What tools do I need for pattern drafting?

What tools do I need for pattern drafting?

In this blog I will cover the tools that most patternmakers have in their kit and I will share the links to those tools on Amazon so you won't have to hunt for them. Full disclosure, these are affiliate links to the products at no additional cost to you.   Click on the actual picture of the item for the link.  Full disclosure, if you use these links I will receive a small compensation.

I will start with the items I think are most important.

Mechanical Pencil – It is very important to have a pencil with a fine (narrow) lead.  Also important to consider is the plastic tip of the pencil.  If it is too wide or fat it can rub against the side of the ruler and make your measurements less accurate.

 Single Pencil 

or a 2 pack

.5 Fine Point .7 Medium Point


Here are the refills which you might as well go ahead and purchase because you know you are going to need them!

The next most important thing in my kit is the clear grid ruler.  This ruler is marked in 1/8” grid marks.  Kind of like see through graph paper.  Once you get used to the fact you can see through the ruler you won’t want to go back to a regular one.  This ruler is especially helpful for adding seam allowances or hems.

Because you are working with paper you will need scissors and tape.

I use these Singer Fabric scissors for my paper because the cut so well.  I mark mine with a date when I open the package and use them for fabric until they don’t feel as good.  At that point I put an X on top of the date and use them for paper. They are some of the most comfortable scissors I have used and they are really sharp!  The BEST part is they have a life time guarantee!!!!!!  Doesn't get much better then that and they are a great price.

This is the type of tape that I use.  I personally like a really heavy dispenser so I can pull the tape with one hand.  Normally I am holding a pattern down with one hand and grabbing tape with the other. :) The thing that is important about the tape you use is that it has a matte finish and not a shiny finish.  The matte you can write on with a pencil and the shiny you can only write on with a pen or marker.  When you are drafting you should only be using a pencil so you can erase if you need to.

So, let’s cover some of the other ruler that I use often.

The L-Square ruler is important to make right angles.  This one has the length you need to make most lines on the bodice and shorter skirts.  Another awesome feature is that it is imperial (inches) on one side and metric (cm) on the other side.

The hip curve is exactly what it sounds like it is.  This ruler creates beautiful side seam hip lines.  It also has a great gentle curve that works for many different applications. 

 Plastic version
Metal version

I know many designer that love the vary form curve.  Here are two different ones that are both good.  I do have the metal one but I don’t use it as much as I do the hip curve above.

Metal version


The French curve is a must for your kit as well.  This ruler is set up to do armholes and necklines.  The outside edges are great for adult size patterns and the insides can work for children’s patterns. 

Next up is a notcher.  This tool makes little notches in the side of the pattern.  On a commercial pattern the notches look like triangle or diamonds.  Patternmaking for the industry is always about speed.  It takes a while to mark and cut the triangles out of the commercial patterns.  The notcher works like a hole punch but just cuts a slit into the side of the pattern.  When you trace the pattern to fabric you just draw a line in the slit the notcher creates and then just cut a slit into your fabric.  Much faster!

This version is more expensive but it is worth the money in quality.

Here is a cheaper version that also includes the following items.

An awl pokes a small hole into your pattern to mark locations like the bust point or pocket placement.  It does not look like much but it will be a go to for you soon.

A needle point tracing wheel is a really cool tool.  If you like knocking-off garments (creating patterns from store bought garments) then you will love this.  The point are sharp and will go through woven fabric without damaging it.  It will usually make holes in knits however.  It also works for tracing pattern style lines to another pattern. 

Once you have created all those wonderful patterns you will need a way to store them.  These are hooks that you use to hang your pattern on a rack.  You will also need a rabbit.  A rabbit punches the hole in the pattern.  The hook goes through this hole. 

You can see why it is called a rabbit!

A small package of hooks but you might as well go in for the big bag!  Once again, you know you’re going to need it!

The following are kits that have varying tools in them.

I hope this helps you find some of the tools that professionals use for their pattern making. 

Keep being creative and have fun!

Susan @Studio708

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Book Review #1 - Patternmaking with Stretch Knit Fabrics by Julie Cole

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