How to Make a Sewing Pattern: 3 Methods for Perfect Custom Garments

Sewing enthusiasts know that mastering the art of creating sewing patterns requires skills and knowledge. For hobby sewers with no or little experience in creating sewing patterns, several methods can ease the process of customizing garments. While using patterns in standard sizes and pre-defined designs is common, the true creative freedom comes from crafting custom designs. In this article, we’ll show you how to make a sewing pattern, ranging from hands-on techniques for pattern drafting at home, online platforms for pattern customization, and to (more professional) sewing pattern software. Finally, you will learn how to customize existing sewing patterns.


  1. Techniques for Making Your Own Sewing Patterns at Home
  2. Online Sewing Pattern Designers to Make Sewing Patterns
  3. How to Make a Sewing Pattern Using Sewing Pattern Software
  4. How to Adjust Sewing Patterns

Techniques for Making Your Own Sewing Patterns at Home

In this section, we’ll outline different techniques that empower you to create your sewing patterns. These methods are at the core of garment creation and can be particularly helpful for beginners looking to make a pattern for sewing.

Sewing pattern techniques
Sewing pattern techniques overview

Tracing an Existing Garment

Tracing to make a sewing pattern
Tracing to make a sewing pattern

If you have a well-fitting garment you adore, you can create a sewing pattern by carefully disassembling it and copying each piece onto pattern paper. This is known as “rub-off” pattern making, a technique widely used by home sewers.

Pattern Blocks

Pattern blocks
Using pattern blocks for making your own sewing pattern

Pattern blocks, also called slopers, serve as basic templates for various garment components. These templates typically have minimal ease, resulting in a snug fit. You can build a library of pattern blocks for bodices, sleeves, skirts, and pants, using them as a foundation and making modifications for specific sewing patterns.


Draping on a mannequin
Draping on a mannequin

Draping involves pinning fabric directly onto a dress form or model to achieve the desired shape. Once you’ve perfected the design, you can trace the draped fabric onto pattern paper. Although less common among hobby sewers, this technique is utilized by fashion designers when seeking unusual shapes or experimental designs.

Flat Pattern Making

Making a sewing pattern from scatch
Making a sewing pattern from scratch

This method entails creating patterns on flat paper, taking measurements, and drawing pattern pieces based on those measurements. It’s a precise approach often used for tailored garments and is the domain of professional pattern makers, demanding skill, math, precision, and in-depth knowledge.

Pattern making Books and Courses

Courses or books on pattern making
Courses or books on pattern making

For those interested in learning pattern making with techniques like flat pattern making, consider studying pattern making books or enrolling in online courses. These resources provide a solid foundation in pattern making principles and techniques.

Experiment and Learn from Mistakes

Trial and error when making your own sewing pattern
Trial and error when making your own sewing pattern

Don’t fear experimentation and making mistakes. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and enhance your sewing pattern-making skills. Learning how to make a sewing pattern requires practice and experimentation. Start with simple projects like the JULIANA MARTEJEVS The Oversized T-Shirt sewing pattern and, as you gain confidence, progress to more intricate designs.

Online Sewing Pattern Designers to Make Sewing Patterns

If you’d rather not draft a pattern from scratch, several websites offer services to create custom sewing patterns tailored to your measurements and style preferences. In this section, we’ll explore these websites and their services, helping you select the one that best fits your pattern customization needs.

Bootstrap Fashion

Bootstrap Fashion is an online platform designed for fashion professionals and individual designers. It offers made-to-measure pattern-making capabilities, allowing users to receive sewing patterns based on their measurements. The platform provides a library of fashion templates and slopes, enabling users to choose from various clothing designs. Bootstrap Fashion is a practical resource for pattern customization and personalization, catering to fashion professionals and sewing enthusiasts.

Lekala Patterns

Lekala Patterns is similar to Bootstrap Fashion and targets fashion professionals and individual designers. It offers made-to-measure sewing patterns based on individual measurements and features a library of fashion templates, simplifying the creation of various clothing designs. While a cost-effective alternative, Lekala Patterns may have more limited customization options compared to Bootstrap Fashion.


Picknsew® offers custom sewing patterns tailored to your measurements, guaranteeing a perfect fit and eliminating the need for alterations. Unlike Lekala Patterns and Bootstrap Fashion, you can customize sewing patterns using the 3D Sewing Pattern Designer to match your style preferences. The online Sewing Pattern Designer allows you to visualize changes, fabric choices, and colors on the garment, minimizing the risk of selecting the wrong fabric. This platform empowers you to bring your unique vision to life without the need for extensive pattern drafting.

Sewing Pattern Designer
Adjust sewing patterns with Picknsew®


Sewist is an online platform tailored for sewing enthusiasts, offering basic tools and resources. It provides a straightforward system for adjusting sewing patterns to fit individual measurements and style preferences, with a moderate selection of pattern designs for various clothing items. Sewist is designed for home sewers, offering a practical approach to pattern modification for improved fit and personalized designs.

