Pattern drafting is one of the most important skills you’d want to learn after learning the sewing basics. The process involves drawing the pattern pieces according to the body measurements of the intended wearer.
That said, there are several pattern drafting techniques known to sewists all over the planet. The most suitable technique for you should depend on your specific design and whether you want to spend money on any tools and software.
Learning how to make your own pattern drafts can be a struggle for both new and experienced sewists. But if you’re committed to it, you’ll surely master this crucial skill in no time. Below, we’ll teach you how to make your first pattern draft as a newbie sewist.
3 Methods of Pattern Drafting:
Method #1: Tracing
Tracing is the easiest, most straightforward pattern drafting technique known to sewers— making it a good choice if you’re just experimenting with basic pattern drafting.
As the name suggests, this method involves placing your garment on a piece of paper and then tracing around it. Since it works well for garments with limited or no shaping at all, it might limit you on what you can create.
Nevertheless, it’s a good way to learn pattern drafting for beginners. Use this method to try to create your first pair of pants or t-shirt draft via tracing. And remember to add seam allowances before you can cut your fabric.
You can also grab a garment that you no longer wear and deconstruct it and then trace its pieces to make your first draft.
Tracing should be your go-to technique if you’d want to recreate a garment in smaller or bigger size. You simply trace the pieces and then grade the pattern up/down a size (using cut & spread or shifting pattern grading methods).
Method #2: Flat Pattern Making
This particular method involves creating slopers (also referred to as fitting shells or block patterns). In the simplest terms possible, we can define a sloper as an extremely close-fitting garment that doesn’t allow ease of movement.
Using a sloper as the basic pattern fit to your measurements, you can use it as a building block that enables you to create different patterns by simply subtracting or adding design elements.
There are numerous free slopers online for you to choose from. You can also buy from the commercial pattern companies (though they tend to be a bit pricey). Some sewers also prefer creating their own slopers from scratch (this is not easy though as you should be ready to do a lot of maths).
Method #3: Rub-off Method
This is a slightly more complicated drafting method that revolves around drafting from the ready to wear garments. You can carry out this method using either paper or fabric as explained below:
For the paper option, you simply layer a paper sheet on a piece of cardboard and then place your garment on top of it. Then, fix straight pins around the garment outline and in all the strategic parts of the garment to mark darts/pockets.
Next, remove the pins and connect the dots (the perforations made by the pins).
Now you can proceed to cut out the pieces. To check how accurate your cutting is, you can lay them on top of the ready to wear cloth.
NOTE: Don’t forget to add seam allowances when cutting out the fabric.
The fabric option would come handy if you’re unable to pin the cloth because doing so will either damage your fabric or is impossible (especially if the cloth is 3-dimensional).
With the help of muslin or any tracing fabric of your choice, drape around the ready to wear garment and trace lines with a chalk or crayon. When done, you can then go ahead and cut the fabric pieces.
BONUS: Making Patterns from Scratch
Are you a complete beginner trying to draft a pattern on a paper from scratch? If yes, this is your part.
To carry out this process, you’ll first need to equip yourself with the pattern making rulers (like the point & pivot system or pattern drafter) which will help eliminate all the guesswork out of pattern drafting.
Check the quick video below on how to make a pattern from scratch on a piece of paper.
Alternatively, you can come up with a pattern from scratch with the help of a computer software. There are multiple pattern making software options out there, with varying lists of features and costs. If you’re planning to make patterns for your own garments, you’ll be better off with a software costing around 100-300.
If you plan to share and sell your patterns, you should consider investing in more advanced software that’s capable of generating graded patterns for varying sizes. Such a program with all the bells and whistles will cost you around $1000.
Quick TIP: Before cashing out on any pattern making software, we advise you to take advantage of their trial period (this can last for days, a week, or two). This will give you a feel of the program and help you decide if it’s worth your money.
From our guide above, you can see that pattern drafting is nothing complicated if you’re committed to learning it. It’s a process you can teach yourself at the comfort of your home without having to attend a fashion school.
With this skill at hand, you’ll be able to come up with designs with good, customer fit right from sketch to sewing.
And yes, having such a crucial skill at your fingertips will save you the need to buy commercial patterns all the time. When you’ve perfected this art, you can even consider sharing and selling your patterns online!
Start learning pattern drafting today using the simple techniques we’ve outlined for you above and see how it goes.