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Video: A Fast Look at Pattern Drafting

Video Length: 04:07
Produced by: Evamarie Gomez

In Pattern-Drafting Primer from Threads #165, Senior Technical Editor Judith Neukam shares a method for drafting your own pattern for a good fit. Although pattern drafting may appear to be a difficult task, it's easier than it looks. In this video, Judith brings the process to life and shows you how it's done in lightning speed. Don't miss quick tutorials like this one by purchasing a print subscription of Threads magazine which comes with FREE access to our tablet editions.

Follow the steps outlined in the printable article, watch the video as a visual tool, and you'll have a pattern before you know it.

Download the article
(Requires free Adobe Reader software)

Have you drafted your own pattern? If so, what are some of the obstacles you've come across and how have you overcome them? Do you prefer to draft your own pattern?



Comments (39)

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Posted: 11:56 pm on May 5th

JimmyJModlin JimmyJModlin writes: Nice article...
Posted: 11:09 pm on November 2nd

TCosy TCosy writes: I'd also like to echo the requests for a video on taking the measurements. When I go to mark point 'I' from the first of the diagonal measurements it falls 2-3 inches outside of anywhere it could cross the line it's meant to meet. I've had two people try taking the measurements with the same problem both times.
Posted: 8:04 am on July 19th

cricket88 cricket88 writes: I'm a Fashion Design student at Los Angeles Technical Trade College in Los Angeles.

Just want to say: Thank you lovely!! So beautiful you share your wisdom and experience with the world!

I'm going to try the Torso draft video. I'll post my experience of the process & feedback along with pictures of a sewn mock up. After I finish my final for History of Costume.

Wish me luck and patience :)

Posted: 1:24 pm on May 14th

user-1148993 user-1148993 writes: This video was not useful to me at all. While it had nice background music, the lack of an explanation had me watching this and closing the window with no information.

Please go back to using diagrams, pictures and written explanations. These videos are a pain to load & give me nothing to refer back to.
Posted: 12:32 pm on March 14th

Feis_Mom Feis_Mom writes: I echo the question about how to draft some sleeves. I had little experience drafting patterns, but downloaded the instructions and just made a muslin for my daughter which looks really good considering it was my first try. I'm making her a dance dress which should be perfectly fitted with hardly any ease. With commercials patterns I have had a terrible time getting her shoulders to fit right. Following these instructions it looks nearly perfect. But now I need to draft some long sleeves - are there instructions to do that anywhere?
AND - if this looks confusing to you - the best thing is to just jump in and actually do it. Have an eraser handly and read the directions step by step and it will make sense.
Posted: 3:53 pm on February 15th

Feis_Mom Feis_Mom writes: I echo the question about how to draft some sleeves. I had little experience drafting patterns, but downloaded the instructions and just made a muslin for my daughter which looks really good considering it was my first try. I'm making her a dance dress which should be perfectly fitted with hardly any ease. With commercials patterns I have had a terrible time getting her shoulders to fit right. Following these instructions it looks nearly perfect. But now I need to draft some long sleeves - are there instructions to do that anywhere?
AND - if this looks confusing to you - the best thing is to just jump in and actually do it. Have an eraser handly and read the directions step by step and it will make sense.
Posted: 3:52 pm on February 15th

ctdamsel ctdamsel writes: I've designed and made my own patterns since the 80's. I purchased "Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern" from the FIT book store (and some rulers.) I taught myself from that book and my husband helped take my measurements. Since then my clothing fits perfectly; even slacks!
Posted: 9:54 am on February 15th

Kacyj1 Kacyj1 writes: Thanks for your reply Courtney! Do you have a source where I can buy the French curve? I thought I found a source at, but they have discontinued it and have no more left in stock...

Posted: 9:33 am on February 15th

ZenLove ZenLove writes: Thank you for the article. Will there be an article on drafting a sleeve to fit tuis bodice?
Posted: 9:00 am on February 15th

psfws1963 psfws1963 writes: Like the sample. It made me take notice because of the music see cause that's how I learn thew music along w/ demonstration, so that was wonderfully put together for me to use loved it. Posted 6:06 am on 2/14/13
Posted: 8:07 am on February 14th

Courtney_Campbell Courtney_Campbell writes: I'm writing on behalf of Judy Neukam and in response to Kacyj1:

Yes, the triangle is from Fairgate and it is actually 14"! As for the curve, it is a 17" C-Thru French Curve.

I hope I helped!
Posted: 2:17 pm on February 13th

JeanneDes JeanneDes writes: This was a hoot to watch! And totally confidence-building in trying to do it myself with the accompanying download.

Maybe the video won't become a phenomenon beyond us Threads aficionados, but it definitely is a blockbuster here!
Posted: 12:43 pm on February 13th

Kacyj1 Kacyj1 writes: I loved the triangle and curve you used to draft with! I'm assuming the triangle is from Fairgate. Can you tell me what size it is? 8" - 10" - 12"?? Also loved the curve you used to draw the neck and armhole!! Please give us a source!

