Garment Pattern Making Techniques

Last Updated on 23/02/2021

Garment Pattern Making Techniques

Harshani Wijendra
Sri Lanka Institute of Textile & Apparel Technology (SLITA)


Pattern Making
Garment pattern making is a highly skilled techniques which calls for technical ability, and a sensitivity to interpret a design with a practical understanding of garment construction. For successful dress designing pattern making forms the fundamental step. This function connects design to production by producing paper templates for all components such as cloth, hemming, fusible etc. which have to be cut for completing a specific garment.

Pattern making is an art. It is the art of manipulating and shaping a flat piece of fabric to conform to one or more curves of the human figure. Pattern making is a bridge function between design and production. A sketch can be turned into a garment via a pattern which interprets the design in the form of the garment components. A pattern is flat while the body is not. The body has height, width and depth. Within this roughly cylindrical framework there are a series of secondary curves and bulges, which are of concern to the pattern maker. Darts are the basis of all pattern making. They convert the flat piece of cloth into a three dimensional form, which fits the bulges of the body.

A pattern maker typically makes a pattern from a flat sketch with measurements or a two dimensional fashion illustration. The basic pattern is the very foundation upon which pattern making, fit and design are based. The basic pattern is the starting point for flat pattern designing. It is a simple pattern that fits the body with just enough ease for movement and comfort.

Garment Pattern Making Techniques
For making garment pattern following three techniques are used:

  1. Drafting
  2. Draping
  3. Flat paper pattern making

It involves measurements derived from sizing systems or accurate measurements taken on a person, dress or body form. Measurements for chest, waist, hip and so on, and ease allowances are marked on paper and construction lines are drawn to complete the pattern. Drafting is used to create basic, foundation or design patterns.


  1. Bust – measure just under the arms around the fullest part of chest.
  2. Waist – measure around narrowest part of torso.
  3. High Hip – measure 6 inches [15.5 cm] below waist around the hips.
  4. Back-waist length – measure from nape of neck to waist level
  5. Shoulder length – measure shoulder from ball socket to side of neck.
  6. Armhole depth – measure from nape of neck to under arm level.
  7. Back width – measure from armhole to armhole across shoulder blades.
  8. Neck – measure around base of neck.

Tools Use for Drafting

A. Tape Measure
This is likely something you already have in your stash, because if you have been making clothing you should have been measuring your body along the way! If not, pick up a good quality fiberglass tape measure today so you can start your pattern making off right with correct body measurements.

B. Seam Ripper
Like the tape measure, you probably have a seam ripper. You will use this in pattern making for taking out your basting stitches when you move from the muslin fitting to the pattern drafting stage.

C. Fine Point Sharpie Marker
Muslin versions are always ugly because they are marked up, but you want to make your markings with a permanent and fine point. I like these push-button fine point sharpie pens as the cap always seems to get lost in my studio! These are quick and easy to use.

D. Tracing Wheel
To take your markings from the muslin stage to the pattern making stage, this tool will pierce through the paper and leave behind marks to draft with a mechanical pencil.

E. Rotary Cutter
I like using my rotary cutter for the big broad strokes of cutting muslin. Make sure to use a cutting mat beneath your item to protect the cutting surface of the table underneath!

F. Fabric Scissors
Sharp, high-quality scissors are used for all your fabric cutting in sewing and patternmaking. These will shape the muslin down to the proper size after you have cut it big and broad with the rotary cutter.

G. Tracing Paper
I personally do not use this, but many designers like it for leaving marks behind on their muslins. I like a sharpie or tracing wheel, but try these sheets out and perhaps you will love them! Many people do.

H. Scotch Tape
It is inevitable that you will need to tape pattern pieces together and I find that basic Scotch tape is the best for this.

I. Clear Rulers
Having a variety of clear rulers in different shapes and sizes is essential in your kit for patternmaking. I like having a little one for marking in tiny areas, long ones for making marks for pin tucks, side seam lines, and other parts of the patternmaking process that call for something longer than average. I also have a quilting square with diagonal lines for helping square up corners and creating angles.

J. Right Angle
This is also a huge help in creating perfect 90 degree angles on your pattern. These are also available in clear plastic, which most people prefer. I have had this black one since art school and still use it.

K. Curved Rulers
To shape arm holes, hip curves, hems and other lines that are not straight in patternmaking, it is essential that you have a few different curved rulers to get the proper slope in your pattern.

Tools use for drafting
Fig: Tools use for drafting

It involves the draping of a two dimensional piece of fabric around a form, conforming to its shape, creating a three-dimensional fabric pattern. Ease allowances for movement are added to make the garment comfortable to wear. Advantage of draping is that the designer can see the overall design effect of the finished garment on the body form before the garment piece is cut and sewn. However, it is more expensive and time consuming than flat pattern making. Draping can be made on a Human body or on a stand.

pattern draping

pattern draping

Flat Pattern Making:
It involves the development of a fitted basic pattern with comfort ease to fit a person or body form. A sloper is the starting point for flat pattern designing. It is a simple pattern that fits the body with just enough ease for movement and comfort. Five basic pattern pieces are used for women’s clothing. They include a snug-fitting bodice front and bodice back with darts and a basic neckline, a sleeve and a fitted skirt front and back with darts. However, as fashion changes frequently women’s styles fluctuate frequently. These basic slopers are then manipulated to create fashions. Nowadays draping is also tested by Computer aid techniques. A basic sloper has no seam allowances, which facilitates its manipulations to various styles. It has no design interest, only construction lines are marked on it. It is necessary that the basic structure of a sloper should be such that adjustments can be introduced easily. For a good pattern making, accurate measurements are of utmost importance.

flat Pattern making by CAD system
Fig: Pattern making by CAD system

The flat pattern making method is widely used in the ready-to-wear market because it is fast and accurate (Aldrich).

You may also like:

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  2. What is Pattern Engineering | Components of Pattern Engineering
  3. Grading and Pattern Making: Job Interview Questions
  4. Perspectives of Anthropometry in Garment Pattern Making
  5. Garment Pattern Grading Techniques
  6. How to Develop Garment Pattern

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