Tees Galore

mariner tee | Cloth Habit

Nearly every year around the holiday season I tend to take on some big creative project. I think this has to do with my introvertedness; for every extroverted activity I need about twice the amount of introverted time to recuperate. There was the year I spontaneously decided to sew a red cashmere cape a mere three days before we left for Christmas travel. I seriously believed that even with all its hand-sewn lining, slip-stitched pockets and bound buttonholes I’d be able to finish in it time for actual Christmas day. Y’all, I’m not a fast sewer.

This year I got a wild hair to draft and make up a bunch of knit tops. I’ve actually been in need of some basics as part of my wardrobe curating plan, and while I’m not opposed to buying these basics it was about time I used up some of my knits.

First I cleaned up my basic fitted tee pattern so it was a little more form fitting. Finally I have something to layer under jackets and cardigans!

Basic Tees | Cloth Habit

I also made a white cotton knit version but already spilled coffee down the front… that’s fairly de rigeur with me and white clothing!

Then I cut a couple of basic tanks…

Basic Knit Tanks | Cloth Habit

For the tank on the left I used a very light metallic gold rayon jersey. I wish I could get a good photo of this because it’s very pretty. For that pattern I added some ease for a flared style since it’s going to be layered and I knew that a tissue weight knit wouldn’t look so hot in a fitted top.

Then I decided it was time to try something completely different, and give myself little bit of a challenge. I had a go at drafting a cowl neck tee, which I thought would work beautifully for this metallic striped jersey:

Cowl Neck Tee | Cloth Habit

I make an effort to line up stripes when cutting but almost never get them lined up with sleeves—this was an unintentional surprise!

Cowl Neck Tee | Cloth Habit

The reason why this stripe match worked has to do with the shape of the armscye. In some cowl neck alterations the front armscye can almost end up as a diagonal line, which can help with lining up stripes in the sleeve cap. I used this Threads tutorial for the alteration, where you can see how the armscye changes direction.

Since I was on the stripes bandwagon I cut into this luscious cotton knit that I saved up for a boxy mariner-style top. For this top I added about 4 inches of ease to my t-shirt pattern and drew in a wider neckline.

mariner tee | Cloth Habit

Oops, I forgot to cut a thread down there!

I did these all assembly-line style so that I was cutting everything, then serging, and finally hemming all the tops with my coverstitch at the end. And clearly I took the photos assembly line style, too! After all this I’m a little worn out on knits and I think my serger needs a trip to the spa. I’ve been working on shirts (I made an Archer!) and a new trouser pattern that I”m hoping to have done in January.

Have you ever made a bunch of similar garments at once?

Patterns: self drafted
Fabrics: cotton and rayon jerseys from my stash. All of them are a few years old except for the blue and white striped sweater knit from Emma One Sock (still available!)

Watson: Sourcing Materials & Notions

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

Today I want to talk a little bit about selecting fabrics for the Watson and I’ll share a few examples from my own projects.

I know that shopping for lingerie fabrics and bra-making supplies the first time around can be a little bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Bras in particular use a few materials that you may not ordinarily use in other garments, but these aren’t difficult to find. Little amounts also go a long way, which brings me to a few suggestions as you go shopping:

  • Stash. Once you make a bra or two, there’s a really good chance you’ll have extra lining and elastic which make gathering materials for the next project much easier. Stashing linings and a few elastics for lingerie is just as useful as stashing zippers, thread and interfacing for other garments.
  • Neutral colors are your friend. Shop for neutral-colored elastics, hardware and linings and mix them into your sets. Neutrals can be black, gray, nude-ish colors, or even white. These colors are also easier to find. A nude lining or powernet works underneath most fabrics. I use nude mesh and linings for many bras that have bright colors as their main fabrics.
  • Mix and match. I like to think about the elastics and the hook & eye as accents. Instead of trying to get all matchy-matchy, I save myself the frustration of finding matching hardware and buy (or dye) the elastics in bright colors that might accent or contrast with my main fabrics.
  • Dye. This is my personal tactic in making lingerie: I buy all my elastics and lining materials in white and in enough yardage for several bras and then I dye them before a project. Obviously that adds an extra step, but I have gotten fast at this step and have a stash of dye colors, so this is easier for me.

