How to Draft a Super Basic Sewing Pattern – DIY Fashion Tutorial

First let me say that pattern making is a pretty advanced skill. It’s not really something I recommend you start out with immediately, mostly because you will probably end up really frustrated. It’s hard. You have to take 2 dimensional (i.e. FLAT) pattern pieces and make them fit your curvy, lumpy body.

I recommend starting out with storebought patterns, because you’ll get a chance to see what a pattern looks like, and what the basic pieces are shaped like.

But if my words of warning are not enough to sway you, I suppose I have no choice but to give you my crash course in making a very VERY basic pattern.


Step 1

Grab yourself a t-shirt (preferably a crappy one you won’t mind cutting to pieces) that fits you like a potato sack.

Put it on inside out.

Pin it so it fits. Pay special attention to the curves of your bust, waist, and hips and your armpits. You might want help from a friend at this point, because it can be kind of tricky to hold the fabric in place on yourself AND pin.

Pin so it’s snug, but not tight. The fabric of the t-shirt should not be stretched.

Step 1

Step 2

Now, if you took it off and laid it flat, and drew lines to connect all the pins, you’d have something that looks like the drawing below.

So do it. Make yours look like mine.

Once you’ve got the lines drawn, remove the pins.

Step 2

Step 3

Cut about 1/2″ to 1″ outside the lines for the seam allowances. You should end up with something like this for the front piece.


Step 3

Step 4

If you draw lines from the pits to the shoulders and cut, you have a standard fitted tee pattern. Hoorah!

Step 4


Step 5

Cut here, and you’ve got a perfect tube top pattern!

Step 5

Step 5


Final Notes:

You’ll probably want to take these pieces and transfer them to paper. It stores more easily and is easier to cut around than hunks of t-shirt.

Any kind of paper will do. Some people like tissue paper, but I think it rips too easily. Paper bags will work, but they’re a little thick. I prefer the brown packing paper that comes in a lot of shipping boxes, or blank newsprint. Wrapping paper also works well and looks pretty. My favorite stuff is tyvek. It’s what they make the UPS and post office envelopes out of, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to rip.

That’s it. It’s probably not how the professionals do it, but it should give you somewhere to start if you’re dead set on jumping head-first into pattern making.


My name is Alexis. I have a craft addiction. This is my story. also check out: (my clothes) (my tutorials)

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4 comments on “How to Draft a Super Basic Sewing Pattern – DIY Fashion Tutorial
  1. I love this technique, by the way. It’s a really cool way to get a decent basic pattern.


    I’m not really sure pattern drafting is as hard as all that, really. I mean, sure sure, making a commercial pattern in multiple sizes is a serious skill. Not trying to rag on the people who make a profession out of design. But I have been drafting my own sewing patterns for clothes for years, and I don’t have a lot of problem with it.

    • Lex says:

      Thanks for your comment!
      It wasn’t my intent at all to make pattern drafting sound like an impossible task. It was my intent to encourage new sewers not to bite off more than they can chew. I often get questions about pattern drafting from people, and after a bit of discussion, learned that they had never sewn a stitch before. Or seen what a pattern looks like. My worry for people like that is that they’ll try, fail, and give up. I’d much rather they fiddle with a sewing machine a few times, use a pattern or two so they know how odd half a pant leg looks when it’s laying flat, and then give drafting a go.

  2. Connie says:

    Thanks. This is great. I want to make some camisoles for the winter and this excellent tutorial has just simplified the whole process for me. I can make basic tube tops and add some skinny straps and some pretty lace trim.

  3. Deb Sar says:

    Thank you, I am going to try this- I am just a beginner and would like to make some patterns on my own and this seems to be the easiest I have seen. I bought muslin- does this work as well as paper?

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