Tools for pattern making are critical! Using the right tools can give us beautiful lines and can
improve the shapes of your pattern pieces.
I wanted to list out a few of my favorite tools to help your fitting journey.
1) My absolute favorite is the hip curve. This ruler gives us the perfect curve for those side seams. You can also use it for truing (drawing) up the waistlines as well as the rises of pants.
This is the women’s hip curve I have always used. Click on the images below or on the purple words for direct links to the products.
A men’s hip curve has a slightly different shape and if you do menswear, I do suggest getting this curve as well.
2) A grid clear ruler is an absolute must! These make it so easy to add seam allowances and make straight lines.
Here is a list of lines you’ll want to make sure are straight in your base patterns:
a) Inseam and Side seam from knee to hem (pants)
b) Rise from curve of rise, up to waistline (pants)
e) Under sleeve seams from bicep to sleeve opening
I like this small ruler for adding seam allowances and drawing in small lines (It’s in inches/imperial):
For years, I didn’t have one of these short rulers, but they’ve become one of my favorite tools because they make it so much easier to work with.
I use this longer ruler for drawing in the longer lines. (It’s in inches/imperial):
These are so reasonably priced, and I always have 3 of each in my collection because they are somewhat easy to loose while you’re working on big projects since they are CLEAR 😊!
3) The next tool I use often is the pointed tracing wheel. These are great for marking in darts when they are folded to get the right shape of the dart fold. They are also super handy for tracing the side seams front to back panels to be sure you have mirrored lines.
4) I know there are many other French curves out there. But this one is really the best! I’ve tried many others and never get the same beautiful curves.
This is my favorite tool for necklines and armholes. It gives the Perfect armhole shape in one go! It’s the tool I tend to lose the most when working because it’s totally clear. So, make sure you write on yours with a sharpie to be sure you don’t lose it right away. You may want to order a couple just in case 😊
5) There are tons of measuring tapes out there. My absolute favorites are the double-sided tape measures. But wait! These are not just ordinary double-sided tape measures. They start on each side on opposite numbers.
It means, when you go for either end to measure something, you can just flip it to the back side if it’s not the right direction. No more switching to the complete other end… These are hard to come by. I had to flip through about 10 pages of Amazon results to find it. When ever I do find them, I always stock up on them. (This is primarily for imperial inches use, but there are centimeters/millimeters on the lower part of one side for a quick reference.)
In case you use the metric system, you will want a metric tape measure. Check for one that like the inches one above. They are super hard to come by, but if you find them, you’ll learn to love it!
In case you use both metric and imperial…. or like me who decided to move to Switzerland from the US and was forced to re-learn pattern making in metric, a double-sided tape measure with inches on one side and metric on the other is a great option. I wouldn’t suggest the option I linked to above for metric because it’s just too small to read for daily use.
And don’t forget to buy multiple colors of tape measures… This is one of my “things” I love to do. Each job or major transition in my life, I switch tape measure colors. This does two things for me:
1) It reminds me of that job or time in my life
2) It forces me to start with a new tape measure, since the old tapes become less accurate after a lot of use.
Enjoy the colors and use them for decorations when you retire them 😊
A few other optional items would be notchers & L-square rulers. These are not must-haves but more nice-to-haves. I went years without them both but do use them on occasion now that I have them.
Of course, don’t forget your pattern making paper, pencils, magic tape and paper scissors! These are must haves for manual pattern making.
I’m so excited you’re on your fitting pathway to success! I hope you enjoy the journey. It’s so much fun!
Gina Renee is an Amazon affiliate to help advise others what her favorite products are.
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