However you gather your materials, online shopping is the way to go, particularly with hardware and elastics. I include my favorite sources in this post and have also curated a list of supplies for the Watson on Etsy.

For even more ideas, I publish a very big list of bra and lingerie making resources.

Fabric Choices

The best fabrics for the bra cups are going to be a 4-way stretch lycra knit or stretch mesh. These fabrics tend to have quick and perfect recovery, which means they don’t loosen up or relax with wear. Some terms you might want to look for in lycra fabrics: 4-way spandex, lingerie lycra, milliskin (which comes in matte or shiny/satin), tricot lycra, satin lycra, or even swimsuit lycra.

Although I recommended 75% stretch, stores don’t often list the stretch percent of fabrics. I wouldn’t worry too much about getting this exact stretch. Several of my test fabrics had less stretch than that. A good general rule of thumb: if it is a knit, has at least 15% spandex, is sold as a swim, dance or lingerie fabric with 4-way stretch, then it’s got potential.

Here are two sets I made from lycra and stretch mesh. For the bands on both, I doubled the stretch mesh. Doubling a lighter stretch mesh is a great alternative to a firmer powernet.

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

On the left: matching milliskin and stretch mesh from Spandex House. On the right: stretch mesh from Fabric Depot Co.

On this bra I used stretch lace and a firmer powernet for the band. The bikini is made from stretch mesh.

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

Stretch lace, Laceandtrims on Ebay. Powernet and stretch mesh, Fabric Depot Co.

If you want to use stretch lace, look for some with spandex content. Without the spandex, the lace won’t be supportive enough or it will “grow” in wearing.

It’s also possible to use natural fiber knits on the bra and bikini. A medium weight cotton/spandex jersey will probably be your best bet, since cotton tends to have a firmer fit. One of my favorite early makes of this pattern was a cotton knit Watson (which I snuck onto the blog over a year ago!). I still wear that bra a lot.

This is a version I made from a Tencel/spandex jersey as an experiment:

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

Tencel is a rayon and like all rayon jerseys this was a very drapey fabric that doesn’t have a lot of support. It also tends to lose its shape after awhile. This set turned out much bigger than others in the same size, so if making either the bra or bikini out of a rayon-type jersey, consider going down a size or taking in the cup seam.

Band Fabrics

Although I recommended powernet for the band, it is just a suggestion. And it isn’t always easy to find a matching color of powernet. If you want to use the same fabric on your band that you are using in your cups, you’ll need to reduce the stretch by doubling it as I did in some of the above samples or shortening your band piece.

While we’re talking about band fabrics, you might be wondering about those terms like stretch mesh, powernet, powermesh… what’s the difference?

Net and mesh are interchangeable terms for a fabric that that is knitted with an open hexagonal structure. Here’s a firm powernet on the left and a lightweight stretch mesh on the right:

Powernet & Stretch Mesh | Cloth Habit

Stretch nets and meshes come in all sorts of weights and “feel”. They can be very sheer, lightweight and drapey, or very tightly knit and firm in their stretch. The term powernet usually refers to a stronger weight, firm stretch mesh that’s good for bra bands. Usually the description will give you a hint as to how strong it is.

Elastic Choices

For the bra, you want to look for 3 different types of elastics:

  • a plush back elastic for the hem
  • a plush-back lingerie elastic for the top of the band and the neckline
  • a strap elastic

Here’s a close-up of what a plush-backed elastic looks like:

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

The bikini just needs your favorite lingerie elastic. It could be the same elastic you use to finish your neckline if you want to match!

Shopping for Fabrics

These are just a few options and ideas for your main fabrics:

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

Top Row: Lace Print lycra from Harts Fabric, Stretch Mesh from Spandex House, Taupe Dot on Black lycra from Girl Charlee. Bottom Row: lingerie stretch lace from Etsy’s MarynotMartha, Rainbow Stretch lycra from Tessuti, Lingerie Stretch fabric from Sewing Chest UK

If solids and matching sets are your game, Spandex House and Spandex World both carry matching milliskin and stretch mesh in tons of colors.