Posted: 12:25 pm on February 13th

sailcocktail sailcocktail writes: Can't wait to give this a try...hoping my husband will be patient enough to help with the measurements.
Posted: 3:51 am on February 13th

stitchhappy stitchhappy writes: Dear readers, I wrote this article and want to address some of your comments. I've drafted a few patterns over my years of sewing; I own pattern drafting software; and sometimes I drape too, but this recent trip into pattern drafting was so much fun I had to share it with you.

I'm told the book I used by Meyer Rohr was a text book for over fifty years and is no longer in print, but you can find used copies. I found my copy in a used book store.

For those of you who are confused about the fast moving video without text, let me first explain that reading drafting steps is boring! Listening to it is equally boring. But if you take each step as a mini treasure hunt,when you complete the last step you'll have a pattern that fits, and this reward is well worth it. It is actually a very easy process.

What I like about Rohr's method is that in each step he first tells exactly what to measure, and then how to apply the measurement. One step at a time. I think it was lvislief who questioned getting a good fit without bust measurements. I questioned the same thing when I realized the directions didn't call for even a bust point. I've drafed patterns now for a number of people with all ranges of bust sizes and somehow the draft places a perfect bust point by itself. I really don't know how it works but it does.

I believe I suggesed in the article that you don't read it--just do it. The first time I drafted it, taking my own measurements no less, it took less than an hour and the fit was better than I've ever had--right off the drawing board. I do recommend having someone help you take your measurements--you'll get more accurate results. We've printed the written directions here online. Read the article and then watch the video again. You'll find everything you need.

And thank you for all of your encouraging remarks!
Posted: 4:52 pm on February 12th

user-360943 user-360943 writes: For those of you looking for the instructions that go with the video, please scroll down to just below the video. You will see "Download the article", which has detailed instructions and very good illustrations.
Posted: 7:46 pm on February 11th

lvislief lvislief writes: I read followed the article on this drafting method in Threads NO. 165 with great interest until I got to the full bust adjustment at the end. Everything else was based on precise measurments and angle, but the instructions for full bust adjustments were vague about how to determine how much to add. I was also concerned that the bust point was determined by where two diagonal lines between arbitrary points crossed, rather than on measurments of where the bust point actually is down from the neckline and from center front. Could we get some more detailed instructins on this adjustment.
Posted: 11:52 pm on February 7th

user-1109247 user-1109247 writes: I have a book by Armstrong 'Pattern drafting' 2nd edition. Does Judy Neukam have a book published or what books does she recommend?
Posted: 10:29 am on February 7th

416 416 writes: I have drafted my own patterns before. I have slopers in different sizes since my weight fluctuate sometimes. I enjoy making my own patterns and changing them. My biggest obstacle is when I am making darts. I have to draw and measure and do that again before I have an accurate dart. I prefer draftng my own patterns although it is time consuming, my garments fit so much better.
Posted: 5:40 pm on February 6th

canei canei writes: Thanks so much for sharing this. Yes erobi I can also watch over and over...2Xs for me already. I would like to try this over the weekend.
Posted: 4:50 pm on February 6th

Sshort Sshort writes: It has taken 1 year of intensive work and study to become comfortable drafting and fitting patterns (I am retired). But now I can either draft a pattern or completely refit a printed pattern without fear. My favorite drafting and copying paper is "exam table" paper. It holds up well, is easy to manipulate , semi-transparent, and best of all is cheap. It can be bought buy the case on the internet.
Posted: 2:50 pm on February 6th

user-1111398 user-1111398 writes: Thank you for this video, I have several books on drafting a
pattern, but never tried it. Now I am willing to give it a try. Thanks again.
Posted: 10:39 am on February 6th

gwtw1936 gwtw1936 writes: The speed did not bother me but it is useless WITHOUT EXPLANATION as the WHAT/HOW TO GET the MEASUREMENTS!
We cnanot be mnid readers to know where/what to measure.

Posted: 7:17 am on February 6th

yangsee yangsee writes: Watched a few mins of the video and could make no sense of it..high speed with no explanation..!
Posted: 6:51 am on February 6th

nasturnium nasturnium writes: Like SANDYSEWIN, I try to draft my pants pattern based on Thread issue 134 : But I wonder what measure I have to put on the draft when it's indicated "mark a point 1/4 to 3/8..."for example. what's determine the difference between ?
otherwise, I find great to draft my own pattern as I got problem with pants I bought (I've always to do darts and darts to adjust my waist).
thanks in advance if somebody post me an idea....
Posted: 5:33 am on February 6th

nasturnium nasturnium writes:
Posted: 5:26 am on February 6th

user-2228870 user-2228870 writes: I still have the book I used at high school, it was published by the Department of Education in Queensland, Australia. A revised edition 1969,.That was back in the early 70s!
I would love to be able to draft patterns again, for myself and for other people as well. Thank you very much for the instructions Judith.
Posted: 3:49 am on February 6th

