I love sewing clothes for my kids. It is just SO fun, and they always seem to love what I make (whether it’s a #FAIL or not). I’ve been asked a few times over the course of the last couple of years how I design and draft my sewing patterns (like the Elsa and Anna inspired dresses), so I thought it was time that I shared a few of my pattern drafting secrets with you. If you’re a seamstress or an aspiring clothing designer, you might find this process interesting and something you’d like to try! It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but it’s not too difficult if you practice.
To create professional looking, printable sewing patterns, I use Adobe Illustrator on my Intel AIO computer. Illustrator is a digital illustration program used by graphic designers (my pre-mom career!) and my new Intel AIO computer runs this program smoothly and perfectly. I’m loving the combo!
Here’s my step-by-step process on how to draft a sewing pattern that looks professional, and that you can provide as a printable PDF on your blog.
First, I visualize the final piece of clothing that I want. I sometimes sketch them, but more often they’re just in my head. For the snow princess dresses I designed recently, I knew I wanted them “inspired by” Elsa and Anna costumes from Frozen, but they needed to be a little bit different and unique. This is the fun part of the process, and requires pure creativity and a lot of thinking.
Next, I dig into my bag of already drafted patterns and choose one to use as a base for the new sewing pattern. If you don’t have a crazy bag of patterns like I do, you can use a simple store-bought pattern that you’re going to alter or you can Google “sloper patterns” (slopers are skin-tight sewing patterns that act as a sort of 2D dress form) or “sewing block patterns” (blocks are simple foundation patterns with some give) and use those are your starting point.
Then, I alter the patterns by first tracing them onto wax paper or scrap paper, and changing up the shapes and lines with a pencil (or in this case, a gold Sharpie… that’s all I had). For my snow princess patterns, I wanted to create a sweetheart neckline, so I had to cut my previously made raglan-sleeved bodice pattern in half and create a sweetheart neckline shape.
This step usually takes some time and a few re-do’s. I usually hold these paper patterns up against my girls to see how they fit and look at this point. I usually draft the patterns without seam allowances, and then add my seam allowances in afterwards.
At this point, you could make a “muslin” of the design (that is, a test garment out of scrap/cheap fabric) to see how it works with fabric. I usually don’t because I’m a little bit excited about the finished product at this point. If there are mistakes, I can generally fix them in the finished garment as long as I know the garment won’t be too small. I usually add a little extra “give” for this reason!
After you sew up a muslin and everything looks good (or you don’t, and hope it will all turn out in the end like I do), scan your pattern pieces into your computer. I use my Intel AIO computer and an all-in-one scanner/copier/printer to do this. If the pattern pieces are too large to fit on the scanner, scan them in pieces.
Then, I bring the scanned pieces into Adobe Illustrator on my AIO computer and trace over them using the pen tool in Illustrator. I’ve been experimenting with doing this via the touch screen on my AIO and it’s really been interesting! I think I’m going to have a lot of fun drawing things and tracing them by hand in Illustrator now that I have my new touch screen computer.
I trace them all and put them in one document on Illustrator (remember, this is all to size so don’t alter the size of the scans).
To make the pattern printable on letter size paper, I ensure the Illustrator document size is set to 8 1/2 x 11″, and then I proceed to bring each pattern piece onto the letter size spot (as shown above) and save it as a PDF. If the pattern piece is too large to save onto a letter sized page, I’ll save it in two or more pieces.
That’s how I end up with a document like this (click to view the PDF sewing pattern sample): Frozen Snow Princess Dress Pattern – The DIY Mommy
Have you ever tried to draft a sewing pattern? What’s YOUR method? I’d love to hear it!
#spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.