Pattern-making: Simple Top

Hand Drawing A Pattern 

This is just a quick guide to show you how I made the basic pattern that I use for most tops / dresses that I sew. I prefer to make my own patterns rather than buying / copying them, because I'm sure to get a perfect fit that way! If you're interested in sewing but confused by pattern making then read on, dear friend! I hope you'll find this post useful.

Why is it important to have a pattern? Well, you don't really need one to sew, but without one the sewing process is much longer, with many more little (annoying!) alterations. Though it can take a little while to make a pattern to fit you exactly, it is infinitely rewarding when you get it right - a well made pattern means any garment you make afterwards using that pattern will fit you perfectly every time!

Note: Before you start, make sure you take your measurements. Your measurements are the most crucial element of creating patterns, and are essential to have if you want to make well-fitting clothes!  The best bit is it's really quite easy to work out your measurements. If you're not sure how to do it, there's a great article here.

Here are the basic patterns I use for a top (front and back):

When drawing up patterns by hand, I usually start with the front panel. I find that it's easiest to work only with half of the actual panel (that is, the area inside the green rectangle). If you do that area really well, all you need to do when it's finished is fold it to the other side of the fabric and cut around it. Perfect replica!

Note: The dashed lines on the patterns are where I'd put darts, or cut the fabric away to allow room for the bust. Where these are included and I'm not using stretch fabric, I usually add about 4cm to the half waist measurement. As far as the shoulder seam goes, its length is the distance between where the neckline hole ends and the sleeve hole begins - I usually don't measure this as precisely.

Once you've drawn up your pattern and cut it out (both panels), sew them together with long, running stitches that you can easily pull out. This is called basting - temporary stitching - and it allows you to try on your pattern pieces as if they were a top. If something doesn't fit quite right, fix it up. If it fits well, your new pattern is ready!
Left: A top without darts, which falls flat over the bust.
Right: A top with darts, with more structure and shape around the bust and waist.

Using A Dress Form / Mannequin

Another way to make a pattern which is super easy is to use a dress form or mannequin set to your measurements. Then it's just a matter of creating your pattern with tape, as in the picture below. Once that's done, drape your fabric over the mannequin and cut it along the seams / tape lines. You can then add markings for darts on that fabric piece, allowing for your bust size. I've referred to this method a few times when I'm in a hurry (or just impatient! Haha).

That's that - I hope this post has been helpful to you in some way! My next post will be a DIY on how to make an actual top following this pattern!

Happy sewing! :)


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