Understanding Patterns

Often, folks are so eager to see their completed sewing project that they rush the process. Before you begin to sew, think about how helpful an organized approach can be.


What can you do to save time and energy before and during a sewing project? Keep these ideas in mind:

• Gather all the notions and supplies you'll need. Check the list on the back of the pattern envelope.

• Double-check the steps to take. Verify the lay out before cutting. Before stitching, make sure fabric pieces are pinned together correctly. Be sure the fit is correct before continuing.

• Press after each construction step. Pressing some areas after stitching can be difficult.

• Fit as you go. Minor adjustments made during construction are easier than a major alteration at the end.


Your most helpful assistant throughout a sewing project will probably be the pattern. Like a blueprint, a pattern has all the instructions you need to construct a project. Following the pattern is one more way to stay organized as you sew.

Before beginning a project, read the pattern carefully. Every pattern consists of the three parts shown in Fgr. 1: an envelope, a guide sheet, and tissue pattern pieces. Each item contains valuable information.

Pattern Envelope

On the front of the pattern envelope is a drawing or photograph of the design. Several garment views may be shown to give you a selection of styles. From the illustrations, you can see how the garment fits-whether it's slim or full on the body.

The envelope front lists the pattern number, size, and price. Sometimes a label indicates that the pattern is "Easy" or "Includes an Estimated Sewing Time." A special feature of the pattern may be mentioned. For example, whether a pat tern is a designer fashion, sewing lesson, or craft project might be noted.

As you learned earlier, the reverse side of the pattern envelope shows how the garment looks from the back and lists the amount of fabric and notions needed.

Guide Sheet

The guide sheet gives step-by-step information for cutting, marking, and sewing. On the front are cutting layouts and general information, including how to lengthen and shorten a pattern. The reverse side has sewing directions. By referring regularly to the pattern guide sheet, you're less likely to have to rip out and redo stitches.

Fgr. 1 How are the three parts of a pattern used?

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Guide sheet. Always keep your guide sheet handy for quick reference through layout and construction. By circling the cutting layout you're using, you'll always focus on the right one at each glance and be less likely to copy some thing incorrectly from a different layout.

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Fgr. 2 You'll use the guide sheet from start to finish when sewing with a pattern.

Cutting Layouts

The cutting layout is a diagram that shows how to arrange pattern pieces on fabric. See Fgr. 3. This diagram makes it easier to recognize and find the pattern pieces you need. Select the diagram that matches your particular design view, pattern size, and fabric width and nap.

Separate layouts may be provided for fabrics with and without nap. A separate cutting layout may be included for interfacing and lining.

Sewing Directions

Step-by-step sewing directions appear on the back of the guide sheet. For patterns with several views, the directions may continue to one or more additional sheets. As you follow the directions, you'll want to be sure you follow the steps that apply to the view you're making.

A fabric key shows how shading and texture indicate the right and wrong sides of fabric and any interfacing or lining. Some construction details may be enlarged to show the specific sewing procedure clearly.

Pattern Pieces

Each pattern piece is marked with a number or letter and with a specific name, such as collar or sleeve. The number of fabric pieces to be cut is also printed on the pattern piece.

The symbols and lines on the pattern pieces serve as guides during cutting and sewing. Some pattern pieces have many markings; others have only a few. Learn to recognize and understand these symbols and lines.

Underhanded Uniquizing Effort Sub-Series:

Wiki Sewing

Place the Bobbin in the Sewing Machine

Bobbins are inserted in sewing machines in a variety of ways. Your machine manual is the best source for learning the proper way to insert the bobbin.


Drop-in bobbins don't have a removable bobbin case. The bobbin is set in place. The bobbin tail thread is guided through necessary guides.

Once the sewing machine is threaded, the needle is lowered and raised by turning the balance wheel to catch the bobbin thread and bring it through the throat plate as a loop of thread. Use a pin to unloop the thread, and pull it back under the presser foot.

