How to create clothing patterns

Written by michelle powell-smith
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Flat pattern drafting is relatively easy to learn and an ideal choice for a home dressmaker who wants to experiment with creating clothing patterns. Once you can create clothing patterns, you can make dresses, skirts, blouses and trousers that fit your body and style perfectly. You can also use your pattern making skills to alter commercial patterns to fit just the way you like. Make the most of your sewing time by adding pattern drafting to your dressmaking skills.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tissue paper, lightweight interfacing or dressmaker's pattern paper
  • Ruler with a straight edge
  • Set square
  • Tape measure
  • Muslin
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors

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    How to Create Clothing Patterns

  1. 1

    Take careful measurements. You will need full and upper bust, back waist, waist, hip, height, skirt length and inseam measurements (see references below). It is helpful to recruit a friend to assist with measurements. Write these down or save them to a file on your computer to make pattern drafting easier in the future.

  2. 2

    Create slopers, or pattern blocks. These are the basis for flat pattern drafting. You can purchase commercial sloper patterns that can be altered to fit your body, or make your own. Start by creating a skirt pattern block; it is the simplest clothing pattern sloper.

  3. 3

    Draw a rectangle the desired skirt length plus 1cm by your hip measurement, divided by 2 plus approximately 10cm of wearing ease. Draw a vertical line in the centre of this rectangle and a horizontal line 24cm from the top to mark the hip line. Using your waist measurement, mark waist points 5cm to the right and left of the centre vertical line and draw a curved line from hip to waist. Create a gentle curve at the centre front of the skirt pattern block and draft in darts on the front and back of your skirt sloper to make the pattern block fit your actual waist measurement (see references below). You will use similar methods to make slopers for trousers and bodices.

  4. 4

    Make sure your slopers fit. Cut the sloper from muslin, adding seam allowances. Baste together and try on for fit. Adjust as needed. A well-fitting sloper is critical to create clothing patterns.

  5. 5

    Use your sloper pattern as the basis for flat pattern drafting. The sloper provides you with a clear picture of the body you are dressing, thereby allowing you to make garments that fit perfectly. Trace several copies of your sloper to make it easy to slash and spread as needed.

  6. 6

    Place your traced sloper pattern on a fresh sheet of tracing or tissue paper. Slash and spread pieces, being sure to keep the pattern itself intact as you pivot pieces to change the shape of your pattern. Pin your sloper pattern carefully into place and trace your new clothing pattern (see references below). Be sure to add seam allowances before you cut out your pattern.

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