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The first dressmakers’ drafting system was created in the United States before 1838. This innovation provided a tool to draft stylish, fitted garments and appealed to women who were forced to make their own clothes. The concept behind the first generation of drafting systems was used as the basis for the sizing systems in the paper pattern industry and the women’s ready-made clothing industry. In the last quarter of the 19th century, hundreds of drafting systems were invented to help the professional dressmaker cut the complex patterns of the fashionable dress of the period.

A wide variety of changing economic, social, and technological factors determined the methods that were created at specific times, how the systems were sold, and who used them. Dressmakers’ drafting systems with specialized tools became obsolete in the 20th century after simpler, less fitted dress styles became popular. These less complicated fashions encouraged the widespread acceptance of ready-made clothes and the use of paper patterns by dressmakers and home sewers.