Lesson 2B : Introduction to Patternmaking

Pattern is a blueprint for constructing clothes, or in our case, costume.  A pattern is divided to units needed to create a complete garment. It is usually in paper (personal use)  or cardboard (industrial use), and contains all markings and special instructions needed for cutting and sewing a garment together. 

Patternmaking is the art and science of making patterns. It is what makes a fashion designer’s or costume designer’s sketch in to a functional garment by drafting 2 dimensional shapes plotted on a piece of paper and  guided by a body’s measurements which when transferred on cloth and sewn makes a 3 dimensional, functional unit of clothing (or costume, whichever). 

For example: 


1. Shows the design I picked. It’s Elizabeth from Persona3

2. Is the pattern I drafted for her dress, and since it is for me I used my own measurements as a guide in drafting. 

3. Shows the pattern transferred to cloth. 

4. Is the finished project.

There are a lot of ways to do Pattern Making, but we’ll discuss only the mostly used techniques :  Draping and Flat pattern drafting. 

Draping is the process of positioning and pinning in place pieces of cloth, usually muslin,  on a dress form or mannequin,  taking it down and laying it flat and tracing the shapes made to a piece of paper. 

Draping = 

Forming garment on a mannequin using muslin + pins -> Putting down muslin, flatten it -> Trace muslin on paper to form pattern -> Transfer pattern to cloth using tailor’s chalk -> sew

Flat pattern drafting : as the name suggests, is drafting 2 dimensional  shapes which when put together forms a 3D structure that conforms to the human body’s shape and contours. 

Flat Pattern drafting = 

Draft pattern on paper -> transfer pattern on cloth -> sew

Draping is advance, and in my opinion involves “instinct” . I don’t see a wide application of it in cosplay so I’ll teach flat pattern making instead

Oh, before I forget!

Pattern making softwares exists too but these are very expensive and sometimes not useful to those who do not know how to draft flat patterns at the first place. These softwares are for industry professionals, though some of my armorer or propmaker friends might’ve heard of Pepakura before? I haven’t tried this program with a garment but Pepakura can help you pattern for armors and the likes for sure. 

Why study pattern making? 

Yeah, why? It involves math, a good understanding of the human body and critical thinking! Why subject yourself to that?

In my opinion, since I am at that age where I have to do grown-up stuff daily, if you can have someone make a costume for you - go ahead and do so. Time is very important. 

However, knowing how to make clothes from scratch is a very valuable skill. Not just for cosplay but also in practical,day to day living. Learning Pattern Making will take time and practice, but you’d be thankful for it. 

Besides, the rules and laws of pattern making for clothes can be applied to armor and props weapon construction as well as seen on my previous projects:

Alicia : Valkyria Profile



Ja’Far’s Balalark Sei : Magi


It’s a very interesting subject with lots of practical and not very practical applications, hahaha!

Basic Tools needed for pattern making 

1. Pattern Paper


You don’t have to buy a roll of pattern paper. Any paper which is wide enough for your project will do, like Manila paper. I’ve even seen other cosplayers use newspaper! As long as it is a flat, uncrumpled surface you can write on, you can use it to make patterns. 

Personally, I like working with pattern paper because of its large surface. I don’t have to tape pieces of paper together to accommodate patterns for gowns and such. (Plus, it’s my profession so it’s just right that I take care of my patterns by using the best materials too ^^)

Locally, pattern paper can be bought at Carolina’s Lace Shoppe, VC Trading, and Fabric Warehouse. They cost about 40-45 pesos per roll (10 pieces per roll). I live in Philippines, so if you are from elsewhere you have to do research on this by yourself. 

2.  Rulers

You’ll need all kinds of rulers. Starting with a 

Yard stick : For making long continuous lines. Available at VC Trading, Kamuning Market and Carolina’s, National Bookstore.


Tape Measure : for measuring body parts. Available at VC Trading, Kamuning Market and Carolina’s, National Bookstore.


Armhole Ruler : For making curves for the neck and armhole. Available at VC Trading, Kamuning Market and Carolina’s 


Hip curve : For slashing stupid  students and making curves for the hips. Available at VC Trading, Kamuning Market and Carolina’s image

(Optional) Styling design ruler. This is a hip curve, armhole ruler, grading guide, ruler in one. It is also quite expensive than most rulers. 

I got mine in front of FIT in New York. It’s a gift from my boyfriend but I think we have this in Philippines too. I’ll edit this once I find out. 


if you can’t find an armhole ruler or a hipcurve, you can skip buying those for the meantime. You can freehand curves, but it’s still best to have a solid guide. 

Of course you’d be needing your own body measurements too! If you haven’t read it yet, Lesson 1 is all about that. 

Note : 

Reblogging and linking this tutorial is very okay but I will be very upset if this tutorial is reuploaded to a different site. Or reworded then uploaded to a different site. 

I want to turn cosplay to a productive and positive hobby and this is my way of doing it.

