How to Design Knitwear | Pattern Drafting [PILOT course]


Knitwear design realisation begins with pattern drafting.  You’ve established a visual connection; it’s now time to get stuck into the maths!  In this module, the compositional relationships established in the Visual Communication and Design Development modules begin to take form – which is exciting, challenging, and extremely rewarding.

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In this module, the compositional relationships established in the Visual Communication and Design Development modules begin to take form – which is exciting!  Pattern drafting for knitwear is when design realisation takes place, when you explore the ways in which you can relate your ideas to other people on a material level.  You’ve established a visual connection; it’s now time to reach people in a more tangible way.

This module is less to do with pattern writing, although we’ll look forward to that stage of the design process by way of analysis, reflection and annotation.  I warmly recommend Kate Atherley’s book on pattern writing if that’s what you’re looking for.  Pattern drafting is all about the alchemy of bringing ideas to life using visual and applied maths.  The pattern is where the magic happens.

A blue calculator, handwritten notes and a snippet of a rose gold ribbed sweater

Course outline

Over six weeks, you’ll learn how to draft and calculate:

  • Set-in sleeves;
  • Raglan sleeves;
  • Finishings (necklines, button bands);
  • And other shaping and styling faithful to your design ideas.

Time will be set aside for everyone to work on their designs with support, so that any garment ideas, styling and silhouettes not covered in the outline can be included.  All drafting will be taught manually and using CAD (e.g., Excel) so that the maths is as well anchored as possible.

NOTE: If you’ve completed the Design Development module, you may like to revise the course readings on silhouette.

The drafting techniques taught incorporate geometry, anatomy, and size and shape inclusivity.  There are no formulas; plug and play is not in the vocabulary!  The method of drafting can be applied to any set of body measurements, so whether you are looking for a bespoke solution or using size charts, you are welcome and acknowledged.

We will be looking at bodies holistically and building in tolerances for shape.  Whilst no draft or pattern will fit everybody straight out of the box, you will learn how to identify key areas for fit. This puts you in a strong position for giving good advice to knitters about alterations and customisations, and sets you up beautifully for reliable size charts and sound pattern grading in the next module.

Pattern drafting for knitwear design - raglan sleeve detail on the Karin sweater


Course outcomes

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Draft knitting patterns faithful to the silhouette and styling envisaged during design development;
  • Understand the geometric, anatomical, and mathematical relationships underpinning pattern drafting for all human bodies;
  • Differentiate between the types of garment ease and understand the context for each type;
  • Feel more confident about drafting knitting patterns that can be graded sensitively and accurately.

This module is definitely for you if:

  • You’re inspired by silhouette and have wonderful ideas for garment shapes;
  • You don’t want to take a template-oriented approach to design – ideas rule!
  • You believe in letting knitters into your patterns so they can make their own alterations;
  • You’re fascinated by garment fit and want to learn about applied fitting principles for knit.

Equipment and materials needed include:

  • A scientific calculator;
  • Squared paper (0.5cm or ¼ inch);
  • A basic stationery kit (pencils, eraser, notebook);
  • Easy access to Excel or similar spreadsheet software for the CAD elements of the module;
  • You may also like to have drawing materials on standby – A3 sketch pad, drawing pencils – to help you work through ideas and support your drafting work.

Pattern drafting for knitwear: Scientific calculator in the foreground, and coloured fineliners and algebra scribbles in the backgroundMore about the course


This pilot is the third module of a comprehensive knitwear design course created by me, Natalie Warner.  I am building the course with a group of knitters so that it includes:

  • live interaction
  • ongoing support
  • two-way feedback
  • an emphasis on community.

This means that you will not always get the smoothness of a specialist platform for online courses.  However, you will get the support of a friendly peer group and an experienced teacher dedicated to her students!  You will also have lifetime access to the final version of the course that you’ve helped to create with me and your fellow designers.

Online knitting classes with Natalie in Stitches - header image of swatches in progress
Learn to knit lace samples, Vogue Knitting Live


  • All classes take place on Mondays and Thursdays.
  • The first class will take place on Monday 17th April.  The final session will be on Thursday 25th May.
  • All classes will be streamed live via Zoom.  Replays will be available as soon as possible after each class.
  • All sessions, whether Monday or Thursday, will take place between 15.00-17.00 UK time. If you’re not in the UK, check your time zone equivalent here.

What’s next?

You will receive a downloadable confirmation letter after booking and payment, which will contain the course outline and the Zoom link for the first class.  I’ll also send a reminder email the Friday before our first meeting together and check that you’re all set to begin.

Any more questions?  Ask away!

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, or if you need a payment plan, please get in touch!  The form below will take you straight to my inbox and I’ll reply to you as soon as I can.

How to Design Knitwear | Pattern Drafting [PILOT course]


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