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

Shopping for Notions & Linings

For quality plush elastics, hook & eye and rings & sliders these are my favorites: Fabric Depot Co., Sewing Chest UK, Bra-makers Supply, Lace Heaven.

For linings: My favorite bra lining that I use for all bras is the sheer cup lining from Bra-makers Supply. It’s sheer but firm. You can also substitute 15 denier tricot or 40 denier tricot fabrics. These are very common and easy to find nylon lining fabrics (google them!), but keep in mind 15 denier is very lightweight. Alternatively, you may fuse a tricot knit interfacing. Any kind of fusible interfacing that works with knits and has a direction that doesn’t stretch is a good candidate.

Guide to Watson Fabrics | Cloth Habit

That’s it for today. I hope this guide has been useful and helps you understand how to choose your Watson materials. Happy hunting!

Watson Sewalong & Upcoming Tutorials

Watson Bra Pattern | Cloth Habit

Thank you all for your kind and enthusiastic response to the Watson! I’m so glad that it fills a space in your lingerie hearts.

And you guys are fast! I’ve already started seeing a few lovely versions popping up and I love seeing what you do with it. You can tag #watsonbra on Instagram, add your photo to my new Flickr group, or send me a link to your blog post.

watson sewalong

The Watson is easy to fit and quick to make if you have any experience sewing lingerie but I know some of you are new to bra-making or would like some tips along the way. I’ll be hosting a sewalong starting January 12.

We’ll walk through making a full set, and I’ll include some easy fitting alterations. I’m also going to add a few extra tutorial “goodies”:

  • How to cut and sew a version of the bra with galloon lace cups (this is not in the pattern)
  • Quick and easy dyeing tutorial, for those of you interested in dyeing lingerie fabrics or elastics

I’d originally planned to do a sewalong shortly after release but it so happens that my pattern was delayed a bit. I don’t want to ram this all into a holiday month, which we all know come and go in the blink of an eye!

In the meantime, I know many of you are eager to whip this up, or want to have your fabrics ready in time of the sewalong, so tomorrow I’m going to cover everything you need to know about choosing and sourcing fabrics and notions for the Watson.

Over the next couple weeks I’ll also have a few surprises in store for you. A couple of my favorite fabric shops have offered to partner up to offer discounts and even some Watson bra kits to my readers! Here’s a little sneak peak of kits that Grey’s Fabric will be offering:

Watson kit - Greys Fabric | Cloth Habit

Stay tuned to the blog or my newsletter for when these become available.

That’s it for today’s newsy post but before I sign off, I really want to give a huge thanks to my friend Stephanie Press and the always lovely Heather Lou of Closet Case Files for helping me bring this pattern to life, as well as their entrepreneurial insights along the way. Steph helped me cut pattern after pattern and helped me work through sample ideas over many Thursday afternoons together. And Heather was a real comrade, pushing me toward the finish line, and listening to me kvetch about stuff like grading in Illustrator. She was the first person to ask me if I’d make a pattern for a sheer plunge bra. I’m sure most independent patternmakers feel this way but there are days when you feel like you are working in a vacuum and it just takes a few encouraging souls to keep you moving. Thanks, guys!

Introducing Watson Bra & Bikini

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

Today I’m thrilled to release my “baby” into the world, my new pattern Watson!

Since the first time I made one of the bras for myself, I was a little bit addicted. How many fabrics could I make this in? At that time I was learning a lot about dyeing so I came up with this grand idea of mixing my own dyes for an entire collection! And so I did.

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

I’m a huge fan of all things 70s but especially in lingerie. It was a time of subtlety, soft fabrics, not overly stuffed or rigid looks. And then there was the skin. That glowy 70s skin! Just look at old Maidenform or Huit advertisements from the mid-70s; it’s all models in wind-swept hair, draped peignoirs over sheer plunging bras. This kind of woman-body-free feeling was my inspiration for the Watson. I wanted something playful and not too serious.

So let’s talk about the pattern…

the bra

The bra pattern is designed for stretch fabrics and has two styles. View A is a longline bra and View B is a regular length band that runs right under the cups. The cups fit into either so you can mix and match!

