top of page
  • FeliciaZ

Patternmaking Tools

Updated: May 30

In order to produce good quality patterns it’s essential to have the right tools. Patternmaking tools, such as rulers can last  as long they are well taken care of. Many of the miscellaneous items can be purchased at most retail stores. I’ve provided a link for pattern making supplies/tool that are not easily accessible.

1. Paper scissors : Use different scissors for paper & fabric cutting

2. Fabric scissors

3. Red pencil

4. Blue pencil

5. Cutting mat

6. 18 x 2″ clear plastic ruler

7. Tailor’s Square: 24 x 14″ L-shaped metal ruler

8. French curve ruler- This is essential for shaping armholes and necklines.

9. Hip curve ruler- Curves waistlines, shapes hemlines and lapels

10. Hanger hooks or ringers: These hold patterns together.

11. Push pin: Needed for pattern manipulation. Can be purchased at staples or any stationary store.

12. 3M Scotch tape

13. Notcher

14. Pointed tracing wheels

15.  Awl: Pierces 1/8″ hole in the pattern to indicate the dart apex, trim or buttonhole placement.

16.  Metal weights: Keeps patterns in place for tracing and marking

17. Metal-tipped measuring tape.

18: Pattern paper or gift wrapping paper-

19. Muslin-: Plain woven cotton resembling linen. Made from bleached or unbleached yarn in different weights:

I. Introduction

A. Definition of patternmaking

Patternmaking is the process of creating patterns, templates, or blueprints for garments, accessories, or other textile products. It involves taking measurements and designing a paper or digital pattern that can be used to create a prototype or finished product. Patternmaking is an essential step in the fashion design process and plays a crucial role in ensuring that garments fit properly and are aesthetically pleasing. It requires knowledge of geometry, mathematics, and sewing techniques, as well as an understanding of how fabrics drape and behave.

B. Importance of patternmaking in fashion design

Patternmaking is a crucial step in the fashion design process, and its importance cannot be overstated. Here are a few reasons why patternmaking is so important in fashion design:

1. Proper fit: A well-designed pattern ensures that the garment fits properly and looks good on the wearer. A poorly designed pattern can result in a garment that is uncomfortable, unflattering, or simply does not fit.

2. Accuracy and consistency: Patterns provide a precise and consistent way of creating garments, which is essential for achieving a professional look and ensuring that each garment is identical.

3. Efficiency: Once a pattern has been created, it can be used to create multiple garments, which saves time and resources.

4. Creativity: Patternmaking allows designers to experiment with different shapes, styles, and designs, and to create unique and innovative garments that stand out in the market.

5. Sustainability: By using patterns to create garments, designers can reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

II. Basic patternmaking techniques

A. Flat patternmaking

Flat patternmaking is a method of patternmaking in which a two-dimensional pattern is created by manipulating flat pieces of paper or fabric. The flat pattern is then used to create a three-dimensional garment. This method of patternmaking is often used in the fashion industry because it allows for precise control over the shape and fit of the garment.

The process of flat patternmaking begins with taking measurements of the person who will wear the garment. These measurements are used to create a basic block pattern, which is a simple, straight-line pattern that serves as the foundation for all other patterns. The block pattern is then manipulated to create different styles and designs. This manipulation can involve adding or removing darts, shaping seams, and changing the length or width of the pattern pieces.

Once the pattern has been created, it is usually tested by creating a prototype or sample garment. This sample is then fitted to the person who will wear the garment, and any necessary adjustments are made to the pattern. The final pattern is then used to create the finished garment.

Flat patternmaking is a versatile and widely used method of patternmaking because it allows for a high degree of control over the final product. It is also a cost-effective way to create patterns because it can be done with simple tools and materials.

2. Tools and materials

There are various tools and materials that a patternmaker might use in the process of creating patterns. Here are some common ones:

1. Measuring tools: A tape measure, a ruler, a French curve, and a set square are essential for taking accurate measurements and creating precise lines and angles.

2. Pattern paper: This is a type of paper specifically designed for patternmaking. It is usually lightweight and translucent, which makes it easy to trace designs and transfer markings.

3. Marking tools: These include chalk, pens, pencils, and tailor's tacks, which are used to transfer markings from the pattern to the fabric.

4. Cutting tools: Scissors, rotary cutters, and cutting mats are used to cut out the pattern pieces from the fabric.

5. Pins and needles: These are used to hold the fabric in place while cutting and sewing.

6. Sewing tools: A sewing machine, thread, and various sewing notions (such as buttons, zippers, and bias tape) are necessary for assembling the garment.

7. Software: There are various software programs available for creating digital patterns, such as Adobe Illustrator, CAD (Computer-Aided Design), or specific patternmaking software like Gerber Technology.

8. Dress form: A dress form is a three-dimensional model of the human body that is used to create patterns and test the fit of garments.