Cosplay is a big part of my life and it has helped me be who I am today. This is my way of giving back. I am receiving nothing by doing this, so the only thing I’ll ask back is proper credit. 

  • Lesson 2A : Theories and terminologies

    [Lesson 1 is here]

    I first  learned sewing and pattern drafting via various experiments (clothes alteration, taking apart clothes to see how it was done) and reading tons of books and tutorials online. This knowledge of course was then polished when I attended fashion school. 


    That phase where I mostly DIY-ed garments for myself built my dress making instinct which I think is an advantage especially for DIY costumes.  This is why in my lessons I’ll try my best to teach you theory and instinct. 

    In order for me to smoothly teach you how to make cloth costumes, we’d need to learn how normal clothes are constructed and in this lesson we’ll discuss theories and terminologies first before diving in to sewing an actual garment!

    Of course, my tutorials would be cloth costume centric. I’m new to armors so you have to find a different teacher for that. 

    This is the (my) usual process in making DIY costumes:

    1. Decide which character and costume to make. Usually this is love at first sight for me. 

    2. Analyze the costume’s form or silhouette - what  style it is (Sailor collar shirt, circle skirt, ball gown dress, swallowtail coat etc) so you know what kind of pattern to draft. 

    3. Draft costume pattern on paper.

    4. Trace pattern to cloth, cut, sew, fill in details. 

    Vocabulary of the Week


    Silhouette is a fashion term which refers to a garment (costume or “normal” clothes) overall outline and shape.  Usually for current fashion these are predetermined per season or we deal with “regular” silhouettes (avant garde and couture not included :P). 


    (Image from furinsider.com)

    But because we’re dealing with costumes here, the silhouettes we’d discuss ranges from since the beginning of clothes to 2000 years from now, Western and Eastern and Alien styles all depending on which Universe your chosen character came from. It’s crazy, and I love it.

    For example


    Jojo’s Bizarre World. And their questionable taste in clothing…


    Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail and her Kimono inspired outfit (Robe of Yuen, my personal fave!)

    And another personal favorite, Sinbad from Magi :Labyrinth of Magic. I swear this series is not hentai. This character just often gets robbed of his clothes. 


    We will discuss silhouettes intensively, in another post the next few lessons.


    A pattern is a paper or cardboard template of parts of a garment which are then traced onto the fabric, cut, and then sewn. This is basically the blueprint of your costume. 

    For example, these straight shapes which we draft in paper


    are the parts that make a 1670’s Dragoon Coat (Image from http://www.kismeta.com/)


    (Image from http://www.kismeta.com/)

    I will teach you more about this in the (near) future but for now here are additional reads:


    Page 126-127  of




    One thing you need to know before we start pattern drafting is that humans belong to the animal subregenum Bilateria, which means our bodies are divided in left and right halves, each half having what the other got except for some special organs. 

    We are symmetrical creatures. But please tell me you don’t have another heart at the right chest. 

    This state of approximate symmetry our body have should always be considered when drafting flat patterns. Though this isn’t always true in fashion, what’s on the left should be on the right applies to making your base pattern.

    This is a bit far fetched but if you have time maybe you can read about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man 

    See you next lesson!

    Back read?  [Lesson 1 is here]

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  • Lesson 1 : Body Measurements


    Knowing your body measurements matters a lot in getting a good, desired fit- whether this is for everyday clothing or for cosplay. This is the very basic of basics. Your body measurement is what you will need to construct a sloper - a paper pattern you will use to construct a garment or costume fit for YOU.

    I’ve excluded some measurements which can be discussed as we progress. I do not want to overwhelm you with information YET so this really is just basic. 

     If you can’t get through this, I’m afraid you’re not cut for tailoring. So I beg you, please read thoroughly before asking questions. Focus.

    This measurement guide is for women’s clothes by the way. We will discuss men’s measurements next lesson. 

    Before we start here are a few things I want to remind you of:

    1. if you’re going to use body modifiers such as fake pecs and abs, shoulder pads to extend your shoulders, fake breasts, triple padded bras, super platform shoes, Spanx or another kind of shapewear - anything, anything that modifies your natural body shape and height- wear it when having your measurements taken. This way your costume will be tailored around your expected outcome. 

    If you plan to wear a padded DD bra but had your measurements taken in your natural A cups, the costume won’t fit. Obviously. 

    2. Wear as little as possible. I will need you to stick tape markers to your own skin.

    3. You cannot take your measurements alone. No man is an island and you can’t reach every nook and cranny of your body. Get a slav, eh, friend to help you with this. 

    4. Get your measurements every 6 months. That’s a good way to check if you’re still fit, too :)

    5. Measure in front of a full length mirror if possible.

    Things you need:

    1. Pen and Paper, for writing down your measurements, DUH. 

    2. Elastic band, as a marker for your waist.                    

    3. A friend. Or your nanny. Or a slave, whichever works. 

    4. Body modifier if you plan to use any.

    5. Masking tape, or any kind of tape you can stick to your skin temporarily.

    Ready? Let’s start

    1. Front Shoulders : measure from the tip of your front left  shoulder joint to the right. This should be a straight line. 

