When I decided to design PDF sewing patterns for clothing, I studied like I was pursuing another college degree.
…videos, books, tutorials, more books….
…I studied pattern design and style like it was, well, going out of style.
And then one day…
…I caught my husband reading my books on grading.
(For those who don’t know, “grading” is how patterns are created in different sizes.)
See, my husband is an engineer.
And learning how to design PDF patterns takes a lot of brainiac math work….stuff he likes to do.
Even though pattern design uses the creative side of the brain (the one I admittedly prefer using), it also uses up a lot of that “left” side of the brain…the side that helps us use numbers to make sure all of the pieces fit together well.
“I could help you with the grading,” my husband said.
Help me? With my sewing patterns?
...knock me over with a feather!
Did I finally find that common ground between creativity, and, *gasp,* math?
So…I want to ask you a question now.
Are you thinking you might want to learn how to design PDF sewing patterns?
If you’re envisioning hours upon hours spent cutting and draping and sewing and “making it work” at the machine while Tim Gunn gently mentors you…..(I hope he hasn’t officially registered that as a trademark yet, has he?)
..it’s not all that.
Jen of Tie Dye Diva sewing patterns (an affiliate, and I’ve been a fan for years!) says that drafting and grading are by far the most time-consuming parts of her job.
“I have put years of work into developing a some basic ‘blocks’ (simple patterns) that I know have a good tried-and-true fit, verified by testing, and I can work off them,” she says. “It does NOT mean that drafting is all done though! Every new neckline, collar, sleeve, etc. means more drafting and more grading.
“I spend so much time at the computer!”
Yes….indeed. Love Thy Computer and treat it well.
Carla Crim, of Scientific Seamstress, said that when she started 8 years ago, she really only knew how to make patterns for dolls based on draping – and trial and error.
“Customers started asking for kids’ patterns, so I had to learn drafting on my own,” she said. “I started out very simple, and increased my knowledge base as I went along.”
Her business name is a play on her first career…this gal has a PhD in plant physiology and molecular biology.
…there’s that left brain again…
(she’s also just published a book on drafting patterns for children! I link to it below.)
I managed to harness the power of my math-side of the brain with my first children’s clothing patterns, but I’ll admit that I had to work a lot harder than I do when I’m “just” sewing.
I got excited when I successfully used Pi to figure out the curve of the skirt for my Lakeshore Halter Dress:
…I actually sent a text to my husband afterward that said, “numbers are my friend after all!”
My husband hasn’t picked up my books in awhile…was he sad that I didn’t need his help after all? I don’t know, but I think he was a little proud of me for conquering the technical aspects of design.
And if you decide to try….I’m sure you can do it, too!
Here are a few books to get you started if you want to learn how to design pdf sewing patterns, all from my Amazon affiliate:
Stay tuned throughout this month for more stories about the joys and trials of being a PDF pattern designer! I’ll be chatting with designers – and customers – all month about many different aspects of the business, so you can decide if this career path is one you’d like to follow, too! If you’d like to know more about my journey, you can read that here.
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