Introduction & Overview

Creating the Pattern

So the patternmaker knows how to read a flat and refers to the Flat AND the Specification sheet for all the details of the garment.  How does she then go about creating, or using patternmaking terminology, drafting the pattern?

The patternmaker starts with a basic pattern, a Block, to draft other patterns.   Fashion houses would have a library of blocks, and the patternmaker would use the one that makes the most sense, and would save the most work for the particular style in question.

The general workflow would be something like:

  • Determine which block is the most suitable for creating the pattern
  • Determine how many pattern pieces the design requires
  • Draw the design on the working block
  • Create the pattern pieces one at a time by applying the principles and other knowledge


In this example I am just showing the pattern that needs to be created, the block that is being used, and the thought process that goes into creating the pattern –  in particular what theory the patternmaker has to know and apply.  This is a fairly simple design with only 6 pattern pieces.

Which Block is the most suitable?

In this case, the Extended Line Dress block.

How Many Pattern Pieces?

  1. The front has two pattern pieces: Center Front and Side Front.
  2. The back has two pattern pieces: Center Back and Side Back.
  3. The specification sheet says there is all-in-one facing, so there are two internal pattern pieces: Facing Front and Facing Back.
  4. There is interfacing on the facing, but they are the same pattern pieces.
  5. There are a total of 6 pattern pieces.

Thought Process to Create the Pattern Pieces.

  1. The neckline looks a little low; this will require some contouring.  This means there will be a gape dart needs to be pivoted into the design line.
  2. The block being used is a Sleeve Block (made to be used with sleeves), therefore (since this is a sleeveless dress), I will need to take some width off the side seams, and raise them up a bit – front and back.
  3. The front block has a side seam dart which will need to be pivoted into the Princess design line.  The side pattern piece will need a little extra ease added at the curve point.
  4. The front block has two waist darts; the larger one will be incorporated into the Princess design line.  The smaller one will be left out; that dart value will be used for extra ease in the waist.
  5. The back block has two waist darts: the larger one will be incorporated into the Princess design line.  The smaller one will be left out; the dart value will be used for extra ease in the waist. (Calculations may be done to check the amount of ease in the waist, and if it is sufficient for the look of the design.  Maybe some of the larger waist dart can also be used for extra ease?)
  6. The block has a straight skirt, this skirt is A-line and quite wide at the hem.  Need to do some calculations to work out how much flare is added to each pattern piece to achieve this look.
  7. The Center Back piece has shoulder darts, so those do not need to be moved.
  8. The Center Back pattern piece needs to be marked for zip.
  9. The facing is just standard, all facing pieces to have interfacing.


Once all the pattern pieces are made, it is essential to check the pattern pieces against each other, and then mark all pattern pieces with the relevant information.  The next page – Instructions & Markings, lists all the essential marks that need to be put on all the pattern pieces.

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