Sewing your own clothes can be an incredibly rewarding and cost-effective hobby. But in order to stitch up your own creations, you first need to know how to make a pattern. Drawing and drafting patterns may seem daunting to beginners, but it’s an essential skill for any home sewer.
With some basic drafting tools, knowledge of key pattern-making concepts, and lots of practice, you’ll be designing custom-fit garments tailored to your body in no time. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to draft basic clothing patterns from scratch.
If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer to drawing a sewing pattern: Carefully take body measurements, sketch the pattern using those measurements, add seam allowances, transfer to paper, make a mock-up in cheap fabric, check fit on your body, and refine the pattern as needed.
Gather the Necessary Drafting Tools
Before you start drawing a sewing pattern, it’s important to gather all the necessary drafting tools. These tools will help you accurately measure and sketch your pattern, ensuring a precise fit for your garment. Here are some essential tools you’ll need:
A ruler is a fundamental tool for any pattern drafting project. It allows you to create straight lines and measure precise distances. Look for a ruler with clear markings and a sturdy construction. A transparent ruler can be particularly helpful as it allows you to see the pattern or fabric underneath.
A French curve is a curved ruler that is essential for drawing smooth and accurate curves in your pattern. It is particularly useful for shaping armholes, necklines, and waistlines. The French curve comes in various sizes and shapes, so choose one that suits your needs and preferences.
A hip curve is another curved ruler that is specifically designed for drawing the curves of the hips and waistline. It helps create a flattering fit for skirts, pants, and dresses. Similar to the French curve, the hip curve comes in different sizes and shapes, so choose one that matches your measurements.
Pencil and eraser
When it comes to drafting patterns, it’s best to use a soft lead pencil so that you can easily erase any mistakes or make adjustments. Mechanical pencils with fine lead are also a good option for precision. Keep a good eraser handy to correct any errors or smudges.
Paper for drafting
For pattern drafting, you’ll need large sheets of paper that are durable and flexible. Pattern paper or tracing paper is commonly used for this purpose. These papers are transparent enough to trace existing patterns or adjust measurements without losing precision.
You can find pattern paper in rolls or pre-cut sheets.
Remember, having the right drafting tools is crucial for creating accurate and well-fitting sewing patterns. Investing in high-quality tools will make your pattern drafting process more enjoyable and efficient.
Take Accurate Body Measurements
When it comes to drawing a sewing pattern, taking accurate body measurements is crucial. This step ensures that the final garment fits perfectly and flatters the wearer. Here are some important tips to help you take accurate measurements:
Have someone help take measurements
Taking your own measurements can be a bit challenging, as it’s difficult to maintain the correct posture and measure accurately at the same time. It’s best to have someone assist you in this process. This person can help ensure that the measuring tape is held straight and snug against your body.
Measure key areas like bust, waist, hips, etc
When taking body measurements, it’s important to focus on key areas such as the bust, waist, hips, and other relevant points. These measurements will serve as the basis for creating the pattern. Using a flexible measuring tape, wrap it around the fullest part of your bust, the narrowest part of your waist, and the widest part of your hips.
Write down these measurements and any others that are necessary for your specific garment.
Record all measurements for reference
Keeping a record of your measurements is essential for future use. You might need to refer back to these measurements when creating other patterns or adjusting existing ones. Ensure that you write down all the measurements accurately and keep them in a safe place.
This will save you time and effort in the long run.
Remember, accuracy is key when it comes to taking body measurements for sewing patterns. Taking the time to measure properly will result in a well-fitting garment that you’ll be proud to wear.
Sketch the Basic Pattern Shape
When it comes to drawing a sewing pattern, the first step is to sketch the basic pattern shape. This will serve as the foundation for your garment. Here are a few key subheadings to keep in mind as you begin:
Start with basic pattern blocks for bodice, skirt, pants, etc
Before you start sketching, it’s important to have an understanding of the basic pattern blocks for different garment types. These blocks are essentially the building blocks of your pattern and can be used as a starting point for creating a wide range of designs.
Whether you’re drawing a bodice, skirt, pants, or any other garment, having a solid foundation in these basic blocks will make the process much easier.
Use your measurements to customize lengths and widths
One of the most crucial steps in creating a sewing pattern is customizing the lengths and widths to fit your body measurements. This is what will ensure that your final garment fits you perfectly. Take accurate measurements of your bust, waist, hips, and any other relevant areas, and use these measurements to determine the appropriate lengths and widths for your pattern.
Remember, a well-fitting garment starts with accurate measurements!
Add style lines and seam allowances
Once you have the basic shape and measurements in place, it’s time to add style lines and seam allowances to your pattern. Style lines are the lines that define the design elements of your garment, such as darts, pleats, or gathers.
Seam allowances, on the other hand, are the extra fabric added along the edges of the pattern pieces to allow for sewing and finishing. Be sure to add these elements to your pattern to ensure a polished and professional-looking final product.
For more detailed instructions and visual guides on how to sketch a sewing pattern, you can refer to websites like Seamwork or Threads Magazine. These resources offer a wealth of information and tutorials to help beginners navigate the world of pattern drafting.
