Principles of Patternmaking

The pages in this menu include articles that give an introduction to patternmaking as well as the three main principles.  Each of these menu items have sub-menus; use the Breadcrumbs near the top of the page, above the title, to get back to this main page.

The Context

The Overview pages covers the patternmaking process and gives the context and background of how the principles are used to make patterns.  There are no exercises or step-by-step examples in those pages, it is general information about the patternmaking process, and is essential for beginners.

Theory & Practice

The Principles pages contain information about the three main principles:
  • dart manipulation
  • added fullness
  • contouring
… and step-by-step examples of how they are applied. You need to have a firm understanding of these principles before attempting to make your own patterns.  In the Manipulating Darts pages there are plenty of examples with step-by-step directions, you should follow along with a few to begin with, but start doing them yourself, without referring to the instructions supplied, referring to the example when you’ve finished to compare and check.    You should do as many examples as it takes to completely understand the theory.

Practicing Making Patterns Third Scale

Once you have a good understanding of these three principles, you can then start making patterns.  It would probably be a good idea to to make some patterns third scale, purely for practice.  You can download a set of Third Scale Blocks here.   You can use these third scale blocks for: doing exercises (e.g. pivoting darts), for following along with creating patterns on this website, and for testing yourself on how you would make your own patterns.  Note that when doing
  • doing exercises (e.g. pivoting darts)
  • for following along with creating patterns on this website, and
  • for attempting your own patterns third scale before attempting them full-scale.

The Principles Alone….

You will find that understanding the three principles alone may not enough to make any and every pattern; that is what the Elements pages are there for.  You will probably need to refer to the Elements on an ongoing basis. For example; you might understand the principles of dart manipulation, added fullness and contouring but when you go to create a collar you realize you just don’t know how to begin to do that.  In these cases you look Collars under the Elements pages.  Once you have created one or two collars, you may be able to work out collars by yourself from then on. A lot of the information in the Elements pages are just Applied Principles; e.g. creating a Puffed Sleeve is based on the Principle of Added Fullness, but as a beginner you may need to refer to the Puffed Sleeve page under the Elements menu,  rather than testing it out yourself.  Basically with the Elements, someone else has done the work of figuring out the best method to do it, so it saves you recreating the wheel.

13 Responses

  1. Wow, what a lucky find this site is!!! Thank you so so much for taking the time to write all this fantastically useful content. I’ve been sewing bits and bobs all my life (mum always had a machine in the house and did lots of sewing for us kids) but I haven’t followed a pattern or made anything to wear more complicated than an elastic waisted skirt for decades. Now my own kids are at school and I’m taking a sewing class, it’s given me a whole new burst of creative energy and I’m really excited about learning how to draft my own patterns. So again, thank you thank you thank you! :$

  2. Hi Cina

    Thanks and welcome. Hope you stick to it and learn to draft your own patterns. I haven’t posted any new content for a while as I’ve been unwell, but I do hope to soon start putting up some pattern videos on Youtube.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Hi Maria,
    I am so confused. I want to make my own bodice pattern with darts. I wear size 8 dresses and tops. I see your third block pattern is size 12. How do I start with size 8.? I want to practice manipulation on it. Please advise.

  4. Hello Alka

    Third scale blocks are used to practice with – it doesn’t matter what size they are. If you want to learn to manipulate darts, you can do it with any size blocks.

    The first comment you left on my website you said you wanted to make a pattern for a top. I assumed you had your own block (the basic pattern that fits you) and wanted to use that block to make a top pattern. From your comments I thought you needed to just move the darts elsewhere to make your pattern (i.e. manipulate darts).

    Now I get the impression you don’t have your own block.

    As I’ve mentioned in my answer to your previous comment, I have written instructions on my website (which work well for most people, but I have since written revised instructions). I also have video instructions. I have given you links to those.

    If you do use my instructions to make your own block, please be aware that I currently only have 4 very basic top patterns on my website. Please also be aware that I can’t give you individual help if you run into trouble.

  5. Maria, I’m so excited to have found your site. I have been interested in sewing my own clothes for awhile. I have also wanted to create my own block pattern but I don’t know where to start. I am hoping your sight and YouTube videos will help me move closer to my goals.

  6. Thank you so much for this content and please do continue – I’m taking a sewing and pattern making classes, but your website showed and explained me so much more than those classroom hours- now all makes sense and is not just a bunch of brown paper.
    Thank you!!!

  7. Stellar content! And your YouTube videos are brilliant! Clear and concise presentations that take the mystery and frustration out of pattern drafting for my “non-standard figure”. Thank you for so much great content.

  8. Wow, what a wonderful and comprehensive overview on the Principles of Patternmaking! As a sewing enthusiast, resources like these truly enhance my understanding and practice.

    The breakdown of the patternmaking process in the Overview page was enlightening, providing invaluable context and background on how different principles are harnessed to craft exquisite sewing patterns. While exercises and step-by-step examples would also have been great, I appreciate the groundwork laid through this general information.

    The easy navigation through sub-menus and breadcrumbs further adds to the user-friendly experience, guiding beginners like myself seamlessly through different sections as we familiarize ourselves with the world of patternmaking.

    I’m looking forward to making use of all the knowledge I’ve obtained through this post in my future projects. Thanks for creating such an informative space for sewing lovers!

  9. I cannot believe how good this site is. I have so much reading to do. Can you publish a book with it all? I would buy one.

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