For those who love to sew clothing and have experience with published patterns, the next logical step is doing your own garment pattern making. The ability to make patterns is a skill that is useful whether you simply sew for yourself for the enjoyment of the craft and to have tailored clothing that fits your shape perfectly, or you sew for others for enjoyment or income. It is essential if you desire to pursue a career in fashion design.
Garment pattern making often begins with creating a pattern from articles of clothing that you like and that fit you well. Once you have that basic pattern, variations of it can be created for entirely new designs with different necklines, sleeve types, pant or skirt lengths, etc. It can be done on paper to start, though many use inexpensive muslin cloth to baste into a prototype to try on to ensure proper fit. Beginning with that single customized pattern, an entire wardrobe can be designed.
There are many pattern making books, software programs, classes, and online courses available to help get you started. Regardless of where or how you learn the basic skills or improve your current skills, having the right tools for the job are a necessity. Having the right tools for the job in sewing and pattern making, like any other endeavor, will make the job easier and the end result will look and fit better.
Of course, you will need the basic sewing tools: quality scissors and pinking shears, snippers to cut thread and notch fabric, seam ripper, a variety of machine needles and hand-sewing needles, dressmaker pins, pin cushion, safety pins, and iron for pressing seams and darts. In addition, you will need to add a few more items. A tape measure is needed for accurate fittings. You will need curves to draw curved hips, hems, and other curved areas. To draw armholes and necklines, you will want a French curve.
To mark muslin and paper, you will need a tracing wheel and tracing paper. To transfer pattern markings, marking hem lines, and cutting bias, use chalk wheels and/or a water soluble marker, making sure to test the fabric to make sure the markings will come completely out. Clear gridded rulers will make it easy to add seam allowances.
Using “dot” paper will make your garment pattern making much easier than using unmarked paper, helping to keep your grainlines and angle accurate. Additionally, clear tape will be helpful for modifying patterns. With these basic tools, you are ready to begin creating your own patterns!