Thoughts on pattern making

Years ago I’ve received a very good base education in pattern drafting women’s attire. I learned drafting for standardized and unique measurements. I learned a bit of draping and drafting children’s and men’s clothes. I LOVED doing that course. For a while I hoped to work as a professional pattern maker, but it turned out that even though it was classified as a job where there is a shortage of candidates, I didn’t qualify. The shortage was because they looked for people with plenty of work experience and knowledge of computer pattern making software. Personally I would think that an in-house further education would have solved most of that problem. Anyhow, it meant no job in that sector and I looked in other directions for work.

For a time I made the patterns for my own sewing projects. Then I moved to a very small apartment and sewing was less practical, so it happened less and I started using commercial patterns because I felt it was less work (I’m no longer of that opinion). Moving ahead a couple of years and I started working at a fabric and haberdashery shop. Sewing kicked into a higher gear for me. It felt wonderful to sew more. With commercial patterns I could work trough a sewing project a lot faster. I had no pattern to draft naturally but also no thinking to do about the assembling steps, type of fabric, which closures to use,… While that did make me more productive I must admit that very few of those makes get worn regularly. They didn’t fit right, even after making a muslin (or two, or three) because many were drafted for a different body type. Being tall with narrow shoulders, narrow waist, sway back and wide hips doesn’t make it easy to find a good fit. Or I was to hasty. Being somewhat a perfectionist I’m then constantly reminded of my mistakes if I dare to wear it, so I don’t.

In the past year most of my makes were in jersey fabric. Jersey fabric is great! The fit is a lot more forgiving, mistakes less noticeable and they are quick to sew. So commercial sewing patterns were okay because after a while I could discern which changes would be needed to a pattern even before making a muslin. The changes were easy (narrowing of the shoulders, widening at the hip and possibly adding a bit of length).

And then I arrive at two months ago. My partner and I decided to get married. We gave ourselves six weeks to get it planned. Our wedding was small so we didn’t need much planning time. My dress took most of that time. I designed it myself and made the pattern with rusty skills. My head was full to bursting with thoughts about the dress. I woke up thinking about it and at night in my dreams I solved problems about it. I enjoyed it so much!

Now the dress is finished and worn. I had a wonderful day with my now husband and our closest family.

I have thought a lot about my pattern making skills in the past two months. One of the biggest feelings is regret that I have let so much knowledge get forgotten. During the course we had to make our own coursebook. Now seven years later I know that a lot was never written down because it was obvious to me then. I regret that I didn’t write down enough, that I didn’t make enough scaled drawings. Another and more important feeling is joy. I still love pattern making. It brings me focus and calm. It also asks for creative solutions and good technical insights, so it challenges me. I want to improve my skills and for now that means building a good set of slopers for my body. At the moment my bodice sloper is made and used a first time for a loose fitting top. I fits well at the shoulders which is where the fit is most important in my opinion. If it doesn’t fit well there the rest won’t fill well either. In the future I’ll possibly take another more advanced drafting course.

Wow, these thoughts took quite a lengthy post. Hopefully you weren’t bored with it. Do you have drafting skills, how did you acquire them and do you use them regularly? If not, do you want to learn?


2 thoughts on Thoughts on pattern making

  1. Thank you for sharing!!! very interesting, lenght no problem, I read it all.

    Greetings from Antwerp

    1. Thank you for your kind comment and interest in my ramblings. 🙂 I have neglected this site badly and really should make better use of it. I’m looking into putting a portfolio up, so perhaps you’ll find more content soon.

Leave a Comment