How To Make A Dress Pattern

Learn how to make a dress pattern to create a custom garment. It can be difficult to find a dress in the exact color and style that a woman wants. Learning this life skill can earn you some serious brownie points, or be the start of a great career. People who work in the theater often have to come up with a particular look; sometimes the fit is right, but not the length, or the color is perfect, but the shape is wrong. Having the ability to create a dress from scratch can save you a lot of hassle.

To make a dress pattern, you will need;

  • A dress
  • Craft paper
  • Cork board
  • Tracing wheel
  • Clear plastic ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  1. Choose a dress. Pick one that has the basic shape and style that you are looking for. It could be a simple sheath dress, an A-line dress or a little black dress from a friends closet.
  2. Pick out the fabric. Look for fabric with a similar weight and texture as the outfit you have chosen. If the little black dress is made in a polyester rayon, look for the same fabric in a bright color or print when re-making the dress.
  3. Lay out dress on the cork board with a large piece of craft paper over top. Use push pins to pin the dress down from seam to seam. Make sure it is completely flat.
  4. Alternately, you can take the dress completely apart. Use a seam ripper to carefully remove the stitching. This works best on a damaged dress or one that  will never be worn again because of the condition of the fabric. Vintage dresses sometimes fall into this category, having the perfect shape and fit, but have stains or otherwise damaged fabric. 
  5. Use the tracing wheel to go over all the seams of the dress. Be sure to trace each section. 
  6. Remove the dress. Trace over the holes created by the tracing wheel. These lines should match the shape of the dress and be fairly even.
  7. Add a seam allowance to each line. Use the clear plastic ruler to add a 1/2 inch to each line. The hem of the dress can have a little more seam allowance if desired.
  8. Cut out the pattern. Write directly on the pieces what they are; a sleeve, collar, skirt, etc.
  9. Use the pattern to create your dress. Once finished with the pattern, save in a envelope that you have labeled with a photo of the finished garment for future reference. It is also handy to write down the size of the dress, the type of fabric and all the supplies you have used.
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