Clothes you already own + your favorite fabric designs = endless possibilities! Welcome back to the art of self-drafting your wardrobe. Follow along with Spoonflower Ambassador Michael Gardner to learn how he made a snazzy sweatsuit using this creative patternmaking technique.

Featured fabric design: Like Water by TheCornyRainbow

Michael: Very much like using sewing patterns, self-drafting is a process—it takes time and working through a lot of trial and error. I enjoy the freedom of cutting directly into the fabric. I keep my mind open to all possibilities. Sometimes the vision I began with is different in the end, usually better. In this tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to sew your own pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I hope this tutorial encourages someone who has an interest or may be intimidated by self-drafting to try.


Skill Level: Intermediate

How to Pattern and Sew Sweatpants

1. Trace and Cut

I like to start by picking a pair of pants that have the fit I’m going for. I used a pair of sweatpants I made previously as a guide, folded them in half at the crotch seam, traced around this shape onto the fabric with a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) seam allowance and cut.

Cut two of these for the front and two for the back. The waistband piece will be cut separately, so you can fold it down prior to tracing and cutting this part. Also, make sure to extend the length about an inch to accommodate the bottom hem.

Using my hand as a guide for size, I cut out the pocket piece. You will need to cut four of these. For the waistband, cut out two pieces the measurement of your waist in length and 3″ (7.6 cm) in width. I’m using a 1″ (2.5 cm) elastic.

Featured fabric design: Like Water by TheCornyRainbow

2. Sew the Crotch

With right sides together, sew the curved seam of your two back pieces with a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) seam allowance and a zig zag stitch. Do the same for the two front pieces.

3. Sew the Pockets

After the crotch seams are sewn, lay the front and back pieces right sides up. Pin a pocket piece to the side seam of one leg, right sides together, 2″ (5 cm) from the top. Repeat with the other three pocket pieces on the other leg sections. Stitch the pockets to the edges with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance using a straight stitch.

4. Sew the Pockets and Pants Together

Top stitch the pockets so they will lay flat. Pin your front pants to the back pants, right sides together and sew the side seam, making sure to sew around the pocket as well. I like to stitch a small line at the top and bottom of the pocket to keep the pocket facing the front of the pants, catching the seam allowance.

5. Create the Waistband

Grab your waistband and mark two spots for buttonholes. Add iron-on interfacing on the back of the waistband for support and sew the buttonholes. Apply Fray Check to the buttonholes before cutting them open for an even stronger hold.

Attach the waistband to the pants at the top edge, right sides together, and sew, leaving a 2-4″ (5-10 cm) opening to insert elastic and the twill tape. Cut the elastic at the measurement of your waist but subtract 1-2″ (2.5-5 cm) from the total. This will allow the pants to be stretchy but still be secure around the waist.

6. Add the Elastic

Using a safety pin secured on one end, insert the elastic into the casing. Guide the safety pin through the whole casing channel, making sure to hold the other end of the elastic so it doesn’t get pulled too much inside. Do the same thing for the twill tape through the button holes. Close the opening and hem the pants.

How to Pattern and Sew a Sweatshirt

1. Trace and Cut

Originally, I created the sweatshirt pattern with a pre-made hoodie of mine, however, I had to pivot! I didn’t consider the Cotton Spandex Jersey I was using was a different weight and thickness compared to the hoodie fabric, so the first pattern was too big. I grabbed a t-shirt for my second go-around and scaled down the sizing for a much better fit.

Take your hoodie, or t-shirt, and fold it in half longways. Fold your fabric in half as well. Place the folded shirt along the folded fabric’s edge. Trace around this shape with a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) seam allowance and cut, just like in the step when drafting the sweatpants pattern. Repeat this step to create the back piece, but consider cutting the neckline not as deep for a better fit around the back of the neck.

Now, take the sleeve you tucked in before and place it along another folded edge of your fabric to trace the sleeve shape. The sleeve should be folded at the armpit seam. Trace and cut two of these, leaving a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) seam allowance around the edges.

You should now have two torso pieces and two sleeve pieces.

2. Sew the Sides

With right sides together, sew one shoulder seam and both side seams of the shirt with a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) seam allowance.

3. Sew the Neckline

Measure the neckline to create the neckband. Length of the neckline (minus 1-2inches) x 3 inches. I cut the neckline too wide, I added elastic to make it fit.

Sew the neckband to the shirt, right sides together. Sew with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance and leave a 3″ (7.6 cm) opening for the elastic. Insert the elastic, close the opening and sew the open shoulder seam shut.

4. Sew and Attach the Sleeves

With right sides together, sew the seam of one sleeve together and repeat with the other. Insert your sleeves into the armholes of the finished torso piece, aligning armpit and torso side seams as a guide. Hem the bottom of the sleeves plus the bottom hem of the shirt and you’re done.

Although my design changed, I was able to complete the look and in the end I’m happy with the result. It can be frustrating when things aren’t going the way you envisioned, however being flexible is essential with self-drafting. Often times, you’re creating as you go. Being confident in finding solutions and loving the finished project has built my confidence with each project. Good luck self-drafting!

Featured fabric design: Like Water by TheCornyRainbow

Stitch together your whole closet!

Explore how to draft your own t-shirt with Michael’s daughter, Ava, custom leggings with Anna from Spoonflower, and more on the Spoonflower Blog.
More Sewing Tutorials


What does “self-drafting” mean in sewing?
This means instead of sewing with a pre-purchased pattern, you create a custom pattern on your own. While that may seem daunting, this approach allows you more freedom to experiment with sewing because you can make what you design vs. what someone else has designed.
How do I draft my own patterns?
You can use a favorite garment as a guide, but there are plenty of other ways to self draft too. You could experiment with traditional pattern making tools like a compass and a French curve, or go the draping route by pinning fabric to a dress form and cutting each piece to shape. 
What are the advantages of a self-made garment?
You are making a garment tailored to your likes, not the likes of someone else. This means you have ultimate control on the size, shape, style, stretch, seams, structure… the list goes on! You also learn a lot about sewing since you’re creating something completely from scratch and have to educate yourself on every step of the way.