Saturday Sewing Session Blog

Demystifying Dressmaking Patterns

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Dressmaking patterns are notoriously difficult to understand, especially if you are a beginner. You’ve gone out picked the perfect garment pattern, got the fabric ready, you open it up and you can’t for the life of you work out what all the squiggles and markings are. We have all been there! So we thought this fortnight the blog would focus on demystifying patterns so you can tackle all kinds of projects with confidence.

 Before we start demystify the hieroglyphics we need to take a look at the Saturday Sewing Sessions Top 5 Picks of the week in the following categories: a book, a restaurant, a shop, an exhibition and our SSS ultimate pick of the week.

  1. Hemsley & Hemsley The Art of Living Well- A cook book that will help anyone who wants to feel better, lose weight and have more energy.

  2. Gazette Brasserie Balham, incredible provincial French dishes and a mean charcuterie and cheese selection.

  3. Brissi Homeware Shop- handcrafted furniture that creates serene and elegant spaces.

  4. Festival of Love- The Southbank Centre’s summer of love is back with a host of installations, activities, pop-ups and performances that celebrate humankind’s most overwhelming emotion.

  5. SSS Top Pick of the week- Transparent- an awesome Amazon prime series about a dysfunctional family living in LA dealing with their fathers gender transition. If you liked Orange is the New Black, you will LOVE this gem of a series.

If this pattern guide still leaves you a little confused join us at our  upcoming ‘Dressmaking Patterns- Reading to Realisation’ classes and learn to dymistify patterns over a glass of bubbly!  These sessions do not require any experience. And we can also do one to one sessions if you would prefer! No project or enquiry is to big or too small just get in touch.

The SSS Pattern Guide – Lets GO!

Measure yourself!

It is important to measure yourself correctly before you start on your dressmaking adventure. Whether it’s inches or CM’s BUT stick with one or the other or things will get a bit weird looking!

*Top Tip*- IGNORE the sizes at the top of the chart! Go by your measurements and not the size at the top as they are not our highstreet sizes. To get the perfect fit, tape measure yourself up and go from your actual size!

body measurments pattern class

 Cutting Lines

 Lines/dashes around each  piece of the pattern that differentiate the sizes, measure yourself up and cut your size!Bust, waist and hip are the main ones to get you started.

*Top Tip*- Always trace your pattern and markings on to paper rather than cutting your size out, then if you want to use the pattern again in a different size it won’t be a kerfuffle!

 The Grainline arrow

This marking shows the direction you need to position your pattern against the salvage edge (bound edge) of the fabric.

On the Fold

This symbol indicates that the pattern should be positioned along the folded edge of the fabric, to cut out a symmetrical pattern. The pattern piece only represents half the fabric piece. 

*Top Tip* – Keep an eye on the grain line when lining up your pattern, and if it is a bias cut garment the pattern will look a little squiff but as long as the grain line is parallel to the salvage, well, thats just tops!

Bust and Hip Indicators

These indicators you will find positioned on the bust and hip points, remember to transfer them if you are tracing your pattern on to paper.

Lengthen and Shorten Line

Two horizontal parallel lines that indicate the point where you can chose to customize your pattern to suit your own measurements by lengthening or shortening it.

Notches

 Although these markings all greatly differ they all represent the same thing. They mark where two pattern pieces are supposed to align. Make a small nip in your fabric on the notches. They work a little like a jigsaw, one piece will fit with another piece.

Buttons and Buttonholes

 This symbol represents the position of buttonholes on a pattern.

Darts

This marking indicates where the darts are situated that help to mould the fabric around the curves of the body.  Transfer the markings on to the fabric and stitch the diamond/triangular shape together by folding it in half-length ways.

Tucks and Gathers

These markings resemble a square that is missing one line; the dots at the bottom indicate where to pull in the fabric to make it meet in the middle, and the vertical lines and dots at the top indicate where to sew your stitches.

**Top Top Tip** You want to transfer all the above markings onto the fabric and there are a range of ways to do it. Tailor tacks, chalk, invisible pen, carbon paper and a tracing wheel to name but  few. As long as you mark the fabric with all the relevant information you’ll be away. We will be doing updates on all theses techniques soon so keep on the look out!

Fabric and Pattern Key

This key is a visual guide to differentiating the fabric pieces on the pattern.

 These squares refer to which way your printed pattern should be when cutting.

TA- Darrrrr

We really hope this mini guide has made your pattern seem a bit less overwhelming, and if there are any other markings you are not sure of, do get in touch with us and we can help you decipher it!

 Happy Sewing!

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