It’s here! The Summer Sewing Tutorial is kicking off today with an exploration of basic pattern contents. And how! :)
Since you already know how to read the back of a pattern, I thought we’d just dive in to what you’ll find inside the pattern envelope, followed by a pictorial glossary of pattern markings. Please comment below to let me know what questions you have or if anything is unclear! I hope you leave this post feeling a little bit more confident about kicking butt on the project we’ll be working on over the next few weeks, as well as any projects you take on in your sewing nook. :)
Just in case you’re looking for more, one invaluable resource I love is the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. I had to buy it for college and have held on tight. An amazing resource I turn to time and again.
Let the games begin!
So the contents of most pattern envelopes are pretty much the same. Inside you’ll find:
- The pattern pieces themselves (usually multiple pieces are printed on the same sheet of tissue paper). They are numbered, and each is identified by name and style (if your pattern will make more than one garment style…). Often a garment is symmetrical, so one pattern piece will work for each half of the garment. The pattern piece will tell you whether to cut 2 pieces, or one on the fold, which we’ll get to in a couple of weeks. :)
A few pattern samples from different companies
Can you find the pattern company, pattern number, piece number, piece name, and how many pieces to cut on each of these? What other information do you see? Hint- click on the image to see a larger version :)
- A diagram with the silhouettes of all the pattern pieces and their names/numbers. Awesome for figuring out which pattern pieces you need for your project
What can you learn from these diagrams? Click on the photo to see a larger image and explore!
- A guide for laying out and cutting your pattern pieces with fabric. It’ll help you know which pieces need to be cut on the fold and which pieces need to be cut more than once. I lovelovelove trying to squish my pieces as close together as possible and use less fabric than the project calls for. But that’s me :)
Click on this image to blow it up and then explore. What do you see? Notice fabric widths, and right/wrong side of pattern/fabric.
- Sewing instructions! I’m sure you won’t have any trouble figuring these out :)
And now, on to decoding some of the typical pattern marks you’ll find when you start looking!
- Center front, center back
The center front and center back of a garment are always labeled, whether through the “place on fold line” (like that below), stitch line, or just labeled solid like like the one above.
Helpful guides for matching sections that join together. They might also indicate construction details like where a zipper ends. Note that these ones are marked according to size, but they might not all be.
- Cutting line
A heavy outer line showing where to cut. This one has different cut lines for each of the sizes indicated. You might also see cut lines within a pattern, for example, if there’s an option for a lower neckline or shorter hem.
Two legs (sewing lines) that meet at a point somewhere towards the center of the garment, darts help your clothing hug your body. The circles are there to help you match the legs when you’re sewing.
- Grainline markings
It’s a straight line that has arrows on each end- you’ll align this line with the grain of the fabric, and we’ll learn more about what that means next week.
You’ll find the hemline at the bottom edge of the garment- if there’s no line that says “Hem,” you’ll find a marking like the one above that tells you how much fabric to fold up when you are sewing your hem.
- Lengthen or shorten line
You typically find these near a waistline or hem of a garment. You can use them to make adjustments for petite or long sizes. Which of the pattern pieces above has a visible shorten or lengthen line?
Single and double notches are shown above. You might find these on any edges that join another edge- when you sew, you’ll match notches to accurately join pieces.
- Place-on-fold bracket
This grainline marking with arrows means that the edge of this pattern (the black line) should align perfectly with the fold in your fabric when you’re cutting it out (we’ll talk more about what that means when we layout our project to cut out). You’ll often find this marking on skirt fronts or shirt fronts- pieces that are mirrored. :)
- Zipper position
This shows where your zipper will be on your seamline. The top and bottom markings show exactly how long the zipper should be (remember how your notions list on the back of the pattern will tell you what size to buy? You might have to shorten it, which is super easy :))
Whew! And that about does it for today. What do you think? Did you learn anything new, or did this reinforce what you already knew? I’d love to hear what you think- please comment below!
Can’t wait to see you next week when we dive into fabric basics via video :)