Monday, March 4, 2013

DIY - How to Make a Pattern from a Sketch

How to make a sewing pattern from an idea or sketch - Step by step Tutorial with Pictures

One of the most essential skills of sewing is being able to make your own pattern from an idea. In this post I will take you through the basic steps involved in creating your own pattern from a sketch. This tutorial will be best if you are an intermediate to advanced seamstress.

The original idea I had for a fun yet responsible looking shirt

Sometimes the idea comes first and the fabric must be sought out, other times I see certain fabrics that scream "MAKE ME INTO SOMETHING AMAZING!!!" Either way you need to start out with a loose plan. I sketched out an idea I had for a professional looking yet fun top as my first step. When drawing the idea I thought about things like shape and the way the fabric might fit after being sewn. All patterns are basic geometric shapes. Keep that in mind when you create your drawing. Also remember to be flexible, especial on your first few attempts to do this. My shirt varied slightly from my plan because I changed small things as I went in order to save time or simplify certain steps.

Old Men's Dress Shirts before being upcycled into a sexy Woman's business shirt.

 My next step was to pick the fabric that would become my top. I had saved several of my grandfather's old dress shirts when he passed away thinking that I could re-purpose them later. I chose Grey, Pink, and a fancy white and silver one. The combination of colors reminded me of a tie my husband had from probably before I was born that would work well with the theme of my shirt: responsible yet sexy.

Old Sports Bra being recycled to make a sewing pattern.

Now that I had all my supplies gathered it was time to start making my one dimensional drawing into a pattern that would create a three dimensional object. A very easy way to start is to choose an old article of clothing with a similar fit to what you want that you don't mind chopping up. I saved this sports bra with stains and holes for this purpose. I put the bra on and decided where I wanted the seams to be in the chest area. I then marked exactly where those seams would be with a sharpie. I took the bra off and chopped along the lines. The resulting bits and pieces are what I would later use to make the actual pattern. (Yes, this bra is just a precursor to the actual pattern.)

To make the official pattern I laid the cut up bra pieces on top of some junk mail and traced around them making sure to leave 1/4" to 1/2" inch of extra space around the edge for seam allowance and/or hemming. This only gave me the pattern for the bust of the shirt though. To design the body of the shirt I matched the waist pieces to the bust parts so they were the same width. I decided length by measuring from the bottom of where the bust would be to the place I wanted the bottom hem to lay around my hips. I then added seam allowance where needed. To get the shape of the sides I simply drew a rectangle that matched up to the width of the side bust piece and the length of the center body piece. I then trimmed it to look like an hourglass shape. If the hourglass isn't perfectly shaped for your body don't worry too much. There are ways to take it in later that will save frustration and brain cells. It just needs to be close to correct at this point (error on the side of too large.)

Lay your pattern on a flat surface in the way that it will be sewn together. This will allow you to see if there are any big mistakes before you cut into fabric. When you are sure it looks like what you want transfer your pattern onto the fabric you intend to use. If you are worried about mistakes or wasting expensive fabric I suggest buying some muslin or linen to make a tester.

At this point you will need to decide what order to sew the parts in. Think about what will fit easily on your machine without a lot of bunching in the arm. Also consider where the various seams will join up. There's almost nothing worse than a seam that doesn't line up right. For the shirt I made as an example I joined the upper and lower parts first, then sewed the vertical panels together. I hemmed everything after joining so that they were all a consistent size. I did some decorative top-stitching on the gray panels at this point to make the shirt lay nicer when worn and because it makes the seams more sturdy.

My last step was to attach an old men's tie I was going to reuse for the straps. I had my hubby help me with this because it was late at night, I was getting lazy, and my girl friend was on her way to pick me up so we could go out ( I really wanted to wear this.) I sewed the small end of the tie where I wanted it to hold up the front and threw the extra over my shoulder. I told my hubby to snip the tie parallel to the upper back hem of the blouse and to leave me at least half an inch for the seam. The second strap was easier - I sewed the snipped portion of the tie opposite the other strap on the back, threw on the shirt, and marked where the excess portion of the tie fell on the front. I then took the shirt off and sewed the fat part of the tie in a decorative manner on the front. Voila! A brand new and completely unique piece of clothing for me to wear!

I tried the shirt on and noticed that there was extra space in the waist area. This is the simple fix I was telling you about: Mark with straight pins or a light pencil mark how much extra room there is in the areas needing adjusting. Turn the clothing inside out and add another row of stitches further in where you marked. Turn right side out and try on again. Repeat this step if needed - I had to take the shirt in twice after I finished it. I have since altered my pattern to save me this trouble if I ever make this shirt again.

If you are having problems with a pattern take a deep breath and remember to reduce all of it to simple shapes. It's just geometry wrapped around your body.

Thanks for reading! For more DIY articles by Tiny Tipis click here.

 Tiny Tipis is a small handmade company providing environmentally friendly products to help customers reduce their carbon footprint. We focus on using high quality materials with attention to detail and running our company as close to zero waste as we possibly can. All shipping materials are recyclable, compostable, and/or biodegradable. See more of what Tiny Tipis does for our planet at any of the links below: 

 Thank you for being environmentally responsible!!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that looks like so much fun!!! I should really get into at least trying to make something like this. I don't mean like your design, I mean to use your clothing recycling method to put my own endless ideas to life. It's a shame though. Can't use a sewing machine for my life. Keep breaking the machine somehow... everything getting all tangled up down there, or stitching pretend stitches. I'd sew something by hand but I'm not sure that would be reliable for my clothing to be whoops I think I ripped it proof. Still, bookmarking this page.