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A Fast Look at Pattern Drafting | Video

Watch as sewing expert Judith Neukam drafts the front and back of a pattern at lightning speed.

Evamarie Gomez

In Pattern-Drafting Primer from Threads #165, 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?


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  1. erobi | | #1

    I could watch this over and over. Deeply pleasing.

  2. DARMaryAnne | | #2

    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.

  3. forbusiness | | #3

    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.

  4. SewDian | | #4

    Makes me anxious to try my hand at drafting a pattern. Exciting!! Expermentation!! Can't wait to try this! Thank you so much!

  5. ninnypoo | | #5

    The coolest thing I've seen in a while. I loved high school geometry.

  6. MsTeddo | | #6

    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'.

  7. sandysewin | | #7

    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!

  8. bgibbs | | #8

    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?


  9. silaee | | #9

    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!!!

  10. User avater
    LuvThreadsMagazine | | #10

    If I make the leap, rest assured, the world will have it's first Judith Neukam drag queen.

    1. user-7132546 | | #41


  11. RStaff49 | | #11

    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.

  12. user-2228870 | | #12

    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.

  13. nasturnium | | #13
  14. nasturnium | | #14

    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....

  15. yangsee | | #15

    Watched a few mins of the video and could make no sense of it..high speed with no explanation..!

  16. gwtw1936 | | #16

    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.

  17. Bmontague | | #17

    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.

  18. sshort | | #18

    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.

  19. User avater
    canei | | #19

    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.

  20. 416 | | #20

    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.

  21. user-1109247 | | #21

    I have a book by Armstrong 'Pattern drafting' 2nd edition. Does Judy Neukam have a book published or what books does she recommend?

  22. lvislief | | #22

    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.

  23. user-360943 | | #23

    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.

  24. User avater
    stitchhappy | | #24

    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!

  25. sailcocktail | | #25

    Can't wait to give this a try...hoping my husband will be patient enough to help with the measurements.

  26. User avater
    Kacyj1 | | #26

    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!


  27. JeanneDes | | #27

    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!

  28. User avater
    Courtney_Campbell | | #28

    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!

  29. psfws1963 | | #29

    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

  30. ZenLove | | #30

    Thank you for the article. Will there be an article on drafting a sleeve to fit tuis bodice?

  31. User avater
    Kacyj1 | | #31

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

  32. User avater
    ctdamsel | | #32

    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!

  33. Feis_Mom | | #33

    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.

  34. Feis_Mom | | #34

    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.

  35. user-1148993 | | #35

    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.

  36. User avater
    cricket88 | | #36

    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 :)


  37. User avater
    tcosy | | #37

    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.

  38. user-2359590 | | #38

    I got a very well fitting garment. Thank you! Working at this for weeks with other methods. But, I am lost now. I did not need to alter for a full bust. The only dart I have are the waist darts, front and back. Most slopers have waist, side and shoulder darts. If I add a side dart, do I do away with the waist dart? Thank you.

    1. User avater
      smcfarland | | #39

      Hello! If you have a good fit with waist darts alone, side or bust darts are not required. If you do wish to add a side dart, you can rotate the waist dart value to create it, or rotate a portion of the waist dart value and keep both darts.
      Darts can be split or combined to fit your shape, and positioned in ways that you find flattering or stylish. Someone with a very curvy shape might prefer multiple darts, while someone who requires less garment shaping could be happy with fewer darts.
      We have a number of excellent videos about moving and positioning darts, you can find them by searching for “darts.”

  39. user-7132546 | | #40

    I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to see this video and have the accompanying article. I am on a mission to learn to draft my own sloper/block, both blouse and skirt. I have a copy of the Threads magazine this article first appeared in on my sewing table. I also just reread Judith Neukam’s article “Sloper Solutions” in Threads Magazine #194 and paid a lot of money for a copy of the book Patternmaking Made Easy by Connie Amaden-Crawford, one of the books recommended in that article. I am new-ish to garment sewing and have trouble fitting patterns so am hopeful that drafting my own sloper will eliminate many of the fitting issues!

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