Each of these platforms possesses unique strengths and features, catering to a diverse audience of sewing enthusiasts. Some specialize in made-to-measure sewing patterns, while others focus on customizable design sewing patterns. The 3D Sewing Pattern Designer offered by Picknsew® combines both aspects, making it a versatile solution for customization. Whether you’re a professional fashion designer or a hobbyist, these online resources provide valuable solutions to enhance your sewing projects.

How to Make a Sewing Pattern Using Sewing Pattern Software


Optitex is a renowned name in pattern making software, celebrated for its advanced technology and innovative solutions. It offers a comprehensive suite of 2D and 3D CAD tools designed to streamline pattern design and development in the fashion and apparel industry. With Optitex, designers and pattern makers can create, edit, and visualize garments in a digital environment, reducing the need for physical prototypes and accelerating the production process. Its 3D capabilities allow for realistic garment simulations, enhancing fit, design accuracy, and overall pattern development efficiency. Optitex is the preferred choice for professionals who value precision and creativity in their pattern making.


CLO 3D is a cutting-edge pattern making software that’s revolutionizing pattern creation. With powerful 3D garment design and simulation capabilities, CLO 3D enables designers and pattern makers to bring their creations to life in a virtual environment. The software allows you to create, customize, and visualize garments with remarkable accuracy, saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent on physical prototypes. CLO 3D offers realistic 3D garment simulations, precise pattern development, and the flexibility to experiment with various fabrics and styles. It even offers a free trial period for those curious to explore its features.

Grafis CAD Software

Grafis CAD software is a leading name in pattern making and design solutions. Known for its precision and versatility, Grafis CAD provides an extensive array of tools for pattern development and grading in the fashion and apparel industry. It empowers professionals to create intricate patterns and designs with meticulous detail. While comprehensive, it’s typically used by industry professionals due to its complexity.

Lectra Modaris

Lectra Modaris is highly regarded in the fashion and textile industry for its advanced technology. The software provides a digital platform for pattern makers and designers, facilitating the creation and visualization of patterns and prototypes with efficiency. Its 2D and 3D capabilities streamline the pattern development process and foster collaboration among teams. With Lectra Modaris, precision and accuracy in pattern development are achievable, leading to the creation of well-fitted garments. It’s the go-to choice for those who value innovation and quality.

The choice of software depends on your specific needs and level of expertise. Industry professionals often prefer specialized software like Lectra, Grafis, or Optitex, while hobby sewers may opt for user-friendly websites offering customization services like Picknsew or Bootstrap Fashion.

How to Adjust Sewing Patterns

Modifying standard sewing patterns to meet specific design and fit preferences is achievable for most medium-to advanced hobby sewists. The key is to find a sewing pattern that’s already close to your desired design. We’ll go over the most crucial pattern adjustments that can help you create your ideal garment.

How to Adjust the Fit of Sewing Patterns

Adjust the overall fit of a sewing pattern
Adjust the overall fit of a sewing pattern

Hobby sewers have long been altering the fit of standard-size sewing patterns. First, consult the size chart provided with each pattern to determine the size to sew. Since designers may use different measurement charts, this step is crucial. After selecting your size, it’s essential to create a muslin sample and try it on. Any necessary changes can be made to the sewing pattern. For instance, if the muslin’s waist is too loose, pin down the sides, measure the pinned amount, and subtract it from the pattern’s waist measurement.

How to Adjust the Length of Sewing Patterns

How to adjust the length of sewing patterns
How to change the length of a sewing pattern

Customizing the length of sewing patterns provides a broad range of options, significantly affecting the garment’s appearance. To adjust pattern length, you’ll need to cut the pattern. Start by drawing a horizontal line across the pattern, cut along it, and then either overlap the two pieces to shorten the length or insert a piece of paper to extend it. Draw the new pattern lines as needed. For specific length adjustment instructions, refer to our blog post on how to modify sewing pattern lengths.

How to Adjust the Width of Sewing Patterns

Adjusting the width in sewing patterns
Adjusting the width in sewing patterns

Modifying the width of sewing patterns is slightly more complex and depends on where you want to add or reduce volume. For example, to add volume to the bottom of a skirt, draw a vertical line on the pattern, cut along it, and then open the bottom, leaving the top of the line intact. This will create a triangular gap where you’ll insert additional paper. Afterward, mark a new hemline following the curvature of the two pattern pieces. To reduce width, perform the opposite process, which is helpful when the waist is too large.

How to Change the Sleeve of Sewing Patterns

Lengthen sleeves sewing pattern
How to adjust the sleeve of a sewing pattern

The critical aspect of altering sleeves in sewing patterns is to keep the sleeve cap length consistent. Length and width adjustments similar to those described above can be made, but extra caution is needed to prevent changes to the sleeve cap, as it must fit into the armhole of the pattern. The article on how to sew in a sleeve goes over why it is so important that your sleeve matches your armhole perfectly.

How to Adjust the Neckline of Sewing Patterns

When altering the neckline of sewing patterns, it’s important to proceed with care. Deepening the neckline can lead to fabric gaping and an undesirable look. To prevent this, create a muslin sample and pin away the excess fabric while trying it on. You can then transfer these changes to your pattern.

These are the most essential considerations when adjusting sewing patterns. Making a muslin sample is a prudent practice to avoid wasting valuable fabric during the fitting process.

Happy pattern making!

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