This is for Vanyl to mess around with her dress form. I'll add more later, but for now, I'll do two ways of making patterns.
Making a pattern from something you already own....
You can make a pattern from a shirt, pants, skirt or whatever you really like pretty easily. I've done this lots of times, especially if it's an old garment or has a stain that won't come out. If it fits you perfectly, there's nothing you'll need to do. Start by...
1. Pick out a similar fabric as the garment. If original garment is made with a stretch fabric, pick another stretch fabric. If it's made from a broad cloth or linen, pick the same kind, etc, etc. The big point is to determine if the fabric is stretch or not. Your new garment will look really weird if you pick a fabric that is not intended for the garment. This is especially true for stretchy things! When you find a fabric, get about half a yard or so more than you really need. (This will be explained later) Be sure to get any notions you might need like matching thread, buttons, zippers, etc, etc.
2. Wash your new fabric.
3. Take apart the old garment. This can be delicate (especially if the fabric has been surged). If you need to, take pictures of how you're taking the garment apart, because you'll put it back together in the same way (except backwards). Use a fabric pen to mark each of the piece (right, left, collar, lapel, etc). Be sure to get all the strings off. If you need to, iron all the pieces flat.
4. Lay out all the pieces of your old garment on your new fabric (single sided). Be sure to match the grain of the old garment. If you have something that was cut on a bias on your old garment, be sure you cut it on the bias on the new one. With skirts and dresses, this is really crucial to make it hang and drape properly. Don't be surprised if you're not using the new cloth economically, it's just part of sewing. You can always save the scraps for something.
5. Put your new garment together following your pictures. You'll be working backwards from how you took it apart. You can even save the old garment for a pattern when you want to make another one.
Making a garment from scratch....
This one is a little harder and takes a lot more trial and error than the first one. I've made boot spats, skirts, and shirts this way. There are books out there that involve math and measuring, but I use what I know for making clothes to kind of guess at what I want to make. I also do a lot of tracing on my own body to make things work. Try a skirt first. From experience I've learned that shoulders and arm openings are the hardest freaking thing out there..... I'll put instructions for a skirt, but you can make almost anything following the method.
1. Pick a fabric you really like. Pick another fabric similar, but much cheaper than you desired fabric. When I made a dress this way, I actually used an old bed sheet because the intended fabric was a broad cloth with a lacy overlay. The broad cloth and the bed sheet were almost the same stretch and weight, so I could achieve the same shape on each.
2. Figure out how you want your skirt to hang. If you want it sleek, keep the line the same all the way down from the widest part of your hip. If you want in to bellow out, do so. This is the part where you kind of figure out what you want. Stick to something kind of simple. This is going to be a two-sided skirt (ie: front and back), so try to stay away from anything with panels. This is a horse of a different color.
3. Measure your waist and hips. Divide by two. This will give you a measurement for the front and back side.
4. Either trace or measure out your silhouette on your crappy fabric. Be sure to check it to your actual measurements. From here, decide where you want to skirt to start (waist, hips, or somewhere in between). Decide where you want it to end (knees, below or above), and decide how you want it to look at the bottom (flared, or like a pencil skirt, or in between). Draw out what you want it to look like. Once you have a good sketch, add 1/4" or more margins. From this point, it's ok if the skirt ends up being too big. You can change it. If it's too *small*, however, that's another problem. So, try to make it too big.
5. For the back piece of the skirt, you'll do the exact same thing as the front side, except for some darts (be sure to use the crappy material again). The darts are here to make sure the skirt doesn't look weird around your butt. If you don't put darts it, it's just all crazy around here. You'll want to make your back's waist measurement about 2" larger than the front measurement. Draw a line in the very center of the skirt. Then, on the left quadrant pick a spot in the middle. You will mark a 1" dart there, about 2" deep (it should look like a little V). Do the same on your right quadrant.
6. Cut your materials out material.
7. Baste your skirt together. Start with the darts.
8. Turn your garment inside out. You can either put it on the mannequin, or yourself. Adjust the fit accordingly with pins, and mark places where you need to cut materials.
9. Take your skirt apart and adjust where you marked things. If you desire, put it back together and try it on again.
10. Use your newly made pattern with your good fabric, and put it together like the first one. You can do adjustments again if it ends up too big.
Hope this helps. I can post more. It's a little harder to do this without pictures, but there are lots of places online that will show you step by step tutorials of how to make clothes. These are two methods I use personally to make clothes, or even fit clothes. That last method has helped me take big dresses I've liked at thrift stores and make them fit me, or adjust friend's clothing to fit them. I hope you can try them out!