When I started sewing in my early teens, I used patterns all the time and I think that basic knowledge is what has given me the confidence to try things on my own.
It’s been quite some time since I used a pattern for sewing and I had the opportunity a few weeks ago when my daughter announced that she was going to be a bridesmaid. Well, I was all excited until I discovered that I was making her dress!
As you can see from the photo, her friend Meg was a gorgeous bride, and the bridesmaids looked lovely in their bright blue dresses. It’s actually amazing that my daughter’s dress looked just like the others because the instructions from the bride were to follow some of the “B” version and some of the “D” version of the dress. Plus one mom made three of the dresses and because we are 1,200 miles away in Florida, I made Brits.
The point is, a pattern can be a life saver when you want to make something but don’t have the experience or know how to put it together yourself. For instance, I can make almost any home décor project without a pattern….it’s what I do. When it comes to clothing, it had been so long since I made a couture item that I was actually afraid of the project! Fortunately, everything came back crystal clear as I began reading the pattern!!
If you’ve never used a pattern, let me tell you about some of the highlights so you can feel more comfortable about the fact that it will walk you through every last detail. They are wonderful!
First, before you even open the pattern, the front photos or drawings will let you know how many different options you have within this one pattern packet. Our dress pattern had four views, A, B, C, and D. Each differs slightly. This is the same with home décor patterns. Sometimes you can purchase a pattern for window toppers with four to six different views. It’s especially nice if you like more than one of them!!
On the back of the pattern is a chart that gives all sorts of information. First, there is a box at the top that lists the types of fabrics that would be appropriate for this project. The second box usually lists the “notions”, or other items you will need to purchase to make this project like thread, a zipper, lace or what have you. The rest is a chart listing body measurements so you can determine what size to make and then how much of each fabric you will need in the size you have selected.
Whether it’s a bridesmaid dress or a chair cushion, now is the time to select your fabrics and notions and then get ready to head on home to read some more!
Inside the pattern are the tissue paper pattern pieces and the instruction sheets. I find that it is extremely helpful to read all the instructions, trying to picture what you will be doing in each step, before actually trying to get started. This quiet time before starting will ensure you don’t rush into a step and perhaps forget something or make a hard-to-fix mistake.
There is usually a section with general directions. This explains the symbols used on the pattern pieces, how to shorten or lengthen a pattern piece, how to mark certain stitching lines or points that must match together on your fabrics, and more.
The instruction pages are also used for showing how to lay out the pattern pieces of the item you have chosen on the width of fabric you have purchased. As you can imagine, pattern pieces might lay out differently on 45” wide fabric versus 60” wide fabric! Notice too it lists the pattern pieces you will need to cut out for the choice you have made.
We had to cut out 11 different pieces for the dress. Be very careful with this step. The tissue paper is probably the thinnest paper I have ever seen and it can tear very easily. My suggestion from personal experience is to keep the cats out of the room when you are cutting!!
Here we were playing with the layout of the pieces to determine if we were going to have enough fabric since it was all sent to us in one package. In the end, all was well and we even have extra fabric….for what I don’t know!
Once the pieces fit nicely on the fabric, pin them in place, make any markings on them that are necessary and cut them all out. Whew, a lot of work has been done and there’s still nothing to wear! Hahaha!
Eventually the actual instructions begin and they are a combination of written directions with drawings showing what should be done. Notice I cross off each step when I am finished…it gives me a sense of accomplishment!!
Of course the sewing is exciting because after every line of stitches, you get closer to having something real in front of you! My daughter would pop in periodically and we would hold the pieces up to her until she could finally put it on. We did quite a bit of altering to get it to fit snug yet feel comfortable.
The day she was finally able to try different shoes with it and change out her jewelry we were in heaven…or at least I was. The tough part was done and now all she had to do was have fun in it! By the way, the same feelings apply when you make draperies, bedspread, tablecloths, etc.
So go check out the fabulous patterns that are available and stop waiting to make your home or your wardrobe, exactly what you want it to be!