Carbon’s Cosplay Corner: Time Management Pt. 2 – Drafting Fabric Patterns

Hey y'all, welcome back to part 2! Today, we're going to be talking about drafting fabric patterns for basic shapes. Drafting sounds intimidating when you start, but with some practice you'll find that it's pretty easy.

For this article, we'll focus on basic shapes & objects, like boxes and bands. These types of objects have easy patterns, and many of them look very similar to shape nets. You might remember shape nets from elementary school. They're very simple patterns that make 3D shapes. For example, this will make a cube and this will make a triangular prism. You can find more complex nets by looking up papercrafts, but for now you shouldn't need anything too complicated. To start your drafting progress, you'll just need a few materials. This materials list is flexible in a few places, having all of these items will make sewing much easier, but you don't need everything. I consider the ones I marked with a "+" as key items, and recommend having those.


  • Sewing machine +
  • Final fabric +
  • Drafting paper
  • Mock-up fabric +
  • Pins
  • Fabric scissors +
  • Large clean flat surface
  • Fabric marker or Tailors chalk
  • Misc. notions

Now, before we start talking about drafting, we need to have a conversation about sewing. I see a lot of people asking if they can make a cosplay with fabric glue instead of sewing them. And the answer to that is an emphatic "No, you cannot fabric glue together a cosplay". You need to have stitches to ensure that the entire project won't come apart. Fabric glue cannot handle the stress of holding together a pattern. That being said, you can hand sew your project, but it will take you much, much longer and it won't be as stable as something you machine sew. If you're looking for a cheap sewing machine, you can check out your local Walmart or Jo-Ann's, and always be sure to be on the look out for coupons.

To start drafting, you'll need the general measurements of what you need to make, and some form of drafting paper. You can use almost any form of paper for drafting paper, I personally prefer to use printer paper for small projects and wrapping paper with a grid on the back for lager ones. Start by drawing out a detailed version of your project from three sides: top, bottom and the side. Now that you have a clear image of what you're building, you can start with the net. In my examples below, I have both Valentine's bag and hat drafted out. Once I have everything drawn out, I make a list next to my drafts of all the parts I need to assemble a project, that way I can be sure I don't forget anything.

Once you have a detailed mini version, draw a 1:1 version on your drafting paper, cut it out, tape it together, and hold up the draft next to yourself to look for any sizing issues. If it looks too big or small, simply adjust it accordingly. Now that you have your pattern, you can start with your mock up. Mock ups are a very important part of patterning, because it's a cheap way to test your project. While making the mock up, you'll be able to find any issues with the order the project is sewn in, logistic issues with how you get dressed, and sizing issues. For mock up fabrics, I suggest going to the clearance section and finding the cheapest fabric you can. It doesn't need to be pretty, but it should have similar properties to your main fabric. For example, if your final fabric is stretchy, but your mock up isn't, you might not be able to wear the mock up because it won't fit over your head or hips.

Start your mock up by transferring your pattern to the mock up fabric and then just start sewing! Normally I'll sew up accessories with a long and loose basting stitch, but for clothing, I still use a machine. Now that you have a fabric version sewn up, you can see any errors your might have more clearly, just be sure to make adjustments to correct them and sew up your project again. While in the mock up stage, you might re-sew your project 2, 3 or even 20 times. Both are perfectly okay and normal, just be sure to take some breaks in between if you're getting frustrated. Once you're happy with how your mock up looks, trim your edges so you have an even seam allowance and pull out your stitches. The fabric you just used to make your mockup is now your final pattern.

Your final pattern will be what you use with your final fabric. Cut out your pattern, sew it up, and you have your final project! Now you can add any extra details you might need, buttons, snaps, or other decorations. Once you're done with those, your project is completely finished and you can move onto your next piece of your costume.

Now that you have your accessories all finished up, you're ready to move on to your props!. We've run out of time for this article, so be sure to check back next month for part three, Patterning Props! Until then, be sure to keep crafting and don't forget to make some mistakes.

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