    2. Back shoulders : taken from the back, measure from the tip of your  left shoulder joint, pass through the name and then to the right joint. This should make an arc, your nape being the highest point of that arc.

    3. Shoulder length : Measure from the base of your neck (where your shoulders meet your neck) to the tip of your shoulders. 


    4. Front chest : This is a horizontal measurement between your armpits. Put one end of your tape measure at the the tip of your armpits and measure in a straight line to your other armpit.  Usually this is 3 inches down your neck seam and it should not exceed your shoulder measurements. If it does you might be a very unique person or an alien. 

    5. Back Chest : Back horizontal measurement between your armpits



    Next, cut a very small tape and put it 1 inch below your left and right armpits, in line with your side seam (where you think the center of your side is, see green line in photo below. In this photo I was raising my arms so it looks like more than 1” below my armpits but its not, ok.)

    6. Front Body Width: Measure from the front the width from left First marker(1” below armpits) to the right. 

    7. Back Body Width: Measure from the back the width from the left first marker to the right.


    8. Bust points: The horizontal measurement from one nipple to another! Couldn’t explain it much simpler  than that!


    9. Bust point position: Measure in a straight line from the base of your neck (where your shoulders meet your neck) to your bust point


    10. Bust circumference : the biggest circumference of the upper torso passing your two bust points.  So ladies, this is your boobs generally. For men’s, we will discuss this in the next lesson. 


    Note: When taking this measurement, make sure your tape measure is perpendicular to the floor. if your tape measure slants there’s a high chance that the measurement you took is smaller than the actual bust size.


    Get your elastic band and tie it around the smallest part of your abdomen. your waist is NOT where you position you low rise jeans. Your waist is THE SMALLEST part of your abdomen, OKAY? We usually need to take different waist measurements, depending on the garment we need to produce BUT for this tutorial we’re sticking with waist as the “smallest circumference of your abdomen. Get it?


    Put a piece of tape to mark the middle of your front waist. This is usually in line with your navel. 


    Put a piece of tape to mark the middle of your back waist. This is usually in line with your spine. 

    11. Waist: Using your elastic as a guide, measure around your waist. Make sure that the tape measure is perpendicular to the floor. 


    12. Center Front Length : Measure from your center neck (just a tiny bit above the center of your collarbone) to your center front waist (Third Marker)

    12. Center Back Length: Measure from your center nape to your center back waist (Fourth   Marker)


    13. Full Front Length : Measure from your high shoulder neck point (that junction where your neck meets your shoulders) down to your waist. As usual, use your waist elastic as a guide for this,okay?!

    14. Full Back Length: Measure from your back high shoulder neck point down to your waist.

    15. Side Seams : Measure from your first marker to where your side’s waist, again using your waist elastic as a guide. 


    16. Front Shoulder Slope: Measure from the tip of your shoulders to the center front of your waist, and use the third marker as a guide. 

    17. Back Shoulder Slope : Measure from the tip of your shoulders to the center back of your waist, and use the fourthmarker as a guide. 


    18. Neck : Measure around your neck passing the nape (just above the highest and most prominent spine bone/vertebrae) and a little above the collarbones like in the photo below. Please take note of the slanted way the tape measure should be placed.


    19. Armhole : Measure around the shoulder ridge passing through your first marker (1” below the armpit)


    20. Armhole Depth : Measure from shoulder tip to the first marker. This is a vertical measurement and because your marker will be covered by your arms, you have to estimate where it is approximately located. 


    21. Over arm  measurement:  Measure from the tip of your shoulders to your wrist bone.

    22. Under arm measurement : Measure from an inch below the armpits to your wrist bone. 


    22. arm circumference : measure around the widest part of your biceps.

    23. Wrist : Measure around your wrist, where your wrist bone is. 

    There are actually 3 kinds of wrist measurements but just so we don’t overwhelm you right now, we’ll stick with the basic. 

    24. High Hip : circumference 4 inches below the waist. Make sure your tape measure is perpendicular to the floor when taking this measurement. 

    25. Hips : approximately 8-9 inches below waist, measure around the widest part of the buttocks. 


    That is it for now~  I want you to familiarize yourself with each body parts and how to get its measurements properly so I don’t have to repeat myself on the next lessons I’ll be posting. 

    Some other requests : 

    1. Please don’t re upload this to a different site! Just link to my tumblr please and/or reblog.

    2. Do not claim this tutorial as your own. If you do, you are a pathetic no life, delusional vermin of society. 

    3. Read and try to comprehend thrice before leaving me a question to answer.

    4.  I will reshoot this with better photos and a video too just in case photos are not enough.

    5. Levi is my spirit animal. While I haven’t shot better photos for this tut, Levi’s head will rest on my body, DEAL WITH IT. 

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