6 Lessons Learned About Pattern Drafting

Recently I was given this cute checked fabric, I had a huge amount of it and no particular plans for what to do with it but I was very grateful. I soon came to the conclusion that it was perfect fabric for experimenting with. I had a go at drafting my own pattern for a top. Here is the result. I knew that pattern drafting wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't, but I have learned quite a lot from this one top already. Read on to see exactly what I learned.

Lesson 1
You cannot use a stretch top as the starting point for making a top with a woven fabric. Ok so its probably pretty obvious to most of you, I tried to make allowances for the stretch by making it a little bigger in some places but basically this is not the top I originally intended to make. It was going to be a boxy top that buttoned all the way down but it was too narrow around my hips. I decided to make the back a little bit open to compensate and I have ended up with a lovely top for summer, it's just not what I envisioned when I first started.

Lesson 2
Curved hems are tricky and I need to be very careful when snipping into the curves to make the finish neat. It looks pretty good form the outside but the inside is a little messy.

Lesson 3
Drafting patterns for sleeves is pretty easy. I thought that this might be one of the most tricky parts of pattern drafting but in fact I found it very easy and my sleeve fitted into the arm hole perfectly. I will probably do this again in future if I have a sleeveless top or dress pattern as a simple modification.

Lesson 4
When drafting your own patterns you have to be flexible. As I said already I started out planning to make a different top to this one, but once I realised it wasn't going to work the way I planned I came up with a new idea that I liked too. I didn't have to just chuck away my work so far, I could make it into something different that turned out more fun than I had originally planned any way.

Lesson 5
I learned the correct order for putting together a top pattern. I hadn't given it much thought before I started but realised after cutting out my pattern pieces that I would need to stitch them up in a particular order rather than just guessing.

Lesson 6
I learned how to finish a neckline the way I like. The other unlined tops or dresses I have made so far finish the neckline with bias binding. I am not really a fan of this method, I find it tricky to get it to lie flat and I prefer not to have an extra seam there. I looked at some of my favourite tops from my wardrobe and realised my favourite finish is to sew in a neckline facing. I read a few tutorials for this and then came up with my own method. In future I can finish other tops like this even if the pattern suggests otherwise.

So there you have it, my lessons learned so far. Since making this top I have also made a skirt for which I also drafted the pattern which I will show you soon too. Zoe x


  1. Hi! I've just found your blog via the Pinterest board for Me Mad May, and I love this top. Out of curiosity, what reference did you use to draft sleeves? This is something I've always thought would be really tricky so I'm intrigued that you found it easy! Sounds good! :)

    1. Good question Helen, I had a good look at a few patterns I had for the general shape of a sleeve, measured the length of the arm hold and then drew a sleeve accordingly. Maybe I'll write a more detailed tutorial for it. I think if you wanted a more fitted sleeve or a more interesting design it would be more complicated though.


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