Clothing and Pattern Design Overview

- Jul 25, 2017 -

Traditionally, sewing patterns are cut from flat pieces of cloth and stitched together. The place where one piece of cloth is sewn to another is called a seam. Patterns are generally symmetrical, where the left side of the garment matches the right.


The simplest is a skirt pattern with two pieces, with a similar shape for the front and back. The back shape is a little larger than the front to account for the hips and buttocks.

The shapes are sewn together at the sides to form a simple skirt.

The bottom edge of a garment is called a hem. In the skirt pattern, the waistline and hem are slightly curved. When a person puts on the skirt, the curve sits flat on the waist, while the skirt falls in folds to the hem. Because both the waistline and hem are curved, the skirt falls to the same length all the way around.


A shirt pattern is slightly more complicated. A simple T-shirt pattern is made of two pieces, one for the front and another for the back. The collar on the back piece is higher than the collar on the front. You sew seams up the sides and at the shoulders, leaving the arm hole open.

You can also add sleeves to the shirt. A sleeve pattern is bell-shaped.

It might not be immediately obvious how this pattern turns into a sleeve. The large hump of the bell fits over the shoulder, to give room for it to move.


A pants pattern has a curved shape at the top to accommodate the hips. The longer straight edge is the outside seam, while the shorter edge is the inseam. The curve near the top fits around the belly or buttocks, and under the crotch area.

Each piece is cut twice. The two front pieces are sewn together along the crotch, and the two back pieces are sewn together in the same way. Then the front is attached to the back at the outside seams and inseams.


Darts are diamond-shaped holes inside a panel or V-shaped cutouts at an edge of a garment panel (see figure below), which when closed up cause the garment to assume a curved shape.

Darts used to be a common part of women's everyday clothing, especially in blouses and dresses. However, darts are not needed with loose garments or stretchy clothing. Today, they are used mostly in formal wear and tailored garments.

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