HOW to make a pattern?

I am caught in a catch 22 and I need some help to get out. As a bloody beginner I started out buying first patterns, noticing they wont live up to the expectations and found online patterns. Noticed they wont match expectations and the results have many problems: A hood that pulls the whole garment back, strangling and forcing to constantlu pull it back, pockets with weird placements, shapes that do not match the body below and getting more weird the more I try to rescue the pattern. I could go on forever… So I think the sewing part is fun - put if the result does not fit - whats the point. So I started looking into “How to make patterns”, and I am no bit wiser. Here is the problem: The standard forum says “Buy one and get happy” , Seamly says “make your own and be happy”, amazon book recensions usually say “not for beginners” “many mistakes” “wrong translated” “not well edited” “missing information” -shall I buy such a book?! Looking through some of the videos about Seamly, seeing Armstrong patterns I just doubt myself, will I ever get my Hoody with kanguroo pockets?! Or a flared Jeans? So- I am not whining- I just thought: If you know how to use Seamly and make patterns you would probably know how I can learn how to make patterns? Or is there a easier way? Like a library with standard hoody that scales to my measures? And where I just could click in and out hood, arms, etc? Thankful for all guidance.


Hello and welcome to the Seamly2D forum, @BetaCarotin.

“How to make Sewing Patterns” by Donald McCunn is a very good book and like-wise Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s books. However, they will all teach you how to create a basic pattern and then add to it to create the garment that you desire.

My advise to you is to pick one and stick with it until it works for you… If it doesn’t currently work then go back to the beginning of the book and study it carefully, doing exactly what it says to get a basic pattern that fits your specific measurements perfectly.

Remember… measure twice, cut once.

Get some really cheap muslin and make a moulage (a skin tight garment with no added ease that molds the body perfectly)… Once you have a perfectly fitting moulage, you can start adding ease, according to the fit you require, and collars, pockets, hoodies, sleeves, etc. to your pattern (or flare to jeans/trousers).

Always make a muslin (test garment) of your final pattern using inexpensive fabric of a similar type, before you make the garment up on expensive fabric, Make any fitting changes to the pattern design and make another muslin until you are really happy with the fit (you did say that you love to sew :slight_smile: ).

There are no short cuts, unless you can hire someone to create the pattern for you, test it on someone who has your measurements and send you the pattern, or make it up for you. However, this comes at quite a price and it’s normally only royalty and extremely wealthy public figures who can afford this.

By the time you have done this a few times, you will have a sound understanding about how to create patterns that fit and and how to adjust them to any design in your very own, unique way, regardless of the book you have worked from and you will be able to make any pattern and garment for yourself and for anyone else reasonably quickly and with confidence.

Happy sewing & please don’t be shy to show us how you are getting on :slight_smile:


And another tip: start with pattern for other persons like nieces and nephews. And only if this garments are good, make something for yourself.


The only thing I can add is that we can certainly help you to learn how to use Seamly to draft a pattern, I don’t know how much we can help teaching you how to draft a pattern. Like Grace suggested , pick up a good book that you can learn a certain way or “system”… then we can help you apply that to Seamly.

I’ll leave with the thought as someone who’s been drafting and pattern making for 40+ years… you will never stop learning pattern making - there’s always something new. :slight_smile:


Hello @BetaCarotin,

As @Grace Grace says, there are no shortcuts.

Sewing is fun, but it’s just the final 25% of making a garment. The other 75% will be full of trials and errors, but that’s the beauty of it.

Deconstructing existing garments helped me a lot. Take an old hoodie with a comfortable fit, and un-sew it all. Iron every piece of it, then put each piece on a large paper sheet and trace carefully around the edges.

At first, I left most of the details aside, to concentrate on the global shapes of garments.

The muslin is a great opportunity to check if everything falls into place. I make mine with the most simple woven cotton I can find (old bed sheets are great, but be sure they are not too distorted by duty). I just sew what’s needed : the seems and hems don’t have to be done. It’s only a tool, but a very powerful and important one if you want things to fit.

I am rather blunt with the muslin : if anything needs to be changed when I try it on, I use pins, markers, scissors, I make notes on the fabric where needed. I sew, un-sew, re-sew until I am pleased with what I see. Then, I un-sew everything once more, and there is my final pattern !

