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Pattern Cutting


Pattern cutting is a skill that requires many years of practise to achieve even a basic level of competence. Once you have  the basic skills, then it becomes easier to pick up new related skills.

While some people may have an innate talent, pattern cutting is not an artistic skill like designing, where talent  can transcend experience to a large extent.

Pattern cutting requires an eye for detail as well as patience to make sure that all the pieces fit together correctly. I have been cutting patterns for over forty years  and have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge in all types of pattern cutting.

I can provide patterns for any type of pattern from swimwear and lingerie through to complicated tailored jackets and dresses.

PHONE – 07905-965-305 ( BILL )


Types Of Pattern Cutters

There are two basic types of Pattern Cutters – Those that are more artistic  with flare and have little patience for precision, and those that are very precise and almost architectural in their creation of a pattern. The latter  veer towards the tailoring end of pattern cutting. The former tend to be involved in more flamboyant, drapy styles. The flare Pattern Cutter is more likely to work in ladies wear while the architectural Pattern Cutter is more likely to work in menswear or tailoring.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”   ALBERT EINSTEIN

Flat Pattern Cutting

There are also two distinct ways of creating a pattern, as well as variations in between. Some Pattern Cutters will draft their patterns on the flat, while others will model them on the stand. The architectural Pattern Cutter is more likely to draft a pattern, while the flare Pattern Cutter will tend to model on the stand.

I tend to combine the two methods, although I think that modelling on the stand is essential in learning to understand how pattern cutting works and how the shape of the body influences the fit and hang of the garment.

Tailors nearly always use drafts to Create  a pattern, but while an experienced Tailor will know how to ignore the rules of drafting, an inexperienced Tailor will often not understand how a pattern work in relation to the body. He will often be too concerned about the drafting method itself which can be very  un intuitive.

Modelling On The Stand

In my opinion all Pattern Cutters should learn how to model on the stand rather than from a draft or an existing shape that is created on the flat, even if their initial patterns are poor as a result. Obviously in a work situation you don’t have the luxury of experimentation in this way, so a combination of methods would probably work best.

When you work on the flat you are only guessing that what you are doing is correct. You are working on theory rather than reality. You may of course be very good at that, but it will never take over from the reality of seeing something on a mannequin or a body.


Sleeves are often  a source of confusion for beginner Pattern Cutters. Although I tend to draft sleeves first, then model them on the stand to achieve a good fit , some people do model them entirely on the stand.

If I am teaching someone to draft a sleeve pattern I will show a very simplified version, using the specific armhole that it is meant to fit into. I wont for instance move the front and back seams to achieve a more aesthetic appearance as this can be done later. I feel that it is a better way to understand the process than to draft a sleeve where “E to F equals one fifth of A to B minus one third of C to D plus . 7 cms.”, or whatever the current formula is.

Normally if I am drafting a tailored sleeve I will place the paper pattern of the body on the stand and I will measure the height of the armhole. On the pattern This tends to measure as the average armhole height less 4 cms. I would then measure the armhole circumference and add whatever ease I think is needed, so I can then determine the bicep width. From there I can draft the rest of the sleeve.

This type of sleeve will hang vertically (with a forward pitch) and so will require a fair amount of ease to go over the bicep in order to attach to the shoulder. The amount of ease will also effect the sleeve head height.


Sleeve cap ease adds even more confusion for the trainee Pattern Cutter. In the tailored sleeve, because it hangs vertically it has to go over the bicep to meet the shoulder, so it needs quite a lot of ease to add extra length. Sometimes a compromise has too be met as the fabric may not allow for a lot of ease, or the manufacturers may not be able to sew the ideal amount of ease without difficulty.

Bespoke Tailors can normally put more ease into a sleeve than a normal manufacturer, because they can afford to take more time to achieve a perfect fit. They will prepare the sleeve head by pulling in the ease and shrinking the fabric before attaching to the armhole. When we grade patterns we generally  ignore the bicep and just grade for the chest measurement. In fact this sleeve head ease should also be graded, so it means that the bicep is under graded on each size.

Some Pattern Cutters think that all sleeves require ease, but this is not the case. The reason they tend to think this is that they generally create their patterns on the flat without draping on the stand. If you are draping on the stand you will be able to see that when the arm is raised above a certain point that there is no need for ease because there is a straight line between the wrist and the shoulder, so the sleeve does not need the extra length to go over the bicep to the shoulder.

I cant stress enough how important good professional patterns are. Some factories do supply patterns, but normally these are not made by experienced professional pattern cutters. And almost certainly they wont be experienced in the area of pattern cutting that you require.

We always use very experienced pattern cutters, highly skilled in their specific fields. Again, this is very important. It can cost you a lot of money if the patterns are not right, as you may end up paying for multiple samples. And if the shape is poor you will sell fewer garments and get many more returns.

In writing up this website, I have read a few popular books on fashion start-ups. One piece of dreadful advice was to “invest” in a pattern cutting course so that you can make your own tailoring patterns. It takes at least ten years of pattern cutting, day in and day out to become skilled in cutting a tailored jacket. So dont expect to become an expert overnight.

We do offer pattern cutting workshops, but these have to be at least four hours long. As a start-up workshop I would suggest that they are used to create your specific design rather than as a general pattern cutting class. If you use the workshop to create a pattern for your own design, you are able to have more input into shaping that design. The pattern cutter can create the patterns alongside you…

PHONE – 07905-965-305 ( BILL )



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