Basic advice for sewing pattern success

Sewing pattern success

For many people new to dressmaking the first place they start is looking at sewing patterns and either purchasing or downloading a PDF sewing pattern. And, while the majority of sewing patterns come with clear instructions, having an understanding of dressmaking will help with your garment creation. In this article, we’ll give you some tips to help you create a well-fitted garment using your favourite sewing pattern.

Printing
One of the most important parts of a sewing pattern is making sure that it has been printed to the correct scale. For shop bought sewing patterns this shouldn’t be a problem but any patterns that have been downloaded as a PDF will need a little bit of care. All sewing patterns should include a test square with a scale on it which can be used to check that it has been printed at the right size.
When printing patterns at home set your print scale to 100% to be sure that your pattern is printed at the correct size. Always print the page with the print scale on first to check the size is correct and the printer is set up correctly prior to printing the rest of the pattern.

Take your measurements
Shop bought clothes will more than likely be a different size to that printed on your sewing pattern. Make sure to measure your bust, waist, hips and height to help you mark out the correct cutting lines on your sewing pattern. One of the advantages of sewing patterns is that they can be tailored to fit your body with most patterns allowing for height and width adjustment at crucial areas.

Prepare your fabric
Make sure that you wash your chosen fabric  prior to marking it out for cutting. Some fabrics can be prone to shrinkage so washing them first will help prevent problems when the fabric has been used in your garment. Another reason to wash your fabric is to stop the dye from running. Once the fabric is dry remember to lightly iron it to remove any creases and wrinkles.

Pattern markings
There are many different pattern markings used on different sewing patterns including notches for indicating where two pattern pieces should be fitted together, fold lines and bust and hip indicators. All pattern markings will be explained in the instructions so make sure to read these carefully so that you understand what each one means.

Join your pattern together
Use a flat surface to join the different sheets of your pattern together, it can be helpful to place these on a window to match up the lines before joining together with sellotape. Make sure that all edges are straight and the patterns are flat. Once you have joined all of the sheets of your pattern together you can either cut out the size you want or alternatively trace the size you want from the pattern below.