Design Your Own Sewing Patterns
The feature I wrote on designing your own fabric proved so popular I decided to write one about getting your craft or sewing patterns printed. I interrogated UK pattern printing SewPrint to find out more.
Is there a particular format patterns have to be designed in? Any recommended software to use?
It all depends what type of pattern you are designing. Bag patterns and small craft patterns can easily be designed using Illustrator. (Illustrator CS6 can be hired monthly at www.adobe.com for around £17.00)
For larger garment patterns it is better to get them professionally graded digitally. Graders will accept a hand drawn base size of the original n dot and cross paper (or any other paper for that matter) which they then scan into their system (Gerber for example) and grade up to the sizes you require.
Is it possible to draw out designs by hand and somehow digitise them?
Yes you can draw them out and then have them scanned on a large scanner, then imported to Illustrator and traced over. This is good for smaller patterns, but not recommended for larger garment patterns.
Where can I get good advice on drafting patterns?
There are so many good books on pattern drafting, you could see www.ralphpink.com who also has some excellent tutorials on his site.
What markings should I use? Should I label the individual pattern pieces? What should I put on them?
Labelling your patterns is personal preference, you could go for industry standard markings, or you might want to add more or less information on each pattern piece. It all depends on how much you want to communicate with the sewer about your pattern. Clear, concise instructions in line with your branding are the ideal way to approach this and yes you should definitely label all of you pattern pieces.
What size range should the pattern cover?
Your size range is again personal preference. If you are designing for childrenswear then you should think about ages ranges and not ‘sizes’. For ladies wear you can go for industry standard sizing and use the sizing scales used by The Big Four ( MCalls, etc), or you could go much more bespoke like the indie designers tend to. For example, indie designers tend to have much less ease in their designs and sometimes none at all. The Big Four pattern companies typically have generous amounts of ease in their patterns, it is down to what you feel is right for your target audience and what you think, or know they will want.
Is there an industry standard?
There is the standard sizing which goes up 2 inches per size (for adults’ wear), again you could use this or create your own.
Where can I find advice on scaling my patterns? Can you recommend anyone who can help me scale my patterns?
SewprintUK can help and advise you on any of these issues before you decide how to grade your patterns. Just email or call us up, 0161 798 7771 or Info@sewprintuk.com
Is it best to just print a few patterns initially and get them tested before doing a larger run?
For any business the ideal way to is to test a market before spending a lot of money on production. Before now this wasn’t possible in the sewing pattern market, but that has changed with the launch of SewprintUK because we now offer short runs for indie designers, especially to help them launch more styles more affordably in order to test the viability of their patterns and expand their collections.
Can I get a sample made up?
Yes samples can be printed of your pattern, if you see our website www.sewprintuk.com, there is more information. It is just a case of emailing your pattern file over for us to print though, very easy!
What is the minimum print run?
The minimum print run in currently 50 patterns.
Which type of patterns are easiest to start with?
Smaller craft patterns would be an good place to start to gain confidence, but really if you are a designer and want to sell your patterns, just jump in at the deep end. We can help you along the way if you need it!
Are there any sites which are good for inspiration?
You should check out the Indie sewing pattern designers for inspiration, these are just some of them;
Check out our comprehensive list of Independent Dressmaking Pattern Designers here.
How do I go about designing my pattern cover artwork? Any essentials that must be included?
You should build your brand really carefully and research who your target market is and design your artwork to appeal to that audience. You should ideally include the sizes within the envelope, front and back images and lined drawings of front and back images along with recommended fabrics and amounts of fabrics ( and interfacings, zips and buttons and any other notions) required to make the garment up in each size.
Should I include written instructions, diagrams, photos, combination of all 3?
Again this is personal choice, how much info do you want to give? How do you want your brand be the same or different to any of the other brands out there? Only you will have the answer to this. Suffice it to say that clear instructions are key to a successful garment and a satisfied customer!
What kind of costs are involved? Will the price mean I will have to price my pattern a lot higher than the main pattern houses?
The costs differ per pattern design as it depends on a few variable such as length of pattern and amount of ink, black or white or coloured ink for example. Our prices are set so you can still make a good profit margin on your pattern sales.
Any tips on marketing sewing patterns?
Developing an indie brand relies on great customer interaction as this is where your advantage lies in comparison with the Big Four. Sewers love interaction with the designers and if you can commit to the time it takes to build up and maintain relationships with your sewers then you should have no problem at all building a loyal fan/customer base and selling lots of your patterns!
Can you help with distribution or give any advice?
SewprintUK can help you with distribution, if you contact us for more information we can talk with you about how to sell your patterns to retailers.
Footnote: I've found a couple of blog posts which you may find useful when designing your own patterns