Whether you’ve been pattern cutting for a while, and you’re looking for a new way to create your own sewing patterns or you're new to the world of sewing pattern creation. This is the blog post for you.
In this blog post, we'll look at three methods to get you started on your pattern making adventure. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a newbie to the sewing scene, these techniques will open doors to endless possibilities.
3 methods to draft your own sewing patterns
Watch my video below to discover the different methods or scroll down to read all about them.
Creating Patterns from your Existing Garments
You've got a favorite jumper or dress that fits like a dream why not reverse engineer it and use it as your muse? Why not turn it into a blueprint for your very own sewing pattern?
In this method, we'll guide you through the process of tracing the contours of your cherished clothing item to create a sewing pattern. It's not just about replicating; it's about understanding the construction and bringing your vision to life. Read on to discover how you can breathe new life into your wardrobe by recreating your beloved garments.
How to copy a pattern from a garment you already have
Top Tips for copying a pattern from a garment you already have
Lay the garment on a flat surface and smooth out any wrinkles to get an accurate representation of the pattern (don't forget that iron too).
Start from the middle of the garment and work your way out.
Mark key points like darts and grainlines. These markings are essential for sewing the new garment together correctly.
Here is a pattern I created from a jumper I already have. I have literally traced around this to create my own sewing patterns and I also looked at the construction to work out how it was sewn together. I have created two jumpers, an oversized shirt and a shacket from this pattern in different fabrics and they're all sooo comfy!
I LOVE recreating my old faithfuls because I know how it's going to turn out and I know how it's going to feel. It not only brings me joy but also saves me a lot of time, as I no longer have to search high and low through shops for something similar that doesn't quite meet the criteria!
Flat Pattern Cutting with Blocks/Slopers
Ever stared at a blank sheet of paper, wondering where to begin? Pattern blocks/slopers are your trusty sidekicks in defeating the dreaded "blank piece of paper syndrome".
These 'stencils', created for different garments, fits and sizes, provide you with a solid starting point for creating sewing patterns from scratch.
This method is the method I teach inside my online pattern cutting courses. It's the method I use the most.
Need to know facts about pattern blocks/slopers
You should never alter your pattern blocks. Always trace around them onto a different piece of paper and create your pattern from there.
Pattern block is a term used more commonly in British English and Sloper is more commonly used in American English.
There are quarter-scale blocks, half-scale blocks and full-sclae blocks and they are all used for different things. You and discover more about the different scales here.
When you trace around pattern blocks, it's important to use a sharp pencil or a propelling pencil upright to make your patterns as accurate as possible. You can learn more about this in the tutorial below.
Keen to know more about flat pattern cutting and how to use the blocks/slopers to create your own unique patterns... ⬇️
Join me inside my FREE masterclass and learn how to start creating your very own sewing patterns. You'll soon be transforming your beautiful fabrics into clothes you love, and want to wear, in no time!
METHOD 3: The Art of Draping
Draping on the Stand/Dress Form
For those who prefer a more hands-on, sculptural approach to pattern drafting, draping on a dress form is a fascinating avenue to explore. Acquiring a dress form and learning how to manipulate fabric directly on it can lead to stunning and unique designs.
This method allows you to truly feel and see your creations take shape. Pin, sketch and transform your draped fabric into a tangible sewing pattern ready for your next project.
First, you'll want to invest in a mannequin/dress form, with options available across a wide price range to match your budget.
For creating a good fit, I'd suggest a mannequin that is adjustable however, there are drawbacks to both types (adjustable vs solid/foam). For example, for the adjustable mannequin, you end up with gaps where you've opened it up which means you can't pin it there. So if you do decide you just want it for trying ideas I would go for a foam one. I have a cheap foam dummy I've had for years from eBay which is ideal. You can purchase a similar foam dummy here.
Once you've found the right one for you, it's time to bring your creativity to life. Pin your fabric directly onto the mannequin and watch your designs take shape.
With everything securely pinned, use a water-erasable pen, chalk, or a similar tool to trace the pattern's outline. Then, make a copy of your pattern and don't forget to add the necessary seam and hem allowances. Your custom creations are just a few steps away!
When is it a good idea to use the draping method to create your sewing patterns?
When trying out pleat sizes - It's great to take your fabric to the stand when you want to test different pleat sizes as it's super easy to fold over, change between sizes and see what it truly looks like in your chosen fabric.
When creating bias cut garments - You'll be able to easily drape your fabric on the stand to test how a fabric will hang. You will find that evening wear and wedding dresses are often draped.
When creating more structural avant-garde designs - You can experiment with more structured fabrics like wool, denim, or neoprene. Draping can help you achieve unique and dramatic shapes.
Draping is excellent for creating flowing and asymmetrical designs - Fabrics that allow for movement and soft folds, like georgette, chiffon, or lightweight crepe, are suitable for these types of designs.
Testing gathering and rushed design elements - Fabrics that gather or ruche well, like tulle or lightweight netting, can be draped and manipulated to create interesting textures and effects.
Lightweight fabrics like chiffon, silk, satin, and jersey are ideal for draping, as they have good drape and can be easily manipulated on the dress form.
Medium-weight fabrics such as cotton, linen, and lightweight wools can also be used for draping, though they may require more skill to shape and manipulate effectively.
I have a bonus module/mini course inside Design Confidence, my 10-week pattern cutting design course, on draping to create sewing patterns. You can discover more about Design Confidence in my free masterclass here.
So, whether you're an aspiring fashion designer or someone looking to add a personal touch to your wardrobe, these three techniques offer you an array of creative possibilities. And as you can see, you don't have to stick to one way, I love to mix and match depending on what I'm creating and how I'm feeling.
Happy pattern cutting, Sarah xxx