A large variety of sewing machines have a bobbin case.

They mount differently from machine to machine. Most have a latch that releases the bobbin case from the machine.

The bobbin tail thread is then threaded though the case slot and under the tension spring.

Hold the bobbin case by the latch to insert it back into the machine and follow the steps on the previous page for bringing the bobbin thread up through the throat plate.


Remember to handle pattern pieces carefully because they tear easily. Follow these steps to pre pare the pattern pieces:

1. Remove the entire pattern from the envelope.

2. On the guide sheet, circle the cutting layout you'll use.

3. Select the pattern pieces for the view you're sewing.

4. Fold the rest of the pattern pieces and put them back into the envelope.

5. Cut apart any pattern pieces printed together on one large piece of tissue paper. You need not trim away extra tissue paper from around the pieces. This will be cut off as you cut out the fabric.

6. Write your name on the guide sheet, the pat tern envelope, and all the pattern pieces.

7. Smooth out pattern pieces. If necessary, press them with a cool, dry iron. Wrinkled pattern pieces make it very difficult to cut fabric accurately.

8. On a multisized pattern, mark cutting lines for your size with a felt-tip pen.

Fgr. 3 Although there are many cutting layouts for a pattern, you'll use only the diagrams that show a particular view, size, and fabric width and nap.

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Fgr. 4 - Pattern Symbols and Lines

Grain line. Heavy, solid line with an arrow at each end; appears on all pattern pieces not placed on a fold. The grain line indicates how to place the pattern piece on grain. To do this, the grain-line arrow must be exactly parallel to the selvage unless otherwise noted.

Cutting line. Heavy line that outlines pattern pieces. Sometimes a scissors symbol on the line shows the proper cutting direction.

Occasionally a cutting line appears within the pattern to indicate a shorter hemline, lower neckline, or lining cut from the same pat tern piece. If the pattern is multisized, major pattern pieces have several cutting lines. Each cutting line is marked to indicate the corresponding size. To avoid confusion, use a felt-tip pen to mark the cutting lines for your size.

Notches. Diamond-shaped symbols that extend beyond the cutting line; used for matching seams and joining garment pieces. Always cut around notches to create fabric extensions that can be clearly seen. When two or more notches are grouped together, cut them as a single block.

Stitching line, or seam line. If you are using an older pattern, it may have broken lines that indicate where to sew. These seam lines are not printed on multisized patterns. See Fgr. 5. However, it will be easier to make pattern adjustments if you draw these seam lines on your pattern pieces. The width of the seam allowance is listed in the general directions on the front of the guide sheet. The most common width is 5/8” (1.5 cm).

Center front and center back. Solid line that indicates the center of the garment. If brackets appear on this line, it should be placed on a fold.

Place on fold. Bracketed grain line that indicates the pattern edge is to be placed exactly on the fold.

Fold line. Solid line that shows where fabric will be folded to form a finished edge, such as a hemline or cuff.

Dots, squares, and triangles. Symbols used to help match and join garment sections, especially areas that are gathered or eased.

Dart. Triangular or diamond shape indicated by dots and two bro ken lines.

Buttonholes. Solid lines that show the exact locations and lengths of buttonholes.

Placement lines. Single, solid, or broken lines that show the exact locations of pockets, pleats, zippers, and trims.

Adjustment lines. Double parallel lines that show where the pattern pieces can be lengthened or shortened.

Hemline. Solid line that indicates the finished edge of the garment and the depth of the hem.

Dots, squares, and triangles; Placement line; Center front and center back; Cutting line; Location of stitching line, or seam line; Adjustment line; Place on fold; Fold line; Buttonholes; Grain line

Fgr. 5 On a multisized pattern, the lines can be hard to follow. Outlining the size you want on the pattern makes cutting easier and reduces the chances of error.

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Adjusting a Pattern


Friday, 2012-06-01 11:20