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Drafting your garment: Where to start

That post is on how to start when you want to make a garment.

We start with a block. We are supposed to have our block ready. I will talk about block in another post.

So, the first thing is to trace it on paper. We want the whole outline plus the darts, the wasitline, the bust line…. everything.


In the class, I ask the beginners to do “enlargements”. It is the first exercise.

Enlargements to make a shirt is not the same as enlargements to make a coat. Some garment don’t have enlargement (close fitted), some garments have negative enlargements (leotards, swimwear)

Enlarging the master block gives an idea of the ease. The enlargement is minimal for close fitted garment (maybe 2 cm away from the side seam).

The reason is :

  • To start from our master block for every garment
  • So we can have a more sensitive approach to the hardest thing in Garment drafting : the ease
  • By starting from the master block, we always have our body dimention (our block is our “second skin”) and the pattern in sight and we are able to give enough ease from the beginning.
  • We have full control on the value we add. It will be different if we do a shirt, a jacket or a coat, a fitted jacket might need an enlargement of 3 cm underarm and a loose coat might need 10 to 15 cm.

Some methods (not mentioning them) will use different blocks for the different garment with ease included.

A block for shirt will be different that a block for coat which will be different from a block for jacket.

That leaves very little control on the amount of ease to add and the body dimention are forgotten when you start drafting (as we start our pattern from an already enlarged block).

I don’t recommend students to start pattern making with those methods but I encourage them to use one and only master block with is equal to the body measurements and we can call second skin.

Enlarging the master block for every garment might appear like too much work but it is worth it. It makes you practice what ease you need.

The enlargements I teach in the class are set on a diagonal : taking an horizontal measurement follow by a vertical value. I use grading method which make sense because ease and sizing is interrelated. A loose fitted coat on a persone might appear close fitted if a bigger person wears it.

More precision on how to enlarge in the next post

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