You’ve searched the pattern books, found the perfect pattern for your material, and now you are off home to make it up. What is the first thing you need to do? You will have selected a pattern for your size. When you open the envelope, everything is folded neatly.
1. Take the instruction sheet which shows you how to set out the pattern on your fabric. There will be lay-outs for the different widths of fabric and for with or without nap. With some fabrics you can cut out your pattern pieces in the opposite direction and others you will have to lay the pattern pieces all going the same way or the fabric will show a different shade. Velvets and corduroys are a good example of this.
2. Cut around the edge of the seam allowances with paper scissors, not the scissors you will be cutting the fabric with.
3. Always check the pattern pieces against you. You can pin the various pieces together and try it on to see if there needs to be any adjustments before you start cutting the fabric.
4. With your fabric right side out, place and pin the pattern pieces according to the layout for your fabric width and cut your fabric pattern pieces out.
5. You will see triangles (known as notches), circles, arrows, broken lines, unbroken lines. On some patterns you will also see on the seam stitching lines arrows. These markings are according to the pattern maker and indicate the direction to stitch that particular seam.
6. Once you have cut out all the pieces, get your tracing carbon. Fold the tracing carbon so that when you place it between the fabric and trace, you will have the pattern marked on the inside of your fabric.
7. If possible, get a plastic tracing wheel as it will not cut into your pattern tissue. Some of the metal tracing wheels will cut the pattern and make it hard to re-use that pattern again later.
8. Transfer all pattern markings to the inside of your fabric and use a rule to guide along the long seam lines.
9. You are now ready to start sewing your garment. Everything you had on your pattern is now on the inside of your fabric.
10. Once again, check the pieces against you to make sure the fit is right. Always double check! Measure twice – cut once!
11. Pin, tack, baste where necessary and press as you go. You should also fit as you go and follow the instructions, taking it step by step.
12. As a general guide when deciding on what length of fabric to purchase, you need twice your length plus the length of the sleeve (that is, if you are making something with a sleeve). For skirts or pants you will need twice your length.
13. When looking for fabrics, anything that feels stiff will have lots of “sizing”. This means that when the garment is laundered it could go very limp and lose its shape.
14. A good test for crushing is to scrunch the fabric in your hand and see if the creases will fall out. If they stay, then this will always crush no matter how carefully your press it.
15. Purchase your notions when you purchase your fabric, thread, zipper, bias binding, interfacing, lining, check the pattern envelope for what you will need to complete your garment.