Transfer the Pattern to Paper
Once you have your sewing pattern ready, the next step is to transfer it onto paper. This ensures that you have a permanent copy of your pattern that you can use again and again. Here are some steps to help you transfer the pattern to paper:
Trace over pattern lines with a tracing wheel
Using a tracing wheel is a great way to transfer the pattern lines onto your paper. Place the pattern on top of the paper and use the tracing wheel to go over the lines, applying pressure to create indentations on the paper. This will create a clear outline of your pattern on the paper.
Transfer to plain paper or pattern drafting paper
Once you have traced the pattern lines, you can transfer them to either plain paper or pattern drafting paper. Plain paper is easily accessible and inexpensive, making it a popular choice for beginners.
However, pattern drafting paper is specifically designed for sewing patterns and is more durable, making it a good investment if you plan on using the pattern multiple times.
Label pieces, add grainlines and notches
After transferring the pattern, it’s important to label each piece to avoid confusion later on. Use a pencil or pen to write the name of the piece on each pattern piece. Additionally, include any necessary markings such as grainlines and notches.
Grainlines indicate the direction of the fabric’s grain, while notches help with aligning pattern pieces during sewing.
Remember, accuracy is key when transferring the pattern to paper. Take your time and double-check your work to ensure that your pattern is as precise as possible. Following these steps will help you create a reliable pattern that you can use for all your sewing projects.
Make a Mock-up and Test the Fit
Before you start cutting into your expensive fabric, it’s important to create a mock-up of your sewing pattern to test the fit. This step is especially crucial for beginners who might not have a lot of experience with pattern drafting.
By making a mock-up, you can identify any fit issues and make necessary adjustments before working on the final garment.
Cut mock-up pieces from muslin or cheap fabric
To create a mock-up, you’ll need to cut out the pattern pieces from a fabric that is similar in weight and drape to your final fabric. Muslin or any other inexpensive fabric works well for this purpose.
Use a pair of fabric scissors to carefully cut out each piece, making sure to follow the pattern markings and grainlines.
Sew the mock-up and try it on
Once you have all the pieces cut out, it’s time to sew them together. Follow the sewing instructions provided with the pattern, and use a sewing machine or hand-sew if you prefer. Take your time to sew accurately and neatly, as this will give you a better idea of how the final garment will look.
Once the mock-up is sewn, try it on to evaluate the fit.
Check fit and make any necessary adjustments
When trying on the mock-up, pay attention to any areas that feel tight, loose, or uncomfortable. Look for any wrinkles, puckering, or other fit issues. It’s helpful to have a full-length mirror or a friend to give you feedback on how the mock-up looks.
If adjustments are needed, use pins or temporary marking tools to make note of the changes that need to be made.
Remember, making adjustments to the mock-up is an important part of the fitting process. It’s better to spend a little extra time now to get the fit right, rather than being disappointed with the final garment.
Once you’re satisfied with the fit of the mock-up, you can transfer the adjustments to your sewing pattern and move on to cutting and sewing your final garment.
Refine and Finalize the Pattern
Once you have made fit adjustments and tested your sewing pattern, it’s time to refine and finalize it. This step is crucial to ensure that your final garment turns out exactly how you envision it. Here are some important steps to follow:
Transfer fit adjustments back to paper pattern
After making any necessary fit adjustments during the testing phase, take the time to transfer those changes back to your paper pattern. This will ensure that you have an accurate representation of the final fit.
Use a pencil or tracing paper to mark any alterations made to the muslin or toile onto the paper pattern. Be sure to label the changes clearly so that you can easily follow them when cutting your fabric.
Add any design details
Now is the time to add any design details to your pattern. This could include things like pockets, pleats, darts, or embellishments. Take a moment to plan out where these details will be placed and mark them on your pattern.
This will help you visualize the final garment and ensure that you don’t miss any important design elements.
Clean up rough edges and cut final pattern pieces
Before you begin cutting your fabric, it’s important to clean up any rough edges or unfinished areas on your pattern. Use a ruler or French curve to smooth out any jagged lines and make sure all edges are clean and crisp.
Once your pattern is looking polished, use it to cut out your final fabric pieces. Take your time and be careful to cut accurately, as this will determine the fit and shape of your garment.
Remember, refining and finalizing your sewing pattern is an important step in the garment-making process. It ensures that your final product will fit well and look professional. Don’t rush through this step, take your time to make any necessary adjustments and add any design details that will make your garment unique and special.
Learning to draft sewing patterns takes time and practice, but the payoff is well worth it. As you become more skilled, you’ll be able to create patterns for all sorts of garments tailored specifically to your body’s unique proportions.
Refer back to the steps in this guide anytime you need a refresher. With the right tools and techniques, you’ll go from sewing novice to pattern drafting pro in no time!
Remember to take accurate measurements, sketch a basic block, transfer to paper, make a test garment, and refine the pattern for best fit. Follow these steps and you’ll be designing and sewing custom-fit fashions in your own signature style.