Fashion Design & Pattern Cutting courses


Check out our current Pattern Cutting Courses here.
Some aspects can also be covered in Stitch Classes - read on for a full explanation of pattern cutting and block making options...

Have you made clothes from commercial dressmaking patterns but wish you had more choice & a better fit? What if you could sew your own designs, or copy your favourite clothes or recreate vintage patterns in your size? At Sew In Brighton you can learn fashion design & pattern cutting at any time of the year. Check our classes menu here to see if we have a specific course running, but if not you can learn this skill in 1-2-1 lessons & most aspects of it can be also learnt in our Stitch Classes

There are 3 aspects to Pattern Cutting & Fashion Design:
1. Making your block - this is a basic shape (a skirt, trouser, top (bodice) or dress) that has been crafted to fit you just how you like. It has no design details. It's purpose is to be used again & again & adapted into new clothing fashion designs of your choice (see the 2 methods of creating your block below)
2. Fashion Design & Pattern Cutting - Tracing off & cutting up your block to make many new dressmaking patterns to your own custom clothing fashion design (or replicating it into garment styles you've seen somewhere)
3. Replicating a pattern from an existing garment - recreate a much loved garment without taking it apart by tracing it off bit by bit onto paper & adding seam allowance, notches etc

1. Making Your Block:

Method A) Personalised block making from bought commercial patterns 
Learn this method in: Stitch Classes & 1-2-1 lessons plus we may occasionally run Pattern Cutting or Making & Fitting Clothes from Patterns courses or similar, see if we running these here
This is the fastest method to getting a block pattern that fits you in order to keep it as your basic block (like a template) & change it into you own designs (i.e. pattern cut it to your design, see below). This is an awesome way to make a block without drafting it from scratch from your measurements, which takes much longer (see next paragraph). 
Bring: £3 for pattern paper, 3m medium weight calico (1m for skirt), wear vest & leggings (not too tight), wear the bra, underwear, shoes you will wear with final garments

Book Stitch Classes here
 4-10 Stitch classes to perfect your block & make a toile - no. of classes depends on garment type, fitting issues, speed, homework done, others in class etc!)

Book 1-2-1 lessons
- this is our estimated lesson plan ( skirts may be slightly less time & dresses maybe slightly more): 

  1. 3.5-4 hours: To measure, cut out the pattern, tissue fit & mark changes back to pattern & adjust ready to cut in calico  
  2. 2-3 hours: To cut out & pin calico pieces together to fabric & fit, including fitting & marking final changes back to the pattern. This includes the teacher helping you with all cutting sewing & pinning. 
  3. 1-1.5hours: The adjusted toile being sewn up with both teacher and student sewing. However, you could do this at home after the class & pop back to either a Stitch Class or shorter 121 if it needed further tweaks when sewn eg moving darts, leg shape, neck adjustments
    So that's 6.5 to 8.5 hours including sewing toile or 6-7h with you sewing some at home. 

We sell these patterns in class for £8 cash:

  • M7279 Misses’ Fit Pattern/Dresses & Optional Collar
  • B7137 - Burda Style Dress.  Garment Size EUR 36-54
  • Misses & Womens Trousers McCalls Sewing Pattern No. 6901.  Size 8-24

Read about how student Jacqui did this in Stitch Classes here  

It took her 20 Stitch Classes to make the block from the McCalls dress block, then adapt it to the vintage design she saw on Pinterest, no homework and she was pretty much a beginner, so this was somewhat advanced for her, so would be quicker for someone with more sewing experience!

