How to Draft Patterns for Beginners Update 07/2022

Everyone, no matter how accomplished or inexperienced they are, faces the same major obstacle while learning to sew. The challenge of finding a commercial sewing pattern that fits. To sew successfully, you must know how to adjust a pattern when it is either too large or too tiny for your needs. A good understanding of how to draft patterns is critical in this situation. But how do you go about drawing a pattern?

This is the process of producing a paper pattern based on measurements taken from the body. Using a template, you can create an exact replica of a garment. The first step is to draw out the design. 3-D sections of the design are created by using a dress form and cloth. The blocks or slopers created from these portions serve as the pattern’s foundation.

This pattern drafting article serves as an introduction for those who have never drafted a pattern before. You’ll learn the whys, hows, and whens of creating your own designs. Find out how simple pattern drafting may be by reading on.

Pattern Drafting

What Is a Pattern?

A pattern is a set of instructions for creating a specific type of garment based on a predetermined shape and size. A sewing pattern consists of a number of parts, like a jigsaw puzzle, and is typically composed of tissue paper. Sewing patterns, like puzzles, include clues in the form of markings that indicate where each piece belongs.

The finished garment dictates how many pieces of a pattern are needed. Front, back, two sleeves, and a collar are all included in a standard sleeved bodice’s construction. A notation on the pattern will indicate the number of pieces that must be cut. On the fold or as two separate pieces, it will also tell you how to cut them.

The markings on each component show which parts of the garment should be stitched together. The location of the zipper, buttonholes, and the seam line will also be marked. The pattern components contain most of the information you need to complete the project.

A sewing pattern includes written instructions and illustrations that explain how the various pieces should be sewed together, as well as the order they should be done in. Stay-stitching, topstiching, and confirming the seam allowance will all be covered in these instructions, as well as information on which portions need to be reinforced.

Commercial patterns and self-drafted patterns are the two main forms of sewing patterns. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Commercial Patterns

Pattern making

Most fabric stores carry commercially manufactured designs. Large firms like McCalls and Simplicity design the vast majority of the patterns currently available. It’s also common for smaller, independent designers to sell their designs online.

There are a few things that can be said about all advertising patterns. Home sewers who want to replicate the latest fashion trends will find them useful.


  • A pattern’s correctness is verified by testing.
  • Come in a variety of sizes.
  • Complement the most recent fashions.
  • On the internet as well as at fabric shops
  • Diagrams and step-by-step directions are included in this guide.
  • To speed up the process of building, patterns are used.
  • Include ease and seam allowances.
  • The best materials for the job are suggested.


  • Sizes may be restricted.
  • Pockets aren’t always an option.
  • Only serve the typical person’s needs.
  • For the majority of sewers, customizing patterns is a necessary evil.
  • There are a lot of different patterns out there, but not all businesses carry them.
  • Expenses can be high.
  • Some people may not like the current fashions.
  • There may be a lot of information to learn.


How to make clothing patterns

A self-drafted pattern, as the name implies, is one that you have designed yourself. Sewists who are unable to locate clothing that matches their personal style may design their own patterns from scratch.

When it comes to sizing, self-drafting can be a lifesaver. Pattern drafting is a talent you’ll need to master if you want to make your own clothes.


  • The ability to design your own clothing is available.
  • For a better fit, take your own measurements.
  • Fashion isn’t the only factor to consider.
  • Pick and choose your own adornments
  • Pockets can be included into clothing designs.
  • Buying a pattern is more expensive than making your own.


  • Investing in the right equipment could raise the price of the project.
  • There are no helpful markings or written instructions included with the design.
  • Always remember to include seam allowances when sewing.
  • You need to choose the right fabric and make allowances for ease of use.
  • Before using a pattern, it is necessary to develop, draw, and fine-tune it.
  • A pattern-drafting course might be beneficial.
  • This design must be tested by you.

What Is Pattern Drafting?

It takes skill to draft a garment’s pattern out of paper. The design process begins with the creation of a detailed plan.

