Working With Patterns

Laying out patterns, and cutting fabric can be a little confusing for the novice sewer. There are a few "rules" that should be followed. Here's a primer for working with patterns.

Before cutting your fabric, it’s a good idea to go over the instructions from start to finish. This will give you a much better picture of how the various pieces fit together.  Along with diagrams to help you lay-out your pattern tissue, many patterns include tips, and a glossary of terms used in the pattern instructions.

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Open the pattern tissue, and locate the pieces you need (remember, you can find this information in the pattern instructions.) Because each pattern envelope contains several sizes, you’ll need to trim the pattern tissue pieces along the line for the size you have chosen. Take note of how many fabric pieces you need to cut with each pattern piece, and if any of the pattern pieces are designated for interfacing, or are guides rather than pieces to be cut from fabric.



Remember that the grain of the fabric runs along the selvege edge.






Before you begin to sew:

Practice using your machine: Try out a straight stitch, and a zig-zag stitch on some scrap fabric. Stitch 5/8” from the edge (this is the standard seam allowance). If your machine does not have a clear guide-line 5/8” from the needle, place a piece of masking tape on your machine to create one.

Train yourself to watch the guide, not the needle. Guide the edge of your fabric along the 5/8” mark on your throat plate.

Practice using the reverse lever or lock stitch so that you’ll be used to it, and remember to stitch about 3 stitches forward, and 3 stitches back at the beginning and end of each seam to prevent the stitching from coming out. Keep your fingers away from the needle while you sew. I cannot stress this enough!

Don’t push or pull your fabric through the machine – the feed dogs will advance the fabric for you – all you need to do is guide it.

Don’t sew over pins – remove them as you’re sewing.

Set up your ironing board, and turn your iron on so it will be ready for you to use as you sew.

Look over your pattern pieces to see if you need to make any markings for things such as darts, or matching pieces.

Read through the pattern instructions from start to finish.

I encourage you to visit the Sewing.org website. Their “Guidelines for Sewing” are filled with information, and an invaluable resource for beginning sewers.

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