How to Make a Sewing Pattern from Clothing

Last Updated on December 10, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Basic instructions on the process and materials needed to create a pattern from a piece of clothing. Alternative pattern making methods are also explored.

A lot of people have an outfit that’s a favorite because of the way it makes them look. It might fit perfectly or look great on their body type. After finding the perfect outfit, a great idea is to make a pattern from it so it can be recreated. This is an especially good idea when it is hard to find clothing at stores that are the perfect fit.

If you have some sewing skills, you’ll find this to be a very simple way of replicating your favorite clothes and the process can take a few hours to complete.

Many modern homes have high quality sewing machines thus making this even easier. If you don’t have and would like to invest in one, a denim sewing machine would be great especially due to their versatility and the endless styling options they can handle.

Materials Needed to Create a Sewing Pattern

materials needed to create sewing pattern

There are not a lot of materials needed to create a sewing pattern and most people who sew on a regular basis probably already have everything needed. The materials are listed below:

  • A piece of clothing to replicate
  • Scissors
  • A pencil (A tracing wheel and mat would also be acceptable)
  • Seam gauge or ruler
  • Tracing paper (Most any type of paper can be substituted if tracing paper is unavailable.)

Steps to Creating a Sewing Pattern

  1. Start by examining the piece of clothing. This is important because it will give a feel for how the piece of clothing is put together and any other details that will need to be noted when making the pattern, such as darts or buttons.
  2. Make sure the piece of clothing is clean and free of all wrinkles. It is a good idea to iron the piece of clothing before beginning so that it will lay as flat as possible.
  3. Each seam is going to need to be traced onto the tracing paper, so come up with a strategy to make sure no piece is missed. A good idea is to start with the biggest pieces and then finish with the smaller ones.
  4. After deciding which piece is going to be created first, lay the tracing paper on the piece and pin it to the fabric. Make sure there are no bumps in the fabric because it will make the pattern inaccurate.
  5. When everything is pinned to satisfaction, take a pencil and trace along all of the seams. Pay special attention to any area that has multiple pieces connected to it, such as under the arms.
  6. After the piece is traced, remove the pins and lay the paper out on a flat surface.
  7. Trace a seam allowance around the pattern piece using a seam gauge or ruler. The size of the seam allowance can be chosen, but at least a ½ inch is recommended. Also note button holes and darts.
  8. Cut out the pattern piece following the outer edges of the seam allowance line.
  9. Repeat the process of steps four through seven for each section of the piece of clothing that the pattern is being made for.

Alternative Ways to Create a Pattern

There are many different ways to create a pattern from a piece of clothing. The method described above is the most commonly used. There are different advantages and disadvantages to each method of making a pattern. Try all of the different methods before deciding which is the best.

Another way to create a pattern from a piece of clothing, that is very accurate, is to use a seam-ripper and remove all seams from a piece of clothing. Then trace the fabric pieces onto tracing paper. This method will only work if the piece of clothing is not going to be used again or if plans are made to stitch it back together.

A tracing wheel and mat are tools that make pattern making fast and simple. The tracing wheel makes a series of holes in the tracing paper that can later be cut along to form pattern pieces. Some people prefer to just use a pencil because it can be erased if a mistake is created, and seam allowances have to be drawn in anyway.

Another method that can be tried is to lay the piece of clothing on the carpet with the tracing paper on top, and then poke pins all the way through to the carpet to hold everything in place. A pin poke method is then used along the seams of each piece. This is similar to the tracing wheel and mat method, but it requires fewer materials.

Things to Remember When Creating a Pattern

The most important thing to remember is to be accurate when tracing and cutting because every little bit counts in a pattern. If a seam is traced incorrectly, it could alter the entire appearance of the final garment.

Make sure all of the pattern pieces are labeled to avoid confusion. This is especially important for projects that have more than three or four pieces.

Do not give up if the pattern does not turn out the way that was expected. Trace through the steps to find out what went wrong to correct the mistake.

It may seem difficult to create a pattern from scratch, but it really is not very hard and it will become easier with practice. It is worth a try even for someone who is a beginning sewer.