• Kaine

Sewing 202 - Introduction to Flat Pattern Drafting

Updated: Feb 27

As we enter the next phase of Garment construction, it is important to learn the different ways you can turn your Fashion design into a pattern that will be sewn into an actual garment. There are three major ways of creating a pattern;

1) Flat pattern drafting

2) Draping

3) Freehand drafting

These tutorials focus on the use of Flat pattern drafting, as that is the method that I use, and therefore will teach. But first, I will briefly explain what these three methods are and their differences.

Flat Pattern Drafting vs. Draping vs. Freehand drafting

flat pattern drafting skirt

Flat pattern drafting: A garment is a 3D shape that has to fit over a 3D body. Flat pattern drafting involves taking this 3D shape and translating it into a flat design on paper. That is the key thing. The pattern must be flat at the drafting stage. The steps involved are taking the required body measurements, drafting the design, inserting darts, pleats or gathers to allow the pattern turn into a 3D garment when sewn. All calculations are done on the paper before the paper pattern is finally used to cut out the fabric.

fabric draping

Draping: This is the technique of applying the fabric directly onto the model or person. The fabric is then molded and shaped into the desired design using pins and thread to keep it in shape. The finished outfit is then marked out into its various parts then removed from the model. These pieces are then copied onto paper to become flat patterns, before finally using the paper pattern to cut out the fabric.

freehand drafting

Freehand Drafting: This method is similar to flat pattern drafting, except it involves drafting the pattern directly onto the fabric. You are essentially skipping the paper phase. Since this is done directly on the fabric, care must be taken to account for ease and all necessary seam allowances before cutting the fabric.

A frequently asked question is which method is better. For me, it is a matter of preference. There is nothing wrong in learning all three methods and applying them as you see fit. They all involve a certain amount of work and time, so there are no shortcuts when it comes to good pattern making.

Tools for Flat Pattern drafting

Essentially you need Five main things to draft

brown pattern drafting paper

Paper - When it comes to paper, look for inexpensive and readily available large sheets of paper, or paper rolls. You can get tracing paper, drafting / dot paper, brown paper, and even grease paper. Cardboard paper or card stock should be reserved for making long lasting copies of your patterns. For daily drafting, light weight paper is much better.

straight drafting rulers grid rulers

Straight Ruler - When it comes to rulers, Clear Plastic ones are the cheaper variety. The advantages are that you can see your work through them, and they tend to be flexible, so they do not break easily. A more expensive alternative are stainless steel rulers which are sturdy and long lasting. A clear grid ruler of 2 inches by 18 inches, in my opinion, is essential. You can also get these in centimetres.

vary form curve and french curve rulers

Curved Ruler - For curved rulers, one only needs two versions, a Comma shaped ruler for armholes and neck lines, and a Shallow curved ruler for waist shaping, hip curves and other gentle curves. I personally do not worry about whether these rulers are in inches or centimetres, since I do not use them for taking measurements. But if you are concerned about that, you should get one in the system you are used to.

set square and L square

Set Square / L Square - These are essential for making those perfect right angles. You only need one. It can be a set square or an L-Square, but try and get something that is at least 8 inches (20cm) long.

drafting pen and pencils

Pencil - Any generic pencil will do as they can be erased. Always make sure to draft with sharp ones. Drafting or mechanical pens are optional, but if you must get one, 04. - 0.7 sizes are just right for this purpose.

Basic Principles of Flat Pattern Drafting.