Tuesday, October 15, 2013

So Sew! Day 15: Cutting out a Pattern

Welcome to day 15 of our 31 Days sewing series! This week we are discussing patterns.


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Yesterday I walked you through the steps of purchasing a pattern and what to look for. Today we are taking the pattern out of the envelope and learning how to use it!

This will really be more of an overview post, since there is so much information we could get into about patterns and sewing techniques. After this post you should be able to read a basic pattern and get started on your project!

When you open up your pattern envelope, you will find a large sheet with pattern pieces printed on it. These all need to be cut out. You can cut loosely around them for now.

You will also find an instruction sheet {or two!} for your specific pattern.


Page 1 gives you a visual of all the pattern pieces in the envelope, as well as their number. {all the pattern pieces will be numbered - I'll show you that in a minute.} It gives you layout suggestions and a glossary of terms. For instance, when the instructions are showing the right side of your pattern, they may print in gray, while the wrong side may be white.


Page 2 will give you instructions for making your item. These are normally arranged in a step-by-step format, making it easier for you. That is the idea, anyway! {wink!}


Now back to your pattern pieces...

Following the guide in the instructions, lay each pattern piece out on your fabric. A large work surface is needed for this - the floor works! =)

Each piece needs to be pinned to the fabric. Make sure to pin on the inside of the lines. Put pins on all corners and curves, and anywhere else you think they are needed.


Each pattern piece will not only be clearly numbered, but also have cutting information. For some pieces, you  may need to cut out two of that piece, which is easy because your fabric is normally folded in half anyway. This particular piece needs one cut out on the fold of the fabric. The seam that needs to be on the fold is clearly marked.


There are a few details to watch on each pattern piece. These are to insure that the item is put together properly later.

These little triangles are called notches.


When you cut out your fabric, you will leave a little triangle "notch" in the fabric at this point. {Can you see how this pattern has been cut that way?} Later, these notches will line up, showing you that you have put the item together correctly.

This shot shows you some other marks - the circles near the middle and to the left are called "dots" {imagine that!} and are supposed to be marked as well. These can be marked with a pin, chalk, or a fabric pen.


Notches and dots are two things that all good seamstresses disagree on. :) I personally don't normally pay attention to them unless the pattern has some complicated steps. If this is your first time using a pattern, you probably want to mark these to help you out. As you get more familiar with this whole sewing thing, you may find they are unnecessary - it is totally up to you!

Here there are tucks marked into the pattern. Darts or pleats would be marked in a similar way.


I find marking these with a few pins is easiest, but you can use chalk, a transferable pen or some other marking device. Here is how I do it with pins:

I use a small metal pin without a large head, and stick it in the point of the tuck.


Then I just carefully pull the pattern off, over the head of the pin. It makes a small hole in the pattern, but that is ok. Then my pin marks exactly where the tuck is!


When you are ready to cut out the fabric, be sure to cut on the appropriate line. Examine your pattern pieces carefully before you begin. If yours is a pattern with multiple sizes, each size will be marked by a different style of line - dots, dashes, solid line, etc. You can cut on the appropriate line to cut out your pieces to those exact measurements.


If you would like to keep your pattern to use multiple times, or in different sizes, you can cut out the pattern pieces in the largest size. Then, when cutting out fabric for a smaller size, just carefully fold the pattern edges over to cut on the appropriate line. it might not be quite as accurate, but it allows you to use your pattern for more than one size.

You can see that the pattern above was cut out using pinking shears. It is a good idea to cut fabric pieces this way, as this will prevent the item from fraying as much at the seams.

This should give you an overview of how to use your pattern, and allow you to get started on your next project! Did I leave anything out? As a seamstress, do you observe notches and darts, or no? I'd love to hear your opinion on the matter! =)

Challenge: Do you have a pattern picked out for your next project? Take a few minute to cut out the pattern pieces and examine the instructions and markings on the pieces. See anything that isn't clear or doesn't make sense? Go ahead and ask!

Tomorrow I'm asking the question, "Who needs a pattern?" Hope you'll be back!

Other posts in this series:

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