Measurements taken from the wearer are used to produce drafted designs. Individual measurements for self-drafted patterns or the industry standard for commercial patterns. It’s possible to design any style of the same clothing with the same measurements.

The paper template is flat because it represents a two-dimensional object. If you want to see how it will look on a person, you’ll need to make a fabric toile or mockup of it. The 2-D layout is put to the test using a mock-up. The final pattern is tweaked and adjusted once the test garment is tweaked. In the end, the final garment is built upon the template that was created.

Pattern drafting abilities are essential for creating new patterns, but they can also be used to modify old ones. In the event that a pattern component is too little or too large, changes can be made to it to achieve a perfect fit.

It’s also possible to combine two different patterns to make a unique artwork. A bodice from one pattern can be adapted to fit a skirt from another using pattern drafting procedures. Even pants could be used to make a jumpsuit.

Blocks for bodice back and front, sleeves, skirt portions and pant legs are among the important pieces that must be made when drafting a pattern. Once a starting block is established, it can be utilized again and again for each piece.

Why Draft Your Own Pattern?

How to make clothing pattern

When it comes to drafting your own pattern, there are numerous reasons. To ensure a great fit, this is most likely the most critical step.

Even while commercial designs are really helpful, there are just a few sizing alternatives available. A wide selection of sizes are available to cater to the general public’s needs. As a result, many home sewers have a hard time finding patterns that work for their body types.

It is extremely unlikely that you will purchase a commercial design that will fit you perfectly right out of the package. The breast or the waist must be altered by all sewists. In some cases, even the sleeve or collar length or size can make a difference.

Another incentive to draft your own patterns is because it’s more convenient. To adapt a commercial pattern, all you need to know is how to draft a pattern. This will allow you to adjust the design to better fit your body proportions. Additions such as pockets will be possible.

You may come upon a style or design that you can’t locate elsewhere. Commercial designs are released seasonally to keep up with the latest fashions. Obtaining a swimsuit pattern in the dead of winter may be difficult if not impossible.

The ability to draft patterns is quite valuable in this situation. You can design and manufacture your own swimsuit regardless of the season or current fashion trends. Other than that, you can wear any kind of clothing. In accordance with your schedule. In order to create a one-of-a-kind garment, you may even personalize it with your own creative touches.

Methods of Pattern Making

Pattern drafting and draping are two of the most commonly used terminology when discussing pattern making. Both are easily misunderstood. In reality, they are two distinct procedures.

It is possible to use them alone or jointly. It’s entirely up to you which one you pick. In certain cases, designers combine the two to create a 3-D paper model of a garment that can be replicated in fabric by printing it out.


Drawing up an outline is what the term “drafting” denotes. Paper is used to create a two-dimensional or flat depiction of a body part. The fundamental design can be adjusted to generate other styles using a template made from body measurements known as a block or sloper.

However, humans are not flat. A test garment must be produced in order to verify the fit of the paper pattern. A toile or mock-up is a garment used to determine where adjustments should be made, such as where darts should be included, and whether or not the design would look well on a real person. The paper pattern is then updated to reflect these adjustments.


A dress form or mannequin is used for draping, which is a type of sewing. In either case, the cloth is pinned to the form and smoothed out in order to get the desired garment’s shape.. Darts and pleats assist the cloth conform to the body and provide a better fit.

Pinned cloth is removed from the dress form to be used as a paper pattern. A test garment can be made that includes grainlines, notches, and an extra seam allowance to ensure proper fit. The paper pattern is then used to record any adjustments.

Pattern Making Tools

You may already have some of the equipment you need for pattern drafting in your sewing kit or at the ready. Pens, pencils, paper, a tape measure, and rulers are the essentials.

Pens and Pencils

For drafting patterns, you can use any kind of pen or pencil. A background in pattern design is certainly not a must for these positions. In order to leave a visible line on your paper, pencils should be firm but not so sharp that they puncture it.

Pens should come in at least three distinct hues. Draw your pencil sketch in two colors: one to outline it and the other to make corrections. The final step is the third.