These tools and materials are essential for patternmaking, and it's important for patternmakers to invest in high-quality equipment to ensure accurate and consistent results.

3. Step-by-step process

B. Draping

1. Definition-Draping is a method of creating patterns by shaping fabric directly on a dress form or a live model. In this process, the designer drapes a piece of fabric over the dress form or model, and then uses pins and other tools to manipulate the fabric into the desired shape. Once the fabric is draped into the desired shape, the designer creates a paper pattern by tracing the shape of the fabric on the dress form or model.

Draping is often used in the fashion industry because it allows for a high degree of creativity and spontaneity in the design process. Designers can experiment with different fabrics and styles, and can make adjustments to the design in real-time based on how the fabric drapes and falls on the dress form or model.

The draping process can also be used to create unique designs that are difficult or impossible to achieve with flat patternmaking. By manipulating the fabric directly, designers can create curves, folds, and other details that would be difficult to create with flat patternmaking.

Draping is a time-consuming and skilled process that requires an understanding of how fabric behaves and how it can be manipulated. It is often used in conjunction with other patternmaking methods, such as flat patternmaking or computer-aided design (CAD), to create high-quality and well-fitting garments.

2. Tools and materials

The tools and materials used for draping are similar to those used in other forms of patternmaking, but there are some unique items that are specific to draping. Here are some common tools and materials used in draping:

1. Dress form: A dress form is a three-dimensional model of the human body that is used to drape fabric and create patterns. It can be made of various materials, such as foam or papier-mâché.

2. Muslin fabric: This is a lightweight, plain-weave cotton fabric that is often used for draping because it is easy to manipulate and drapes well.

3. Pins and weights: Pins are used to hold the fabric in place on the dress form or model, while weights are used to help the fabric hang properly and stay in place.

4. Scissors: Scissors are used to cut the fabric and trim excess material.

5. Tape measure: A tape measure is used to take measurements of the dress form or model and to measure the fabric as it is draped.

6. Marking tools: These include chalk, pens, and pencils, which are used to mark the fabric with lines and measurements.

7. Rulers and curves: These tools are used to create straight lines and curves in the fabric.

8. Spray starch: Spray starch can be used to stiffen the fabric and make it easier to manipulate.

9. Sewing machine: Once the fabric has been draped and a pattern has been created, a sewing machine is used to sew the garment.

These tools and materials are essential for draping and allow designers to create unique and creative designs that are tailored to the individual body shape of the wearer.

3. Step-by-step process

1. Design Concept: Start by visualizing the garment you want to create. Sketch your design, noting the silhouette, style lines, and any unique details or features.

2. Measurements: Take accurate body measurements of the individual or the target audience for whom you are creating the garment. Include key measurements such as bust, waist, hips, shoulder width, and desired garment length.

3. Block Pattern: Begin with a basic block pattern, which serves as a foundation for creating various garment styles. A block pattern typically consists of a front and back bodice, sleeve, and skirt or pant block. Draft the block pattern based on the measurements taken, using a flat pattern drafting method or a draping technique.

4. Style Lines and Details: Determine the style lines and design elements based on your sketch and incorporate them into the basic block pattern. This may include darts, gathers, pleats, tucks, pockets, collars, cuffs, or any other specific features unique to your design.

5. Tracing or Digitizing: Transfer the pattern onto pattern paper by either tracing the pattern pieces onto the paper or digitizing them using computer software. Ensure accurate grain lines and reference points for matching pieces later.

6. Adding Seam Allowance: Once the pattern is transferred, add seam allowances to all the pattern pieces. The standard seam allowance is usually ⅝" (1.5 cm), but this can vary depending on the garment type and personal preference.

7. Notches and Markings: Add notches, which are small, outward-facing triangles, to indicate where pieces should align during garment assembly. Also, mark any other necessary guidelines, such as dart points, pocket placements, buttonholes, or any other construction details.

8. Test Pattern: Before proceeding to the final garment, it's advisable to create a test garment, also known as a toile or muslin, using inexpensive fabric. This allows you to evaluate the fit and make any necessary adjustments to the pattern.

9. Pattern Grading: If you plan to create the same garment in different sizes, you'll need to grade the pattern. Pattern grading involves scaling the pattern up or down to accommodate different measurements while maintaining the design's proportions.

10. Finalizing the Pattern: Once you are satisfied with the fit and design of the test garment, make any final adjustments to the pattern based on the feedback. Update the pattern pieces accordingly, ensuring all markings and notches are included.

11. Documentation: It's crucial to document your pattern-making process to retain a record of your work. You can either photograph or scan the final pattern pieces, along with any accompanying measurements and construction notes, to create a comprehensive pattern package.

Remember, pattern making requires practice and refinement to achieve optimal results. Continuously evaluate and iterate your patterns to improve fit, style, and construction techniques.

