Why Pattern Making Is a Pivotal Part of Developing Your Fashion Line

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 how to elevate and launch 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 from which your garments are formed. Although creating patterns is an art in itself, it’s one that certainly can be learned.

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?

pattern making: Paper with patterns for making clothesBefore understanding what a pattern maker does, you need to know the fundamentals of what a sewing pattern is. If you go to a fabric store and tell the clerk that you want to make a dress, they 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. Within each envelope are a series of thin pattern paper templates featuring different pattern pieces

If you look at the basic pattern of a simple shift dress, you’ll see that there are numerous pattern pieces that make up its construction. For most items of clothing, there needs to be numerous pattern pieces to give it structure and allow movement.

When you unfold an individual pattern piece, you’ll see lines drawn on them to mark different sizes. The process of forming these lines to create a range of sizes is called pattern grading. This process requires you to change each measurement of the pattern piece in order to maintain the same proportions and fit for each size. When you choose which size you’re going to sew, you’ll then place the pattern piece on your chosen fabric and cut it on the line that indicates the size you want. 

What Does a Pattern Maker Do?

pattern making: Man adding a marker to a piece of fabricAny fashion designer looking to create unique, one-of-a-kind designs needs to have 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 be able to tell you when a certain 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.


Man drafting a pattern on paperPattern drafting uses measurements derived from standardized sizing systems or for a more precise fit, measurements taken on a person, body, or dress form. Measurements like shoulder width, chest, waist, hip, and leg inseam are marked onto paper. A line is then drawn from each measurement to form the shape of the garment. 

Ease allowance (extra space added along the line of each measurement) and darts (triangular marks that accommodate for curved areas of the body) are added to each measurement to achieve the desired fit of the garment. 

Flat Pattern Making

Flat pattern making is centered around creating patterns that are tailored 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 that’s made to fit the exact measurements of the body 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. 


Designer putting a dress on a mannequinYou can create the foundation of a garment by draping fabric over a dress form. Oftentimes, 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 pattern of the 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 and make alterations to create the perfect draped effect. 

The Secret to Pattern Making for 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 pattern making to the pros. 

At TEG, we don’t require our clients to have any experience with pattern making. In fact, many of the nearly 2,000 designers we’ve worked with had very little knowledge of pattern making when they first came to us. TEG works hand-in-hand with emerging designers and guides them through the complexities of pattern making. Our team of experienced pattern makers will happily assist you through the entire process of turning your unique designs into custom-made patterns.

TEG offers pattern making packages that provide a multitude of services for designers looking to produce and develop their own clothing line. 

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
  • 2 first patterns and 2 first samples
  • 1 round of pattern fit adjustments
  • 2 production-ready patterns and 2 duplicates per style

For designers looking to produce a larger fashion line, we recommend The Collections Package. This offering has all these same services, plus 15 first samples and patterns as well as two duplicate patterns per style, adding up to 30 sample patterns.

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 drafting, flat pattern making, and draping techniques, you can decide which method of pattern making will work best 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 pattern making process and help from a team of master pattern makers your designs are sure to come out on top. 

At TEG, not only do we give designers access to experienced pattern makers who’ll help develop your designs into wearable, stylish fashions. 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 during the last 15+ years bring their visions to life. We’d love to help you, too!

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

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