Pattern Paper

Fine paper is used to create patterns. Pattern paper, which is essentially tissue paper, is one option. In addition, you can make use of ordinary wrapping paper or artwork tissue paper. Simply choose a light shade. The transparency of white tissue paper makes it ideal.

As a result of its ability to be attached to a dress form or person, tissue paper is utilized in sewing patterns. As a result of its light weight and flexibility, it is ideal for use in complex geometric shapes. It’s possible to utilize printer paper, but it’s a lot more difficult to deal with.


If at all possible, use gridline-marked see-through rulers while drafting patterns. In addition to quilting rulers, you can also purchase specific pattern drafting rulers.

An essential ruler is the French Curve, sometimes known as a dressmaking ruler because of its curvy shape. Those will come in handy for the pattern’s armcyes and other circular elements.

Pattern lines are easier to straighten out after a curve thanks to these tools!

Tape Measure

Body measurements are required whenever you are creating a template for a garment. A sewing-specific tape measure is a need. Fabric, fiberglass, or plastic that can be stretched should be used.

It’s up to you what kind of measurement system you like. It must, however, be able to bend and twist to fit the contours of the body.


If you’re using paper scissors to cut out the drafted pattern, make sure they’re sharp and precise.

Muslin or toile fabrics require fabric scissors, as well, for ensuring that the finished product is accurate.

Dress Form

For sewing purposes, this is the tailor’s dummy or mannequin. A dress form comes in handy when learning about pattern draping. Your fabric will then be pinned and draped on top of you. This can be a difficult task. Also, it can be a little uncomfortable.

Toiles and mock-ups benefit from the use of dress forms since they reveal sections of a garment that need to be reshaped for a better fit.

Existing Patterns

Despite the fact that this isn’t drawing, it’s possible to combine portions of one commercial pattern with those of another. When drafting from scratch, it takes a significant amount of time and effort.

Useful when sewing one-off garments for special occasions or when time is of the essence. But in order to use commercial patterns, you must first acquire them.

How to Draft a Sewing Pattern

How to draft a pattern

Making slopers or blocks based on your dimensions should be the initial step in pattern development. It is possible to employ blocks and slopers as permanent templates to construct the base of any garment.

Using tracing paper, a bodice sloper can be used to create a new pattern piece. You can construct any bodice design by altering design elements on each tracing. Your sloper can be used again and over again if you keep it in good condition.

You’ll need to take your measurements very carefully if you want to create an accurate sloper. Make an outline of the garment you’d like to make using the measurements you’ve gathered.

When making a bodice, you’ll need to know your exact measurements for the shoulders, neck, armholes, and the distance from your neck to the bottom of the bodice. Both the waist and hips can be accentuated with this.

Remember to add seam allowances and pattern ease when creating a new pattern from scratch. The easiness makes it easier to put on and take off the clothing. After making a test or mock-up item, you may discover that calculating this measurement is much simpler.

Choose a simple outfit to practice pattern drafting on. As a novice drafting project, skirts are basic and straightforward to put together. Additionally, the bottom portion of dresses, jackets, and coats tend to be skirts. Once you’ve mastered skirts, you’ll be well on your way to developing a new type of garment.

Make a muslin from your newly designed pattern as soon as possible. If you don’t try it on, you won’t know for sure if it’s going to fit right or if the various elements work with your body. Make sure your design has enough room for darts and tucks with a mock-up or a toile.

If you don’t enjoy starting from scratch, then drawing new patterns may not be for you. Pattern drafting software makes it easy to create patterns. However, these packages can be pricey, and you’ll also have to learn how to utilize the program to get the most out of them. It may be worthwhile to consider the package’s pricing in relation to how frequently you want to use it.

Use commercial or ready-made patterns to speed up the drafting process. Patterns can be combined in unexpected ways to make new and interesting designs. The first block has already been sketched for you, so all you have to do is make the necessary fit adjustments.

