|Mystery parcel - it's about 92cm/36" long|
|A bit more of a clue|
|Here it is!|
This is 'dot and cross' paper, used for drafting patterns. The dots and crosses enable you to keep the horizontal and vertical lines exactly at right angles, which is vital when you are drafting the basic pattern shapes known as blocks.
|Basic bodice block, from 'Metric Pattern Cutting'|
I made a basic bodice block on a course years ago, but really need to redraft it as I have changed shape since then. Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich was the book recommended on the course. Once you have your basic bodice, sleeve and skirt blocks, you can manipulate them to create patterns for different styles.
|From 1975, but still in print today|
The dots and crosses on the paper are spaced one inch apart, so not ideal for drafting a pattern to metric measurements. However, this isn't really a problem for me. Given both my dress sense and my love of second-hand bookshops, it should surprise precisely no-one to know that most of my pattern-drafting books pre-date the move from inches to centimetres!
This is one of the oldest ones. It has a very basic bodice block, with only a single dart.
|Edited by Catherine Franks|
|Back and front pieces are separate|
There is no date in it, but the styles are very much from the period of the 1930s before hemlines started to rise - I'm guessing 1936-7.
|Very 1930s dress|
|Very, very 1930s cape-sleeve detail|
The next book doesn't have a date either, but I have seen it listed online as 1948, which seems about right.
|Written by Lynn Hillson|
There are no darts at all in the basic bodice block, but plenty of options for how to add them.
|Back and front drawn almost as one|
|Different dart options|
My collection then skips a decade, the next book I have was published in 1961.
|A second volume was published in 1964|
The bodice block is more complex than its predecessors.
|More darts and shaping|
In keeping with the book's title, there are lots of different options given for altering the basic block.
|A few of the variations available|
I have long wanted to draft the bodice block from each of these books, using the same measurements for each one, and see how they compare. Sadly, having the proper drafting paper won't magically give me more hours in which to do this, but it should make the job easier when I do finally find the time to try it.