Auxiliary Reference Information | Draft | Preserving the Draft

For either a Base Template, Working Template or Flexible Pattern, once you have made the draft and tested it by making a Test Garment, undergone one or multiple fittings and then written the alterations back to the draft the Master copy could be a little worse for wear. You may even have already made a clean copy of the Master Draft to carry on through the fitting process because sometimes it can get difficult to work out which lines you need to use if you have already written in multiple pencil or even pen colours.

Any cutting copy of the Master template after fitting is really obsolete as changes no doubt have been made during fitting so it is important to dispose of these pieces after a fitting so that there is no chance of using them again in error.

It makes sense then after all of this testing to preserve the draft which basically means to make it more robust as it will be the basis for lots of future drafts even if it is a Working Template or a Flexible Pattern.

It is a good idea to have a quick read through this unit first before preserving your draft. If you are working on a Flexible Pattern ensure you read the notes on the bottom of this unit to give you further information about preserving Flexible Patterns.

An easy and cheap way to preserve the draft is to make a card version of it. I use a mid-weight A1 sized card and usually can fit a Front and a Back draft on one piece of card, depending on how big the body is and how big the card is. Using card will make the draft more robust for storage and will help make it last longer. Another advantage is that by using card it makes it really easy to draw around for any copy that you would like to make thereafter, it really is a speedy way to make a copy once you have the card – it can take literally 5 mins to trace around a card draft. Therefore it is an especially worthwhile thing to do for the Base Template and the Working Template drafts as these will form the basis of every pattern that you make.

Before creating the card copy after final fitting and alterations have been defined on the drafts it is important to ensure that the draft has been trued up and finalised with all relevant Awl Punches, Notches and Grainlines and any guidelines are clear and labelled if you feel you need labels to help to begin with.

Ensure that you are certain which outlines are lines that you finally decided on during any alterations and that you have marked them clearly. I cannot stress this enough, the last thing you need to do now is to copy off the wrong lines after all of that work!

Ensure that the drafts are labelled with the name of the draft, which draft this draft was drafted from (not applicable for a Base Template usually), the client name, date of the Client Sheet, Client Weight and if the draft is for a Flexible pattern the name of the collection/pattern (for example ‘Summer Capsule – Simple Top’). It does seem like a bore to label in this way but you will be glad that you did later down the line when you come back to these drafts and wonder what they are and why you did them. Before you know it you will have a multitude of drafts being stored and clear identification is going to save you lots of time.

I use a colour system to help me quickly identify my card drafts you could use this or make up your own colour system if you would like to;

  • White for Base Templates.

  • Cream for positive ease Working Templates.

  • Grey for negative ease Working Templates.

  • Pink for Flexible Patterns.

This photo shows a Base Template that has been really worked over during fitting and alteration with different colour pens used for each alteration. So you can see how important it is to make sure that you are clear what lines you are going to use. If I have lots of lines I place small circles down the line so that I am very clear and you can see this in this sample with the orange ink. If I needed to make any more alterations to this pattern I would have probably made a decision to copy it off again to make a clean copy before continuing with another fitting because having so many lines can increase your chances of making mistakes.

You may have more labels on your drafts if you need them to start with, especially if this is your first Base Template and have followed the drafting instructions. It’s your draft so decide what information you feel you need to place on it to help you.

Another interesting point on this Back draft is that this person has a sway back which has meant that the back shaping is larger than usual and a slightly different shape than instructed during drafting the Base Template. This has come about during fitting where excess fabric was pinched out at the Centre Back above the waist to remove the excess fabric. This is a usual alteration for a sway back and will mean that the best fit for this person will always be to have a waist seam in the Back.

Don’t worry so much about the shape of this draft, it will be different to yours as we are all different shapes and sizes. It is very easy to create the card copy as you are creating a copy in the same way that you make any cutting copy but you are going to trace the draft onto a piece of card instead of paper.


You may need to iron the draft before starting if it is not lying flat after all of the folding of darts when you trued it up or stored it, if you do don’t have the heat too high to start with.

  • As you did with creating a cutting copy onto paper lay the flat and smooth draft onto the card and weigh it down with pattern weights or anything you have handy. I usually start with the Front Draft first.

  • Using the tracing wheel trace out the; Outline, Darts including any bowed out Darts or curved Darts and Grainlines. For Flexible Patterns you may have other notches for pleats or gathers and hems or piece placement such as pockets/collars/sleeves etc. or cutting instructions such as lines to indicate where you should cut on a fold etc.

  • Also trace out all of the Guidelines that you will need to for construction, for the Base Template and Working Template this would include; Hip Bone Line Waist Line and appropriate Waist Shaping Back Shaping Bust Line Chest Line Shoulder Blade Line Princess Lines

  • Once you are sure you have traced every line peel the draft back slowly to check that you have captured everything.

  • Draw over the traced lines to firm everything up with a fine tipped pen. I use pen because pencil can fade with time.

  • Then cut out the draft very carefully along the outline, slightly to the inside of the traced line as you don’t want to make the draft bigger as you go through this process.

The draft in this photo is a basic example and does not show any labels for guidelines or measurements for lines but you may wish to add these on. One measurement that is useful to add on is the armhole measurement just in case a sleeve is required so measuring from the Base Armhole to Shoulder End with a soft tape measure, check the measurement and simply note it on the card draft (remember to measure on the inside of the draft and not around the edge on the outside). I don’t usually add all of the measurements for all of the guidelines on the draft, but you might like to if so then measure the lines and write on the measurement.

On a Working Template I would also note down the ease that I had added, I find this helps when starting on a Flexible Pattern – if you have already written this on the Master then it is just a matter of copying this across.

