How to Design Patterns for Sewing

Nothing looks better than looking good. When you wear a well-designed cloth, you feel different – you feel confident. If this clothing is one with a unique design, you stand out. The first thing everyone notices on you is your beautiful, uncommon dress and how good you look in it. Often, no one notices the time and the effort that was put into designing the piece of clothing. A lot of effort usually goes into designing a dress. Some designers may even prefer to say a magic word or recite a spell to get their sewing design rather than go through the actual physical process. This does not mean that designing is not fun; it is just not always so easy.

As a beginner designer, creating design patterns may not be as easy for you as it would be for pros. Many times, they already have blueprints for their designs. From these blueprints, they create new designs, and this makes the process easier and more fun for them. As a beginner, you have to know how to design patterns for sewing before you can even create your blueprints. This is why this article was written: to help you with creating your first design pattern.


Methods for Designing Patterns for Sewing

For a designer, the main advantage of learning how to design your sewing patterns is profit; however, for a non-designer, the advantage differs. When you start designing your clothes by yourself, you will not have to rely too much on commercial patterns. Sometimes, commercial patterns can be non-fitting, and the design may not be as you imagined. When things happen like this, it is usually not very pleasing.


Here, we discuss a few methods you can adapt to create your design patterns.

  1. Sketching

  2. Tracing

  3. Modification


Everyone has probably tried sketching out their pattern. Most times, this is what people who are new to design start with. Sketching is one method that you can create a novel design pattern with. As already mentioned, many people have tried sketching their patterns. Many times, it does not work out well at the start because people have not mastered how to measure accurately. But as your measurement skill improves, you will get better results from sketching your design patterns.

One way of sketching is to use pattern making books. Pattern-making books contain the designs of the parts of a cloth that represents different parts of the body. These designs of the pieces of the clothing are represented as shapes that look like blocks. If you want to sketch through this means, you can do the following:

  • Use the measurements for these blocks and adjust them to fit your measurement.

  • As your measurement skill improves, you can start altering the sketches in the pattern-making book. You can achieve this by adding your sketches to it or removing some sketches from it.

The other way to start out sketching is to create your blocks from nothing. This is usually not the best way to go if you know your measurement skills are not yet good enough. If you are creating your sketches from nothing, you will need to do the following:

  1. Take your body measurements.

You have to measure the dimensions of the following parts of your body:

  • Your height

  • Your waist

  • Your neck – if you are designing a shirt for a man.

  • Your bust – if the clothing is for a woman.

  • Your chest – if the clothing is for a man.

  • The back – you have to measure the length of the back and the width of the widest part of the back.

  • The length of the sleeve

  • The width of the upper part of your arm

  • The length of your shoulder

  1. Make a rough sketch of the clothing.

After taking measurements, you have to draw a rough sketch of the design on a small piece of paper. Then from this rough sketch, divide your design into pieces representing each part of the clothing.

  1. Join the pieces on a large paper

Using the pattern from the rough sketch, draw the pieces to scale (i.e., draw them according to your measurements) on a large piece of paper. As you draw them, make sure you join the pieces as they appear in the rough sketch. Do not forget to add an allowance for seams as you draw out the pattern. A seam allowance of about 0.5 inches should be sufficient.


A second method for creating patterns for sewing is by tracing an already sewn piece of clothing. This is perhaps the most commonly used method for designing patterns. For this method, follow the following steps:

  1. Fold the piece of clothing vertically such that the edges and seams are in line with each other.

  2. Fasten the clothing with pins then place it on a sufficiently large piece of paper.

  3. Trace the shape of the folded clothing out on the paper.

  4. Remove the piece of clothing and retrace the lines but make them bolder.

  5. Add the seam allowance of 0.5 inches to the pattern.

  6. Repeat steps i to v for the parts of the clothing you will have to join together.

The material used in making the clothing you intend to trace is an important factor to consider. The elasticity of this material will play a part in your measurement. So, you should not forget to factor elasticity into your measurement. Also, certain types of seams will affect your measurement. So, you should study the type of seam used in making the cloth.


The patterns of many commercially available clothing are copyright protected, so if you trace such a cloth and use that pattern as your design, you are infringing on their copyright. In such cases, you can modify the pattern of the cloth into something visibly different from the cloth. The modification involves a series of adding and removing design to/from the design of some of the pieces of the copyrighted pattern.

The most important skill required for designing patterns for sewing is your measurement skill. Master this, and you are closer to mastering design. Two other important skills are creativity and imagination. To create unique and attractive designs, you should be able to see things differently. Many times, you will find that people are more impressed when they see things they have not thought of or seen before.

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