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

I wanted my first bra pattern to be a bit easier to sew and fit than a traditional underwired pattern. The Watson is a great way to dive into bra-making techniques as it uses some of the same construction methods as underwired bras, but it has a very forgiving fit.

Now a few notes about fit: this pattern has cup and band sizes! As I was developing this pattern, I had to make a big decision about sizes and grading. Most of the time soft cup bras without wires run in alpha sizes (small, medium, large, etc.) and meant to fit a broad range within each size. I wanted to offer a bigger and more specific size range.

The pattern has some measuring and fitting tips, but keep in mind that it is not meant to fit like a wired bra. If you like a little bit of lift, try the longline bra! It uses the same cup but longline bras have more of a “cantilever”. Because it wouldn’t be a Cloth Habit pattern without a bit of science in there, too!

And just as a note, since a few readers have asked: this is not an underwired pattern and you can’t use wires in this style. I did not design the cradle around wires and I can explain more of that in a fitting post!

the bikini

This is a really simple and straightforward bikini and totally inspired by 70s bikinis. Something you can cut and make in under an hour.

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit


Both the bra and the bikini are designed for stretch knit fabrics. I wouldn’t recommend wovens or non-stretch fabrics. The only area that needs a non-stretch lining is the cradle at the front of the bra. Fear not, these fabrics are easy to find and I promise I’ll go into more details about material choices next week. The pattern also has several tips and tricks for choosing appropriate fabrics.

the name

The Watson is inspired, of course, by Sherlock’s pal, and more specifically Lucy Liu’s take on Elementary. I. love. this. show. And must have rewatched all the episodes three times while on the finish stretch of this pattern. I love almost any detective show (and every version of Sherlock) but Liu’s Watson is such a beautiful counterbalance, and nearly every episode I end up rewinding to look at her groovy outfits.

So that’s it for today. I’d love to hear what you think, or any questions you have!

Watson Bra & Bikini is available at my new shop.

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

Crazy Pants, Noah’s Ark Edition

Crazy Pants | Cloth Habit

Yesterday morning a student was bicycling down our street in a t-shirt and shorts and our concerned neighbor shouted after him, “Put some layers on! Aren’t you freezing?!” To which he yelled from his fast-moving bike, “Seriously? I’M FROM CONNECTICUT!”

Well I’m from Michigan and it’s still crazy cold here in Austin, so don’t let my coatless self fool you. The sun came out for the first time in a few days and like all sun-addicted Texans I just had to spend some time in it. The things I’ll do for a photo shoot!

Since I’m talking crazy, it’s time to break out my new skinny pants.

Crazy Pants | Cloth Habit

I don’t quite know what’s going on here, like a Noah’s boat sort of print, full of feather eyes, snake scales and cat stripes. I kept trying to figure out the animal references while sewing it together. I hoped I wasn’t getting too psychedelic but my man kept saying THAT IS THE COOLEST FABRIC. When I tried them on to fit, he kept following from behind. Methinks that must be the best view!

Crazy Pants | Cloth Habit

Sorry, I’m not pulling up my jacket, so you’ll have to trust me on that one.

This is a new pants draft that I worked on in the spring, specifically with crazy pants in mind. I was really craving a pair of skinny printed pants to add to my capsule wardrobe, and made another pair on a bizarre dotted print that didn’t fit as well as I liked so I went back to the drawing board. I’m addicted to trying different patternmaking methods as a learning experience, so I tried a different method than the one I used for my skinny jeans. At this point I have several great pants and jeans blocks and I’m so ecstatic about this that I innocently believe I’ll be sewing 10 pairs by the end of the winter.

Here’s the deal with stretch pants: every fabric behaves so differently. Sometimes you need a little more leg width or a little less in the crotch extension. What I like to do is start with zero ease (no negative ease) at the hips and then baste up the pants with a big stitch and slowly work my way down till the skinny is just right. And it’s really important to balance the adjustments between the inseam and the side seam. Taking in too much at the inseam throws off the balance that causes all sorts of diagonal underbum wrinkles and possibly leg twist. This is something you never see explained in patternmaking books (except the German ones): how the balance of the leg underneath the crotch affects fit.