Using Pattern Drafting for Alterations

Everyone who sews should know how to make some simple adjustments. It is rare for commercial patterns to fit perfectly the first time around without some tinkering. Use some pattern drafting procedures in order to alter patterns. The first and second places, respectively, are listed below.

Manipulating Darts

A garment’s form is given by darts. It’s possible for them to be on either side of the bust, or from the waist to the bust. There are also back and shoulder darts available.

You can move the darts around or even connect them together to get a better fit or a different design aspect. In the case of princess seams, where a shoulder dart meets a waist dart, the result is a flattering seam. Darts can be easily manipulated to give a garment a new, fresh look.

Slashing and Spreading

Spreading the pattern is accomplished by cutting into your pattern piece and moving the portions away from one another. A hinge can be made by slashing to the edge of the pattern piece and stopping before cutting straight through.

You may still move the attached paper by using the hinge. You can give volume or fullness to a piece of paper by filling in the gaps between the slits. Pencil skirts can be converted to full skirts with this method, as can complete bust adjustments.

Things to Remember When Pattern Drafting

Pattern drafting has a few fundamental guidelines that you should keep in mind. Your own patterns will be accurate and usable if you follow these guidelines.

  • When building slopers or block templates, always take your measurements to the tee. If you can’t measure yourself, ask a buddy for help.
  • Make a test garment with your pattern once it’s finished. Mock-ups and toiles are helpful tools for evaluating a pattern’s success and how well it fits.
  • You’ll need to account for seam allowances and extra room for comfort when making your garment. Working with woven fabrics necessitates a high degree of ease!
  • Check to see if you have the right equipment. A straight ruler won’t help you if you’re trying to create a curved armhole.

Pattern Drafting Software Options

Wild Ginger PatternMaster

Pattern drawing software for everything from women’s daywear to bespoke men’s suits is available in the Wild Ginger PatternMaster line. Drafting packages are sold as stand-alone modules and focus on different aspects. As a result, you only need to purchase the portions that interest you.

Each module provides a complete wardrobe of clothing ideas and inspiration, so you can design any style of dress. allowing you to design a wardrobe that’s unique to your tastes, needs, and preferences, as well as being useful and adaptable.

Software pricing includes free measurement and fit support and there are no size restrictions. A yardage calculator is also included in your designs. This is a pattern drafting tool that eliminates the guesswork from designing your own outfits with a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Cochenille Design Studio

You can use the Cochenille Design Studio for both sewing and knitting patterns. Created by pattern drafting professionals, the program has been designed to help fashion designers create garments that fit perfectly. From menswear to childrenswear and everything in between, it is a comprehensive design tool that can be utilized by any level of sewists.

Using a symmetry function, multiple design changes can be made at once. With built-in “pattern smarts,” sleeves and armholes are perfectly aligned.

This software is easy to use and allows you to design a pattern that is both unique and appealing to your creative side.

Pattern Drafting Books

A Basic Guide To Pattern DraftingCompiled by an instructor of pattern drafting, this guide to pattern drafting covers the essentials of the craft. Helping students of fashion grasp the connection between garments and pattern tissue, the book covers wardrobe staples for women, including dresses and skirts.

This book contains a collection of diagrams illustrating the proper layout of pattern parts. The book is designed to be used in conjunction with a text-based reference book for people who already have some expertise of pattern drafting.

Patternmaking for Fashion Design

This book covers all the basics of pattern drafting in great detail while also making it simple to follow along. The three primary patternmaking tools are discussed in relation to the designs. Dart manipulation, contouring, and adding fullness are all examples of these techniques.

Pattern design is taught to fashion design students as a way to help them develop their own original ideas. This book provides an introduction to the art of patternmaking for sewists of all skill levels, from the simplest to the most complicated.


Having the ability to draft patterns is a must for any sewist’s toolbox. Providing you with the freedom to design your own products. As well as the flexibility to modify commercial patterns to better match the needs of the user. If you’re serious about sewing, you’ll need to master this ability.

If you enjoyed reading this, please let me know in the comments section. Why don’t you give pattern drawing a try? Is this a new design or a change to an existing one?

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