Method B) Drafting a personalised garment block (template) pattern from just your body measurements
Learn this method in: 1-2-1 lessons plus we may occasionally run Pattern Cutting or Making & Fitting Clothes from Patterns courses or similar, see if we running these here 
Lesson Plan options for this skill in 121 lessons:

Option 1: Introduction to block making - Make a skirt block.
We recommend starting to learn the skill of drafting patterns from body measurements by making a personalised pattern for a basic skirt block & sewing it up in calico to check fit & keep as your block template. (4 hours in 1-2-1).
See lesson plan for this option & what to bring to class here

Option 2: More advanced - Make a bodice, dress or trouser block. The bodice block is used for all non stretch top designs from shirts to corsets & you can extend it into a dress to get your dress block (you don't need a skirt block to make the dress, just the bodice block!). Trousers have separate block drafting instructions. n.b. For womenswear it's advisable to start with drafting the skirt block as you'll find the more technical bodice/dress/trouser less overwhelming!
Booking 1-2-1 lessons to make custom patterns/blocks - this is our estimated lesson plan for method B bodice dress or trouser blocks:
  • 4 -6 hours: To measure, draft the pattern, trace off onto tissue with added seam allowance,  tissue fit to check & mark changes back to pattern & adjust ready to cut in calico
  • 2-3 hours: To cut out & pin calico pieces together to fabric & fit, including fitting & marking final changes back to the pattern. This includes the teacher helping you with all cutting sewing & pinning. 
  • 1-1.5 hours: The adjusted toile being sewn up with both teacher and student sewing. 
  • 1-1.5 hours Fitting the calico toile, marking adjustments back to the pattern, possible re-toile

  • So that's 8 to 12 hours including sewing toile or maybe a little less with you sewing some at home. It's very hard to be exact as so many variables re fit, sewing ability/understanding but this gives a ballpark! Drafting from scratch involves more time as you are making the pattern and then tracing off yourself to create the one you tissue fit, whereas with Method A you are just cutting out an existing pattern
Bring to class per garment: £3 for pattern paper; 3m medium weight calico for dress or trousers; 1m for skirt, 2m for bodice; wear vest & leggings (not too tight); wear the bra, underwear, shoes you will wear with final garments  


2. Fashion Design & Pattern Cutting 
Tracing off & cutting up your block to make many new dressmaking patterns
Learn this skill (starting from ready made block - see above) in the following classes:

Bring your block pattern along (see above for how to make one) to Stitch Classes or 1-2-1 lessons to get help creating fashion clothing designs from it. They may be ideas you've seen in shops, on Pinterest, or in your head! We will help you trace off your block & cut it up (pattern cutting) into your new design, ready to be sewn up

Bring to first class: Your block & any calico toiles or garments made from it previously, design ideas, cash for pattern paper (usually £1-£3), wear a vest & leggings in case you need to try it on or measure yourself. Design ideas for your first design. You may need to also bring fabric, depending on whether you will get to this in the first class (e.g. in a long 1-2-1 lesson you may do)
Contact us here if you need advice 

You can also make a number of designs into patterns in miniature, to learn the theory of pattern cutting and quickly see how to make your ideas a reality! Bring along designs you like and use our mini block print outs to learn pattern cutting much faster. In a 2.5 hour class you could make mini patterns for 3-10 designs depending on your current skill level and complexity of designs. Ask us more about this if you are interested. You could also do this in a shorter session on Zoom - even an hour would help you create 1-4 patterns. If you have a full size block and some pattern paper then you could have a go at creating the full size version on your own at home

3. Replicating a pattern from an existing garment 
Recreate a much loved garment without taking it apart

We will teach you how to trace off your garment bit by bit onto pattern paper to make a new pattern from it, so you recreate your original in many different fabrics. Once you have made your pattern, cut out & sew your garment at home or in ongoing Stitch Classes or 1-2-1 lessons with us

What to bring to class to make your pattern in 1-2-1 lessons & Stitch Classes: see the 'What to Bring' list in the notes section of the Replicate Clothes workshop page here

Read about how student Jacqui replicated her favourite tunic top here

fashion design course - final skirt fashion design crop - samanthas almost finished skirt1. fashion design & p
Click here for more pictures from the fashion design course 

Previous Student Reviews of our Pattern Cutting tuition on courses, Stitch Classes & 121 lessons:

"This course gave me the confidence I can actually make a pattern for anything I want to design"  Julia Miles, Hove

