September 28, 2015

Sewing With Paper Patterns: Part 1

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Have you ever seen a design on a paper pattern that you loved? Or what about that $1 pattern sale that JoAnn has every so often? Paper patterns can be tempting, but they can also be intimidating. I first learned to sew in a high school sewing class, and we used paper patterns, so I thought I'd share with you how to read and use them.

Paper patterns are great for teaching you the "right" way to sew something, especially with wovens (I don't find them as helpful with knits-most of what I've learned about sewing with knits I've learned online). They do have the disadvantage of being unpredictable about sizing (for example, baby clothing sizing tends to be HUGE-the newborn size fits my babies when they're about a year old sometimes), so please, save yourself the headache and make a muslin to test fit first.

Today, we're going to talk about reading the pattern envelope, and a little bit about what's inside.

Purple: The different views you can make. These are line drawings of the back view. On the front, you can find illustrations and/or pictures of the front view.

Yellow: The types of fabrics recommended for this project. If there is no letter in front, you can use those fabrics for any of the views. Fabrics listed after the letter should only be used for those views.

Orange: The notions you will need for the project. Like the fabrics listed above, if there's no letter in front, you'll need those notions for every view. For this particular pattern, the only notions you'll need for everything is thread.

Blue: Body measurements of the pattern. This is for a baby; children and women's (and men's too, I assume) will have more measurements, like chest (or bust), waist and hips.

Green: This shows you the yardage you will need for your project. Make sure to check below all the views to see if there is additional yardage for the interfacing. I'm just making the bonnet, so I won't need all the yardage called for on the envelope, or the yardage for the contrast overlay. These aren't always laid out in the most user friendly manner. If you'll notice, view B also includes the bonnet, and there is a yardage requirement listed there for ribbon for the bonnet ties.

Orange circle: This is the area that shows the body measurements for the size I picked. Everything in this column is for this size. Follow it down for the yardage requirements for the different views. Also, at the very bottom are the finished measurements of the item you're making.

Inside the envelope you'll find the instructions (on the left) and the pattern pieces (on the right). The instructions will typically start with line drawings of all the views, both front and back.

Next, you'll find line drawings of all the pattern pieces, and a list of the pattern pieces you'll need for each view. Note that the pattern pieces are all numbered. This will help you find them in the pattern tissue. Since I'm making the bonnet, I looked for all the pieces for the bonnet.

This is your pattern pieces list and a cutting layout. It will list all the pattern pieces you need. Make sure to look at every list for the view you're making. As you can see above, the list only includes pieces for the yoke, skirt band, and bonnet. If I was making the whole dress, I would have to look for the other list that would say View C (or whatever view I was making) Dress for the rest of the pieces for the dress.

This included the pieces I need for the bonnet, with the exception of piece 17. That is because piece 17 is a length guide for the ribbon and isn't actually cut out of fabric.

 For part 2, I'll talk about preparing your pattern pieces and cutting out your fabric.

Part 2
Part 3

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