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How To Read A Sewing Pattern

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You are about to begin your first sewing project. Hopefully you have chosen a simple pattern, both in design and in the level of sewing expertise required.

You will want a flat surface on which to cut your material. A dining room table is good, but be sure not to scratch the table when cutting. You can also lay out your pattern on a clean floor or carpet, but don`t cut the carpet when you are cutting out the garment. Looking at the pattern envelope, choose the view you wish to make and pull the printed instructions out of the envelope. On the front of this sheet you will see a diagram of the views; on the back you will see a listing of the pattern pieces. It is important to read the general directions which identify the markings on the pattern and give some general information about interfacings, trimming seams, and pressing seams. Now look at the cutting layouts and find the view that you want, noting the pattern pieces that will be used for that view. Unfold the tissue paper pattern carefully since it is fragile. Cut the pieces you will be using out of the overall sheets, leaving a one inch margin of unprinted tissue paper around each piece. Select the cutting layout that best matches the width of material that you bought. Position your pattern pieces on the fabric as pictured. The long arrows on the pattern pieces are there to assure that your pattern is straight on the fabric. Align the arrows on the fabric so that the top end of the arrow is the same distance from the selvage as the bottom end of the arrow. Also be sure the “center fold line is on the center fold of the material. When all pieces of the pattern are correctly placed, pin the pattern to the fabric through both thicknesses. Now you are ready to cut out your pattern.

Most modern patterns are printed to accommodate several sizes, so cut along the lines for that size. When all the pieces are cut out and stacked neatly, take one at a time and look at the pattern markings. Notches are markings that tell you how to put the pieces together. You will need to cut out tiny, V-shaped snips in the seam allowance at those notches, being careful not cut to the seam line. The last thing to do is to mark the circles and dots on the pattern. These are placed so that you can make darts, know where to start and stop a zipper, or where to align buttons and button holes. Using a regular sewing needle threaded with a thread in a color contrasting to your material, take a double loop of thread through both layers of your fabric at the dots, make big one inch loops. Snip the loops so they are open and cut the loops and the tails to about one inch. Now gently pull apart the two layers of fabric and snip the thread of the loops between these layers, leaving about a quarter inch tuft of thread in either piece of fabric. When this is done for all the dots and all the pieces, you are ready to start sewing. Match your notches, with the fabric right side to right side, and stitch the first seam according to the step-by-step sewing instructions on the inside of the pattern instructions. Keep following the step-by-step instructions. Pretty soon you will have a new garment of which you can be proud. Wasn`t it easy?


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