"I've learnt sooo much! I feel I've gained the confidence to design & make any garment"   Stephanie Yeboah, Brighton 

"Kat is friendly, approachable & positive. I'm amazed to have drafted a pattern & which appears to fit!"   Sheila Firth, Fulking

 ''The course was a revelation. It has opened so many more options to me for my dressmaking & seems limitless in its application''   Caroline Fielden, Brighton


Experience/age: For adults aged 16+. Pattern cutting combines creativity & technical precision. To get the most out of this course you should have made at least one garment before using a sewing machine, be able to use a sewing machine without help & be happy using a calculator for basic maths. You could book sewing classes with us if you want to learn some clothes-sewing skills before the course - click here for info. 

Venue: The Sewing Lounge, Hove or enquire about us coming to your house (We have stairs! Click here for information on venue access if you have a disability or injury)   

Book Stitch Classes here 
Book 1-2-1 lessons here


Lessons content example for Intro to block making (skirt block) + pattern cutting a new design in 1-2-1 lessons:

  1. Make a perfect fitting skirt pattern template ('block') to your own measurements (1.5-2 hours)
  2. Make a toile & fit to perfection (1-2 hours)
  3. Learn how to adapt this block pattern in miniature paper patterns. Create many different styles & design techniques, including making waistbands, facings, pockets, pleats, gathers - any skirt you can imagine can be made from this block! (2-4 hours)
  4. Design a skirt & make a full size pattern for it to cut out & sew at home or in additional Stitch classes (3-4 hours)
  5. Underst& how the same techniques can be used to design & make dresses, trousers, tops etc (30 mins to 1 hour)
  6. You can use the same techniques at home (we will tell you the book to get on Amazon) to create your own trousers, dresses, tops etc & you'll find shop bought patterns much easier to underst& & customise/alter with some pattern cutting knowledge under your belt. Book Stitch Classes if you need help pattern cutting your block into new designs or sewing up the garments!

Bring to lessons for Intro to block making (skirt block):

  • Bring 1 metre of cotton calico fabric to make your toile from (there is a lovely soft calico sold at Buttons & Bows in the Open Market, Brighton - contact them to check stock)
  • Bring a sketchbook or folder with holepunched A4 paper plus some pritt stick, pins, fabric scissors, a hard pencil (2H -4H) & a pen. 
  • If you are splitting up your 1-2-1 lessons and doing some sewing at home, you'll need to have access at home to a sewing machine, pins, scissors & thread and you'll need to know how to sew already. If you don't have your own machine you can pop into The Sewing Lounge to use ours  for (£5 an hour - speak to your tutor on the course to arrange) or we have weekly Stitch sewing classes during or after the course should you need them, from £18 a class.
  • Wear thin clothes, leggings or tights (not too tight as changes body shape!) on week 1 for measuring the body & week for fitting your mock up/toile to yourself
  • Cash to buy pattern and tissue paper from us, plus you may want to buy yourself grader ruler from us if you enjoy using it on the day (£15)

We provide: rulers, tracing wheels, masking tape, spare paper scissors, tape measures, handouts. 

Where to buy fabric: Suggestions of where to buy your fabric locally will be given on your booking confirmation, or to see our list of local fabric shops now click here 

Refreshments: Complimentary tea & coffee during the classes. Feel free to bring a snack if needed


More pictures from previous Fashion Design & Pattern Cutting courses

  Fashion Design And Pattern Cutting   Fashion Design And Pattern Cutting
p cutting course 3  fashion design - pattern cutting block draft
 resized Beginner pattern Cutters in their skirt toiles. October 2011 fashion design & pattern cutting course sib - amanda and emma learn to
          fashion design - drafting ruch skirt mini 2015-04-20 20.07.43         fashion design mini draft 2015-04-20 20.06.24
         fashion design spring 2014 sarahs final skirt -        fashion design - vanessaskirt

fashion design - emmas final skirt design and mini draft. april 15 fashio


 Book a 4 hour 1-2-1 lesson or 3-10 Stitch Classes to get started

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