When sewing garments, beginners need to learn how to use patterns. Read on to discover more about understanding to reading sewing patterns.

How to Read Sewing Patterns

The joy of sewing patterns is that you can learn so much from them. Many a seasoned sewist has mastered techniques using their instructions. The downside, however, is that the pattern companies seem to have a language all of their own!

With so many digital patterns available nowadays, you may have to start by printing out your pattern pieces and the directions.

Either on the back of the pattern envelope or in the PDF, you will see a table linking body measurements with different pattern sizes. Don’t assume that the sizing is universal. Measure your hips, waist, and bust every time. Check the finished garment measurements.

A suggestion to the best type of fabrics is listed to help you choose. Using the table, you can move down to see how much fabric is needed, depending on the width of the fabric. Notions (buttons, zips etc.) will be listed for each variation.

Each piece of the pattern is clearly marked so that you can select the ones you need. Because some patterns have options, you won’t necessarily need all the pieces available. Do NOT use your fabric scissors to cut paper.

Don’t feel obliged to use the layouts if you can “tetris” more effectively.

Sewing Pattern Symbols and Lines

Thoroughly read the invaluable guidelines that come with most sewing patterns. Here is a glossary:

  1.     Grain line arrow should line up the fabric and pattern piece.
  2.     The solid line is placed on the folded edge of the fabric.
  3.     This straight line with dashes indicates the centre front or back of the garment.
  4.     Notches are pattern matching marks to ensure you have pinned correctly. Cut outwards, not into the seams.
  5.     Dots are used to line up darts, pleats, and so on.
  6.     Use the cutting line that corresponds to your size. Check how much you need to leave for seam allowances.
  7.     The parallel lines indicate where to safely lengthen or shorten the pattern.

Contact the team at Empisal for help with reading sewing patterns and so much more!