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How to make a paper sewing pattern

Updated April 17, 2017

Learning to make a paper sewing pattern is easy and provides a way to create and record your own clothing or doll designs for future use. Traditional pattern paper which is lightweight can be used; however, when making your own paper pattern, it might be more desirable to use a thicker white paper or brown paper. Thicker papers used for patterns can increase the durability of your sewing pattern. If you find you are constantly altering a store-bought pattern that you use, consider taking the steps to create your own pattern with your specifications and customisations to make future constructions more convenient.

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  1. Select the appropriate paper for the paper sewing pattern you wish to create. Traditional paper will be lighter and fold easier; however, white or brown paper will be more durable and stiffer.

  2. Decide whether your paper sewing pattern will be for one size only or multiple sizes like the ones in the store. Creating a pattern for one size will be simpler; however, creating a pattern with multiple sizes will offer more versatility or room to grow. This pattern can serve as a template pattern for future patterns.

  3. Draw a rough sketch of the final design, whether clothing, dress, doll or animal, on a piece of paper. Break down all the pieces that will be needed to create the final design and create a list or rough designs of the pieces on the sketch. Make sure all needed elements for the final design will be accounted for in the pattern; this includes collars, pockets, ribbons and tiebacks, if needed.

  4. Draw an outline of the largest size of the final design on the pattern paper with a pencil or erasable writing instrument. Use an erasable pencil should adjustments need to be made before finalising the paper sewing pattern. Consider using traditional pattern symbols to make following the design more standardised and easier to understand at a later date (see link in References).

  5. Using permanent markers, mark the final pattern lines and symbols on the pattern paper. Remember to mark the placement of pockets or seams for clothing or eyes, nose, mouth, arms and other features for dolls or other designs.

  6. Cut out the pattern if desired, fold the pattern and place all pieces of the sewing pattern in a clearly marked bag or box for storage. Patterns need to be stored in a dry cool environment out of direct sunlight so that the paper does not break down, the pieces do not stick and the marker does not bleed or discolour.

  7. Tip

    Create a pattern slightly larger than needed to allow for seam allowances and room to adjust and customise final design. Measure a model to create your designs or use a standardised sizing chart for basic measurements.


    Do not use chalk or washable markers to create your pattern lines and symbols because the lines will not be permanent or durable.

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Things You'll Need

  • Traditional pattern paper or
  • Large roll of white or brown paper
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Permanent pen, markers
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Plastic bag

About the Author

Heather Inks is a social entrepreneur who educates on improving communities and the world. She is an educator, writer, photographer, artist and model who has taught K6-12th grade and public educators. Inks is a life coach specializing in personal, career, educational, dating, health and fitness, and gifted children issues. She has been educated at fine universities including graduate work at Stetson University.

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