Learn how to use sewing patterns which are a wonderful guide and wealth of information for the amateur and professional dressmaker. The pattern may seem rather daunting at first but this tutorial will help you along the way! Learn how to unpack a pattern and read the different signs and symbols. You will be amazed at the treasure trove of information hidden in one of the sewing pattern envelopes or ODF digital files.
How to Use Sewing Patterns - FAQS
What are Sewing Patterns?
A sewing pattern is a paper or PDF file that contains instructions on how to sew clothing or another item. It will also contain templates for cutting out the pieces of your sewing project.
What is Contained in Sewing Patterns?
All patterns vary depending on the designer, but common inclusions are -
- Sizing charts
- Fabric requirements
- Sewing Notions requirements (this is any extras eg elastic, bias tape, zippers)
- Cutting instructions
- Sewing instructions
- Pattern pieces
Types of Sewing Patterns
There are 2 main types of sewing patterns
- Paper Patterns
- Digital PDF Patterns
Digital Sewing Patterns
Modern sewing patterns now come in digital format. These PDF sewing patterns can be viewed on your computer screen and the pattern pieces are printed on your home printer on either A4 or letter paper.
The advantage of digital patterns is the lower cost, more modern designs and the opportunity to support smaller, independent pattern designers. Best of all you don't need to drive to the shops as patterns are available immediately after purchase to download.
Digital patterns are opened and viewed with the free program Adobe Reader.
Treasurie Sewing Patterns
Treasurie offers 2 types of sewing patterns:
Free online sewing patterns - these are simpler items that are fantastic for quick and easy projects and beginners. Free sewing patterns can be found on my blog and pattern site.
Premium sewing patterns - these sewing patterns are for clothing, dresses, pants, baby patterns and accessories. They contain multiple sizes and have detailed instructions and diagrams to get great results. Premium patterns have a great selection of items.
Here are some popular types of pdf sewing patterns in the Treasurie shop.
- Girls Dresses
- Seasonal (Christmas)
- Free Patterns
- Bags and Purses
- Dolls Clothing and Rag Dolls
A commercial paper sewing pattern is all wrapped up in an envelope with a picture on the front of an exciting item to make. At this time Treasurie does not do paper patterns but they are popular with brands such as Simplicity, New Look, Vogue and McCalls. The picture tells the story. However, added to the picture is other information right there on the pattern envelope. Before you open your pattern check the number on the front and the sizes printed on the back.
The sewing pattern envelope will also give you measurements of the different sizes and the quantity of fabric required. Added to that are any other ‘sewing notions’ like zips, buttons and poppers you may need. All this information and you have not opened the pattern yet!
This is the beauty of a paper pattern. It has so much to share with the prospective sewer. Other paper patterns may come with a trace version from a large printed sheet. These traceable patterns are quite a challenge because you need to pick the one you plan to copy. Traceable patterns are often found in sewing magazines.
How to Use Sewing Patterns
Yes, this is the moment when you unpack the pattern from the envelope if it is a commercial pattern. An exciting rustle of tissue paper and a chance to look at the paper instruction sheet. Inside the pattern, you will find an instruction sheet. This is a very valuable information sheet. It sets out the different pattern pieces and numbers them so you can choose the right pieces for the design you plan to make.
If you have purchased a digital sewing pattern then you will have opened the PDF file in Adobe Reader and you will have all the instructions in front of you either printed or on your computer screen.
The pattern guide tells you by number and letters how to identify the pieces you need.
The instruction sheet will also show you how to lay out the pattern pieces on your fabric before you cut them out.
It describes the most economical way to place the pattern pieces and the guide will show you how to place the pieces for the different widths of fabric. It is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, but a really useful guide, because you can see at a glance how to lay out the pattern.
Further Reading: How to Cut Fabric and Cutting Tools
If you have purchased a PDF sewing pattern you will need to print the pattern pieces and sticky tape them together in a grid. Read more about how to print PDF patterns.
Identifying the right pieces is a very important part of reading your pattern guide. Sometimes you may only need some of the pieces, especially if your pattern offers several different items to make.
Most modern patterns show multiple sizes on the pattern sheet. Choose the size you plan to follow and using paper scissors, cut out the pieces you need to make the garment.
If they are wrinkled, press your pieces with a cool iron to ensure they are flat.
Lastly, before you begin to place the pieces on the fabric, check for the different pattern symbols. These vital markings are like a road map and show you directions to place the pattern and important notches and detailed markings. There are different ways to mark these vital pieces of information and the pattern will have an index of the signs and what they mean.
How to Use Sewing Patterns Instructions
Once you have cut out your fabric and marked any important notches your pattern guide will ‘talk’ you through the steps to sew your garment and how to finish it off with the different sewing notions required.
The sewing pattern has it all from start to finish. At the end of each step as you remove the pattern pieces it is a good idea to carefully fold the pieces and the instruction sheet and return them to the envelope. Depending on the care you take with handling the pattern it could last you for many years and multiple uses.
Other types of Sewing Patterns
The commercial store bought pattern is not the only type of pattern available. These other options are popular as they can be acquired from the comfort of your home. The complexity of the pattern depends on your choice and your experience.
Always start with a small project and look for some free patterns to get some experience. Some patterns will indicate information referring to the type of pattern before you purchase the pattern. Keep an eye out for labels like – designer or vintage and easy-fit as these labels indicate a specific variety of sewing patterns.
This selection of pattern types is a general guide to some of the types available in store or on the internet. A rule of thumb is to start easy and increase your degree of difficulty as your confidence grows:
A block pattern with instructions on how to create a pattern that is a perfect fit for your body type. With these patterns, you will get just the one size - your size.
Setting out and designing your own pattern is for the more experienced sewer. There are also independent designer patterns available Choose a favourite designer’s name and look for their brand of patterns. Shop Treasurie patterns.
Very simple straightforward patterns with very few fitting details. A good start for a beginner.
If you enjoy a particular style from days gone by, these vintage patterns are for you. Go back to the 20’s or 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Google the design era and then find the patterns available. Carefully check the sizing measurements before you start sewing as vintage patterns run considerably smaller than modern designs.
Many digital patterns are available on the internet. Find one you enjoy and download it onto your computer. They are all printable and show how to convert the pattern sheet into a usable pattern.
Free sewing patterns
Many sewing enthusiasts, through their blogs, offer free sewing patterns. It is another good way to start with something free and simple to make.
There is a wealth of ideas, self help blogs and free patterns.
Look for easy starting points and free patterns and projects on Treasurie and you won't be disappointed. Tempting pictures and easy to follow instructions make this a very satisfying experience.
Free sewing patterns for beginners include
- How to Make a Scrunchie
- How to Make a Pincushion
- Large Bow Pattern
- Baby Skirts
- DIY Napkins
- Doll Bedding Pattern
- Tissue Cover Pattern
- Gift Bag Pattern
How to Use Sewing Patterns - In Conclusion
The sewing pattern is the backbone of the sewing process. Once you have mastered the cutting and organizing of a pattern and learned how to work with the signs and sizes using a pattern, it is a really simple and rewarding process.
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