Fabrics for Pattern Making

Are you planning to use fabrics to make dresses, makeup bags or a simple pouch? If the product is designed to fit a particular object or serve a certain function, it is important to create a mock up or pattern. But that begs the question, what are the best fabrics for pattern making? If you are new to pattern making, here’s what you need to know.

Pattern Making Fabrics

Any of all the varieties of plain or simple twill weave fabrics like linen, and a mock-up representation of a garment or any other product that you are making are referred to as toile. Mock-ups are not only great for fittings, but they also allow you to have a practice run, especially if you are new to doing advanced sewing techniques like      adding lining to a garment or inserting concealed zips.

There are two commonly used fabrics for pattern making: calico and muslin. They are both plain-woven textiles made from cotton. Let’s explore each of these special pattern-making fabrics.


Calico is named after a region in India called Calicut. The most popular calico is plain woven, and it’s either white or cream in color. This type of calico is particularly useful for someone who wants to concentrate on the structure and form of the sewing creation without the distraction of fabric patterns.

Calico is cheap and easily available. Unbleached calico has an uneven appearance. However, it’s convenient to work with, as you can make corrections on it until you obtain the design or pattern desired.

But, like everything else, calico has some limitations. Let’s say you want a toile for a woolen garment, then calico would not be your preferred choice for toiling. Why? It will not accurately show you     how the final garment drapes. This factor is especially important when making apparel.

Sewing Tip: Choose a fabric that represents the weight of the final textile that you are going to use.


This fabric is named after one of the cities in Iraq called Mosul. It’s available in different forms that range from very fine sheer to rough texture. Since the textures have different weights, muslin is used as a toile for a variety of fabrics.

Sewing Tip: Remember that any cheap fabric including old washed sheets can be used for toiling as long as they are of similar weight to the fabric you plan to use for the final project.

Let’s Consider the Basics of Pattern Making

fabrics for pattern making canvas etc paper pattern

A pattern is the model from which different parts of clothing are reproduced onto fabric before it’s cut out and put together. Patterns are typically made of fabric, paper, paperboard or cardboard.

Sewing Tip: A sloper pattern (sewing at home) or block pattern (industrial production) is a primary pattern used to develop patterns for various styles.

We will focus on pattern making in the apparel industry. In order to obtain the first outline and measurements for the fit, a design consists of a flat drawing, which is the basic pattern. Since this 2D illustration does not include the specific shape of a human body, the tailor uses darts (or folds) in the fabric to create the shape required.

This stage includes three techniques for pattern making: flat pattern drawing (3D), drafting and fashion draping.

Flat Pattern Drawing (3D)

This method incorporates the basic pattern, but it includes the 3D shape using the muslin fabric. Then it is transferred to paper. This way, it allows the inclusion of the body’s movement, which will improve the wearer’s comfort.


This is normally used to make the designs at the initial stage. The designs are made from standard sizing pre-sets obtained from factories or the ones that are directly from measurements of a fit model. Normally, tailors use paper to draft.

Fashion Draping

This involves draping the toiling fabric over a mannequin to create a 3D shape. When the desired design is complete, it is transferred to paper for the final pattern. Although this method is more expensive than the other techniques, it allows the designer to have an overview of the way the garment will look.

However, there are two more stages that are very important in this process: seam allowance and pattern grading.

Seam allowance

The designer attaches two pieces of textile so that they conceal the rough edges of the material, as it’s important to craft a smooth finish.

Fabrics for Pattern Making: Pattern Grading

This step involves using the initial or blueprint to create different sizes of the pattern. However, some manufacturers maintain standard guidelines for grading such as the number of the size; for example, eight or small, large and medium. Pattern grading has two systems:

  • Draft technique: This method adds increments to the whole draft of the pattern.
  • Track Technique: This system applies additional increments to individual pieces of the pattern, altering each section separately.

While fabric pattern making is economical, it’s time consuming. Even after all the patterns are accurately completed, when changes are made during production, the process is revised accordingly. These changes may include the availability of a fabric that was previously missing, and of course, it all starts with using the right fabrics for pattern making.

We are here to serve you and guide you on the right fabrics for pattern making. So please don’t hesitate to contact us today.