Auxiliary Reference Information | Draft | Truing a Draft

Once a pattern has been drafted whether for a Base Template, Working Template or any Flexible Pattern it is a good idea not to just rush ahead with either making a test garment or cutting out actual fashion fabric. Incidentally many manufactured patterns are not put through this truing process. If a pattern is trued up then it’s the sign of a good quality design.

After I create a draft then I true it prior to making a copy or a cutting copy. You don’t want to true up a cutting copy as those changes would be lost when you cut up the pieces into a pattern. You need the trued up details in the Master draft copy.

Truing can mean that you have to cut some lines on the draft so you will need to do this carefully after all of your hard work.

Truing is really all about check over the pattern to make sure that it is the best that it can be remember we are aiming for a quality garment at every turn. If a draft is trued it will sew up easily and there are a few things that we can check in order to make sure that this does happen. After every fitting and draft alteration we would going through the truing process, because if you need to make a new test garment then you know everything will fit together perfectly.

The photos presented show the diagrams in pen but you should use your pencil to do this. If your pencil is not clear enough because you have too many lines already then you could use a fine tipped erasable pen just to firm up the details if you need to.

Check the following items on the draft;

  • Firstly check that all of your draft lines internally and outlines are all very clear, if you have multiple lines make sure you have rubbed out the ones you don’t want to follow or at least drawn some lines through them so that you don’t get confused. You may have made mistakes but that is fine as you can clean up the diagram at this point to make it clearer. You want to eradicate any errors so that any future drafts don’t inherit the same mistakes

  • Ensure that the Front draft and the Back draft are labelled and you have identified if it is a Base Template/Working Template/Flexible Pattern for ease of reference. It is also a good idea to label which pattern that you drafted this one from as a client could have multiple Base Templates if they have gone up and down in size, or if you have made a Flexible Pattern from a certain Working Template anything you can do to keep track of the drafts is worth it while you think about it.

  • Ensure that you place the Client name and the Date off the Clients Measurements Sheet and the Weight of the Client somewhere on the draft.

  • Stand Back and look at what you have drafted, the bigger picture and see if you can spot anything obvious that you think might get changed during a fitting. I think it is good to do this for two reasons; firstly you are thinking about the fitting and considering what to look closely at, and secondly after you have done the fitting and alterations you can compare what you did with what you thought you might have to do. This way you are judging the draft and learning from the lines that you see, constantly improving. You could write on the draft with any notes of what you would like to look at in particular, I mark these areas with an asterisk and arrows to show what to focus on.

  • It is easier to true up a draft if you separate the Front from the Back and take off any excess paper up to about 3” away from the outline all the way around. So roughly cut them apart and trim them.

  • For Test Garments I don’t usually use a Seam Allowance unless it is Flexible Pattern and I know what I am going to use and I am confident of the fit. If I do have a Seam Allowance then the pattern will need to be trued up first then the Seam Allowance added then I like to true up again to make sure that the Seam Allowances are defined properly.


Seams are more easily trued if you true up Darts first.

We true up a Dart for the same reason as truing up a Seam, essentially to make it easier to sew. Truing the Dart will help determine where any Dart bulk will go and also to ensure that the Dart will sew properly and fit snugly into the flow of the pattern outline.

Sometimes the design or fabric thickness will have an effect on what you do with the Dart so it is useful at this point to consider all of these things, for example how are you going to deal with the fabric bulk caused by the Dart, you might place a Dart to one side or the other if it is opposite another Dart to share the bulk on each side, or you may decide to slice a Dart down the middle to spread the fabric on either side something done more in couture sewing often. But on the whole a Dart will be folded over on one side or the other;

  • Shoulder Darts tend to have the bulk towards the Armhole.

  • Waist Darts with the bulk towards the centre – unless you are trying to reduce bulk on the centre of the body in which case you would have the bulk towards the side.

  • Armhole Darts and side Darts including French Darts will tend to have the bulk going downwards (towards gravity).

At the end of the day, it is your choice where you put your Dart bulk, after all you are the designer for the pattern.

You will work on each Dart one at a time and true them up by;

  • Deciding which side of the Dart the bulk is going to go, this is important because it can affect the shape of the Dart at the outline as this will follow the shape of the garment outline at that point, this outline could be different on either side of the Dart on the main garment.

  • You will fold the Dart by bringing one Dart leg up to join the other Dart leg with the crease happening along the Centre Dart line. In order to make folding the Dart easier sometimes I will trace the Dart with the tracing wheel which scores the Dart making the folds form easier. You would trace along both legs of the Dart and also the centre Dart line. Using cutting mat underneath will help with making the score marks with the Tracing Wheel.

You would true up the Side Dart, the Armhole Dart and the Shoulder Dart on the Front draft. Also you would true up the Shoulder Dart on the Back draft although this Dart can be a little tricky to true up. You can’t true up a Dart on the inside of the draft.

This is a picture of a folded Side Dart.

I don’t recommend to pin the Dart when truing it as you want it to be as flat as possible just hold it in place with one hand.

In this picture you can see that the Side outline now has a little jog in it and if you were to cut the fabric like that it would be difficult to work out where to sew. So a new outline needs to be drawn in this case. You could pick a line and continue it into the other line or I prefer to split the difference and create a new line altogether between the two. Using the tracing wheel mark out the new line, as you do this press down and the scoring will go through onto the Dart bulk below.

You can then firm up the outline by drawing it in, notice in this next picture that the old lines have been crossed out to make sure everything is clear.