Anyhoo, the pants. These are basically stretch skinny jeans but without traditional jeans details like a yoke and back pockets and rivets and all that. Okay, so they’re not jeans at all, but the shaping is basically the same. I also draped in a wide contour waistband, which really takes the fit up a notch! Next time I think I’ll try a tabbed fly…

Crazy Pants | Cloth Habit

Normally I wouldn’t be tucking in a top with these. I made these with a mid to high rise (9″ to be exact). I love this height for tops that will be untucked because it’s super comfortable, but if I wanted to tuck I’d go even higher or lower simply because I like those visual proportions better.

Crazy Pants | Cloth Habit

On a sentimental last note, I want to dedicate this post to my amazing mother-in-law. She has been through a serious health scare this week, and since she’s a believer that you gotta keep on shining no matter what, I hope my crazy brings some shining to her day!

Pattern: self drafted
Fabric: Emma One Sock
Zipper: Zipper Stop

Coming Soon – Watson Bra & Bikini!

Watson Sneak Peak | Cloth Habit

After months of hard work, my new pattern Watson is finally coming next week! Today I wanted to give you guys a little sneak peak.

My idea for the bra pattern began well over a year ago. I’d been inspired by longline soft bras and experimented with a few versions for myself. And I’ve got to say, it’s become my favorite bra to wear and make!

Watson Sneak Peak | Cloth Habit

Watson Sneak Peak | Cloth Habit

Some of my regular visitors have probably noticed that I’ve been “nesting” in preparation for this pattern. I gave Cloth Habit a facelift and reorganized it to make tutorials and sew-alongs easier to find. (Look under the Tutorials & Tips tab.)

In case you’re curious about this dress form, she’s one of my new tools! About a year ago Alvanon was developing a form specifically for swim and lingerie and I bought one of their development prototype forms at a discount.

Watson Sneak Peak | Cloth Habit

And it’s an incredible form. It’s squishy in all the right ways and shaped to mimic actual body posture–it even has clavicles! More importantly, the measurements are aligned with my base sizes so I get to try out styles on her. This is not the only way I will fit new patterns, but it’s a great tool.

That’s it for today… I’ll be announcing the release next week!


p.s. If you’d like to be the first to know when this and future patterns are released, sign up for my newsletter, the Lingerie Maker. (I like to share sewing tips, too!)

Quick Fabric Prep with a Steamer

Although I’m a big presser in the process of sewing, I rarely press my actual clothes. (Confession: I wear rumpled buttondown shirts quite a bit.) My husband, on the other hand, loves pressing and especially loves spending time getting all his shirts and jackets ready the night before a big trip. He travels a lot, so a few years ago I bought him an inexpensive travel steamer.

mini steamer | Cloth Habit

(I don’t remember where I bought it but it’s this one.)

And this gadget turned out to be a huge time saver for sewing, too. When faced with long yardages of silk, the thought of pressing it all over an iron board caused me to procrastinate on projects to no end.

Now I just steam it! Welcome to my teensy weensy bathroom.
steaming wrinkles | Cloth Habit

These won’t be the best photos but you get the picture. It’s super overcast today and I don’t have a lot of bathroom light!

I’m working on the Archer shirt pattern and want to make it from this lovely pumpkin rayon challis I’ve had in the stash for a couple of years. Rayon challis wrinkles as soon as you look at it, right? I knew it would have a party slithering all over my ironing board while trying to press two yards of it.

So this is how I deal with long yardages of slithery fabric: I drape them over the shower rod, turn on the little steamer and run it all over the fabric.


steaming wrinkles | Cloth Habit

And 30 seconds later:

steaming wrinkles | Cloth Habit

A little steamer like this is not going to “press”, but it does relax all the wrinkles and folds, making it flat enough for cutting. If your iron puts out enough steam, you could probably hook it up and do the same thing. I like this one because it has a head that points the steam jets directly at the fabric.

Once I’m done, I let the fabric hang till it is fairly dry. With a thin rayon challis like this that’s about 5 to 10 minutes. (I live in a dry climate so your mileage may vary.)

Have your tried using steamers in your sewing? They’re great little tools to add to the arsenal!

