How to Make a Pattern

I haven’t had much luck finding basic patterns for my children.  There seems to be a large selection of “boutique” style patterns.  But for simple things like t-shirts, jumpers or plain cardigans, I haven’t found much. So, it’s another DIY moment: How to make a pattern from a ready to wear garment.  This example is a cardigan.

cardigan sweater size 2T


  • A garment that fits
  • Paper scissors
  • Craft paper
  • Water soluble marker
  • Ruler
  • French curve
  • Fabric weights

How to:

Roll out a piece of craft paper large enough to accommodate the first piece you will trace. You’ll flip the piece, so make sure the craft paper is wide enough for front and back.

Flatten the sleeve on top of the craft paper.  And trace around the sides and hem with the water soluble pen.  Use a ruler to keep the lines straight.  Mark the end points of the armscye (curve where the sleeve meets the shoulder).

tracing sleeve

Flip your sleeve to make the other side. Repeat tracing.

Cut out your partially finished sleeve shape with paper scissors, leaving room for your incomplete armscye.

Fold the sleeve pattern piece in half lengthwise.  Lay the sleeve on top and line up the french curve with armscye and the marks on your sleeve pattern piece.

french curve at armscye

Slide the sleeve out from under the french curve.  And draw your line.

sleeve pattern piece folded lengthwise

Draw a seam allowance around your sleeve.  One quarter inch shown here. And add a label.

Cut out the armscye curve along the line you drew, with the piece folded in half so that the curve is a mirror image on each half.

sleeve pattern piece with label and seam allowance

For the front cardigan pieces, trace again, marking the end points where the bodice will meet the sleeve.

front bodice without armscye

This time, place your sleeve piece, folded lengthwise on top the pattern piece, as if it were a completed cardigan. Draw around the curve so that your pieces will match perfectly.

adding the armscye curve to front bodice

Label the bodice piece.  And draw your seam allowance. You can place your completed piece on top of the original to check for accuracy.  The pattern piece should be slightly larger.

completed pattern piece bodice front

The back of the bodice has the least accessible seam lines.  So you will need to fold it in half carefully lengthwise.

Trace as before.

tracing the back bodice

Label the center back of your pattern piece to Cut One on Fold.  Add seam allowances.

back bodice pattern piece

And you’re done!


  • Use a french curve and ruler.  Hold the pen against them, so that you don’t mark your original garment.
  • Use a water soluble pen, in case you do mark on your garment.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your pattern the first few times you use it.  Anything that has been worn can stretch.
  • Use fabric weights, not pins.  Pins tear craft paper.

One thought on “How to Make a Pattern

  1. Pingback: Cardigan Refashion | christine at home

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