Pattern Making from Scratch

Pattern making from scratch is an extremely useful skill to have when it comes to cosplay and costume making!  It’s a lot easier than it might look too!  Here I’ll show you one method for making patterns from scratch.  This method is best used for garments that are meant to fit close to the body.

Materials/Tools

  • Dress form, body form, or your own body
  • Plastic wrap
  • Masking tape
  • Pencils and markers
  • Paper
  • Scissors

Step 1: Prepare form

To start, you’ll need a surface to draw your patterns onto.  I use a dress form, but you can do the same thing with your own body or another body form.

To prepare, I’ve given the dress form my own measurements, covered it in plastic bags, and covered one half of it with making tape.  I only need to cover half with tape because my pattern is symmetrical.  I only need to draw half to make the full pattern, so there’s no reason to cover the whole dress form with tape!

Also note:  I used plastic bags because I happened to have them on hand.  I would usually use plastic wrap instead, but since I had none at the time, plastic bags did just as well!

Step 2: Draw

Start by drawing the shape of your garment.  Draw it exactly how you want the garment to look once you wear it, including any seam lines you’re going to need.  I used a green colored pencil at this step so I could see my lines easily.

Be sure to add letters, arrows, and lines to help you put the pattern back together correctly later.

Next, go over your lines with a black marker to finalize the design.

 

If you have other details you’ll need to add, such as buttons, eyelets, zippers, etc. mark where they’ll go on the pattern as you draw it.  Below is the area that I will add eyelets to later.  The dotted line indicates where interfacing will go, and the circles indicate the eyelets.

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I also mark the center with arrows and the words “on fold” to remind me which piece is the center and that I’ll need to cut the fabric on the fold to get the full piece.

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I also make sure to indicate where I’ll need to add bias tape, since it won’t be as easy to see once the pattern pieces are cut out.

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Step 3: Cut pieces out

Once you’re happy with the pattern you’ve drawn, its time to cut the pieces out.  Just take a normal pair of scissors and cut along your seam lines.  If you’re making you pattern on your own body, be very careful not to cut yourself!

Step 5: Transfer to paper

Flatten your pieces out as best you can and lay them over a piece of paper to trace.  Take this time to also add a seam allowance on any edges you’ll be sewing together and any edges you’ll need to hem.  Take the time to also transfer any letter, arrow or other marking you made before.  I will also label my pieces at this point with names and write how many to cut of what kind of fabric on the patterns to make things more efficient later.  For example, the piece below is called “Front” and I have written that I need to cut one of them on the fold of my fabric.

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Below are my final patterns after seam allowances and additional notes have been added.

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Below you can see how my pattern worked!  The torso was made using the pattern pieces I just showed you how to make.  The sleeves were also patterned from scratch, but I patterned those by measuring and drawing a flat pattern rather than using the plastic wrap/masking tape method I’ve shown you here.  Since the sleeves were supposed to be loose and gathered, patterning using the method above wouldn’t have worked as well.

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