How to design and make your own clothes - Pattern Cutting - Part 2/4

Updated: Aug 11

You too can create your own sewing patterns and here's how!

Once you've decided what you want the end result to look like then it's time to start pattern cutting... but wait, where should you even start?

Don't worry I've broken it down for you below!

Step 1: Work out what you're going to pattern cut

Pattern cutting is like writing a recipe for a cake (for me that's a chocolate cherry roulade at the moment!). You just need to work out what ingredients and methods you'll need to make your final creation. Pattern cutting is no different.

90% of the time pattern cutting starts with pattern blocks (basic sewing pattern stencils). If you need your own bodice and sleeves blocks, they're provided with our pattern cutting course and separately here.

Once you've got your blocks you need to start by deciding which design (max 3 designs) to start with. On your design, annotate exactly what needs altering on your pattern blocks to make it look like your design.

Here are a few pointers to help get those cogs turning:

  1. What fabric are you going to be using? The behaviour of the fabric may cause you to make different decisions, for example, pleats need to be bigger to stand out with thicker fabrics, silk can automatically create a more draped look so you may not need to add in much extra fabric to create a draped 'easy fitting' look.

  2. What is the overall fit? Wider, more fitted, longer, shorter?

  3. What are the sleeves/legs like? Super fitted, poofy, flared, do they have cuffs and a placket opening?

  4. If you're not having sleeves then what are the armholes like? Do they extend out?

  5. How are you going to get the garment on and off? Buttons, zips, poppers, maybe it doesn't need fastenings because the design allows you to get it on and off?

  6. Are there any design features you're adding? Ruffles, tucks, gathers, pleats?

These are just a few thoughts to get you going but as you write this list and annotate your design, it'll encourage you to notice what else will need changing.

Step 2: It's time to get drafting your patterns

Start by moving any darts, that are in the way of your design, out of the way or into new design features (unless your garment is super loose that you don't need the darts anymore).

Work on altering the fit of the garment to your design and then the design features of the bodice/legs. After this, if you have sleeves, pattern cut them making sure to do any armhole alterations if you've changed the armhole fit on the bodice.

Step 3: Adding hem and seam allowances

Hem and seam allowances must always be added to your sewing patterns last. This is so they don't get altered or get in the way whilst you're making your patterns.

The type of fabric will really influence the type and size of your hem and seam allowances. In our Introduction to Pattern Cutting eBook, we've written some recommendations on when to use different types and sizes of hems and seams. Click here if you've not downloaded your copy yet (it's totally free).