Home  |  Get Started  |  Download  |  Advertise  |  Donate  |  Contact Us
Book Download
Would you like to download the definitive guide to dress making?
DRESSSMAKING HANDBOOK Click Here to download the printable PDF version
Free Chapters
Dress Making Home

01. Fashion Clothes
02. Fashion Design
03. Color
04. Fool The Eye
05. Dress Designing
06. Sewing Techniques
07. Success
08. Dress Fabric
09. Garment

Designer Clothes
Bookmark and Share
Suggest an Article
Haven't found the article you are looking for? Please
suggest your article. We value all your suggestions and comments.

Aside from the originality of the design and its artistic merit, successful costume designing with dress patterns depends on perfect fit.


In transferring the size and shape of the three dimensions of the human figure to the flat planes of the pattern and thence to the draping of the fabric, certain basic measurements have to be taken in every case — and this is notwithstanding the loose or tight fit of the finished creation. In ready made patterns the measurements are the ideal or average pro­portions for each size listed.


For this reason — if you are going to be a successful designer — you will have to learn how to take accurate measurements and how to trans­late them into the finished product — your work of art.

dress making pattern


Have the person being measured wear a plain dress or sheath with high un-trimmed neckline, plain set in sleeves or sleeveless regular armhole, and straight skirt.

Mark the center front at neck and waistline

Mark  the  center back at neck  and waistline

Mark both shoulder seams at armhole and neck

Mark both side seams at armhole and waistline

Mark both side seams at fullest part of hip

Mark  center  front and back at the same level as hip measure.

dress making pattern


To order the proper size in ready made patterns the measurements required are a great deal simpler, however, during the construction of the garment a number of alterations may have to be made. On the market today there are basic patterns which can be adjusted to the in­dividuals special figure problems and which can be used as a basic guide for all pattern alterations required. These are usually made of non-woven material, firm and inelastic, so that they can be pinned or sewn, and fitted and refitted.


dress making pattern

Bust — over the fullest part of the bust and completely around figure keeping tape measure straight across the back. Take this measure while chest is ex­panded.

Waist — snug but not tight — around the natural waistline.

Waist length — from nape of neck to natural waistline.

Hips — around the fullest part of the hips.

Recently not only the ready-to-wear designers, but the pattern makers as well, have recognized the fact that the human shape differs not only in its circumference but also in the lengths of corresponding parts — such as, for example, the waistlength. Patterns are designed today not only in misses' and women's sizes but also in half sizes, petite, and junior sizes. In the last three the waistlength is shorter than average. It helps therefore to keep this measurement in mind when selecting your pattern — particularly that certain styles are designed to espe­cially flatter these figures.


dress making pattern


Standard sizes in patterns differ from the standard sizes for ready to wear — generally, ready to wear is slightly larger for the size marked than the pattern. Also, proportionate sizes differ somewhat between va­rious wholesale houses as the basic pattern is made to fit a living model and the rest of the sizes are graded therefrom.


dress making pattern

dress making pattern


The basic sheath is the simplest style possible to fit the figure ac­curately yet not so snugly as to create wrinkles and bulges. When this sheath is made for pattern purposes it is best to use some firm non-woven material such as Pellon to provide ease for fitting and altering and at the same time to prevent the shapes of various parts from stretching out of proportion. In the past, muslin was the chief material used for this purpose — but today there are many other materials which surpass this.


Slopers, or blocks, are the foundation patterns designed for a specific size. They are usually made of heavy paper — but firm non-woven material can be used as well. For a normal figure only half the pattern is required. For major differences — or even slight ones — in order to have a perfect fit and have the garment hang or drape properly, it is worth the extra trouble to draft each side separately.

All designs and patterns are variations of the basic sloper or block.

dress making pattern

dress making pattern

Front Fullness Waistline Depth

H-F to H equals 6-1 (the distance from center front at neckline to shoulder seam at armscye).

I—Extend this line (F-G-H) to a point on line D-E. Mark this point I.

J—Start from point IB and find a point on line D-E equal to the measure of 1-5 (center front at neckline to side seam at waist).

