How to: Draft patterns

The first stage in any project results in having a pattern that is sized accordingly.

If you are a newcomer (as I was) to patterns then there is a steep learning curve.  However, there are plenty of great resources from which to learn:

  • take an interest in how items of clothing are constructed
  • look closely at pictures of latex garments
  • buy a conventional sewing pattern and understand how the shapes fit together (you can’t just use a conventional pattern for a latex project – see my page on converting a conventional pattern for latex)
  • Pinterest has hundreds of pictures from patterns.  Understand how the 2D shapes fit together to make a 3D garment.
  • experimentation and practice

A good vector drawing tool is useful.  I use iDraw for my patterns.  It has the extremely useful feature of being able to show the real world dimension on an arbitrarily curved line.  Draw your patterns on a 1cm x 1cm grid and print out at life size (if you have a printer that will take roll paper then see my guide).

Take careful measurements of your subject and check and re-check the measurements of your pattern.  Download a measurements form from anyone offering a made-to-measure service (e.g. Libidex).  The pattern’s measurement should include a small amount of ‘negative ease’ – typically the circumference should be 5-10% smaller than the target measurement, but the length unaffected.  This may vary depending on the style of garment and the thickness of the latex.

I find that at least as much time is spend in pattern design and drafting as I then subsequently spend in cutting, gluing and assembly.   However, the upside of this is that subsequent iterations are much quicker an the construction phase should be straight forward – allowing you to concentrate on how well you are doing something, rather than on what you should be doing.

Be prepared to make one or more mock-ups of any project.

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