Here’s the equipment I use in drafting patterns: some essential, some items less so but I find that they help. Most of these you’ll have already. Please add to the list with your own favourites or suggestions. Tips on favourite brands welcome!
1 Pattern Paper – Of any kind. In the past I have used parcel paper, newspaper, greaseproof paper (great for tracing) and gift wrap. Then I splashed out on 300m of the proper stuff which is tough and, given sufficient light and a decent eyesight, can be used as tracing paper. I consider it one of my best investments: I save so much time by no longer faffing with scraps!
Blogstalker mistrusts it. The roll is like a big, heavy pillar. Soon as it arrived, he peed on it like a doggy on a post!
2 Glue Stick for when paper pieces are not large enough or for mistakes.
3 Sticky tape – Two tips here. Buy the frosty, “magic” tape that you can write on, not the shiny kind. Also, get a dispenser as it’ll save you time when you need a piece in a hurry and your other hand is busy!
4 Paper Scissors – Tips again! A) with long scissors, you’ll be more likely to cut straight lines accurately. B) If your fabric scissors look like your paper ones and you get them mixed up, tie a strip of bias or ribbon to the fingerholes of the fabric scissors and wrap some papery masking tape (painters tape) around the paper pair.
5 Long ruler
6 Mechanical pencils – a.k.a. propelling pencils. I was sceptical but my tutor persuaded me to buy these so as to always have a sharp line (important for fine detail like darts). Along with her recommendation for “frosty” tape, this is one recent adoption that I’m never going back on.
7 Rubber – otherwise known as an eraser!
8 Set Square – not an essential, but if you don’t have a fashion curve, this is great for drawing accurate right angles and parallel lines (tutorial soon).
9 Tracing wheel – tbh, my plastic one leaves hardly an impression. If you need to buy one, a Toothsome Tracey is a better alternative. Or, place two layers of fabric between paper and the table and the teeth can sink in.
10 Sewing gauge - for marking seam allowances. Useful if you’re not yet up for the commitment/expense of buying a fashion curve.
11 Bradawl – you can also use a pin, the point of a pencil or a compass.
12 Tape measure
13 Calculator – good for calculating dart width , e.g. when making the Basic Skirt Block.
14 Fashion Curve - this does many things: mine has a 50 cm ruler, seam allowance markers, bias markings, curves for neckholes and armholes. Not all fashion curves are the same (mine’s from Shoben) so think what you would like to use it for before you buy. One feature I particularly like is the centring scale, e.g. for finding the centre of a dart, you place the crosshair in the approximate middle then slide it until the measurements are equal on both sides of it. Quicker than a ruler and calculator! This is another purchase where I had to bite the bullet, hoping the expense wasn’t an indulgence but I quickly decided it was worth it.
Finally, if all this looks interesting but scary, check if there are any classes at an adult education college near you. If there isn’t, phone up and ask for one! You never know, somebody else may have done so too and interest in all things sewy is on the rise. I’m currently voting for a tailoring course!!