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):

commercial Butterick pattern for a fitting shell dress

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

group of pattern making measuring tools, including grid ruler, hip curve ruler, and armhole curve

Rulers and curves for accurate measuring and creating smooth lines.

pack of multiple yellow pencils

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

nickle plated fabric shears

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.

bolt of folded muslin fabric

Muslin or other lightweight, light colored, fabric  used to cut and sew your fitting pattern and your designs. 

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” :

nickle plated pattern notcher

Marking tools like notchers and awls for marking your pattern pieces.

rolls of craft paper for making patterns

Miscellaneous tools and supplies, like fabric weights, more complex curves, and specialty paper.

3 women's body forms for fitting clothing.

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?

There are lots of drafting tools you can use for making sewing patterns, but only a few (noted above) are absolutely necessary. 

Just get the few you really need, and let's get started making your fitting pattern into a block!

Step-by-Step: Making and Fitting Your Block

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