Trying to pattern clothes to fit a human body can be complex and difficult, especially if you want something that fits perfectly. It’s much simpler to buy a pre-designed pattern from a store and then alter it to fit yourself, but where to start! There are thousands of patterns for sale and most of them won’t do you any good. Today we'll be covering all the key information for selecting your first pattern.
Things you’ll need :
- Your measurements / measuring tape
- Sketch of the parts you need to make
- Scratch paper
The first step in choosing a pattern is determining which garments you’re making, and what clothes they can translate to. For example, Cammy is wearing a bodysuit similar to a gymnast or ice skater and Valentine is wearing a nurse's dress that looks very similar to a tennis uniform. Drawing a rough sketch of all of the parts you need to make can make this easier to visualize. The sketch doesn’t need to be beautiful, just convey the general types of garments you're making.
Once you have an idea of what you want to make, you’ll find a pattern that looks similar. Fabric stores that sell patterns will have an area with index books that show every pattern they have for sale. There are many different pattern brands and all of them follow many industry standards, so you won’t be confused between a Butterick and Simplicity pattern. But, they do have different difficulties and complexities, so if this is your first pattern, I would suggest starting with a Simplicity pattern. These are normally the simplest designs. While looking through the indexes, remember to ignore all frills and patterns in the fabric and instead look for the shapes the fabric makes. Patterns can look vastly different when they’re made with different fabrics and colors. I normally picture the character wearing the pattern, and looking at the changes I need to make in order for them to match.
After you’ve chosen a pattern, you’ll need to follow the instructions on the outside of the envelope to determine what else you need to purchase. Here, I've outlined a pattern that I use very frequently. Each of the outlined blocks is going to offer information on how this pattern should be constructed and what materials you’ll need to be using.
The size of the pattern (Pink Box)
- This is a short label for what size the pattern is. There are many sizes for patterns and not every size is included in each envelope. Be sure to double check this to make sure you have a pattern that will fit you.
Pattern Code (Purple Box)
- This is the code that labels the pattern, it's how you'l look it up in the large filling cabinet. Each one will be separated by brand, and then again by numbers.
Sizing chart (Green box)
- This is the chart you'll use to determine your size when purchasing a pattern. You'll simply find your measurements on the chart to determine your size. If you're a 6 for the hips, but an 8 for your waist you can make alterations on your mock up to ensure a better fit. Always remember that making something smaller is easy, but larger is much more difficult!
Suggested materials (Purple Arrow)
- All fabrics have different characteristic and will fall differetly, here you'll find the types of fabrics you should be using for each pattern. If you have any questions about where to find the fabric you need don't be afraid to ask a sales associate! It's what they're there for.
Stretch measurement (Blue Box)
- If a pattern calls for stretch fabrics, they'll need to stretch a certain amount so that you can move in them. Be sure to do a quick test before selecting a fabric.
Descriptions of the forms (Green Box)
- This is a simple description of each version that's included in the envelope.
Yards of Fabric Necessary (Pink Box)
- This box shows the number of yards of a fabric you need to complete a project. Normally for patterns that look complex or have a pattern on them, I buy an extra half yard in-case I make a mistake. Notice how you need different amounts depending on which form you're making.
Notions (Red Arrow)
- Notions are additional pieces and tools that are necessary for completing projects. This includes zippers, buttons, elastics, snaps and many more. These are just as important as the fabric when sewing, so it's important to not skip them.
Alternate forms (Orange Boxes)
- Here we have a picture of all the different garments that are included in the envelope. These can have a multitude of variations and can normally be mixed and matched.
The final note to remember when selecting a pattern is that you can alter it in any way you want. I've personally used the pattern above for making jackets, gloves, bodysuits, thigh high socks and even an armored chest plate. The possibilities are endless for what you can do with a base pattern and small amounts of alteration, all it takes is a bit of practice.