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beginning drafting

artistic1 | Posted in Patterns on


I have been trying for 2 years to sign up at my local college for fashion design course but cant seem to find the time or money. can anyone suggest an online course for basic drafting and understanding slopers and how to find and work with the dressmaking tools?

Thanks so much for your input!


  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    A good search should bring up a list of the texts that are available, and you should be able to work your way through them. There are private teachers out there as well. The difference is that it will not be a certificate program.
    I do not know your skill levels, but before you attempt fashion design and pattern drafting, you do need more than basic sewing skills. This is not to discourage anyone, but it is a fact that you need those skills to understand what you will be doing. It is much harder if you do not have those skills.
    Your statement about understanding, finding and working with dressmaking tools leads me to suggest that you should start with some sort of learning to sew class, even if you have some skills already. Check out your local fabric shops, or even the local sewing ladies, for classes and lessons. This is the best start. When time and money do allow, then you will have a good head start for the program you want, and a better chance for acceptance. Cathy

    Edited 9/18/2008 11:14 am ET by ThreadKoe

    1. artistic1 | | #2


      I am way beyond learning to sew..I have been sewing since highschool and actually I own an Janome MC11000. i am doing some work for an interior designer making curtians and bedspreads..I guess i should have said a little bit more about my skills. I have also tailor made jackets. i am looking to learn more than just taking a pattern out and fitting it I want to know how to make my own and get inspirational ideas..to put my fabulous machine to work and create garments that are my own! i guess I just want to spand my horizons. I get so inspired by reading articles on art quliting and embroidery and embellishing and dying fabrics i want to learn how to make a sloper and turn it into a garment that is fabulous and fits fabulous! 

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #3

        My apologies for making it sound as if you did not have any experience. Since you obviously have a lot of skills, a pattern drafting course would be a lot easier to follow. Some people do not understand that sewing skills are needed first. Since I was unaware of your skills, I had to be careful. I am truly and sincerely sorry if I offended you.
        Pattern Drafting is not going to be a big problem for you then, and you will be more than capable of learning it yourself if you are willing. There are a number of good texts available for resources, and Threads has done several articles on fitting a basic muslin, which you need to start.
        My college text in '84 was Pattern Making by the Flat-Pattern Method 5th Edition by Norma R Hollen. I have not looked for a newer edition, but have relied heavily on this over the years.
        It uses the slash and spread method of pattern alteration for design work.
        It takes you from creating a muslin to creating a sloper to using the sloper to create a pattern. There are 1/4 size sloper pattern pieces included to practice with.
        There are also other texts out there, so it would be a matter of finding the one that speaks to you. There are other teachers out there who teach privately as well, so if it is the skills you want, and not just the college certificate, it may be worthwhile looking into that as well.
        The college program I had was mostly self study anyways, the classroom work was mostly on the muslin fitting, sloper drafting, and working on our full size projects in class. The actual design study was all homework, working directly from the book. I hope you find this encouraging. Cathy

        1. artistic1 | | #4

          You really didnt offend me I just didnt clarify myself..anyways funny you should mantion that book I bought it on ebay last year it was blue probably a more updated edition..I was perhaps looking for something more visual maybe a dvd..I am more a visual learner..I looked at the at the illustrations and get confused if I had a dvd to go along with it also where can i buy the dressmaking tools and pattern paper do you have a source ? ( I am just looking I have the 6th edition 1992) I have looked at Joannes and they dont sell the curves notcher etc. i have all the other stuff. Would you suggest getting a bolt a muslim and winging it?? And there are so many types of muslims is one better than the other?? I love threads mag and my sons just subsctibed for me for my b-day! you are very helpful thanks

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #5

            The paper I use is drafting paper I purchase in rolls at Staples. It is heavier and stiffer than tissue, and pencil erases easily. It is also what I learned on. Muslin is any cheap cotton cloth, I learned with the most horrific ugly green broadcloth you could ever imagine! As long as it has enough body. It should be easy to see your sewing lines with and easy to mark with a permanent marker. All you need beyond that mostly is a dressmakers curve of some sort. There are several current posts dealing with notchers, dressmaker curves (sewfit curve), and pattern tissue that you should find helpful.
            In order to learn from the book right away, I guess the best suggestion I can make is to have the fourth scale pattern pieces and french curve copied onto poster board, rather than cut out of your book. Then You can cut them out and use them without ruining the book or losing the pieces. You could even copy and cut them from template plastic to make them last longer when tracing. Take your time and work slowly through the book. And if you have questions, you can always post them here, as there is always someone willing to help. Like me. Cathy

          2. artistic1 | | #6

            Thank you so much for all the good info! Debbie

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #7

            You are most welcome. Even if you only ever play with the 1/4 slopers, it gives you a better understanding of how patterns work. Have fun with it. Plus, you will find the mini slopers are pretty close to the fashion doll size......With full bust and hip and waist adjustments. Cathy

  2. fiberfan | | #8

    I took this online class 2 years ago.  It is a good basic patternmaking class.  My favorite reference book is Harriet Pepin's Modern Pattern Design printed in 1942.  While the styles are 1940s the info is not only good, I don't have to go find any of the hard copy books I own <g>>.  I use cheap non-woven, non-fusible interfacing for most of my patterns.  I think the essential tools are something to draw lines with, something to measure and a longer ruler.  While I do use curves, there are plenty of times that I need a different curve so I freehand many curves.

    Joanne - so many ideas, so much fiber, so little time

  3. jjgg | | #9

    If at all possible, I really advise taking the class at the college. There is nothing like having a real human being in front of you to explain some of the finer details that can get lost in a text book. Helen Joseph Armstrong's book is probably the 'bible' of pattern drafting but there are many other good books. I second someones comment about the Harriet Pepin book. It's free on line, I have a hard copy of it that I found on eBay, but I use those directions when I teach a sloper class and fitting class.Taking a pattern drafting class can really be an eye opener. It will free you from the commercial patterns - I still use them but I never hesitate to cut and slash or re-draw a line to get a better fit.Get some of the old books for now, read them, try to understand, try out some of the ideas in the books, but when you are able to take the class jump at it, you will never regret it.

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