Tools of the Trade!!

Hi Everyone!!  Since I’ve shared with you that I’m a professional Pattern Maker  I’d like to share with you the tools I use for drafting patterns.  I think you’ll be surprised to see that it’s pretty uncomplicated.  I’ve had all these tools for years and years.  They’re what I’m familiar with and I feel like they are extensions of my hands.
These are the same tools that I purchased back in school for Fashion Design with the exception of scissors.  Back then I just purchased whatever was on the “list” of supplies for my classes that I didn’t even think about IF they would work for me.  So I purchased the large Gingers to cut oak tag but I never used them for that purpose.  They were just too large and uncomfortable for me to use and I could never bring myself to cut paper with such a beautiful pair of scissors.  This is a perfect example of a bad purchase.   So I sort of made due with another pair of scissors in the meantime.  In my first few years as a pattern maker we had a sales rep come around pretty often that sold tools and supplies.  I asked him to bring me some scissors that would work for the oak tag and paper and fit my hand more comfortably.  He brought me the most perfect scissors!!  As soon as I held them in my hand they felt “right”.  So, try out scissors for yourself before you purchase and learn from my mistake.  The other 2 pair of scissors are for cutting fabric. On is a standard size pair of Ginghers and the other was a gift from a client years ago.  They’re my favorite scissors.

L – “perfect” paper scissors     R – Giant Ginghers

L – Fabric Ginghers    R – Favorite gifted scissors

The rulers are pretty standard in the industry.  The one with the pink grid pattern is actually a quilting ruler but I find it perfect for adding seam allowances.  The three metal rulers are very common and I use daily.  The 2 on the bottom of the photo are hip curves.  I like the one on the bottom best.  The top ruler is a standard metal square.  I also have a 60″ long metal ruler as well.  It’s perfect for drafting long straight seams for evening and bridal wear.  I don’t think this one is a necessity for everyone, but I’ve found it extremely useful for my type of design.
The 3 clear plastic French Curves are a necessity for me.  The smallest one was purchased as part of my college class “supply list”.  It’s not my favorite but I still find it useful on occasion.  The 2 others were purchased from that same rep whom I found my perfect scissors with.  I love the duel ended French curve and it’s the one I use the most.  I use them all, as you can see.  They are well used and loved tools.  By having a variety of shapes and sizes, I never have a problem finding just the right curve for any project I’m working on.

My favorite French Curve is on the top.

The tape measure has been with me since high school. (Oh….did I say that out loud??)  It’s in good condition and I still use it as my main tape even though I have many others.  The needle pointed tracing wheel and pattern notcher are also industry standards.  A pattern notcher is for marking seams and points on a pattern.  A needle pointed tracing wheel is used for many purposes but mainly to transfer lines.  The magnetic pin cushion was a gift from my father from back in the day.  He always purchased the “newest” items on the market for me back then.  He also purchased my first rotary cutter and mat when they first came out.  I still have them, however I don’t use them for drafting.  Once in a while I will use them for crafting but not often.

Close up of pattern notcher and needle pointed tracing wheel.

Another common tool in the industry is an Awl.  I have 2 Awls.  The small clear handled Awl is the one I’ve used for the majority of my career.  It’s small and at one point in time I misplaced it and my husband gave me the other as a replacement.  This tool is used to mark darts on patterns and it’s used with the pad to protect your cutting surface.  The pad is nothing more that many layers of oak tag or poster board taped together.

The last tool that I’ve had on my cutting table for years and years is a pencil pointer.  I don’t even know where it came from exactly except I’m sure it was from my father.  He was an avid thrift store shopper and probably came across this “somewhere”  in his travels.  It’s a neat item.  I have a bit of a obsession with pointy pencils.  I don’t like them to be dull because it’s less accurate when doing marking.  I also have a electric pencil sharpener on my desk, but this just gives me the sharpest point for drafting.  This tool is heavy cast iron.  You simply insert a pencil and turn it in a circle.  I found that these are still available.  Here’s the link if you’re interested.  Trupoint Lead Pointer

 The last item I’m going to share with you is my bag for all my tools.  I was given to me by my Auntie Ann and it was her Mothers.  I guess it’s a little bit sentimental since it was my Grandmothers bag that she used for her knitting.  It’s always reminded me of a Doctors Bag.  It’s pretty old and worn and the handle is coming off, but I love it.  It’s made of heavy leather.  Someday I will take it to a leather repair shop and have it refurbished.
So that’s about it!  You really don’t need lots of different tools to do pattern making.  If you’re interested in purchasing a set of tools, buy good quality and they will last you a lifetime.  Remember to try out tools if you can to find what works best for you.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and about my “Tools of the Trade”!!  I enjoy hearing from you all so if you have a favorite tool that you can’t work without, I’d love to hear about it!!
Have a Happy Creative Day!!
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This entry was posted in awl, drafting, French curves, needle pointed tracing wheel, pattern notcher, pattern tools, pencil pointer, rulers, scissors, Strikes My Fancy, tape measure, tools. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tools of the Trade!!

  1. Conchita C. says:

    Love your French curves! I'd love to figure out how to use the ones I inherited from my dad, who was trained in mechanical drafting in the 1950s. I've only just used a fashion design/styling design ruler.

  2. I recently bought some drafting tools 🙂 But I need a nice metal square ruler like yours. I have heard that measuring tapes can stretch out over time? I guess yours hasn't? xx

  3. Hi Toni!! Yes they do stretch, however I use only this one. So I maintain accuracy by using the same tape always. I blogged about that in Part 1 of my pattern fitting series.
    A metal square should be pretty easy to find in the marketplace. Good luck!!

  4. Hi Conchita!! Thanks, I love my FC's too. I also have a set for mechanical drafting and they are quite different than the ones for my pattern making. I'm sure yours are sentimental for you as they were your Dad's.

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