How to Use Quarter Scale Patterns to Learn Pattern Drafting Techniques

What are quarter scale patterns and how do you use them?

As the name implies, it's a pattern that is 1/4th the size of a full-sized pattern.

Why on Earth would you use a pattern that small?

Print a copy of a quarter-scale version of the basic dress block (or pant block), glue it to cardboard, and cut it out to use over and over again.

quarter-scale dress block
quarter-scale pant block

Small-sized patterns allow you to experiment without the use of cumbersome, full-sized patterns.  (The images, above, are much smaller than a true quarter scale - get a printable set of the dress patterns or pant patterns (by clicking the blue links), glue them to cardstock, and use them over and over again!)

Pattern Drafting Exercises

You'll use these diminutive patterns to learn and practice pattern drafting techniques.

When you learn the slash-and-spread technique, for example, you'll do a lot of tracing, cutting, and tracing again to get the shape you want.

Why do that with a cumbersome, full-size pattern? You'll waste a lot of paper, and it's really just a pain in the neck. 

With a small-sized pattern, you can practice the technique over and over until you feel comfortable - and each attempt will only use a single sheet of paper.

Using Tiny Patterns for Design

When you are designing a new style, how do you know your ideas will work?

How do you achieve the look you're going for?   You experiment!

Ultimately, you'll use your full-sized basic block to draft your final pattern, using the techniques you come up with as you experiment with manipulating darts, slashing your pattern, adding or subtracting length and fullness, and so on. Do NOT scale the small patterns to full size - IT WON'T WORK!

But why not use a full-size pattern while you're working out the design? Your full-size block is cumbersome, and you'll waste a lot of paper during the process.  Using small-sized copies of a basic pattern makes the process so much easier. 

And it's fun!  It's kind of like playing with paper dolls.

What's the Next Step?

Print out a copy of our quarter scale version of the basic dress or basic pant (this will most likely not match your measurements, but you'll be using it to practice basic techniques and get the feel for design - your final patterns will be made using your personal block).

I suggest gluing the pages to a lightweight card stock before cutting them out; they will last longer and you can use them over and over again.  Conversely, you can just re-print every time you need to use them and trace or cut them as needed.

Then go through some of the basic pattern drafting techniques and play!  You'll learn how to create full skirts and sleeves, elegant princess seams, and yokes - and you'll start getting ideas about how to use these elements in your fashion designs.

As you get more comfortable with the concept of changing and manipulating your basic block, design ideas will start to flow.  And using small-sized patterns to learn, experiment, and play is the first step.

Time to get started!

Other Examples for Using Basic Pattern Techniques

Return to Clothing Patterns 101 Home Page