Anytime you learn a new skill, you will not only have to learn the terminology but you'll also have to learn about the tools of that trade. What you'll need in terms of pattern Making tools, supplies, and equipment can be as simple or complex as you'd like. Basically, you need paper, a pencil and a few rulers.
Most of the pattern-making tools and supplies listed in this post have been added to our online shop in the pattern-making section. As I come across new tools I'll update this list. My goal is to link up to videos showing how to use each tool in detail as they are created.
To alter patterns or draft your own (we’ll be doing a bit of both) there are some tools that you really do need to have, some that are helpful but not needed, and others that may surprise you.
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Basic Must-Haves Pattern Making Tools and Supplies
- Measuring tape This is a must-have. Accurate measurements are the key to great fitting clothes.
- Drafting Rulers– I like to use clear Dritz rulers. The clear ones are light-weight and allow you to see the lines underneath your paper when altering store-bought patterns. These are optional but very handy.
- Clear Straight Ruler
- Yard Stick
- Paper– I like to use medical pattern paper. I got hooked on it when I was working for a doctor whose PA also sewed. She got me off brown paper bags and onto this stuff. The medical pattern paper is stable and an affordable option to use in your home studio.
- Scissors- You’ll need scissors for your fabric and for a separate pair for paper. Snips are also great but you can get by without them.
- Pencils-I like having several colors so I can differentiate between old and new pattern lines and for the stitching lines when I include them. My favorite is the black Ticonderoga pencils. These pencils erase very clean, sharpen easily and don’t break.
- Eraser– A good eraser is like a good seam ripper, you’ll need it more than you like to admit.
- Pen or Marker – I like creating dark bold lines for my final changes. I always draft with a pencil and then go back and make my final marks in pen/marker.
Optional & Helpful Pattern Making Tools and Supplies
Rulers- These rulers will save you time and make patternmaking easier but you can do without them at first. I'd highly suggest adding them to your wishlist and get them as soon as you can.
- French Curve- Use the Dritz Styling Design Ruler to draft, design and alter patterns in an accurate manner. This design ruler contains a straight ruler, French curve, hip curve as well as cut-out slots. Style and cut your garments with great precision using this handy ruler. Detailed instructions and illustrations help you create your own apparel with the expertise of a skilled designer.
- Hip Curve- The Dritz 24" Hip Curve Ruler can be used to create long, graceful curves when designing garments or marking alterations. Use it wherever you need to draw or blend long lines. It's great for hip and thigh areas as well as lapels and other contours. The clear acrylic ruler features red markings.
- L Square-
- SA Curve Pattern Drafter ruler ⅝ths inch wide- The SA Curve rulers are multifunctional sewing rulers made for pattern drafting, fitting and adding seam allowance to patterns. This multifunction ruler has a French Curve, a hip curve a straight ruler and a seam allowance ruler. Great for adding, adjusting or subtracting seam allowances.
Marking and Notching
- Tracing Wheel- Deluxe tracing wheel gives precision needle tracing. The needlepoint tracing wheel makes slotted perforations. The tracing wheel is used to trace a garment pattern.
- Pattern Notcher- this tool creates ¼" deep square cuts in the edge of patterns. You'll save time with this simple tool while you ensure accurate marking of your pattern key points
- Awl- This is an optional tool but it is one of those tools once you have it you'll wonder how you worked without it.While there are many times where markings on a pattern can be indicated with small notches in the seam allowance. The partner tool for marking patterns, which can be used for the rest of the pattern, is the awl. The awl is used to pierce through the pattern card leaving a small hole.
This means that when you are cutting out the pattern onto the fabric you can then mark the position of this dot onto the cloth without having to move the pattern.
Clear Tape– Tape is useful when altering patterns and to piece your drafting paper when needed. It's also useful when truing up your darts. Would you like to see the specific tools I use and recommend? You can check them out in my online shop in the pattern-making section I try and update the page frequently when I find new tools I can’t work without.
Pattern Making Tools, Supplies, and Equipment