Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How To Make A Pattern For Fashion Design

Have you designed some clothes or a collection you want to get made and can't go forward because you don't know how to make a pattern and you can't afford to hire a patternmaker? Many aspiring designers and home sewers run into a bit of problem brining their own fashion designs to life because they lack pattern cutting skills and the field of pattern cutting is rather daunting for many. However, there is a very cheap short cut you can take to easily learn how to make a pattern for your fashion designs.

In pattern cutting you always start with a basic bodice pattern or the phase 2 sloper made from it, for example the blouse sloper would be used for a blouse design and a torso block would be used for dress pattern cutting.

(click image to see a larger version)

While its ideal to learn how to draft these basic pattern slopers / blocks from scratch either from a book like Connie Amaden Crawford's Patternmaking Made Easy” or from an online video draping lesson or an actual fashion design course that teaches pattern drafting, you can purchase the basic bodice blocks from companies like Butterick or from patternmakers such as myself (click to see my basic bodice block service on Fiverr). Or, if you have an existing fitted blouse or dress pattern with a bust or shoulder dart as well as a waist dart or fisheye dart, you can tweak it to your own measurements if needed (ease elimination) and bust point location (if it's not already accurate).

(click image to see a larger version)

If you have a bodice pattern or blouse or dress pattern with a waist / fish eye and bust dart you'll need to pivot the art to the center shoulder seam to create a true basic bodice pattern block, particularly if the garment you've designed is a princess seam style.

There should be only 3/4" ease in the armscye / armhole depth and 1/2” ease at the the armscye side seam corner. Also, there should be no ease in the waist for your basic bodice sloper. The neckline should lie just above the central collar bone at the front and it should just hit the bottom of the neck at the back.

Once you've got your bodice pattern complete you're ready to start drafting the second block which usually involves adding a bit more ease (typically at the waist/hips or armholes) or pivoting the darts from the bust point into different locations (this is done by drawing and slashing a new dart placement line, then cutting out the original dart take up and closing it to allow the new dart to open so it can be filled in with paper and the new bodice or torso block can be made) or converting this dart ease to gathering or pleats. Note: This is called dart manipulation. Darts should always be pivoted from the bust point because if they aren't your resulting patterns and garments won't hang or sit correctly.

(click image to see a larger version)

(click image to see a larger version)

If ease was eliminated from the armscye seam the sleeve pattern may also need to be adjusted if there is more than 1 1/2" ease in the sleeve cap. Leaving at least 1" ease in the sleeve cap,  determine the amount of ease to be eliminated.  This amount will need to be divided into three equal portions. Then half the length of one portion is how much you'll overlap the sleeve sections once you have the sleeve pattern cut out and slashed correctly.

To correctly slash the sleeve, first cut away all the sleeve seam allowances then fold the sleeve in half, matching underarm seams. Then fold again matching the centre fold line to the underarm seams. Each of these fold lines should then then be slashed to just before the wrist then overlapped by the previously determined amount.

If the sleeve pattern is for a fitted sleeve, the alterations method is simple an you most likely won't need to adjust the wrist ease or just a bit.

However, if the sleeve has excess wrist ease and the pattern you want to make is more fitted, reduce the ease by measuring your elbow circumference (if you're a size 14 or over,  add 1 1/2" ease). Draw half the length of the the new elbow circumference line from the centre of the sleeve outward along the sleeve's original elbow line. Then draw a line from the the armscye / side seam point to the wrist and cut away the excess ease.

On a new sheet of paper draw a new sleeve cap line then measure it to make sure it matches the combined front an back armscye measurements plus at least 1" and no more then 1 1/2" and that the shoulder seam notch at the top of the sleeve is offset only 1/4" toward the front, past the true sleeve center.   Should your sleeve have inadequate ease (less then 1") then reverse the above ease reduction process,  to instead slash and spread to add ease. 

Correct all your front and back matching notch positions on your sleeve and bodice pattern blocks and you're done.

Now, if you happen to have a scanner and also use a vector program like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, you can scan your completed bodice patterns into the computer and re-create them as vector files and then actually conduct dart manipulations in these software applications (the technique I use in my pattern cutting work).

With these basics on how to make a pattern you can easily go from there and start developing your own clothing design patterns or you can conduct further research online or at your library for additional patternmaking tips on style elements such as collars, sleeve types and more as well as other learn other pattern cutting secrets.

If you are interested in my pattern cutting or digitization service however,  or you have any questions,  please email me for more information at or visit my Facebook page to learn more.

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