On a Flexible Pattern you may have seam allowances, fold lines etc. to add, copied of your Master Flexible Pattern or Pattern pieces. See the bottom of this unit for more information for Flexible Pattern details that will need transferring.

So check all of the details and be sure that you have collected everything that is going to be useful.

​​This photo shows a close-up of the sway back adjustment for this sample.

This photo shows a close up of bowed out darts noted on the Card Draft that were defined during fitting.

When you have the Drafts cut out it really doesn't hurt to give it a final true on all seams and where seams flow from the Front to the Back or even across the Centre Front/Centre Back.

  • The next step is to notch important points around the outline of the card draft.

These would be where any Guideline or Dart Legs come to the edge of the card, i.e. where you have previously identified the need for a notch.You can either use paper scissors to cut the notch or use a notching tool.

If you are using scissors cut out a small triangle about 3 or 4mm long to indicate the notch is needed at that point.

If you are using a notching tool then clip the notch on the line.

One more point if you are notching anywhere on the Centre Back you could consider using a Double Notch, where you Notch a second time ¼” above the first Notch. This helps you differentiate that you are working on the Back.

Here is a close up of the notch.

  • Also at the point of every dart or anywhere you have placed awl points on the draft carefully push the awl through the card to create a hole in the card all the way through so that you would be able to make a mark through the hole with a pen or pencil when you needed to.

  • Then transfer all of the label information onto the card copy from the draft such as; Guidelines. Measurements. Draft labels Grainlines.

The photo here shows the awl holes that have been punched though the card, at the end of each Dart and along the waist shaping and back shaping.

Pattern Storage

The next thing you need to consider is how you are going to store your card drafts copies. You really want to keep them flat and straight. You can invest in pattern hangers that are pretty cheap to get hold of in which case you will need to punch a hole in the draft (I have a pattern Notcher that has a hole punch integrated).

You can see holes that have been punched into the bottom of the card drafts in the photo above to accommodate the bar on the pattern hook for storage.

Here are the pattern hooks that I find useful and they are reasonably priced.

These can then hang off any wardrobe hanging system. There are many temporary clothing hanging systems in the shops at reasonable prices. Otherwise you could simply hang them in a wardrobe.

If you don’t want to invest in pattern hangers you can simply use skirt/trouser hangers and clip the patterns to hang them up.

Incidentally I will always store my original Master drafts in the paper form with the appropriate test garment as I do refer back to them from time to time so it is best not to throw these things away. Sometimes I have forgotten to copy some detail across to the card copy in my haste and need to refer back! I clip the Master Draft with the Test Garment together using clothes hangers and store them at the back of the Card copy. Sometimes I will store my master copy with my preserved pattern folded inside an envelope, its always good to keep the everything together for future reference. Sometimes you may wish to add in another pattern piece to your pattern to extend the Flexible Pattern pack at a later date so if you have your master pattern available to you, changes can be made or areas re traced to accommodate the extra pattern pieces.

In this photo there is a combination of hanging systems, pattern hooks for card, wooden clip hangers for master drafts together with the test garment and also some skirt clip hangers.

I also use a colour code piece of card to break up each client’s drafts and patterns, you can see them hanging from the little clips here that were supplied with the hanging rail in Red and Yellow. All nicely organised.

Preserving a draft for a Flexible Pattern

Prior to going to the trouble of preserving a Flexible Pattern I like to make a couple of garments out if it first to ensure that I like the result before I preserve it, and I will only preserve a Flexible Pattern if I think I will make more garments from it.

It is likely that you have made your Flexible Pattern draft into any number of pattern pieces, so you would be making a decision to preserve each piece individually. Some pieces may be small and you may make a decision not to preserve them, for example a thin long belt.

For pattern pieces that you do wish to preserve there could be any number of additional pieces of information that you will need to capture on the card and this will be determined on the pattern piece so you will need to consider this and transfer any relevant pieces of information.

One design element you may have added is Seam Allowances which you will have already trued.

All you would need to do is draw around the pattern piece that has the seam allowance added. It is up to you how you identify the size of the seam allowance but it is a useful thing to do just in case in the future you decide to remove the seam allowance for any reason, it also reminds you what size Seam Allowance you decided on for each seam although you can also add this onto your Pattern Record Card (which gives you all the information for your pattern and it is printed on paper – not to be confused with your pattern cards you have drawn around for your draft!).

So you can either simply write down the Seam Allowance on the pattern card with the rest of your labels or draw the seam allowances on. Usually I do not draw them on in full as I don’t like too many lines on the pattern card, it is enough to mark off the start and end lines on each seam allowance for about ½” as shown in this photo.

This photo shows a sleeve and hem with different seam allowances on each side.

This photo shows angled lines for the shaped seam allowances on a sleeve and also lines showing the seam allowance down a long sleeve which is something I like to do also.

All of these photos are taken from multiple pattern pieces from one Flexible Pattern draft so you can see how one design can have a multitude of seam allowances of different sizes.

This particular design is for a jacket with around 50 pieces. When patterns get this complicated it is worth using a colour code scheme. On this jacket I colour coded each piece to identify which fabric it should be cut out of with is reflected in the Pattern Record Card. The photo below shows clearly that this pattern piece has a red dot to identify it to the appropriate fabric via the Pattern Record Card.

You can also see that each Pattern piece is given a number from the Pattern Record Card to help with quick identification (and to check that you have not lost one!). The Pattern piece is also named with the Design name and the name of the pattern piece, all details also on the Pattern Record Card.

Also as per the pattern piece each one defines how many pieces should be cut and out of which fabric – just for further confirmation, also recorded on the Pattern Record Card.

Lastly any small pattern pieces I store in an envelope with the other pieces to keep them all together, I just punch a hole in the corner to allow the pattern hook to go through.

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