Patternmaking 101

On Maker’s Row, we breakdown the manufacturing process into six different stages with the second being patternmaking. A well-made pattern is crucial for making a great product, and there are many experienced patternmakers to help. Patterns are the backbone to the manufacturing process and have a lot of control over the quality of a product, so finding an experienced patternmaker is fundamental. Below we answered 4 of the most commonly asked questions in regards to patternmaking:

1.) Why do I need a pattern made before starting the manufacturing process?
In some cases, you will get a pattern made, then a sample will be created from the pattern, and the sample will lead you into the manufacturing process. In other cases, the sample is made first, and then the pattern is created from the sample. Samples are what manufacturers look to when mass producing your product, so it is key to have a good sample. However, getting a high quality sample can be difficult, and many designers are under the assumption that a bad quality sample is from bad sewing, but typically, that is not the case. Many issues with the quality of products are from poorly made patterns. “A master patternmaker will be able to balance the pattern, and know how to engineer each style, and evaluate the sample in terms of what issues are pattern related, or inferior sewing,” says Marianne from Quickturn Clothing. In summary, a better pattern = a better product.

2.) What do I need to have prepared before making a pattern?
You need to be able to give the patternmaker as much information as possible about your product to ensure good results. As we mentioned in a prior post, tech packs are one of the most important steps in product development, and it is important your tech pack includes spec information, fabrications and construction methods to support the creation of a pattern.

3.) How are patterns made?
To get a pattern made, you will submit a tech pack, or at least a detailed sketch of the product. Once the patternmaker has enough information, they will create a muslin of the product. The muslin is then evaluated on a mannequin by both the patternmaker and the designer. After the designer sees that the pattern reflects the vision of the design, the pattern will be made from the muslin.

4.) What are the biggest mistakes designers make when getting patterns made?
Most designers do not supply enough detail to the patternmaker. A good patternmaker will make sure that the designer has supplied the necessary information, but as a designer you should spend enough time doing research for your product. “I always say that product development is a team effort. The results are as good as the information that the designer provides, and the ability of the patternmaker that is executing the pattern. Most mistakes begin from lack of initial information for the style (e.g. spec information and incomplete fabric resourcing). Designers can avoid this by spending enough time doing research on fit, spec, and fabrication for their collection prior to beginning the patternmaking process,” says Marianne.

Patternmaking is stage two in our six-stage making process. To learn more about the six different stages, click here.

For patternmakers on Maker’s Row, click here.

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  • Katy Schildmeyer

    Great article. I also want to stress that a person paying the designer to simply draft a idea, is not going to have a magic answer to problems a pattern drafter needs. For example, the idea gets drawn up, but there needs to be a shape map (measurements from a form, or fit model that meets target market). Get the fit model measurements, there should be over 20 points of measure to have good specs, or provide to pattern drafter. A designer (drafter) can’t provide specs without the fit model. I have run into several companies that simply don’t get every measurement, then wonder why the product is not developing right. They will ask for specs from the person drafting the idea, and not the person who is paying to develop the idea. That is bad!!!
    If you don’t have measurements for your idea, then do the research to get the RIGHT measurement.

  • sfera

    Outstanding article. Making a pattern would be to transfer body measurements, ease, darts, etc to paper. A lining should be compatible with the fabric selected for the garment. Gerber Accumark pattern design software is user-friendly. to discuss this :