My Sewing Adventures - Pattern Drafting

Friday, March 11, 2016


Sewing has been one of my favorite pastimes for a long time .  Not just sewing, but sewing costumes.  I've come to a point where I am so familiar with a patterns that I find myself wanting to make my own patterns.  A dear friend of mine who knows the skill of pattern drafting let me borrow a few of the books that really helped her learn the skill.  I would highly recommend Designing Dress Patterns by Helen Nicol Tanous.  I found to my surprise that this book wasn't overly complicated, and  It really helped me understand all the tricks and techniques involved in pattern drafting.

The first step of my endeavor into pattern drafting was to create what is called the basic block.  The book Designing Dress Patterns gives you the measurements to make a basic block in size 14.  

I cut out, on a sheet of poster board, the basic block for both the front and back bodice, and the sleeve.  My basic block is pictured below.

Using the basic blocks I learned how to swing darts, how to "Slash and Spread" for adding gathers,  how to add the extra length for buttons, how to draft a pattern for the facing, and so much more. If any of those terms are unfamiliar with you I basically learned how to take the basic blocks that you see above and add to them to create whatever style I desire.

For my first official project I decided to draft my own prairie blouse pattern. Spring is here and the spring living history camp, Rock-N-Water, that my family works at is going to be starting soon. I've been busy sewing aprons and skirts for the upcoming season at Rock-N-Water.

As  I began the process of creating my pattern I found that pattern drafting is not as easy as I first thought.  I drafted pattern piece after pattern piece.  Using scrap fabric I would test out my pattern only to find that it didn't look at all like I had envisioned.  But after making all the changes that were necessary I finally drafted a pattern that worked.  

I created a blouse with slightly off the shoulder sleeves, a yoke with gathers, bishop sleeves, and with lace to fancy it up a bit. Below is my finished blouse.

Since my blouse turned out to be such a success I decided to make my sister one as well.  I made a few adjustments to hers.  She wanted a peter pan color and sleeves that only came just slightly past her elbow.  The finished blouse I made for her is pictured below.

Lastly, my mom loved my blouse pattern so much she asked me to make her one too.  As you can see, in the picture below, I made quite a few changes for her blouse.  I made the yoke a little bit wider and a little bit longer.  It was her idea to use contrasting fabrics and I think that was a great idea.  The contrasting fabrics really look nice on this blouse.  

I am very happy with my pattern.  I'm so glad I can say that it was a success. I am amazed at how I  was able to create three different looks by using the same pattern. 

Though pattern drafting was a lot harder than I initially thought, it is not impossible and this was only the first step, of many, to having a better understanding of pattern drafting.  


  1. Oh-those are all adorable!

  2. I want one! You've taken sewing to a new level when you can make your own patterns. Awesome job!