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How to read patterns

So I have to admit when I started to teach myself to sew I didn't even know that they made different needle types for your machine, nor how to read a pattern I bought from the store.

Since then I have learned to fully read it and to look beyond the 'wonderful' sketches or mock-up on the cover. And just incase someone else is in the same boat as me I thought I would post a quick little thing on how to read them (and not forget notions).

Different Garments Within One Pattern:
Think of this as a bonus when it comes to buying patterns. Often manufactures will design and produce something and offer you 'enhancements' to alter the garment a little. Think of it as ordering a ice cream cone for yourself and they give you the option of ice cream cone, a banana split or a flurry for the same price.

Pattern Numbers:
Soooo I can't lie, I've spend a few minutes (okay hours) looking threw the books of patterns at Joann's, found the pattern I wanted, searched high and low in the drawers to find it, brought it home, only to find out I bought the pattern in a size way way to small for these hips.

Now generally the pattern you buy in stores is spilt into two patterns. One pattern ranging size 0-4 and the other 6-10. Each pattern maker is different and not to confuse you on what each manufacturer uses just look around by the pattern number to find the size the pattern comes in.

Knowing your measurements:
I'm sure a lot of you will think that you don't think you need your measurements (or if you're like me don't want to see them). However, knowing your measurements will help you ensuring you make a garment that fits.

Pro Tip:  Fuck sizes! Sometimes you'll need to make a size 12 garment to fit you only because of the cut of the pattern. So don't get discouraged and own that shit!

Notions, Suggested Fabrics & Lining:

Time to figure out what you'll need to actually walk away with fully functioning garment. On the back side of the pattern you'll see a bit of a description of the garment and somewhere on the back there will be a sections (usually highlighted) that says NOTIONS: It will state what extras you'll need to finish off your garment. Some of it you can fudge along the way but if you're starting off I would get all the needed notions.

Suggested Fabrics (or fabrics):
These are the manufactures ideas for what they envisioned the garment constructed as. You don't have to follow this but know a plain cotton fabric will hang way different than satin.

Now this is probably taboo, but a lot of times I skip over the lining. It all depends on what type of fabric I'm using. A faux leather or leather will need a lining because with out it you'll be swimming in a sweaty mess. As you learn to know more and more fabrics you'll learn what needs lining and what doesn't. Overall, do what you feel comfortable doing. If you're new to sewing and the thought of lining is intimidating, skip it, you just need to get the practice in.

Nap and No Nap:
Nap is the fabrics with a direction (think corduroy). If you're trying to line up these elements you'll need more fabric. Same goes for jersey knit, jersey knit gives more bring pulled one way than it does the other. Again don't let this intimidate you, just go for it. You'll learn what fabrics pull which ways over time.

Amount of Fabric:
Once you've figured out what garment you'd like to construct (aka make) you need to find out how many yards of fabric you'll need. It will list the garment then the fabric needed for that size. If you're choosing to do lining make sure you get the fabric amount for that as well.

What is 45" vs 60"?
This would be your fabrics 'default' width. Most apparel fabric comes in 60" and most cotton comes in 45". When you're selecting your fabric look by the price, and in the fine print you can find the width. If you can't ask an employee what width it is and most will be more than happy to help you.

I think that covers almost everything, and I hope this helps, if not let me know with comments and I'll try to clarify.

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