RStaff49 RStaff49 writes: In reply to "forbusiness". I know of a pattern making software through Bernina called MY Label. It gives very specific directions for measuring in cm. Another person is required to do it well. Once all the measurements are entered you will see an avatar of those results. It is the most specific and comprehensive measurement system I have seen.
Posted: 12:33 am on February 6th

LuvThreadsMagazine LuvThreadsMagazine writes: If I make the leap, rest assured, the world will have it's first Judith Neukam drag queen.
Posted: 11:01 pm on February 5th

silaee silaee writes: I enjoyed the pattern drafting video and printed out the instructions. I am from India and we always drafted the patterns according to our measurements so that the garments fit well.Thanks to my mother's patient guidance,by the time I was 11 years old I was drafting and sewing all that I wore. Our saree blouses which are skin tight had to fit perfectly and drafting did exactly that. After being in the US for 36 years and a bit out of shape I am now inspired to go back to drafting. I do have my instructions to drafting and this will be a good refresher for me.Thank you. My mother was a great seamstress and very talented in all kinds of hand work and had maintained meticulous drafting instructions in a book which was borrowed by someone and never came back. You know why -it was a treasure!!!
Posted: 10:06 pm on February 5th

BGibbs BGibbs writes: I would very much like to see a little video like this one that covers the taking of measurements for drafting the basic pattern. I've been measured three times, and the measurements came out differently each time. In addition, Step 7 (Front Width) on the Front indicates that measurements should be made from CF to side seam at the underarm, and the drawing looks like it passes over the bust; however, my bustline is lower than my underarm, and if the measurement is taken according to the written directions, the front is too narrow through the bust. Also, my measurement for Step 8 (Side Waist Depth) on the back pattern is so long that it will not hit on line KL; rather it lands somewhere outside L. I'm sure there is something wrong with the measurements, but it's happened three times, and I am at a loss as to what to do about it.

A video showing clearly how the measurements would be sooooooo helpful. In the meantime, thought, can anyone shed a little light on these issues?

Posted: 9:49 pm on February 5th

sandysewin sandysewin writes: I drafted a pants pattern with the directions in Threads #134 (Jan "08.) They came out great and it was very satisfying.

The only thing I wish is that I understood the "whys" for all the calculations. Perhaps I should look into a drafting class.

It got me thinking that if we understood that, we'd never need to buy another pattern again; just make whatever changes we want to our perfect fitting slopers. :-)

Happy sewing!
Posted: 8:41 pm on February 5th

MsTeddo MsTeddo writes: I love to draft patterns. It is relaxing and there is a great feeling of accomplishment. I usually draft for costumes and my favorite books are those by Mary Brooks Picken that she wrote for the Women's Domestic Institute home sewing courses in the early 1900's. These patterns still work for modern figures. It is good also that our fabrics are wider than in the past, because the pattern pieces drafted for our modern figures (especially the long skirts) are wider. I'm just sayin'.
Posted: 8:08 pm on February 5th

Ninnypoo Ninnypoo writes: The coolest thing I've seen in a while. I loved high school geometry.
Posted: 7:27 pm on February 5th

SewDian SewDian writes: Makes me anxious to try my hand at drafting a pattern. Exciting!! Expermentation!! Can't wait to try this! Thank you so much!
Posted: 6:43 pm on February 5th

forbusiness forbusiness writes: I have drafted a skirt pattern from the Craftsy class. It was very interesting and rewarding. The biggest challenge is fitting the darts in the back without a helper. I realize I still have a lot to learn.

I also looked into purchasing computerized pattern maker that takes more detailed measurements and will accommodate uneven sides of your figure. I was looking for one that is inclusive with an avitar so that you can actuallize see what it would look like on your figure before you cut and sew.

Thanks for the video I think it would be very interesting and helpful in my quest to fitting.
Posted: 6:28 pm on February 5th

DARMaryAnne DARMaryAnne writes: While living in Kansas City in the mid 1960s I took a pattern drafting class at the Jewish Community Center. It was taught by a German man who made custom men's suits at a leading men's department store. His method was much easier. The hardest thing now is getting accurate measurements with no one to help. So I haven't drafted patterns in several years but pattern drafting gave the the confidence to start slashing commercial patterns apart to make what I wanted (i.e. change a slacks pattern into coulottes, move the darts, change the neckline. I have never regretted learning this skill! He sold us butcher paper by the yard (a nickel). Now I buy banner paper that comes on a roll in an easy-to-carry box.
Posted: 5:48 pm on February 5th

erobi erobi writes: I could watch this over and over. Deeply pleasing.
Posted: 5:34 pm on February 5th

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