first begin sewing and dress making, and feel you are ready to attempt
commercial patterns, you will want the simplest pattern you can find.
Pattern companies like McCall's and Simplicity have several beginner
patterns. A simple skirt with an elastic band is a great pattern to begin
with. Learn how to read a pattern envelope.
Let's take a look at a
piece of pattern. Cut one of your pattern pieces out. Patterns
are printed on thin tissue paper. NEVER throw a pattern away when you are
done making your garment. Place them back in the pattern envelope
for future reference and future garments. If you found a skirt pattern
that looks awesome on you, you may want to make 3 more in 3 different
color fabrics and prints! If your pattern rips, just tape it. Some
people have their favorite patterns that they use over and over again
laminated to protect it. Each pattern piece will have a number, name (ei.
back bodice), pattern number, pattern company, and will indicate how many
you need of that pattern piece. Example: it may say "Cut one on
fold", or "Cut 2."
Notice the thick solid
black line which goes along the outside of the pattern. This is your
cutting line. Once your pattern is
your fabric, this thick line indicates where you need to cut. The broken
line on the pattern is your stitching line, or your seam line.
Always cut on the thick black line, the cutting line. Be precise in
your cutting. If you cut into the line too far, your garment will
not fit you.
Also on your pattern
pieces you will find an arrow with a straight line. This is your
"straight of grain" line. The arrow must run straight, for more
information on this, see our "Pattern layout"
page. It may say place on fold, therefore that line must be placed
on the fold of your fabric. NEVER cut the fold line of the fabric.
Each pattern piece may
have "notches." These are little triangles that need to be cut along
with the pattern piece. They are markings to use for matching up
areas when sewing your garment. Some sewing teachers want you to cut
the triangles (notches) inward, and some want you to cut them outwards.
I work with children who so easily can cut too far into their dress, so I
prefer that my student cut them out.
Other things that may
be on a pattern piece are dots, dart marks, pleats marks, etc. These
areas need to be marked on your garment before you begin to sew.