Patterns Tips

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How do I choose the right size pattern?

Multi-sized Patterns

Most patterns are now printed with several sizes on one sheet. Pick the size range that the majority of your measurements fit into. You will be able to blend the sizes together to fit your body. If you have to choose between a pattern that matches your hip or waist measurement, choose the one closest to your hip measurement. It is easier to alter the waist line.

How can I get custom fitting patterns?

Pattern Drafting Software

There are several companies that make pattern drafting software for the home sewer. This software requires you to input an accurate set of measurements, make some basic design choices, and print out your pattern on your printer. These programs do require some work to get accurate measurements to begin with, but are worth it in the end to get custom fitting patterns.

How do I choose the right size pattern?

Required Measurements

There are only a few basic measurements that are needed to choose the correct pattern size. You will need additional measurements to make alterations, but the only measurements needed to select your pattern size are: bust or high bust if you wear a C-cup or larger bra, waist, and hips.

How do I select the right pattern?

Silhouette Key

Most commercial patterns have a row of symbols (triangle, circle, rectangle, hour glass) located on the back of the pattern envelope. These symbols are an indication of the body type that this pattern is recommended for.

How do I select the right pattern?

Fabric Recommendations

Patterns usually have a list of fabrics that are recommended for the garment. It is important to consider this because the characteristics of the fabric will affect the fit and drape of the garment. Patterns often list fabrics that are not suitable for the particular pattern design. If you are using this type of fabric, select another pattern.

How do I choose the right size pattern?

Bust Measurements

The sizing of most commercial patterns is based on a B-cup bra. If you are larger busted, using your measurements may give you a pattern that is too big in the shoulders and back. In this case, it is better to choose a pattern based on your high bust measurement and alter the pattern to accommodate a larger bust. The high bust measurement is taken under the arms, but just above the bust.

How do I choose the right size pattern?

Accurate Measurements

You must have accurate measurements to select the correct size pattern. It is almost impossible to take precise measurements for yourself. Measurements should be taken in a good fitting bra and underwear. Use a good tape measure that has been checked for accuracy. The tape measure should be snug, but not tight. Do not add inches for looser fit, this is added in the design ease of the pattern.

How do I select the right pattern?

Pattern Company

There are several major pattern companies and countless independent pattern makers to select from. Some research and experimentation will help you choose the right one for you. Different brands focus on distinct styles and others are designed for a specific body type and/or shape. Learn as much as you can before you purchase. Once you find one you like, stick with it.

How can I get custom fitting patterns?

Personalized Drafting Service

Personalized pattern drafting services will create custom patterns for you. The pattern is drafted to the specific measurements you supply. This is a good option if you cannot find a pattern to fit and do not have good pattern alteration skills.

How do I select the right pattern?

Yardage and Notions

The pattern envelope will list the yardage of fabric required. It will also list notions that are required for each garment design. Keep this in mind when you are selecting a pattern, especially if you already have your fabric or if you are on a budget.

How do I select the right pattern?

Garment Description

The pattern envelope will have a written description of the garment design. The description will provide details that you may have missed when looking at the illustration or photo of the garment. This is where you will get a clear description of the design ease that has been added to the pattern. The garments will be described as “loose fitting,” “semi-fitted,” or “fitted.”

How do I select the right pattern?

Line Drawings

Pattern envelopes have photographs or illustrations of the garments on them. It is often difficult to accurately see the details on these pictures. The back of the pattern envelope or the instruction sheet will have line drawings of the garment. It is much easier to see details and seam lines on these drawings.

How do I select the right pattern?


Pattern prices have increased significantly in the last few years. There is a broad range of prices. If you are not going to use the patterns for all the garments included with your selected pattern, you may be able to find a similar garment pattern with less options for a lower price. Most stores and companies have frequent sales on patterns, watch for sales and buy your patterns then.

How can I get custom fitting patterns?

Hand Drafting

Hand drafting patterns can be fun. You can learn this skill at a workshop or community college. There are many books that also give detailed instructions on pattern drafting. Even if you don't want to draft your own patterns, this skill will improve your understanding of fit and increase your knowledge and ability to alter commercial patterns.

How do I select the right pattern?

Skill Level

Most patterns will indicate the difficulty level somewhere on the pattern envelope. Some of the ratings you will see are: easy, intermediate, average, advanced, and difficult. When selecting a pattern, keep in mind your skill level and how much time and energy you want to invest in this project. If you are unsure, look at the instruction sheet to see if the pattern is too difficult for you.

How do I choose the right size pattern?

Read the Size Chart

Patterns do not follow the same sizing standards as ready-to-wear clothing. The major U.S. commercial pattern companies have standardized sizing. European pattern companies and independent pattern companies all have their own sizing standards. It is important to read the measurement chart for each pattern you are purchasing and select the appropriate size based on their measurement chart.

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Kristle Jones