You’ll read many things, and most of it will help. As long as you keep in mind that the process is mostly calling for MacGyver-ism. If it works for you, you’ve done it right.

Sewing is a long process. But going through it gives you a new perspective about what you wear. It takes so much time, you’ll soon give a new value to all the steps, and all new achievements. You’ll start to think very differently about what you wear.


Ditto here. Although a lot of my deconstructing has been taking period clothing and creating a pattern WITHOUT actually deconstructing. :hushed:

One of the costume projects I had to work on waaaay back when at the University was a period bustle dress for the show La Ronde. I had to make the pattern from a real period dress from the costume archive in NYC, but couldn’t take anything apart. From there I had to alter the pattern to fit the actress… and then the long process of cutting and sewing together a full bustle dress & jacket. Wish I had photos of it.

40+ years later I will still use the technique of laying a garment on top of pattern paper and pinning through all the various seam points, and then connect the “dots”, adding seam allowance, etc to create a pattern of an existing garment.


I have only dismantled thrift store basic garments, and fast fashion thrown away things :sweat_smile: But it really helps to understand how things are made. There are loads of funny details construction like pockets, gathered knee-patches, shawl collars, pleats etc… that I learned from fast fashion items. I learned buttoned-up fly closure and zippers by un-sewing them.

But I also made a few period things… by looking at picture from online museum (the MET has great photos) and contouring the different flat parts with Inkscape. Trials and errors, as usual, but it works :slight_smile:

Once I figured out which part of the garment corresponds to my model measurements, the results are improving with every new attempt.

Anyway, I used to do things on the go, and it was hard to keep tracks of everything. I still struggle sometimes with Seamly, and I don’t necessarily use it from the very first steps, but I learned A LOT about methodology struggling with it. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


I’m learning pattern making myself as well. I have started a thread over in the ‘patterns’ category about making some patterns to ship as examples with the Seamly program. It is important though that these patterns be free from copyright, so I can’t just use McCunn or similar designs because those are copyrighted to them. So the idea is to implement pattern blocks using ‘new’ methods that are not built from their ideas that can then be licensed under something like the GPL or Creative Commons licenses so people can build from them.

Like I said, still learning, but I have a pincussion and a couple versions of a skirt pattern (starting with the easiest and working my way up). I have a bodice block pattern worked out, but I am not super happy with the side seams, so I haven’t posted it to that thread yet.

Feel free to look at those though to get an idea of how to turn measurements into a finished product using Seamly.


Absolutely. We’re always looking at construction of garments. We used to have a large menu’s suit manufacturer in town, that we got to know the plant manager real well… we have reject coats they threw out and look at them from time to time to see how they mass constructed things such as the canvases.

Check out… there’s all kinds of period pattern books free for download.


Hi BethCarolin. SEAMLY 2D GIVES YOU THE TOOLS TO DRAW WHATEVER YOU WANT BUT IT DOESN’T TEACH YOU HOW TO DRAW. I’m sorry, but it’s a beautiful Program for drawing garment patterns, very simple but very accurate, I have been making patterns for more than 30 years and I still feel like a beginner because this profession, like all others, NEVER COMES TO THE END, because fashion is always in parallel with creativity, so there is no reason to feel frustrated, you are simply at the beginning. Let me give you some tips so that you can be successful from the beginning. 1 All the books and systems of Pattern and Construction of clothes are good but you have to follow them to the letter, but the best will be your own book. However, I recommend the one I have used for more than 30 years! METRIC PATTERN CUTTING!! by Winifred Aldrich. 2 Are you passionate about fashion? Would you like to wear a garment that is not yet on the market? etc, if so keep going, because you have a long way to go. 3 To make a pattern, first you have to know how to take measurements correctly and you must start with a simple garment like a skirt. 4 The first Pattern that you will make will be a basic block of one size (your measurements) that is to say that for each size you will make a Basic block, but with this Basic block you will be able to make many styles, even more so, with the basic block of a blouse, plus the body rise measure you can make Thongs for example. To draw this first pattern you will use paper, pencil, eraser, straight and curved rulers, tape measure and a calculator, otherwise it will be very difficult to do it on the computer 5 You need to know what kind of fabric you have to use 6 You already have your pattern, you have cut the fabric. Now you need to know perfectly your sewing machine and its accessories. 7 To obtain a perfect garment it is essential to make samples and adjustments using similar and economical fabrics. What I have written is very tedious and boring. Now I offer you many shortcuts, give me the opportunity to make your patterns of the garments and styles of your preference for a symbolic amount and 10% will be for the Seamly 2D foundation, you will receive the patterns in PDF format or the one of your preference, to print in plotter or with home printer, includes a step by step tutorial of the construction of the garment. The procedure will be, you will make your garment and if it fits you well, until then you will pay me for my work. For this I need your measurements, (I will send a sketch of how to take measurements), a photo of the garment or sketch, and a description of how you would like your garment and of course your email. You can find me through this Forum Thanks Rafael Orozco. Textile Fashion.


