Start Making Patterns with the Right Drafting Tools

You’d like to make your own sewing patterns so you can create your own clothing designs – but where do you begin?

You won't need many special drafting tools, but there are a few that are necessary, and a few more that will simply make your projects a bit easier to complete.  The "necessities" won't cost you much, either  - so let's get started!

woman's hands drawing on paper with pattern tools

  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It helps to keep the site free for you to use, so please use the links below if you decide to order these items. I am not an affiliate of, nor am I compensated by, JoAnn Fabrics, but you can get many of these items there as well.

I am not paid to endorse any specific items. Everything listed on this page is a product I actually use (or have used) and feel is useful and/or necessary for drafting patterns.

Patternmaking tools, like rulers, curves, and paper are essential. There are a lot of drafting tools and supplies available for pattern making, but these are absolute necessities (you'll find more information and recommendations by clicking each link):

fitting pattern

A commercial “fitting pattern” that you’ll use to make any alterations or adjustments for a well-fitting basic dress.  

sketch of rulers and a tape measure

Rulers and curves for accurate measuring and creating smooth lines.

sketch of a pencil and a roll of paper

Paper, pencils and tape for making patterns This can be as simple as brown craft paper or freezer paper.

sketch of sewing scissors

Paper scissors and fabric shears - you'll need both. They are NOT the same thing!  

Fashion sketchbooks for illustration

A sketchbook with figure templates will help you sketch professional-looking designs.

sketch of muslin fabric, a steam iron, and fabric weights

Muslin fabric, pattern weights, and a steam iron for sewing your samples and garments.

The items above are the drafting tools I consider essential for pattern making, or the “needs”.  Most are available you’re your local sewing center, but if not, Amazon has the more unusual tools. 

The fitting pattern, hip curve, and grid ruler should add up to a little over $40 on Amazon, and qualify for free shipping, too.

There a many, many other design tools that are nice to have but you can get started without them.  These are the “wants” :

sketch of a notcher and needle wheel used for marking sewing patterns

Marking tools like notchers and needle wheels for marking your pattern pieces.

sketch of women's body form for sewing

A Dress Form or Body form, which I really think is essential but can be a bit pricey when you're just starting out. 

You can also pick up a used dress form at a yard sale and pad it to resemble your shape.  I have instructions to do that on another page

What's the Next Step?

Return to Clothing Patterns 101 Home Page does not sell the personal information of its users to anyone, ever.