First off I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who posted a comment last time. You all sure know how to make the “new girl” feel welcome!
This week I’ll be talking more in-depth about one of my favorite aspects of sewing – patterns!!! That is the time when I start to dream of my closet being filled with all sorts of beautiful garments. Plus they are a cheap thrill for me when the chain fabric stores have them on sale for $1. Honestly I can’t think of a better way to spend a buck (move over BK dollar menu!!! LOL).
Sewing patterns come in several different formats. The one you’re probably most familiar with are envelope patterns.
Envelope pattern are readily available in sewing stores all across the US and Canada. They are found in big cabinets or on racks. To shop for these patterns you can either cozy up with the thick catalog at the store or shop the manufacturer’s website 24/7 (i.e. in your pj’s!). Personally I do both, but I like the catalog better because I’m just a hands on kinda girl that way.
In the above picture you can see a variety of pattern companies who offer “envelope” patterns. When you shop at your local chain (i.e. Joann’s or Hancock Fabrics), typically you’ll find Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, New Look, Kwik Sew, and Burda. Your store might not carry all of them (I think Joann’s doesn’t carry Kwik Sew at any of their stores, but Hancock Fabrics does). Some specialty fabric stores also carry independent patterns such as Jalie (a personal favorite of mine).
When you purchase an envelope pattern, included in the envelope is the pattern instruction sheets and pattern tissue with all the pattern pieces you’ll need to sew the item(s) shown on the envelope. The envelope itself also contains very important information. The front has the pattern photo and the back gives you a small line drawing, suggested fabrics, notions you’ll need, amount of fabric needed for the garment for each size, and also finished garment measurements. Lots of very important information you’ll need to know during the sewing process.
The pattern instruction sheets are the road map for sewing the pattern. They tell you just about everything you need to know. As you can see in the above photo, it shows the line drawing of the garment, what pattern pieces are included on the pattern tissue, the general instructions you’ll need to know for sewing the pattern, a cutting layout to ensure you get all the pattern pieces on your cut of fabric, and then the actual directions for sewing the pattern.
Another type of pattern is the downloadable pattern. You can find PDF patterns for all sorts of garment and craft items on Etsy, eBay, blogs, as well as websites such as You Can Make This and Burda Style. The price varies from free to a few dollars per pattern. A search in Google will surely get you started in the right direction.
PDF patterns include both the directions and the pattern pieces you’ll need. You print the entire document on your home printer using 8.5″x11″ paper and then tape the pattern pieces together. It’s very easy and something you can download in minutes, however they can consume a lot of paper, tape, and ink if it’s a big pattern. Another thing worth noting is a lot of PDF patterns include color pictures mixed within the directions to walk you through step-by-step. This is a great option for newbie sewers because of the extra directional help.
Lastly, another fun option is pattern magazines. Published all over the globe, these little gems are a fashion magazine with the patterns included! I adore pattern magazines. It’s fun to see the fashion side of things and then know I can make up the garment because the pattern is included in the magazine. Also it’s a fun treat when they are delivered in my mail box. They are more expensive than buying an envelope pattern on sale at the local fabric chain, however each issue includes a hug array of patterns (typically about 40 in most magazines) so the value is much better per pattern.
Shown in the above photo are:
Ottobre (six issues per year in English - two women’s issues and four children’s issues)
Burda Style magazine (12 issues per year in English)
Patrones (12 issues per year in Spanish – two issues are for children)
KnipMode (12 issues per year in Dutch)
Modellina (three issues per year in Italian)
La Mia Boutique (12 issues per year in Italian – also published in French under Ma Boutique)
Now you’re probably wondering how all those patterns can fit into one magazine issue. May I present to you, the “road map”!
Well actually it’s not a road map, but it sure looks like one. Shown is one side of a double sided pattern sheet – typically there are about four sheets (or eight sides total) included with each magazine. All the colored lines and numbers denote the pattern. It looks very overwhelming and confusing at first, but by the time you finish tracing your first pattern you see it isn’t actually too bad.
To trace a pattern you’ll need some sort of tracing medium. I personally use a product called Pattern-Ease found in the interfacing-by-the-yard section of Joann’s, but you can use tissue paper, medical exam paper, drafting paper – basically anything transparent enough you can see through to trace. One last little tidbit, when tracing patterns you have to add seam allowances to the pattern. I remember feeling like this was a pain, but now I prefer being able to decide how large of a seam allowance I want. On a garment using knit fabrics I usually only add 1/4″, but on a garment that uses woven fabrics I add 3/8″-5/8″ depending on what I’m making. A simple ruler will help you do this with ease.
In the photo above is an example of what pattern magazine instructions look like. Just like pattern envelopes instructions, they give you all the pertinent information you need to sew the pattern (i.e. type of fabric, how much fabric, notions, what pattern sheet to trace, and written directions to sew the pattern). One downfall for beginning sewers is pattern magazines are only written directions and no pictures to guide you. This can be very hard for some, but with a little practice and starting with a simple garment, you really should have a good sewing experience. This is where your basic sewing book comes in handy too!
I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with all this information. Now go peek at some pattern catalogs and get yourself excited to sew!