III. Advanced patternmaking techniques

A. Grading

1. Definition

In the context of pattern making, grading refers to the process of systematically increasing or decreasing the size of a pattern to create different sizes while maintaining the proportions and design details of the original pattern. Grading is essential to produce patterns for various body sizes within a specific size range.

The purpose of grading is to ensure that the garment fits well and looks proportional across different sizes, allowing manufacturers to produce a range of sizes for their target audience. Grading involves scaling the pattern up or down, typically along predetermined measurement points, while maintaining the overall shape and design elements.

Pattern grading requires a thorough understanding of body measurements, size charts, and the specific grading rules or formulas to follow. These rules can vary depending on the garment type, industry standards, and the intended market.

Grading is typically performed on a master pattern, which is the base pattern created for a specific size. The master pattern serves as a reference for grading to other sizes. Grading can be done manually, using mathematical calculations and rulers, or digitally through specialized pattern grading software.

Graded patterns are created for each size in the size range, allowing manufacturers to cut fabric and produce garments in different sizes without having to create a new pattern from scratch for each size. This streamlines the production process and ensures consistency in design and fit across the various sizes offered.

2. Tools and materials

To perform pattern grading effectively, you'll need certain tools and materials. Here's a list of commonly used items for pattern grading:

1. Master Pattern: The original pattern created for a specific size that serves as the basis for grading.

2. Pattern Paper: Large sheets of paper specifically designed for pattern making. It's available in various weights and widths to accommodate different pattern sizes.

3. Rulers: A variety of rulers are essential for measuring and drawing grading lines accurately. Some commonly used rulers include:

* Straight Ruler: A standard ruler used for measuring and drawing straight lines.

* French Curve Ruler: A curved ruler used to create smooth, accurate curves for grading between sizes or altering design lines.

* Grading Ruler: A specialized ruler with evenly spaced grading increments, typically used for manual grading.

4. Marking Tools: Different marking tools are used to indicate grading lines and size increments on the pattern. These may include:

* Grading Pens or Markers: Permanent or erasable pens or markers in different colors to distinguish between sizes.

* Notcher: A tool used to create small notches along the pattern edges to align different pattern pieces during garment assembly.

5. Scissors or Pattern Shears: High-quality scissors or pattern shears are necessary for cutting and trimming pattern pieces accurately.

6. Tape or Glue: Transparent tape or glue is used to secure pattern pieces together during the grading process.

7. Pattern Grading Software: If you prefer digital grading, specialized pattern grading software can be used. These software programs offer features such as automated grading calculations, size chart management, and digital manipulation of pattern pieces.

8. Grading Rules or Formulas: Depending on the grading method you follow, you may need access to grading rules or formulas specific to the garment type or industry standards.

Remember, the specific tools and materials required for pattern grading may vary depending on your preferences, the complexity of the grading process, and the grading method you choose to use.

3. Step-by-step process

B. Computer-aided patternmaking

1. Definition

Computer-aided patternmaking refers to the use of computer software and technology in the process of creating patterns for garments or other textiles. It involves utilizing specialized computer programs and tools to design, modify, and generate pattern templates that are used in the production of clothing and related items. This technology allows for greater precision, efficiency, and flexibility compared to traditional manual patternmaking methods. Computer-aided patternmaking enables designers and manufacturers to create, edit, and manipulate patterns digitally, streamlining the overall design and production process.

2. Software and technology used

Various software and technologies are used in computer-aided patternmaking. Some commonly utilized tools and programs include:

1. CAD (Computer-Aided Design) Software: CAD software allows designers to create, modify, and visualize patterns digitally. It provides tools for drafting, scaling, grading, and manipulating pattern pieces with precision.

2. 2D Pattern Design Software: This software specifically focuses on creating and editing 2D pattern pieces. It provides features like pattern drafting, measurement input, grading, and nesting for efficient material utilization.

3. 3D Virtual Prototyping Software: These programs enable designers to create virtual 3D garment prototypes by draping digital patterns onto 3D models. This allows for visualizing and validating the fit and design of the garment before physical production.

4. Digital Pattern Plotters: These devices are used to print out digital patterns on paper or other materials. They are controlled by the computer and can accurately reproduce pattern pieces at different scales.

5. Cutting Systems: Computer-controlled cutting systems, such as automated fabric cutters or CNC (Computer Numerical Control) cutting machines, can be integrated into computer-aided patternmaking workflows. These systems precisely cut pattern pieces according to the digital design, increasing accuracy and efficiency.

6. Measurement Capture Devices: Technologies like 3D body scanners or digitizers can be used to capture accurate body measurements, which can then be incorporated into the patternmaking process for custom-fit garments.

Overall, the software and technology used in computer-aided patternmaking aim to streamline the design process, improve accuracy, enhance efficiency, and facilitate the transition from digital patterns to physical garments.

225 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page