How To Make a Sewing Pattern

A question came in yesterday asking how to line the inside of a nightgown.

Without having the original pattern, one might think it impossible.

But, I have found an answer to that diemma and I’d like to share it with you.

Call it my early Christmas gift to you!

All you need is some wide paper of any kind.

I use the end rolls of newsprint.

Our local newspaper office gives these ends out free, so I grab one or two a year.

They are great for all kinds of purposes.

If you can’t find wide paper, just tape what you do have together to make pieces wide enough for your project.

This is what my newsprint looks like:

Begin by rolling out a length of paper for your project.

Do this on the carpet, not on your floor.

You’ll see why in a minute.

I chose a simple T-shirt as my example.

Lay your garment on the paper:

You are going to do what I call “pin tracing”.

So get out your stash of straight pins for this.

You are going to trace each piece of your garment.

You will need to trace the front, the back, the sleeves, the collar pieces, the plackets, the cuffs, the leg, the waistbands, etc.

Get the idea?

Ok, to pin trace, you are going to start at one point (any point) on the first piece and poke a pin (through the paper) along the edge of that piece every inch or so like this:

This is why you need to work on carpet, because the pins can scratch your floor and it makes it difficult to poke them through.

On this shirt, I am pin tracing the front of the shirt first.

Pin trace all the way around.

If you’re not sure what a pattern piece should look like, take out  a similar one in any of your Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, etc. pattern envelopes and study it.

Just keep poking your pin all around the piece.

Along the side seams, it will look like this:

See the pin holes? Look closely.

Now, just connect the dots with a pen or a marker:

I’ve done only a partial section of this shirt, but you get the idea, right?

Can you see the shoulder seam, armhole and side seam in the photo below?

When you are finished tracing, be sure to  add on your seam allowances.

Next, move the shirt to a fresh spot on the paper and trace the next piece, making sure you’ve left enough room for it.

There’s nothing more frustrating than tracing one piece over another.

But I wouldn’t know anything about that!

Be sure to think ahead. If you are tracing a sleeve, you’ll need to either: fold the paper and line up the edge of the sleeve on it, or trace half the sleeve, move the sleeve and trace the remaining half.

Does that make sense?

Just be sure to think through each piece well before you cut it out of fabric to make the new garment.

This technique works well with garments and linings.

The idea came about because I had an favorite pair of shorts and I wanted to reproduce them, but I couldn’t find a pattern that was even close to it in style.

It’s not beautiful, but it’s cheap and fast and it works!

Give it a try.



10 Responses

  1. Brilliant post – so helpful. Thanks so much for our Early Christmas Present!

    • Glad you liked it! Have a great Christmas season!

    • I have a teddy bear from when I grew up, and I have searched high and low to find the company no longer makes them. I therefore came up with my own test bear trying to mimic the original pattern, I traced around the original and added seam allowance, the body is doable however the head is a nightmare, and I have tried countless ways. I plan to make the final bear for my son out of soft dyed rabbit fur (we have a lot of rabbits this time of year eating at the garden) so this is doable. I know only little about leather work and the hide is thin, I would have to hand sew using a special needle.The fur doesn’t iron and getting flatter ears that don’t ballon out is what I need along with a head pattern, any suggestions on making the head, a pattern, strong hand-sewing methods that hold well and finding glass teddy bear eyes and attaching them? I can send you pictures of my test bear and my original bear if that would help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

      • I’ll see if I have one and send it to you. Perhaps other readers have one as well. As far as the construction, there may be other websites that have those instructions. I know I have seen the really long needles for hand sewing the eyes in at JoAnn’s Fabrics before.


        On Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 3:59 PM, Sew for dough

  2. Hey, hey, great idea!. Thanks for the tip.


  3. Thanks for sharing your idea. I wanted to learn how to make pattern.

  4. Great! I also saw a Nancy Zieman clip where she uses a cerated tracing wheel (not the smooth circle) and runs it atop he seams, etc.
    I think your idea is less stress for the garment. Thanks! 🙂

  5. Brilliant! Thank you!

  6. If you dont have carpet or dont want to bend, you can put a thick towel (or a few towels) on a table and use that to pin trace

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