K—Distance from J to K equals measure of side seam 3-5 (waist to armscye).

L—Square a line from K to center front equal to measure of 3-4.

M—Square a line from G to line L-K. Mark this point M.

N—Mark this point a distance of 7-8" on the diagonal from M to I.

O—Extend line A beyond IB so that distance from 2C through IB to new point O equals 7-10 (the measure from waistline to shoulder seam at neckline. Square a line to P. O-P to equal measure 6-1.

P—Square a line to H.

Q—Find point Q on line P-H by taking a line equal to measure 6-2 from center front at waist to shoulder seam at armscye. Draw a curved line from G to Q to complete armscye of front half of bodice.

Shoulder Slope

R—Start from Q and find a point on line O-P equal to the measure 6-7 (shoulder seam). Mark this point R.

Neckline Curve

S—Square a  line from  point R to line B-D.  Mark this point S.

T—Measure a point 1/2" from S on line S-O. Draw a curved line from R-7 to B-l to complete one-half of neckline.

U—To find  point U draw diagonals from  L4 to J5 and from C2 to Gil.  Mark the point at which they cross.

V & W—Square a line from center front and side seam lines to pass through point U.

To  Form Front Waistline  Dart

X—Square a line from U to E.

Y—Starting from X measure   1/2" toward  C. Mark this  point Y and  draw line from

Y to U.

Z—To find point Z draw line from X to J. Measure C to Y, deduct from waist measure (2-5), and starting from J measure the balance of waist measure on line J-X. Mark this point Z. Draw a line from Z to U. Draw another line between Y and Z. This distance equals the reduction on waistline. The distance from C to Y plus the distance from Z to J equals 1/2 of front waistline measure. The waistline dart is formed by the lines Y to U and Z to U.

dress making pattern


dress making pattern


  1. Use hipline part of previous foundation as guide. Trace on heavy paper.
  2. Raise side seams 1/4 inch at waistline and hipline. Draw new lines. Taper them off at dart lines.
  3. Continue side lines the same distance at side seam and center front down to desired skirt length.

dress making pattern

dress making pattern

The measure from side seam to center front will normally be about five to six inches wider at hem than at waist.

Follow the same procedure for back and front sections.


I. Slash dart. Measure I 1/2 inches in from side seam. Close up dart and bring section A side seam to this point. Draw new lines as indi­cated by solid lines.

dress making pattern

2. Draw similar new lines on section B (skirt back) but this time only 1/2 inch in at waistline side seam so that seam lengths of A and B correspond.


To change your dress patterns from one size of another a procedure called "grading" is followed. Any pattern can be reduced or enlarged in the same way.

The dotted lines on the figures show the sections into which the basic patterns are divided for size changes.

dress making pattern


dress making pattern

  1. Use the hipline foundation as a guide for making  the  plain  sleeve sloper. Place front and back sections together so that seam lines at armhole and hipline touch. Trace the combined outline.
  2. Measure 3/4 inch above A and mark point B. Draw line from A through point where side seams touch at hipline, continue to C. The distance from A to C will be 17 inches. Square a line through C. Mark the point where line A-C crosses the waistline at X. The distance from J-X is 2  3/4"  and  from X to  K is 2  3/4"  also.  Find line E by taking 1/3 of armhole circumference, add 1/2 inch, and mark this distance in a straight line upward from A. G is halfway between line E and D on the front edge of armhole. Mark I on a level with G  I  inch apart.

F is 1/2 inch above the level of I-G. Mark this point on the back edge of armhole. Measure point H on the same level with F I inch apart.

Find line D by squaring a line from A at the lower edge of armhole at side seam.

dress making pattern

  1. Draw a line through... [Chapter Incomplete]

    Click Here to download the complete PDF ebook (including the rest of this chapter).

    Or are you ready to move onto the next lesson? Click Here

    Who Else Wants My Best Dress Making Patterns and Design Tips?
    Just enter your first name and valid email - then click the "Sign Me Up" button to start receiving my dress making mini series.
    (All information kept 100% confidential and you can
    unsubscribe at any time).