The Unit Method of Construction

A unit is any one part of a garment; e.g., sleeve, bodice, skirt.

Each unit is stitched, pressed and completed as much as possible before it's joined to another unit. This procedure involves less handling of the garment and eliminates wrinkling and re-pressing. The number of units depends on the style of the garment and the number of pattern pieces.

Take, for example, a simple dress with 5 pattern pieces — front, back, front facing, back facing, sleeve. There is a zipper in the center back seam.

Unit 1. Back.

- Make darts; press toward center.

- Stitch center back seam up to zipper level.

- Insert zipper.

Unit 2. Front.

- Make darts; press toward center.

Unit 3. Shoulder seams.

- Join front to back at the shoulder seams; press seams open.

Unit 4. Neck facing.

- Stitch shoulder seams of facings; press seams open.

- Finish outer edge of facing.

- Join neck facing to neck of dress.

Unit 5. Side seams.

Stitch side seams; press open.

Unit 6. Sleeves.

- Stitch underarm seams; press open.

- Turn up hem in sleeve; press.

Set sleeve in dress.

- Mark length of dress.

- Turn up hem.

All patterns don't follow the Unit Method; instead, they have a step- by-step procedure. This procedure for the dress outlined above would join the side seams before inserting the zipper. Obviously, it's easier to insert the zipper in the back section before it's joined to the front of the dress, and many dressmakers prefer this method.

If you have taken all body measurements accurately, altered your pattern carefully, cut the garment carefully, stitched all darts and seams accurately, you can almost always insert the zipper before the back is joined to the front. Any fitting alteration in the body of the dress can normally be made at the side seams for all loose-fitting garments. Suggestions: If you have sloping shoulders or a small waist it would be advisable to baste the front and hack sections together at the shoulders and at the side seams. Then try it on before inserting the zipper in the hack seam.

As you become more experienced you will know how much of the garment you can complete before fitting. You can speed up your sewing by stitching all darts in the various garment parts at the same time. Press them all at the same time. As you remove the paper pattern from the fabric, name each section by marking, on the wrong side, with chalk or magic tape (write the name on the magic tape; it can be removed without damaging the fabric). Eventually, you will become familiar with the shape and size of garment sections and will not need to name every piece.

You will learn, by experience, what seam finishes are best for the different fabrics; many seams can be finished by zigzagging as soon as they are stitched, then pressed.

A form of the unit method is used in garment factories. A “pieceworker” is hired to make a specific unit or part of a unit. The units are passed from one worker to another. By repeating the processes day after day the workers become very proficient and acquire a great deal of speed.

As you use different patterns you will learn new techniques. You can apply them to other garments if you prefer them to the ones suggested.

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Wednesday, 2009-04-15 0:13