Demystifying Pattern-Making

On Maker’s Row, factories are categorized into 5 segments:  Ideation, Pattern-Making, Materials, Sample Making and Production.  Just as the term ‘factories’ categorizes many different services within development, each category has a broad range of responsibilities.  Today we’d like to look into the processes under the umbrella of pattern-making.


We like to describe the tech pack as the blueprint.  It’s a technical drawing to represent your garment.  Just as a blueprint isn’t full size, neither is a tech pack.  A pattern, on the other hand, is.  A garment pattern is used to literally cut out the fabric- it’s your actual size cookie cutter.  Once a pattern has been made a prototype is constructed.  This is just as crucial as the other steps.  The physical sample of your garment can highlight flaws not easily seen in a 2-dimensional rendering.

Optitex Patternmaking

Inside a well-detailed technical package you will find colorways, a list of materials and trims, flat drawings with stitch details shown, artwork specifications, and an annotated spec with a point of measure guide.  Each of these components help lay the groundwork for creating a more correct pattern, as well as, assist in the sewing process.

Crucial measurements such as body length, sweep, and sleeve length can easily be viewed in the technical package.  These measurements allow the patternmaker to create a pattern even if they do not have a block to follow. The garment sketch can also direct the shape of the neckline and overall silhouette.  Once all the pieces have been drafted seam allowance can more easily be determined based on the desired construction and finishing.

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These same finishing details help the sample maker understand the garment construction.  Additionally the list of trims and materials help them prepare and create an efficient order of operations. By starting to secure these details in the earlier stages of development, everything will go more smoothly.

These steps are not a definitive process and often need to be repeated, especially when developing a new brand or product category.  While we prefer the tech pack–pattern–prototype order, the flip side is that edits may need to be made to the technical package after the pattern and prototype have been completed.


Technical-menswear (1)

Whether you do the pattern and then the tech pack, or drape the garment and sew it before formalizing the measurements, the process isn’t wrong.  It’s dictated by the type of garment as much as personal preference.  The important thing is to understand that under the umbrella of pattern-making, a lot happens.

If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:

– Why You Need a Sample
– 5 Tips for Creating An Apparel Prototype
– What is a “Tech Pack”?
– Organizing Your Product Development Process