Pattern Drafting

It has been a long time since my last post – life has been super busy with a few business trips and a couple of family birthdays. However, that is not to say that I have not been busy on the sewing front. I have squeezed in the odd hour and afternoon here and there when I can. After my miserable experience with the Colette Peony I decided to go back to basics. One of the things I enjoy most in the whole process of sewing my own clothes is drafting my own patterns. Instead of fiddling endlessly with a pattern in order to get a good fit which usually entails at least two if not three muslins I wanted to increase my chances of success with drafting from a basic block which I know fits me well. It also made me realise that this is the direction I wanted to take my blog i.e. focus on pattern drafting and showing anyone who is interested in how to manipulate patterns to get the design elements they want. Now I do not profess to be an expert in any shape or fashion but perhaps my journey may inspire others to get on the bandwagon and start creating their own patterns. For one thing think of all the money you would save!

To that end I want to firstly, recommend my pattern creation bibles:

The first is Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Cutting for Womenswear – this book is quite expensive at £27.29 on Amazon but the tutor who gave me my first pattern drafting lessons told me that this was the standard text book for college fashion courses.


The book shows you how to measure yourself and then take those measurements to draft your basic blocks – there are easy fitting blocks, close fitting blocks, jacket and coat blocks as well as trouser blocks you can draft from your own measurements. I started with the basic skirt block:


From these blocks the book also shows you how to manipulate the basic block for other designs:

SkirtDeviations ShiftDress

I made 2 skirts from this block which I will blog about separately. I also drafted out the close fitting bodice block and made a muslin:

FrontBlock BackBlock

They are not quite perfect – I need to take the waist dart down about half an inch and release it slightly but other than that I was quite pleased with the first go at it. It is certainly better than the peony muslin attempt!

The other book is Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis and is a bit cheaper on Amazon at £10.00:


This book doesn’t tell you how to draft a basic block but it does show you some good ideas on how to manipulate your pattern to get the results you want. The book was written in the 80’s but still has some ideas that could be applied to today’s patterns. You can also take these ideas and use them on a commercial pattern if you wish and this is probably the basis of this book.

Margolis2 Margolis1

I have other books on pattern drafting but these are the two that I use the most and which I find most useful. I would be interested to hear if anyone else drafts their own patterns and can recommend resources or tips.