A pattern is a two-dimensional diagram of a garment, drafted by what is known in the fashion industry as a pattern maker or pattern cutter. The process is also known as pattern drafting, pattern cutting and flat patterning. Once a pattern is made, it is subsequently cut and sewn in fabric to make a garment. The history of pattern making can be traced as far back as the thirteenth century concurrent with the introduction of form-fitting clothing. Tailors and dressmakers authored guides on how to cut and sew men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. Guilds were formed offering apprentices the opportunity to learn techniques of the trade. By the late 1770s, publications such as Garasault’s Descriptions des Arts et Metiers, Diderot’s Encyclopedie Diderot et D’Alembert: Arts de l’Habillement, and The Tailor’s lnstructor by Queen and Lapsiey, all contained pattern drafts for the professional tailor, as well as the home dressmaker.
During the early 1850s, Godey’s Lady’s Book and Petersen’s Magazine began promoting small pattern diagrams of new clothing styles. Later Mme. Demorest’s full-scale patterns were offered through mail order. Butterick & Company, incorporated in 1863, offered its patterns in a full range of sizes, followed by McCall’s, Vogue, and Simplicity Pattern companies. Patents were issued that included solutions for properly identifying pattern pieces. The most comprehensive solution was patented by Hannah G. Millard in 1920. Her Dressmaker’s Pattern Outfit, instructed pattern users and supplied them with an accompanying step-by-step instruction sheet and diagram. Millard’s patent was secured as proprietary by Butterick Patterns.
Along came the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the sewing machine and the mass production of clothes. Clothing became cheaper to buy than to make and suited the faster lifestyle of women who were beginning to enter the workforce, especially after WWI. Manufacturers hired pattern makers and production patternmakers to keep up with the demand.
Today, patterns can be bought from commercial pattern companies, online stores and sites such as DoYouSew.com sell and even give away patterns. Patterns may be drafted manually by a single person or, in large manufacturing companies, drafted and graded by sophisticated computer Pattern Design Systems (PDS).
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