Lacking formal training, I have never learned how to draft patterns, but have instead always clung to the safety of store-bought patterns. I don’t think this is a bad route to take – by using patterns I’ve learned garment construction, picking appropriate fabric, different types of stitches, how to use a pattern, etc. And having directions to follow has allowed me to hone the basic skills without having to worry about the big picture of designing a garment from scratch.
But now I’m at the point where I’m ready to make my own patterns. I want complete say over how something looks, my own ideas and style in every aspect of it. That of course, is a lot to learn. And a lot of chances for crash-and-burns. But baby steps first.
I found this fun red and white lace striped knit at Hancock’s on sale, and knew I wanted to make a self-drafted dolman sleeve shirt. (There are tons of tutuorials out there, just google it. I used this one, but without the arm and waist bands).
Stripes play well on dolmans, and what could be easier? It’s only a front and back, no separate sleeve pieces to match up, and loose-fitting so no fussing with curves. Also, I used a knit, so the fabric was very forgiving with sizing.
Then I made a pattern. Of course this is not real pattern drafting – it’s basing a new piece off the shape of a ready-to-wear garment I already own. But remember: baby steps.
This got me started – I still had to draw the shoulder slope, sleeves, and underarm curve. It took a couple tries to get a good pattern, but now I have a new shirt, along with a reusable pattern piece. I finished the neck like the tutorial shows, but for the sleeves and bottom hem I just turned up the edge an inch and stitched.
This was a good place to start, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. You can’t tell, but I even matched up my stripes on the sides – this shirt is legit, peeps. I’ve never had a dolman shirt before, but they’re super comfy. I will definitely be making more. I like it so much I’ve already worn it a couple times this week.
To progress to creating more difficult pieces, I will have to learn the technical way to draft a pattern from scratch. But I’m just happy to have a piece from scratch – whether it’s properly drafted or not. Starting something is the important thing for me, proper technique will come with time and practice.
Learning pattern drafting is going to be a long task and take a lot of time, so you may not see much of it any time soon. But – eventually – I’ll get there.