Sewing 101: Tips on Choosing a Pattern

Fabric shops have turned into one stop craft shops. The warehouse feeling can be overwhelming for someone brand new to sewing. If you want to test your skills on a simple pattern you have to start by putting your blinders on and following a few tips. These tips are based off choosing a basic skirt pattern, since those are typically a good first project.

Sewing Patterns

Pattern Size. You do not buy patterns in the size you normally wear. Your pattern size is based off your exact measurements. Be sure to carry these with you on a note card into the fabric store.

Measuring Tips

  • Wearing only your underwear, hold the measuring tape snugly around your body.
  • You will need a waist, hips and waist to hem measurement.
  • The waist is taken at your thinnest part of your middle.
  • Hips are measured at your fullest part.
  • Waist-to-hem is taken with your shoes on from the middle of the back of your waist to the desired point on your leg that you want the skirt to land.

Pattern Choice. Look through the pattern books or racks to find the “easy” “beginner” or “one hour” choices. Most of the major pattern companies offer these options. These patterns typically have the fewest number of seams possible. They also have the least amount of details. You won’t find pleated skirts or complicated tailoring on the waistband or over all design. Once you find a selection to work with, look for a style that normally looks nice on your figure.

Finding the Pattern. After choosing a style from a pattern book, you now need to find the pattern. Some stores are self-help, meaning you will need to go to a file drawer labeled with the manufacturer of the pattern and the number range your choice falls under. At other stores you only need to give this information to a sales clerk who will pull it for you.

Reading a Pattern. Once you have chosen the style of the skirt you will be sewing, flip a pattern package over to find the charts.

Choose the pattern size according to your measurements. .

Look for the amount of fabric you will need. Be sure to also double-check the fabric width when choosing a fabric.

Check the recommended fabrics for the design you have chosen. Stick to this list. The manufacturer has your best interest at heart here, they know which fabric works best with the design of the skirt and your beginning skill level.

Look for the list of notions. This will be all the extras you will need to complete the design. Thread, zipper, elastic, buttons and other decorative elements.

Once your supplies are chosen, you are ready to check out and start sewing!

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