Pattern Drafting With Illustrator

After my last post about pattern drafting I got so many great comments about the various programs you use, whether as a hobby or professionally. This subject definitely brings the patternmakers out of the woodwork! That makes me happy because I love patternmaking minds. I want to put you all in a room together so we can geek out on subjects like bone structure, sleeve caps, and pattern puzzles.

Today as promised I’d like to share a few of my favorite Illustrator tools for drafting patterns. Now just to warn you, I am not writing a tutorial on “how to draft in Illustrator”, nor am I trying to exhaust the subject. I’m also assuming that you are a hobbyist drafting for yourself. If you are interested in making sewing patterns for sale, there are many issues to consider and these are worthy of a tutorial series or course on their own. I’ve included some resources at bottom if this is your interest.

So let’s dig in…

Learning the Pen and Line Tools

If you are brand new to using vector software of any type, I recommend spending some time playing with the pen tool. This is the most basic tool and when drafting you’ll use it over and over again. You’ll also use the Line tool, which allows you to draw straight lines and transform them into curved ones later on.

When I first started using Illustrator I created documents and made a bunch of random shapes freehand with the pen. Play around with it until you get used to the motions with your mouse or trackpad.

Get to Know Anchor Points

Anchor points are little dots that “anchor” a line or curve into a particular spot. These points have handles that can be pulled out to create curves. The more anchors the more complex a curve can get.

Illustrator Drafting Tips | Cloth Habit

You can add anchor points to any line by clicking on the “Add Anchor” tool (the shortcut in Illustrator is the + key).

Measuring Lines

There are two ways I measure lines. The simplest is through the “Document Info” window.

For example, let’s say I want to measure an armscye. First I select the armscye line with the “Direct Selection” tool (shortcut: “A” key). Then I look in the Document Info window. If this is not visible, click on “Window > Show Document Info”.

Illustrator Drafting Tips | Cloth Habit

The Document Info window has an additional dropdown menu for “Objects”.

Illustrator Drafting Tips | Cloth Habit

When a line is selected, this information window will give you an exact measurement of your line down to fractions of inches, millimeters or centimeters.

The second tool I use for measuring lines is a plugin called Vector Scribe. Years ago this plugin was called SnapMeasure. It cost a mere $10 or so. Unfortunately another company bought it out, repackaged and amped the price but I’ve gotten so used to the tool that I had to bite the bullet once I upgraded Illustrator.

Vector Scribe allows you to measure segments of curves and lines, rather an an entire line. So for example, I can measure just the front part of a sleeve cap:

Illustrator Drafting Tips | Cloth Habit

(DWP means “Distance Within Points”, which is the actual curve measurement along that red line.)

This plugin makes tasks like walking and checking notch placements on my bra patterns so much easier!

Using Guides

Guides are non-printing lines that you can pull into your document. Most Adobe software use guides in some form and they are really helpful for lining pieces up, finding exact corners, or maintaining a control point.

In Illustrator, to pull a guide your rulers have to be visible and you simply click on the ruler and drag downward or inward and a guide appears:

For example, on this sleeve pattern, I pulled in guides to mark the bicep line and the shoulder notch position. I locked the guides (View > Guides > Lock Guides) so they would not move while I was drafting and moving the sleeve seams around.

Duplicating Objects and Layers

Now here is the real beauty of Illustrator—the ability to copy over and over without losing previous work. Illustrator uses layers just like Photoshop.

If I draft something in one layer but need to make an adjustment, I just duplicate the layer. I’ll make the adjustments on the new layer and then go back and make the original layer visible so I can view and assess the changes.


Unless you are lucky to have a wide-format printer or want to take your patterns to the copy shop, you’ll have to print tiled patterns and tape together just like any pdf sewing pattern! Here is the template I use for all my patterns:

Illustrator Drafting Tips | Cloth Habit

Illustrator has a feature called Artboards, which are hidden in the background and create printing boundaries. In my template I created a 7″x9″ printable rectangle for for every page, then an Artboard that covers each rectangle. Explaining Artboards would take up a post in itself so I’ll leave that to you to explore.

