7 beginner tips for flat pattern making (sewing)

Since I got my hands of a copy of Helen Joseph Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design I have the feeling learning to do the patterns I want to make is not that far away. I’ve said it before, but the book is great.

Maybe you remember my Sewing Course: Lesson 2 in which I was showing you how to draft the front part of a bodice pattern. I was using Helen Joseph Armstrong’s instructions in this book. Coming back to my blog post I discovered a few errors in the guide and fixed them. It’s great when you notice your own mistakes.

I had a few free hours today and I started drafting my own bodice block following the instructions in Armstrong’s book.

At first I was going to add a second lesson on the bodice, describing the steps one by one, but again, Helen JA does it better, so I am going to post her instructions in a separate post.

If you try this at home – and please do – you’ll feel intrigued at first, then unsure of what you’re doing, you might even mess it up completely and have to start over (been there:) but then, at one point, it just start making sense.


All the measurements, the center back and the bust point, and the cap height of a sleeve, they start to tell you how they are going to affect your pattern. And you’ll feel like pattern making is the easiest thing in the world.

Well, until you try the bodice on and everything is perfect except the sleeve is falling, the bust point was taken too low and the back dart should sculpt the back bodice nut it’s actually creating a new shape on its own.

It’s at the exact distance between being awesome and… weird.

This is what I’ve learned and my tips from this flat making pattern session:

  1. Make sure you understand which measurement you are taking (I had to redo the front bodice because I mistook no less than 5 measurements from parts of my body that had nothing to do with the bodice in question);
  2. Use a pencil. You will need erase lines.
  3. When you cut your bodice, don’t leave a huge sewing allowance like I did. The bodice already has some ease to cut the fabric closer to your edges than you would.
  4. If you are fitting for a dress (or blouse) that you are going to use with a bra, wear the bra when doing the fitting.
  5. Don’t use elastic fabrics for your muslin. You’ll steal your own hat 🙂
  6. Fit the muslin then go back and alter the pattern; even though it sounds impossible right now, you will forget that there was something to refit in the firstplace
  7. Keep in mind you’re learning so it’s ok even if you won’t wear your first muslin. Or the second. That’s what it’s all about;

Happy sewing 🙂

1 thought on “7 beginner tips for flat pattern making (sewing)”

  1. Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to see your new creations.
    This spring I want to make a peasant long skirt and a shirred top.
    Big kiss!

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