Basic pattern development - Tools & Terminology of Pattern Making

Tools & Terminology of Pattern Making

Other Pattern Aids

All pins: fine, long, rust proof pins. They are used for attaching muslin pieces together for draping and test fit muslin.

Magnetic pin holder / pin cushion: Used to hold pins.

Muslin: A plain weave fabric made from bleached or unbleached yarns which vary in weight and in texture. It is used to experiment and develop design concepts.

12" / 24" scale: Long ruler 12" / 24" metal or plastic.

Pencil: Used to mark lines in developing the muslin, pattern or sloper.

L-square: Plastic or metal ruler with two rulers at right angles of different lengths usually 12" and 24". It is used to draw perpendicular and parallel lines and mark reference points.

Dress form: A standardized duplication of a human form, cotton padded and canvas covered, set on a movable, light adjustable stand and compressible shoulders and sloper. It is used to take measurements, develop patterns, fit garment samples, to alter garments, to establish style lines for the garment.

Pattern paper: Strong white paper available in variety of weights and widths.

Newsprint paper: used for rough drafts

Thick brown paper: Strong brown papers for finished pattern. Used for preliminary patterns drafting and development of the final pattern.

Sloper/master/block/basic pattern making: A pattern of a garment, without style lines, or seam allowance developed from specific measurements of a given size, dress forms. Used as tool from which other patterns may be developed, to facilitate the development of original styles and to develop various bodices, skirt, dress, pants, sleeve designs.

Magnet: Used to pick up pins and needles.

Pin cushion: A small firmly stuffed pillow made in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is used to hold pins, needles for easy accessibility and storage.


Block/sloper: Sloper is a term given to a very basic set of pattern piece used to make patterns of any style. This is a term for a paper cutting of basic bodice, skirt, sleeve or any such basic pattern from which all the other designs are developed. Block normally represents the dimensions of a specific form or figure. It has darts to fit to the contours of the body but no other design features.  It is a foundation that is used to make the pattern for a design and has no seam allowances.

It is important that the correct block is chosen for the design; this not only saves time during adaptation but can affect the final shape.  The basic blocks can be drafted to fit individual figures by using personal measurements instead of the standard measurements listed in the size chart.

The block should carry the following information:-

Name of the block e.g. skirts front, bodice back etc.

Grain line is a line drawn from end to end on each pattern piece to indicate how the
Pattern should align with the lengthwise grain of the fabric. Size e.g. 32, 34, 36 or S, M, L
One Dart Bodice
SIZE #34
Basic Bodice
Size #34
Basic Bodice
Size #34

Size #34
Back              Front
 Basic Skirt
Size #34
 Basic Skirt
Size #34
Pattern: Pattern is developed from the block that includes all the information needed for cutting and production of the garment including seam allowance.

Basic Sleeve    AB04    AB03
Size #34
Cut-2        Skirt Back
Size #34    Skirt Front
Size #34
        Cut-2    Cut-2
Back    Front       

Things to be included on a pattern are:- Grain line
Centre Front or Centre Back

Style number or code number of the pattern set may be evolved e.g. AB 01 here AB identify type of the garment and 01 identify the piece number of complete set.  If there are 5 pattern pieces in a garment, the pieces will be numbered as AB 01, AB 02, AB 03, AB 04 and AB 05.

Pattern piece e.g. skirt front, skirt back, side front etc. Size as 32, 34, 36, or S, M, L etc.
Cutting information - It should be clearly mentioned as to how many pieces are to be cut e.g. Cut 1, Cut 2, Cut on fold.

Notches - Marks that are needed to help assemble garment sections correctly.

Directional Fabrics - For fabrics which have designs in one direction such as floral print, stripes, plaid, velvet, fur etc. A symbol "cut one way" or (?) is indicated on the pattern.

Date - Indicated as a reference point. Seam Allowances.
Seam Allowances: The amount of seam allowance required for each seam line may vary depending on the location and end purpose. Generally the seam allowances as followed in the industry are -

¼" - for sharp curves

½" - for smoother curves like neckline, armhole, waistline, style line, etc.

1" -  for straight seam line like side seam, centre line, shoulder, plackets, etc.

2" -  for straight edge hem line in dresses, skirts, etc.
Basic Back
Size #34
Basic  Front
Size #34
Basic Sleeve
Size #34
Back          Front
Skirt Back
Size #34
Skirt Front
Size #34
Muslin: Muslin is used for making test fits. This is basically an unbleached plain woven cotton fabric. It is available in light, medium and heavy weight. Medium quality is used for test fitting and draping.
Grain Line: Grain line is a line drawn from end to end on each pattern piece to indicate how the pattern should align with the lengthwise grain of the fabric. The pattern pieces will always be placed parallel to the selvedge on the fabric in the direction in which the grain line is drawn on the pattern.
Balance Refers to hang and proportion of the garment. Fashion does determine balance to a certain extent, for example is it appropriate to wear long tops over short skirts. Where the flat pattern cutting is concerned it is often difficult to judge correct balance until the garment is test-fitted in fabric.
Balance Marks: Marks made on edges of complimentary pattern pieces that indicate corresponding seam line and area. They are a useful construction guide on all seams. However, balance marks are vital in a pattern if two pieces have different edge or shape that are required to be joined or where one seam line is longer or fuller than another. While doing pattern cutting make short pencil marks at the edge of the paper, copying them through all stages till the final pattern. On readymade paper patterns balance marks are indicated by triangles and are referred to as notches
Dart: Wedge shape or triangular shape marked on the pattern that controls the fit of the garment.
Dart legs      -   The two sides of the triangular shape & should be of the same length. Dart point     -   The point at which the dart ends.
Dart intake   -   The amount of suppression taken between the dart legs. Apex            -   The highest point on the bust.
Darts radiate from the highest point of a mount/ rise on a body, these mounts are generally rounded. If the darts on front bodice are stitched till the apex they would create a point on the apex and strain the garment. The body is rounded and not pointed hence to avoid these strains or pulls on the garment the darts need to be finished away from apex.

Dart point
Dart legs
Dart intake
Single Dart Pattern: A single dart is used for entire suppression/control required. Dart ends
½" away from the bust point.

Two Dart Pattern: a pattern with two darts either in a skirt or bodice. Waist dart is ¾" to 1" away from the bust point.
Other dart is ¾" to 1 ½" away from the bust point.
1½”   to   3/4”

3/4” to  1”
Symbols and abbreviations

Centre Front   

-       CF
    Centre Back

Grain line    -       CB

    Notches    -       ò Ï< Ö
    Buttons    -
    Button hole    -
    Front    -       F
    Back    -       B
    Waist line    -       Wl
    Arm hole    -       Ah
    Side Seam    -       SS
    Neck line    -       NI
    Shoulder    -       Sh
    Grain line on fold

Pleat (arrows indicates direction of fold)    -

Two way grainline

One way grainline