As well as simply tracing patterns, I took the plunge and tried my hand at drafting a shirt using the diagrams in my Japanese magazine, Female Spring 2012.
I used "dot and cross" pattern-making paper, which has markings on a 2.5cm grid. So it's not quite as controlling as squared paper: it lends itself to drawing curves just as well as right angles. I managed to draw out the back and front pieces quite easily, but the sleeve? The collar?! Oh my word that collar was hard work!
And when I thought about it, these are the very areas where commercial patterns can go wrong: misfitting collars and sleeveheads that don't quite align with the armhole. Now I understand why - they are really hard to draft!
My first attempt at the collar was clearly wrong. The neck edge is drawn using the back and front yoke edges as a template... which makes sense as those are the adjoining edges.
But you still need to allow for the fold / turning, the additional layers of fabric, oh yes - and the actual neck that will go inside. Bodies are three-dimensional, don't you know?
I thought there were a couple of measurements missing from the drafting diagram, defining the dimension of the neck opening but on reflection, maybe this is the point where a proper designer would flourish their pen and just... draw.
So... I have drafted something that looks something like the picture. Only cutting and sewing the fabric will prove whether or not it works. And that won't be this week.