Monday, August 29, 2011

Sewing 101: Drafting

We are continuing the Sewing 101 series. One of the questions we get asked a lot is about pattern drafting. Yes I draft all of my own patterns. No I don't have a problem with sewing from a pattern. My only problem with most commercial patterns is they just don't fit. They always seem boxy. So I started by altering patterns to fit my kids then I realized that making my own patterns would be so much easier. It also allows your creativity to go wild. If you can dream it you can draft it. However since this is sewing 101, I am going to just share the very basic method I use and that is tracing. There are really only a few things you have to know in order to make a basic top or pants. (the two things we will discuss today)So let's start with a top. 

 I like to find a basic tee that fits my kids well. As they outgrow it I simply buy another one. Then I keep that tee with my sewing supplies to draft any pattern I want with. To start the drafting turn the top inside out and smooth it out.

 A key thing to remember is if you are drafting from a tee shirt, they stretch, so if you are making a pattern for a top without stretch you may want to draft the pattern using a top without stretch.
 Next tuck the sleeve of the shirt inside the top. Make sure the sleeve seam is fully exposed.
 Next fold the top down the middle. I do this so the pattern is drafted on the fold and that way your bodice will be even on both sides.
 Then Line the fold up along the edge of the paper. (that way you get a nice straight edge) Then with all the seams exposed and laying flat trace around the edge. (add some room for the seam allowance)
 You also want to be sure and add extra length where you will hem, like the bottom of the top.
 There you have a bodice piece ready to cut out on a fold.
 Let's move on to the sleeve. There are a million different ways to make a sleeve and there are a million different sleeves. We will go over more sleeve types later in the series but to I am just going to show you how you trace a sleeve. Line up the fold of the sleeve (at the shoulder) and the edge of the paper. Then trace the edge of the sleeve (add a little length for hemming)
 Then flip the shirt over so it is covering the sleeve and so the sleeve seam is exposed. then trace the curve of the seam.
 There you have a sleeve pattern piece. Cut on the fold just as you would the bodice piece. There you have the basic top drafted from a top you already own.
Next let's move on to the ever tricky pant. No need to be afraid of the pant it is just as easy as a top with just a few more key things to remember. Start the same way turning the pants inside out so the seams are exposed. Then with either the front or back showing (you will do them separately) Line up the straight edge of the jeans with the edge of the paper. Then you will trace the seams. Make sure they are all laying flat and exposed.
Also add a seam allowance as you go. Do the same thing once for the back and once for the front.
There are a couple key things to realize with pants. The back will always have a larger curve and rise from the back curve. This is so the back can go over the rear. You will also notice that the front curves up from the rise and the back curves down from the rise. Why? This is so the back of the pants are higher than the front. (as they should be) There you have it very basic pants and top drafting.

We will be covering other drafting techniques as the series continues, but this covered the basics.


  1. I can't wait to try this out! Thanks!

  2. Oohh thanks for the info! I didn't grow up with sewing per se. I actually just stumbled upon it a few years ago when I became pregnant with my first little boy. I had the urge to create and I wanted my children to cherish the home goodies I would make them through the years. Your tutorials will def. help me in my sewing and dreams of opening a small shop. Thanks!!

  3. Thank you for your sewing 101 tutorials. I'm going to search my daughter's closet tonight for a well fitting shirt to use for a pattern tonight!

  4. with the tshirt folded over you only get the back collar outlined. do you just freehand the front neckline?

  5. @Minlou, Yes I do usually freehand the front neckline since depending on what I am making the front neckline may not be the same as what I am drafting from. However I will often mark how low the neckline is so when I make my neckline it isn't too low cut.

  6. Hi! I just wanted to let you know I linked this page up with one of my tutorials
    I hope that was okay!


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