How to read a pattern

So when you first start sewing and you’ve never done it before *points to self* it can be a little overwhelming. There is a lot of important info crammed on the pattern packets you’ll need to make a great garment. I was lucky enough to have a friend brake down the back of a sewing pattern and I’d like to pay it forward.  This is just a general tutorial. Every pattern will be a little different but overall they have the same basic info.

The front of the pattern will have an illustrations or photos of the finished garments options inside. It will also have the pattern number and sizes included as well.

When you flip over the packet it should look something like this.

Starting from the top, the first section tends to be what type of fabric that would work best for this design.

Next is the notions.  (Which is a fancy word for, zippers, elastic, buttons, hooks and eyes, etc.)

Here’s my stash of notions I have on hand at any given time. (Praise be to Goodwill) Also, don’t be afraid to salvage notions off of garments that aren’t usable any more. Get your seem ripper and go to town.

Moving on to the section that tends to be a great workout motivator; size and measurements.  In the spirit of loving the bodies we have I’m going to break it down using my actual measurements.

As you can see I fall between three sizes. This is a good STARTING point to figuring out what size to cut.  I’ll show you what I mean later.

Next we have the garment options with the amount of fabric needed for any given size. The garments themselves will either be labeled on the side or front of the packet.

A few things on this area that may confuse you. First,  you’ll notice the 45″ and 60″ on the left. This refers to the width of the fabric. Next, the “**” deal with nap. I found a great post about understanding nap and how to work with it here.  And last but not least, don’t forget about your lining. It can/does make all the difference in your piece.

And now we’ve come to where you figure out what size you want to make your garment.  It’s the Finished Garment Measurements. This is exactly what it sounds like. The measurements of your finished garment.

Here’s how that relate to you choosing your size.  My bust is 37 my waist is 31, and hips are 42. So if you look at the Finished Garment Chart I’m more in the rage of a 12-14 for the fit I like.  I’ll use this as my base for the sizing as far as fabric is concerned.

It’s much easier to work between two sizes than three. 😉

I hoped this helped as a starting point to understanding all the info found on a pattern.  If anything is still a little unclear ask and I’ll do my best to answer.


2 thoughts on “How to read a pattern

  1. Pingback: How to Read a Commercial Pattern | Why Sew Nerdy

  2. Pingback: Sewing Quickie: Reading A Bolt of Fabric | Why Sew Nerdy

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