After 40+ years of making patterns, I wouldn’t necessarily say I feel like a beginner, but I’ve come to expect the unexpected as something new always pops up… at least for me at my costume shop. For example my current project includes making men’s jackets for a show where the fabric was printed with large images of various denominations of bills from the 50-60’s… and while the patterns are nothing new, the fact I have to figure out a giant puzzle of what parts to cut where so the bill images end up in the spots the designer wants - is new. Or the fact the silk file fabric for the lapels and pant side stripe is like $90 a yard! Yeah… that will be one of those measure 10 times cut once deals. LOL

BTW… just a tip - when you post if you use the “Numbered list” tool it makes it easier to read.

cheers. :slight_smile:


Oh, @Douglas, that is really nasty. In quilting, that is call ‘fussy cutting’, and even working with straight & uniform blocks, it’s a pain!

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We’re still waiting for the layout from the designer of what he wants where. Basically we have the front and back, left, middle, and right of a $1, 2, 5, 10, 50 and 100 dollar bill… with each bill roughly 34" high. The only thing I know for sure is that on the $5 bill I have to match the center back seam down Lincoln’s face. :frowning: All I can say is thank God we’re not doing the girls dresses, which are the same bills printed on sequin! Although someday I’m sure I’ll haver to cut some new fangled fabric - I HATE CUTTING & SEWING sequin fabric - it’s at the top of my list for worst fabrics to work with.

Oh… fussy cutting… that would be like the 2 dining room chair covers I did over this past summer… which BTW was one of those deconstructed patterns - the fabric was this velvet-ish cheetah print weave that cost $300 per yard! I only had 5 yards to work with (yikes - do the math) and it took me like 2 days just to figure out how to fit all the pieces in with lining all the cheetah print up. I’d be lying if I said I did not hesitate to start cutting. And to think I still ended up with about a 1/3 of a yard or $100 of scrap fabric. :open_mouth:


:rofl: :rofl:

Yes, it’s really nasty. I have some really NOT expensive curtain fabric with lion & cheetah faces on it & then got the bright idea to use a piece to make a mask (at the beginning of the pandemic) with a lions face on it. The mask has a curve between the panels to fit over the nose, mouth, chin… Needless to say, it took some very fancy lining up & cutting, including the seam allowances, to produce a reasonably ok lions face on the mask.

Not doing that again :grin:


Pattern making is a technical skill set that takes some time to understand and get good at. Pattern making textbooks such as the Aldrich series or the Armstrong book are good starting points’ they will give you much information, but you must understand that it will be for standard proportional bodies. How to fit and understanding how to manipulate the pattern for different body shapes is again something that takes time to learn.

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Wow thanks for the offer and all the tips (from all of you).

The main reason I sew is that I can’t buy stuff that fits. My upper body is too long while my belly is too wide, resulting in navel-free tops whatever I buy. Pants are likewise problematic since its hard to get flared stretch in grown-up sizes over here.

I saw Armstrong and Aldrich books but was spooked by the recencion people wrote: not for beginners, hard to comprehend, etc.

I am just part-time sewing, far away from what you describe.

So- i went for another peace of Software: the garment designer, in hope it will enable me to get the familly basics wardrobe together and even developed above standard C&A.

But I am very tended to get a pattern from you also. Let me test the new software first a bit.

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wow…thanks for the tips. I will surely follow this and make my own pattern.

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Hello & welcome to the Seamly2D forum, @sgred18tips.

We’re a pretty friendly bunch who love to help each other as much as we can, so please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

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