Seam Allowances

There are several methods of creating seam allowances. “Offset Path” is the easiest but all your paths have to be closed. Select your path, then go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter the seam you want in decimals:

Illustrator Drafting Tips | Cloth Habit

I also use a an Action that I made up to create bra seam allowances (very curvy seams need special seam allowance treament!). I’m not going to share it because honestly it is a totally hacky workaround and would take me too long to explain!

Further tips:

  • Keep your lines or strokes under 1 pt (point). I use .5 pt lines. Think of the difference between a sharp pencil and a sharpie marker—if you get thicker than 1 pt you are making your seam line almost a part of the seam allowance.
  • Use the text tool to write notes on your pattern with the date and any adjustments you make. I can’t tell you how many times I used to make multiple versions of a pattern and couldn’t remember which was the most recent! Now I have a practice of putting dates on everything.
  • Learn some shortcuts! There is a shortcut key for everything in Illustrator. The Pen Tool is P, Select Tool is A, and so on. When you start using one tool over and over there is a good chance it has a keyboard shortcut. You can actually make your own (go to Edit – Keyboard Shortcuts), and it will save you time from dragging your mouse over and over again.

Further Resources

(Please note: I am not affiliated with the courses nor have I taken them.)

Is there something you’d like to know how to do in Illustrator? I tried to think of the basics here, but if you have a question feel free to ask!

A Simple Red Dress

Hi guys! It’s been so long since I took a photo of myself that I feel really out of practice. Even in my front yard I felt a bit camera shy.

Cloth Habit | red tank dress

But I made something! (That wasn’t lingerie.) Actually I sewed up four projects in a week, an all time record for me, and here’s why: I had the flu last week. And it was my birthday too! Getting the flu is like one long Twilight Zone episode, a strange dream outside of time. And when you’re stuck at home with little energy for anything more than 15 minutes at a time, what do you do? I eat a lot of comfort foods, shlep around in my pjs and take lots of naps.

And since nothing is worse to me than mental boredom, in my spare spurts of energy I went on a patternmaking and sewing binge. I managed to cut, sew and fit this dress, a t-shirt, and two pairs of pants, and drafted two more pairs of pants I want to make this winter. That was my birthday present to myself…

So here is my belated birthday dress. Because sick or not, one must have at least one new dress for a birthday, no?

red knit dress | Cloth Habit

This was one of the silhouettes I came up with for my summer capsule wardrobe. I really wanted to have a few easy, throw-on knit dresses for our very hot summer days.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make many non-lingerie pieces this summer. Nor did I buy any clothing. I’m really committed to not filling my wardrobe back up with impulsive buys or ill-fitting clothing but instead want to work toward a thoughtful whole, no matter how long it takes me. However, all this discipline, combined with purging about 75% of my closet in the spring, left me with little variety. So I wanted to knock at least one summer piece off the list before the heat completely disappears.

The Pattern

This is just a simple little knit tank dress. I drafted the tank portion off of my fitted t-shirt pattern. For the skirt, I wanted something in between a quarter circle and half circle skirt, but with waist gathers. Frankly, I don’t like the way circle skirts lay over my tummy. So I drew out a quarter circle skirt, then slashed and spread down the center for the extra ease.

All in all it was pretty slapdash (for me) but I will probably make a few more next summer!

red knit dress | Cloth Habit

The Fabric

The fabric is a lovely cotton and modal blend knit that I sourced wholesale over the spring. Wholesale means: I bought an ENTIRE ROLL! Yowzas. It was my first business fabric purchase and I was quite nervous about keeping that kind of inventory/stash but once I unrolled the fabric, I knew it was the cotton of my dreams. It is also undyed, also known as PFD: prepared for dyeing. This means the cotton has its natural off white color and there are no treatments on the surface. It is quite a glorious fabric to dye!

I used Dharma Trading’s fiber reactive dye in Scarlet, which turned out a lighter red than I wanted so if there’s a next time I’ll make sure to use a little more dye for deeper color.

red knit dress | Cloth Habit

By the way, if you have never tried fiber reactive dyes (also known as Procion MX dyes) on cotton, rayon or linen, you are in for a treat. It takes about an hour to do a solid even dyeing but you don’t need hot water to make them permanent, and after a proper after-dye rinsing and washing it does not bleed or fade. At all. I’ve been using these dyes for over a year and washing items dyed with them quite a bit, so I speak from experience!

