Pattern Drafting Down and Dirty

Pattern drafting can be easy.

SeaSalwarDupattaNow that I have annoyed the soul out of all the professional designers out there, let me explain.   I am certain that drafting a commercial pattern is something of an estoeric skill.   However, creating clothes to your own figure in your own design merely takes a small amount of practice and imagination.   It requires very little patience, thank whatever you happen to worship, because if it took patience, I could never have learned it.

Like many a seamstress, I learned to sew by obtaining very simple commercial patterns and following the directions with much trial and error.  Though I was always careful to buy a pattern that came as close to my measurements as possible, there was always the problem of fit.

I had experimented with altering the pattern to suit my body, but had not had the chance to experiment with it much before a friend wanted to figure out a way to make some garb for a Renaissance Festival.  I bought a book that claimed to be a series of patterns.  However, it was simply a series of pattern shapes with some construction instructions. What I did not know how to do was to draft a pattern.

After much profanity (and a lot of help from my artist husband), I was able to construct several inexpert garments.

I was very unsatisfied with the results.  The bodice didn’t  even come close to fitting me correctly in the shoulders — a problem area for fit for me, as they are narrow.

My dissatisfaction made me wonder about pattern drafting.  I have always had a hard time finding clothes that suited both my tastes and my physique.  I could imagine lovely clothes, but even if I found a pattern that came close, I was not skilled enough to alter it.

As usual, when I have a problem with something, I made a trip to the library.  I obtained several books on sewing and fit. Most of the were very well-written instruction manuals on how to alter patterns.  However, at seven different points, my physique falls outside of the design template for commercial patterns.  To alter a pattern to fit me, I practically have to draft a new one.

So, that is exactly what I do!

I use a salwar kameez as a teaching aid because it’s incredibly basic and you can extrapolate a lot from the principles.

Click here to get started.


5 Replies to “Pattern Drafting Down and Dirty”

  1. Thank you.

    I grew up in Asia as an expat and my best friends mum was American but her dad’s family roots were from India. She wore these all the time and I always admired them. Now 30 years later I plan on sewing my own and wearing them often. I also want a sari, I think I may sew the blouse, but will buy the skirt. But… I love the look of these, and makes me remember days gone by with fond memories. I moved back where I came from to north dakota and married a farm boy. But he respects and loves my international flair. So no one local will understand my dress except my kids and hubby. But I think my youngest daughter may want a few for herself. Yay for doing parenting right and teaching them about the world from personal experience.

    It also made me proud when my oldest chose Indian food for her birthday dinner, when she could have anything she wanted and she choose Indian food. Love that!!!!

    1. Unfortunately, I have no idea. The point of the tutorial is to be able to draft a pattern to YOUR measurements. So, instead of buying a pattern, you’re making your own.

      Trust me, the fit is amazing.

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