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How-To Guides: Using a Dressmaking Pattern
Using a Dressmaking Pattern



A How-To-Guide designed to help eager beginners and try and take some of the
‘scary’ out of sewing!


Choosing your patterns

Dressmaking Pattern Size Guide

When selecting a dressmaking pattern, it is essential to check your measurements against those on the pattern and buy accordingly – do NOT go by your usual shop size, as they can often differ and it is important to achieve the right fit. See right →


Suitable FabricsEven though some sewing patterns can be labelled as ‘quick’ or ‘easy’; the instruction writers at most pattern companies will usually presume that you will have a prior knowledge of sewing and dressmaking – which isn’t always correct! Little can be more intimidating than trying to make out what the tricky blurb means on the different parts of a pattern. Make sure you look at the guide to check that the fabrics you have or are planning to buy are suitable for the project. See right →


Don’t panic! Take the time to look through each of the pattern sections separately,

and you’ll be ready to go in no time…


Reading the front of the pattern sleeve

Dressmaking Pattern Front

On the front of the pattern sleeve, you will often see a few style variations of the same garment/project.
In the world of sewing, these different variations are displayed on the pattern as ‘views’. One view could have long sleeves and a frill, one view may be sleeveless with a collar etc. These different views are just there to give you options and ideas on creating the same base project. See right →




Reading the back of the pattern sleeve

The back of the pattern sleeve will include the following information about

your project:


How much fabric to useHow much fabric to buy: This will depend on the width of the fabric you choose, the view you have chosen to make, the size you are making and whether your fabric has a directional pattern or pile (you may need to match stripes or plaids, or cut all pieces in the same direction). It will also list measurements for lining fabric and interfacing if needed.



View diagramThe back of each view: the front picture on your pattern sleeve will usually only show you the front of the project – therefore you will find a linear picture displaying each view in better detail. See right →





view description

A description of each view: It is important to always read the project descriptions as pictures can sometimes be deceiving – these written descriptions tell you exactly what you have chosen. See right →






A list of ‘notions’ required for each specific view: Notions are the bits and bobs you will need to finish your project, such as zips, thread, buttons or trims. The pattern will list what you will need, and how much you will need. See right →





The inside…

Inside your pattern sleeve you will find the following items:


Sewing Pattern ContentsYour pattern pieces: These are most usually printed onto large sheets of tissue paper. Each piece will be numbered, and there will be a list of which pieces are needed for certain views (this will either be on the tissue or instruction sheet).

A key and glossary: These are here to help you figure out the markings and terminology used in the layout and instruction sheets.

The pattern layout: This will show you how to correctly lay your pattern pieces out onto your fabric before cutting them out.



Step-by-step instructions: These will tell you how to put your project together. Instructions can be written in varying grades of clarity, depending on the type of pattern and your knowledge of sewing.



If your instructions run onto more than one page, staple your pages together in one of the top corners and set them next to you while you are sewing; this way you can cross off each step as you go and you won’t get muddled or lose your way.

If your pattern is a success or becomes a particular favourite, trace your pieces onto thick card or plastic and place them in a labelled envelope so you can use them again and again.




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