When this Dart is opened out the scored lines have gone down onto the Dart bulk below, this can sometimes create a V shape which can come into the original drawn Dart outlines and also go outside of it creating a Dart Extension.

This new Dart outline can be firmed up by drawing it in and any old lines crossed out.

This new shape for the Dart ensures that there will be enough fabric in the area of the Dart so that it meets the edge of the Seam allowance and will sew up nice and neatly.

Incidentally after adding any Seam allowance on a draft you would recheck and true up the whole draft again including the Darts.

As we have already found out in previous Auxiliary Reference information about Darts, some of them can be curved, and you won’t be able to fully true up a curved Dart but you can have a good go at it, I would still true it up the best I could by folding it as much as possible at the outline and going through the same process as above.

This next photo is of a trued up Shoulder Dart, can you see that when this Dart was folded out that the outline was redrawn from Shoulder High Point to Shoulder End to keep the line straight. The Dart will need to be checked to ensure it is still central on the Shoulder line and the Dart Legs may need a slight reposition. No doubt that this will change again after a fitting anyway, there is usually a little work to do getting the correct angle and position on a Shoulder Seam.


To true up Seams I think it helps to visualise the paper as fabric. Once the draft is finalised and the pattern pieces are cut from it and the fabric pieces cut from that then all of the pieces get sewn together. Usually for a bodice this will be at the sides and the Shoulders and sometimes Centre Back and Centre Front. So we need to check the Seam lengths but also check the curves and the flow of the pattern from one piece to the next to make sure that it will sew up nicely. If this is done then the whole sewing process will run smoothly and more quickly.

You want the Seams to line up so that when you pin both pieces of fabric together you don’t want one side to be bigger than the other and stick out at the end. So while we have it in paper form we have an opportunity to check all of the Seams that will be sewn up.

Caveat – sometimes you will have made a Seam on one side bigger than the other side on purpose for example when making a jacket the Back Shoulder Seam can have a little extra fabric to allow for wearing ease, to help the arms move forwards and Backwards. Sometimes a sleeve may have been designed with extra ease in the top of the sleeve around the sleeve head. During sewing this extra ease will be eased into the Seam as if it wasn’t there. So just be mindful and don’t trim away any excess on these Seams, as you have designed the pattern and you know it well you are less likely to true this up incorrectly. If a pattern has been fitted really well then extra ease is not used in many places and you would not need it in other Seams for example it would not be placed into the bust and princess Seams unless it is part of the design.

Side Seams

If this is a Base Template Draft then you will have not checked the side seam length yet so it is important to do this, but you should check any pattern anyway.

An easy way to do this it to place the Back draft over the top of the Front draft and compare the Sides Seam length, or if you prefer the shape of the Front draft you would place the Front draft on top of the Back draft. It is better to do this if you have cut off any excess paper off from one of the Side Seams, but don’t cut off any other paper excess for now because you may need to add on length and you may need the excess paper.

Start by cutting off along the Side Seam outline of the Back draft to remove any excess paper.

Assuming you have cut the excess off the Side Seam on the Back draft turn the Back draft over and make small marks to continue the main guidelines onto the Back of the sheet. If it helps use a pen at the end of each of the lines on the Front so that you can see it through the paper – or hold it up to the window

Then place the Back draft on top of the Front draft right sides together with the Side Seams lined up.

As both side outlines are not straight lines we are going to have to walk the pattern along the lines to see how everything lines up and this is a little more tricky on a Base Template draft as you have not had a fitting yet or smoothed out any curves.

Rather than starting from the top at the Base Armhole and going down the side or starting from bottom to the top I start at the Waist line and work down to the Lower Hip line and then come Back to the Waistline and work up to the Base Armhole. So peering over checking the waist lines on the Front and the Back drafts meet exactly and very carefully walk the Back draft down to the Hip bone line along the side length.

This photo shows lining up the Waist.

This photo shows walking the Back Side down the Front Side to the Hip Bone line, and you can see that because of the Hip Bone line jutting out on this draft there is a difference in measurement – even though the Hip Bone Depth was measured accurately. I prefer all of my guidelines to line up on the test garment so I change any discrepancy as I go along.

Do the Hip Bone lines line up? If not choose which side you want to change Front or Back (or split the difference and change both if there is a substantial difference greater than 1/8”). The Hip Bone line will be made into something called a notch later so we want these points to hit each other exactly. If there is a difference decide which one you are going to change the Front or the Back and make a mark.

Then take the patterns apart and make all the relevant changes on the drafts that you have chosen to alter. For example you are extending the Front Lower Hip line down 1/8” then extend it down all the way across the bottom of the pattern.

You can see how this pattern was altered to ensure that the guidelines will match up when sewn.

Continuing the checking down to the Lower Hip line.

Once the bottom side length has been checked then work on the side length above the Waist.

Remember that the Front draft may have a Dart in the Side Seam so we will need to fold up this Dart otherwise you may have a mini panic over the fact that your Back draft is not long enough in the side. To pin any Dart simply fold the pattern at the side on the bottom Dart leg and pinch this leg up to join the Front leg and crease down the Dart being careful to match up the lines. The bulk of the Dart will be folded downward below the lower Dart leg because this is how we would usually sew this Dart (think gravity pulling the Dart fabric downwards). With the Dart folded out pin down the Dart from the Side Seam towards the Bust Point to hold it in place.

This photo shows the pinned Side Dart that has already been trued up.