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5 Techniques To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns

August 16, 2017Eve Tokens

5 Techniques To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns (Part 2)

You want to know how to make your own sewing patterns, and you’ve read part one in the series. What’s next that you need to think about?

The next thing to consider is which technique you should use to make your own clothes patterns.

And yet, before you can know this, you need to have

  1. An idea of the technique you like to use the most, because the reality is that most people have different ways of learning and working.
  2. What design you’ll be working towards making, so that you can be in the best place to get it right first time.

What Are The 5 Techniques To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns?

There really are only five techniques that you can choose from when you want to make your own sewing patterns:

  1. Drafting from scratch using your own body measurements / measurement guide (see my Pattern Making Basics course for help with that!)
  2. Trace an existing item of clothing that fits well, which is really cloning your favourite clothes!
  3. Deconstruct an existing item of clothing that fits well, and make a pattern from it
  4. Modify a well fitting commercial sewing pattern
  5. Draping to create a 2 dimensional pattern

Silver grey top with 'five techniques to make your own patterns as text overlay.

 1. Drafting From Scratch

This is the one people go for when they are new to pattern making. They decide they’re going to jump in head first when making their own sewing patterns, and they buy a pattern making book then look frazzled and bamboozled when it doesn’t work out first go.

And to be fair, the reason for this is often because the inaccuracy of their measuring.

While drafting from scratch isn’t a necessary skill to learn for future pattern making success, I do feel that going through the process really helps you to understand how a pattern is created.

There are two ways to draft from scratch.

  1. Use a set of measurements provided in a book for the size closest to you, and then modify the block to better fit your personal measurements.
  2. Use your own measurements to create a block from scratch.

Method one is best for getting an accurate base pattern and then applying the solutions to various fit problems that you have to the pattern.

Method two is best for those who feel very confident in their measuring skills and can jump straight in.

(If you’d like to learn how to draft your own blocks – basic bodice, easy fit sleeve, straight skirt and trouser – sign up as a member for my text based course Pattern Making Basics. It’s now just £5 one off fee for lifetime access!)

2. Tracing Existing Garments

This technique is used in the fashion industry ALL THE TIME! You find a garment you like the fit of, create a pattern by tracing around the different sections and then when the fit is good, you develop other styles from it.

This post is about creating a pattern from a woven garment using the tracing method and there is this post about tracing a knit garment.

The reason this technique works so well is that it is usually a garment that you love and know fits well. And you are replicating it.

That said, the tracing technique is not the most accurate method though. Think about those knitted tee’s you have and how when you wash and hang them you notice they have twisted side seams? This comes through when tracing knitted garments, so you really need to know what you’re doing to do it right.

I did some freelance work for a London designer who sent me a knitted Nicole Farhi dress she wanted to replicate. And it reminded me that you need to think about the stretch factor when replicating knit garments!

3. Deconstruct An Existing Item Of Clothing

My preferred method – over tracing anyway – is to deconstruct an item of clothing in order to get a more accurate pattern from it. And yes, it is ACCURATE.

In fact, this was why I created my paid pattern making course, to teach people this technique. It is again used in the industry though it isn’t as fast as the tracing method.

Using one or more garments that fit perfectly, is a great way to get that personal ‘moulage’. I am slowly creating a PDF workbook that walks you through the lengthy process step by step to get the best possible results.

The down side to this technique is the time involved. You need to be meticulous with the deconstruction process in order to properly document everything, and it takes time.

4. Modify A Well Fitting Commercial Pattern

Now, if you fall into the category of learning how to make sewing patterns for other people – i.e. making money from the patterns – you usually cannot use a commercial sewing pattern as a base. It’s copyright protected you see.

Someone designed and created the pattern, and the sewing patterns are usually sold with restrictions allowing them only to be used for personal use only.

This post talks you through developing a commercial pattern for personal use.

5. Draping To Create A Two Dimensional Sewing Pattern

If all else fails, one of my other favourite techniques is draping. You will need a dress stand or a human as a model, but it is definitely one of the more fun and creative methods of making your own sewing patterns!

I will post a simple draping lesson in a few weeks time for those who don’t know the process.

Make Your Own Sewing Patterns Series

That’s part two in the four part series wrapped up… dates for part three and four are below! Part three is developing the design. So you can choose the best starting place for your sewing pattern!

  1. Part 1: How To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns: Getting Started
  2. Part 2: How To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns: 5 Techniques
  3. Part 3: How To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns: Developing A Design
  4. Part 4: How To Make Your Own Sewing Patterns: Pattern Testing

Comments (1)

  • Dana

    December 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Would like to learn how to draft patterns. Like i can just look at a garment and know how to make it.

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