Why Pattern Making Is a Pivotal Part of Developing Your Fashion Line
As an aspiring fashion designer, you’re likely looking for some tips on elevating and launching your brand. Specifically, you might be uncertain about the process of pattern making and the role it plays in putting together your fashion designs.
Pattern making is the creation of templates that form your garments. Although creating patterns is an art in itself, you can certainly learn how to do it.
With the help of expert pattern makers, sewing contractors, fabric specialists, and a few pattern making tools and tricks, you can develop a working knowledge of pattern making. As a result, it’ll be much easier to understand fashion production and the design process as a whole. Pattern making is the bridge between design concept and finished product, so getting familiar with it is pivotal to developing your fashion collection.
What Is a Sewing Pattern?
Before understanding what a pattern maker does, you need to know the fundamentals of a sewing pattern. For example, if you go to a fabric store and say you want to make a dress, staff will lead you to the patterns section. Here, you’ll likely see a wall full of paper envelopes with pictures and sketches of numerous fashion designs on them. A series of thin pattern paper templates within each envelope is different pattern pieces.
If you look at the basic pattern of a simple shift dress, you’ll see that numerous pieces make up its construction. There need to be multiple pattern pieces for most clothing items to structure and allow movement.
When you unfold an individual pattern piece, you’ll see lines drawn on them to mark different sizes. Forming these lines to create a range of sizes is called grading. This process requires you to change each measurement of the piece to maintain the exact proportions and fit for each size. When you choose which size you’re going to sew, you’ll place the pattern piece on your chosen fabric and cut it on the line indicating the size you want.
What Does a Pattern Maker Do?
Any fashion designer looking to create unique, one-of-a-kind designs needs custom patterns. This is where the job of a pattern maker comes in. A pattern maker is someone who specializes in creating the template for your original designs. Think of them as the masterminds behind manifesting your designs into an actual garment.
Being a pattern maker requires a great degree of knowledge, experience, and trial and error. They need to have a strong understanding of fabrics and sewing. Because pattern makers work so closely with designers throughout the design process, they must tell you when a specific fabric won’t work and when modifications are necessary for a design to be wearable.
Becoming Your Own Pattern Maker
Many emerging designers start out creating their own patterns. If you think this is the right path for you, here’s a basic breakdown of the three methods for creating a pattern.
Pattern drafting uses measurements derived from standardized sizing systems — or measurements taken on a person, body, or dress form for a more precise fit. Pattern drafters measure shoulder width, chest, waist, hip, and leg inseam. A line is then drawn from each measurement to form the garment’s shape on paper.
A pattern drafter adds ease allowance (extra space added to each measurement) and darts (triangular marks accomodating curved areas of the body) to achieve the desired fit of the garment.
Flat Pattern Making
Flat pattern making is centered around creating tailored patterns to fit a person’s body with ease. The starting point for creating a flat pattern is using a sloper. Also known as a basic block, a sloper is a standard pattern piece made to fit the body’s exact measurements without any seam allowances, style lines, or decorative details added to it.
There are five basic slopers used in women’s fashion: sleeves, front bodice block, back bodice block, and front and back skirt blocks. The measurements of these slopers are all fitted precisely to the body, therefore allowing you to customize them by changing small details like armhole placement, neckline style, or seam allowance. From a basic sloper, you can create a multitude of different designs.
You can create the foundation of a garment by draping fabric over a dress form. Often, designers will use a fabric called muslin (a loosely woven cotton) to form the drape of the design and create its pattern. Once the shape is determined, the muslin is transferred to paper to create the basic design.
The advantage of using the draping method is that you can observe and adjust the fit of a design before it’s cut and sewn. Designers can see the overall design effect of the finished garment on the body form. Therefore, designers can make alterations to create the perfect draped effect.
The Secret to Fashion Design
Here’s the real secret to pattern making: you don’t have to be a master at it to become a successful fashion designer. Many of the best designers leave it to the pros.
At TEG, we don’t require our clients to experience the process. In fact, many of the nearly 2,000 designers we’ve worked with had little to no prior knowledge of pattern making. TEG works hand-in-hand with emerging designers and guides them through the complexities of the process. Our team of experts will happily assist you through the entire process of turning your unique designs into custom-made patterns.
TEG offers pattern making packages that provide designers looking to produce and develop their clothing line.
The Test Drive
Our Test Drive Package provides the following services:
- Intake meeting with a project manager
- Optional design and sourcing meetings
- TEG specification sheets completed with flat drawings
- Technical design, review meeting, and fitting with your pattern maker
- Start to finish project management
- Two first patterns and two first samples
- 1 round of fit adjustments
- Two production-ready patterns and two duplicates per style
For designers looking to produce a larger fashion line, we recommend The Collections Package. You receive 15 samples and two duplicate patterns per style while offering the same services—the result? 30 couture samples.
Learn more about our pattern and sample making services.
Benefits of Outsourcing Pattern Makers
Having a working knowledge of pattern making makes the job of a fashion designer much easier. Once you’ve learned to draft, you can decide which method of pattern making will work for you and your fashion brand.
Using widely available resources like slopers will help you develop new designs based on tried-and-true templates. With a little bit of insight into the process — and help from a team of master pattern makers — your designs are sure to come out on top.
At TEG, we give designers access to experts who’ll help develop your designs into wearable, stylish fashions. Additionally, we also provide high-quality creative services like fabric and trim sourcing that you won’t find elsewhere. Our top-of-the-line sourcing managers skillfully guide you through sampling fabric swatches, negotiating minimums and prices, tracking orders, and more.
Whether you’re an emerging or established designer, we’ve helped over 2,000 designers bring their visions to life during the last 15+ years. We’d love to help you, too!
Please call or fill out the below form for all inquiries and questions. After that, we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!
For all inquiries and questions, please call or fill out the below form, and we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!
Los Angeles: 800-916-0910 | San Francisco: 415-324-8779