original master keeps the distortion to a minimum. Cut out the master using sharp scissors.

Trace the shape of the master to create another copy.

It is important to remain aware of the centre points. I used an awl to mark the centres, piercing a small hole through the top and bottom papers. I then marked the two 'centre' points with small x's.

I also made sure to mark my axes. The only reason this is necessary, is because I am not working with a true circle. This way I can orientate myself about the position of the top, the bottom, left, right and everything in between. This becomes very important in the next step when we start dividing the shape into sections.

You will remember from our storyboard that the beret has six panels at the top, cut from three different fabrics. We now need to determine those six sections. Even though the beret is not a perfect circle, we still have a 'centre' point and the measurement around any point is always 360°. Divide 360 by six and you will find that each section should be 60°. Use a protractor. Put the 0 point of the protractor on your distorted centre point. Line up the cross hairs with your axes. Now mark off the 60° markings to the left and to the right. Turn the protractor upside down, line it up again and mark the 60° markings to the left and to the right.

Use a ruler to rule the lines. If you were working accurately, the lines will run from one mark, through the centre and again through the bottom mark.

It is essential that you clearly mark the sections so that when you cut them apart, you can re-attach them in the correct order. If you were working with a perfect circle, this would be unnecessary, because all of the sections would be the same size. This is not the case. I numbered mine 1 to 6.

Cut the sections apart.

We now need to add seam allowances to each of the sections. I am going to add a 1,5 cm seam allowance for each seam. Lay down each section on a piece of paper. You can stick it down temporarily, or you can trace it. Add 1,5 cm to each of the straight sides. I have already planned for the 1,5 cm seam allowance of the curved sides when I determined the lengths of the axes.

The pattern for the lid (or top) of the beret is done and we move on to the next pattern piece. This is the bottom of the beret, also called the ring. The ring fits exactly under the lid of the beret. We therefore trace our master pattern again. The difference between the lid and the ring is that the ring has a hole for the head to fit in. We now need to make that hole the correct size and put it in the correct place. That is why I once again use the awl to transfer the centre points, as well as marking the axes.

I have this very nifty bendable curve which is marked off in inches, cm and mm. I have measured my head and know that I am working on a measurement of 56 cm. I shape the curve around my head (as far as possible and then use it to rule a 'circle' of 56 cm, using the guide on the curve. The curve is only 30 cm long, so I need to re-position it to complete the circle. If you do not have a curve like this, you can tie a length of string around your head. Put the string in a circular form on your paper and allow this to be the guide for the 'hole' of your head on your pattern.

I now need to add 1,5 cm seam allowance to the hole. I measure 1,5 cm all around the hole closer to the centre point, making the circle SMALLER. Once we sew the beret, I will show you a need trick to recreate the lost space for your head.

With all the lines in place, cut out the ring of the beret, cutting out the outer circle as well as the inner circle.

Time to start working on the head band. This is very easy. Simply decide how wide you would like the head band to be. The length is predetermined by the measurements of your head. Mark the length and width of the band on paper (you will have to join sheets again). Now add 1,5 cm seam allowance to each of the four sides (or simply add 3 cm each to the length as well as the width).

The only part of the beret that is left to work on, is the cap. Decide on the length and width of the cap. Use the hole that you cut out for your head to shape the inner curve of the cap. Measure the width of the cap and shape that as well as possible to appear pleasing. I once again had the benefit of the curved tool, but you will manage well without it.

Add 1,5 cm seam allowance to all the sides.

No matter how accurately you worked, there is only one way to make sure that the cap is perfectly shaped on both the left and the right side. Fold the paper in half. Decide which half you like best and cut out the shape. Unfold it to reveal the shape of your cap.

I want to slip a piece of hardening inside the cap to strengthen it. This 'hardening' must not extend into the seam allowance, creating extra thickness in a spot that will already be difficult to sew. That is why I need to duplicate this pattern piece without the seam allowance.Trace the cap and cut out a second just like it.

Measure 1,5 cm in from the edges to mark the seam allowance.

Cut along these marked lines to remove the seam allowance.

This is the shape that I will cut from 'hardening' and insert inside the cap.

This is what the pattern pieces look like when laid out side by side, redrawn to scan and convert to pdf. You can download this pattern here if you do not wish to draw your own.

In Part 3 we look at cutting the pattern from fabric and take the first steps in constructing the beret.

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