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Video:How to Sew: Read a Pattern

with Kay Porczak

Reading a pattern while sewing may seem confusing at first, but it's quite simple once you know what to look for. Watch this About.com videos to see tips for reading a pattern.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Sew: Read a Pattern

Hi, I'm Kay Porczak, co-owner of Picking Daisies Modern Fabrics in San Luis Obispo, California. I'm here today for About.com to show you how to read a pattern.

Supplies for Reading a Pattern While Sewing

To do this you will need the pattern that you're going to sew, as well as the envelope that it came in, and a tape measure.

Basics for Reading a Pattern While Sewing

The very first step of reading a pattern entails examining the back of the pattern's envelope. Make sure you know your body measurements so you can determine your size for that specific pattern. Most patterns come with a few different options, so you then need to decide which view of the garment you will be sewing. Once you've determined your size and view, you can then determine fabric yardage. You also need to look at the required notions for the project so you can have them before getting started. All of these things are listed on the back of that envelope.

Looking at the Sewing Pattern

Now it's time to remove the actual pattern from the envelope. Your pattern will come with a set of instructions and it's always good to begin there. The general directions will give you special cutting notes, pattern symbols, and seam allowance.

Closer Look at a Pattern

Let's take a look at an actual pattern. Your pattern will come with several different pieces and these will ultimately be sewn together to create your garment. In addition to the outer size lines of your pattern there are a few key symbols that you need to be aware of. Represented as a solid line with an arrow on either end, the first symbol is known as the grain line. This shows you how the pattern should lay on the fabric, which is always parallel to the selvage edge.

Next, the cut-on-fold line is always a solid line with two adjacent arrows pointing to it. This symbol shows you where you'll be lining up the pattern along a fold. Thirdly, you'll need to look for any circles on the pattern. A circle indicates a point that will need to be marked with a fabric marker because you'll be referencing it later, perhaps to pleat or gather the fabric. Lastly, your pattern will contain notches, which are indicated with a small triangle. These can be snipped in or out, and show you where you'll be matching up two pieces of fabric to be sewn together.

Another Tip for Using a Sewing Pattern

Just a tip: Before laying your pattern out on your fabric, you'll want to give it a light ironing so it lays flat and allows for better accuracy. And those are the basics of reading a pattern.

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