Tips For Using Store Bought Patterns


Store bought patterns can sometimes be tricky to use, and if we’re not thinking all the while we’re cutting and sewing, we could be setting ourselves up for errors and mistakes and ending up with a garment that won’t fit. Here are a few tips to help make your sewing projects go smoothly.

** Be sure to check patterns for fabric requirements – some patterns are designed to be used with knits, others are designed to be used with wovens. Also many patterns are designed to be used with a serger. Read the pattern packages carefully so you won’t be disappointed with the results later.

** If at all possible, cut your pattern pieces with the fabric right sides together so that the center seams will be ready to pick up and sew as soon as the garment is cut out.

** If you have a pattern piece that says “cut four”, it might be best to photocopy that piece or make one out of pattern paper, and transfer all the markings so that you’ll have 2 of them, and therefore won’t forget to cut 4 from the one piece. (We’re creatures of habit you know – lay the pattern piece on the fabric and cut 2)

** A favorite pattern will last longer if you iron stabilizer to the entire pattern. It withstands pin pricks and is easier to alter.

** When using a pants pattern the first time, it is wise to make 1″ seam allowances rather than the usual 5/8″ — this will allow a little extra for fine-tuning the final fit of the pants.

** When using one of the “multi-view” patterns, it will be much easier to locate the individual pieces needed for a certain view if you will first re-fold the pattern pieces so that the “view” number or letter is facing out.

** To transfer an exact dot from a pattern to the fabric, make a small cross over the center of the dot.

** When using velvet or corduroy choose a simple pattern and avoid topstitching, pressed pleats and sewn tucks.

** When working with big plaids and the pattern calls for pockets, try cutting the pockets on the bias to avoid having to match them to the background plaid.

** Since the bodice of many dress patterns is the most difficult to fit, it is wise to choose your dress pattern size according to the bust measurement and make the necessary adjustments to the skirt.

** If you extend the grainlines on your patterns all the way to the top and bottom of the pattern pieces, it will give you greater accuracy when you begin cutting.

** Raglan and dolman type sleeve styles flatter a small bust, as well as helping to minimize heavy arms and broad shoulders.

** When making a jacket or winter coat for children, use flannel to line the pockets – it will be much warmer than regular “cold” fabric linings.

** After you’ve cut out a garment, make a couple of 8″ squares of the fabric that you can use later to test fusible inter- facings on, to test thread colors, or to test stitch length if you’re doing any topstitching. Also use the squares to make a sample buttonhole, if you’ll be needing buttonholes, to check what they will look like before you actually make one on the garment.

** To appear taller, choose patterns with center front and back seams, or princess style patterns, or front openings that will have vertical rows of buttons.


About the author:

Sarah J. Doyle is author of over 25 sewing, craft and how-to books, as well as author of online pattern making, sewing and craft classes. Visit http://SewWithSarah.com for information on books, newsletters and the latest hints and tips  and http://SewingBusiness.com for our sewing and crafting blog.

(c) Copyright 2009, Sarah J. Doyle. All Rights Reserved.

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