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Do professional clothing designers make their own patterns or do they create without patterns?






A pattern for the garment needs to be created so that the sample can be duplicated. So the only time a pattern would not be made would be if the garment was a one of a kind, custom made article. 

Some designers make their own first patterns, others make a sketch and give it to an assistant designer, a pattern maker, or a factory worker in a distant factory to make up the pattern and the first sample or prototype. Nowadays many designers work this way. They don't even see the first sample until it's shipped in from the overseas maker. Then they put it on a person or on a dress form to check the fit and the look.

Traditionally the designer worked hands on with the fabric and the design often evolved in their hands and according to their inspiration as they worked. Some designers even liked to work by draping the fabric on a live model. Yves Saint Laurent liked to work this way.

The 2 basic ways of making the pattern are called flat pattern and draping. In flat pattern a basic pattern called a sloper is used. The sloper is the basic starting point of the style. Many companies have a certain fit that they like to maintain based on their target customer. The sloper reflects the fit they use company wide. They trace out the sloper either pivoting to add fullness or drawing lines on the paper and "slashing and spreading".

If they are draping the garment they use fabric and pin it to a dress form then mark it out to show the darts and seams. Then it gets transferred to paper to make the pattern. The traditional fabric used is muslin but often other fabrics are used which have more of the properties of the fabric being used for the garment. For example, when making a bias cut nightgown it is usually draped in satin or charmeuse because the lines cannot be established by using a stiff cotton and also, the fit would be way off.

I am a designer and I like making my own patterns. I feel like it's part of the creative process. But many designers don't like making patterns. They would rather just draw what they want and leave the rest to someone else. Of course they will look at the sample after it's sewn up and make changes to it  if they aren't happy with it.

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