These days, more people than ever are turning away from shops that offer deep discounts on clothing not meant to last more than one season; perhaps we are becoming more conscious of the rampant materialism that plagues the world today, or we just want a better value for our money.
Or maybe it’s beginning to dawn on us that, slowly, we’re losing our fine motor skills – the capacity for precise movement of our hands as we execute detailed work.
Not that we’re being alarmist or anything…
We live in great times! More technology than we need in such a connected world; one where all we need to do is tap out a few letters on our phones and, presto! we’re talking with someone on the other side of the world!
Or in the next room, as is more often the case.
Studies show that all that texting and typing is costing us our manual dexterity. Again, no sounding of alarms going on here, but we might want to do something about keeping our fingers nimble; ready for detailed work.
It’s time to face facts: technology is a central part of our lives; indeed a recent report revealed that teenagers suffer from anxiety if they are deprived of their phone.
So, short of fostering an entire generation of anxious, fretting young adults, we need to find other ways to engage their fingers. Maybe something artistic and exacting…
Maybe learning how to make sewing patterns would fit the bill! It’s not as far off the mark as it sounds, you know.
Recently, there has been a renewed interest in sewing one’s own clothes; maybe you too have been bitten by that particular bug. And what teen doesn’t have an interest in expressing him/herself through their fashion choices?
In fact, maybe you’d like to take a pattern-making class alongside your teenagers, or with some friends.
Whoever goes with you, your Superprof has made ready an entire list of places and ways you can learn how to make patterns and even how to sew.
Needles ready? Here we go!
Pattern Making Courses at Your Local University
You might raise an eyebrow that this is our very first crayon out of the box but, really, you shouldn’t be surprised; plenty of universities around the UK offer open courses, short courses and continuing education courses.
A great reason to check your local university to learn how to make a sewing pattern is that, most often, their instructors have extensive experience both in their subject matter and in teaching it.
Another point in favour of taking classes at your local uni is that they will certainly have the resources and materials available for you to get plenty of practice.
Several universities around the UK offer sewing courses in making clothes patterns. Some of the courses we found actually expand beyond making a sewing pattern for clothes; they also teach how to make bag patterns, doll patterns and patterns to make purses.
In short, rather than teach a single skill – how to make clothing patterns, they teach pattern drafting in general.
University of the Arts London offers no fewer than 63 short courses related to pattern-making you may choose from.
You may select their Patternmaking Level I or other Level I courses on their syllabus, or get more adventurous by opting for their Experimental and Explorative Approaches to Patternmaking.
Naturally, if they offer Level I courses, they also offer more advanced courses…
We really found their Draping Womenswear Design course particularly intriguing.
Did you know that draping is a way to make patterns? Not like a wrap dress or a wrap skirt, and not quite like a kimono – which does involve draping oneself in layers of silk… we mean draping muslin on a dress form to make a pattern.
You can read all about it in our article on patternmaking… Now, back to the wonderful courses at UAL.
They make a distinction between pattern cutting for men’s- and womenswear; they also have courses for those who wish to learn more about the latest tools of the garment industry such as digital pattern cutters and how to use the Gerber Accumark pattern cutter.
UAL is not the only college in the country offering such courses. We’ve found similar offerings at Herefordshire University, Glasgow School of Art and many other art colleges around the country.
What could it hurt to ask your local school if they have such courses?
Learn Pattern Making at Your Local Sewing Shop
If you were looking for places to buy dress patterns or ideas for sewing projects, you might turn to your local sewing shop. Once there, would you be surprised to find that they may also offer sewing tutorials?
And, if they offer you a sewing tutorial, might they also offer lessons in pattern-making?
The best part about taking lessons in pattern making at your independently-owned notions store is that they will have all of the tools you need to draw and cut out patterns. Such tools include:
- pens and pencils
- straightedges and French curves (to draw armholes and necklines)
- tracing wheels
- measuring tape
- tailors’ chalk
- straight pins and black twill tape
Besides all of these necessary items, they will most likely have sewing tables to work on and, surely you could find an attractive bolt of fabric somewhere in that store!
Besides making a slope – a template for patterns, you may learn how to incorporate darts and pleats into your pattern, include a seam allowance and learn how to grade your patterns, meaning how to size them properly.
It would not be fair for us to say that every sewing shop owner is willing to give lessons but then again, maybe s/he has never thought of giving lessons in pattern making.
As soon as you ask, it may become their new idea…
The Best Books for Learning Pattern Making
If you happen to be an autodidact and wish to learn how to make patterns for a summer dress or a tote bag, you may be quite happy to know that there are sewing books to guide you.
Especially if you have been practising home sewing for a while and now wish to bring your own dressmaking ideas to life, you may be interested in these titles.
The Pattern Making Primer covers everything you need to know to get started designing your own patterns, from pattern symbols to drafting bodices and incorporating embellishment – pleats, tucks and even appliques.
How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns takes an unusual turn by teaching you how to modify the Simplicity, Butterick or Kwik Sew pattern you might buy in a store and modifying it to better reflect your personal sense of style.
This would be the book for you if learning how to adjust a dress pattern is your primary goal...
If you have a particular article of clothing that you love but would like to update the look of, you should invest in Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit. Its premise entails revamping existing garments and adding new details.
For instance, you may have a black or grey pencil skirt, to which you could insert triangles of material into the side seams and add a flounce. Voila! You have just turned a staple of business wear into an enticing dance skirt.
Patternmaking for Menswear: all too often, the sewing room is seen as strictly women’s domains but males must wear clothes too! In this tome, you will learn basic skills and more advanced techniques for making patterns to suit the male figure.
All of these books and others are available on Amazon or at your local bookseller’s; be sure to look for the ones that include free sewing patterns!
Learn Pattern Making Online
It is true: you can learn just about anything online, from a second language to patterns sewing.
We’re not just talking YouTube - even though there, too, you can find sewing channels. We mean entire online courses – some free and some for a fee.
Among free courses are How to Copy Garments that you Love, Pattern Grading and How to Draft and Sew your own Workout Wear.
With more than 35 years in the fashion industry, Suzy Furrer is a big name in sewing circles.
She now hosts several online classes in patternmaking such as making a bodice sloper, a pants sloper (‘pants’ is used in the American sense, meaning trousers, not undergarments), a skirt sloper and how to go from a sketch to a usable pattern.
She also hosts classes in pattern grading and plus-size pattern fitting.
Not only can you learn to sew with Suzy, you can learn everything you need to know about pattern-making so that you can express your individual style through the clothes you design and make for yourself.
Don’t Forget Superprof!
Did we save the best for last? Maybe…
After you’ve read all of the books and watched all of the video tutorials, after you’ve been to the shops to buy all of the sewing supplies you need, perhaps you need a bit more hands-on guidance; maybe a sewing tutor to come to your home.
Whether you’re adjusting a Simplicity pattern or designing a tunic dress on your own, it could never hurt to have an experienced set of hands and eyes help you along.
Superprof has pattern-making tutors from around the world online, waiting for you to share your vision with them so that they can help you make it a reality.
The best part of having such an international community of pattern makers to choose from is that you may find yourself inspired to include elements from other cultures into your designs – maybe make a flared skirt for your next night out?
Or they could help you design costume patterns for your next fancy dress event…
your Superprof is always here for you, whether you want to design comfortable loungewear or learn how to design vintage sewing patterns.
Don’t stop now! Discover the steps necessary for making your own dress pattern...