I’m so glad to be out of the Twilight Zone and have a little color back. What do you guys do when you’re sick? Are you a fighter or take-it-easy sort? I guess I’m a little bit in the middle…

Drafting Patterns with Software

Pattern Drafting Software | Cloth Habit

If you’ve scooted around these parts for awhile you may have noticed that I like to make fancy-dancy illustrations for my tutorials. Most of the time, those illustrations are scaled down versions of actual patterns that I either drafted on my computer or scanned and then turned into a digital pattern.

Many readers have been interested in how I draft or what program I use to do those things, so I thought it’d be fun to open up the subject of pattern drafting software.

I use Adobe Illustrator, which is a vector program. I’ve been using Adobe software since the 90s and feel very comfortable with the tools in Illustrator so it was easy to teach myself how to draft in it.

Drafting in Illustrator | Cloth Habit

However, my ease with Illustrator did not make me a good patternmaker. Even if a computer or some online program automatically drafted a pattern after inputting your measurements, there is still the work of learning to to fit, learning what makes for a good pattern. Whether you like drafting old-school on a big piece of paper or in software, the end results can have the same greatness or the same mistakes depending on your skill or the method of drafting you use.

A pro for paper drafting: A drafter can view the pattern in “real life scale”.

Pros for computer drafting: The ability to copy, paste and repeat very quickly. (No more tracing pattern to make adjustments.) Lines and curves can be measured down to millimeters which makes tasks like walking a pattern and matches notches very quick and accurate.

So let’s talk about the types of software you can use for pattern drafting.


In the software industry, CAD is short for “computer aided design”. CAD is a type of modeling software that is used in many fields including architecture design, interior design, 3D modeling and pattern drafting.

Adobe Illustrator and other vector drawing programs are not technically “CAD”, although some like to call it that, short for “computer aided drawing”. If you have ever tried to import a CAD drawing into a vector program or vice versa, you know the chaos that ensues! They are two totally different languages with different purposes.

Three Types of Software Tools

Among options for pattern drafting software, I’d boil them down to three types:

1. CAD-based software for the fashion industry.
There are many different companies making professional pattern software. The biggies are Gerber, Lectra and Optitex. These are all based on CAD technology, very specialized, and cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

2. Scaled down CAD software for home sewists or custom clothing makers.
Software of this nature is based on CAD technology but has less options in order to make it more affordable.

A few programs of this type:
Wild Ginger PatternMaster
Telestia Creator

Some of these programs work by measurement input. You put in measurements, it forms the pattern blocks for you. Others offer full-fledged tools to draft from the ground up. Some of them include additional “style libraries” to add on to your blocks. The market for these kind of programs varies from home sewists to custom apparel and smaller garment companies.

One very important caveat about all of the CAD-based programs: they are based on Windows and only run on a Mac when you own a copy of Windows and run it through Bootcamp or an emulator. (Both of which really slow down my computer…)

3. Vector drawing software.
While vector software is not created specifically for drafting, it is a wonderful tool that puts a highly accurate ruler and pen in your hand. With this kind of software, you draw the patterns as you wish. There are a lot of little tools within a vector program that speed up the process over paper drafting.

The main options:
Adobe Illustrator
Inkscape (free)

Another option: Adobe just released Illustrator Draw, a free iPad version of Illustrator. It used to be called “Adobe Ideas”, which I used quite a bit last year. It’s actually pretty sweet and has all the important tools you need for drawing. I drafted a pair of pants on it!

Despite its cost I keep using Adobe Illustrator since I am so familiar with how it works and have collected a lot of plugins over the years that increase its functionality. I’ll admit that I was never attracted to the CAD-based programs because I’m such a Mac girl.

In my next patternmaking post, I’ll explore some different ways you can use Illustrator (or any vector program) to draft patterns, along with some of my favorite tricks.

Have you tried using a patternmaking program? And if so, do you feel comfortable working in it? I’d love to hear what others use.

1 2 3 4 5 20