In this installment of Jooj & Me I'll introduce you to a sewing pattern.
Many new sewers are intimidated by the pattern. The lingo, the markings, the sizes, the....well, you get it...it's a whole new world and yes, you have to learn how to read them.
sewing or hobby store. This is the front of the pattern envelope.
When buying a pattern, sewers already have an idea of what they want to sew. Most have seen a garment hanging in a store, being worn by a friend...or by someone on TV that they want to make.
Generally, one goes to a craft store that carries pattern books. These come out seasonally...just like fashions do. While these books are not for sale in the pattern store; rather they are there for the sewer to look through and find a pattern. The desired pattern is identified in the book; the sewer finds that actual pattern in her/his size in a cabinet that the store keeps in stock. The pattern is listed by the maker; Vogue, in this case, and the number; 7616 in this case, and the size. All patterns will be grouped together by the maker in the pattern store.
Now the sewer must know what to look at on the pattern before making the final decision if he/she should go ahead with the project.
All that information is on pattern envelope.
First; what size to buy?
Since this is a woman's sewing pattern the sizes go by bust, waist and hip.
Yes, there are size numbers at the top, which seem to correspond with the sizes one might find in any clothing store.
But this is where many would-be sewers make a common crucial mistake.
The size you choose is not, I repeat NOT the same as what you would choose when buying a similar clothing item in a ready-made store.
First you must take your measurements; of your bust, waist and hip...while you are wearing the underwear that you would likely wear when wearing the item you will sew.
You will not hold the measuring tape tightly, but with 2 fingers inside the tape, so as to assure that you don't hold it too tightly. A more accurate reading can be had when someone is measuring you while you stand in your normal relaxed manner. However, you can do it yourself if you are conscious of when you are tense, relaxed, or just standing funny...it's helpful to do it in front of a full-length mirror.
If your bust is larger than average you'll instead take a "high-bust" measurement...about 2 - 3 finger-widths below your armpit. Later, you will alter the bust area of the pattern to accommodate your bust. If you go by the measurement of the largest part of your bust...you'll end up buying a pattern too big for your shoulders, back, neck and rib-cage area. The average bust size is considered a "B" cup in any standard pattern.
Your waist measurement is at your natural waist; if you were to bend from the waist...the bend in your skin is where the tape measure should go. Try bending both forward and sideways to determine where that line is. You will use this line even if the item you are making is "low-waisted."
Your hip measurement is at the widest part...that is, for most people in line with your crotch.
Many women are pear-shaped, which means their bottoms measure larger than their tops. In my case I am one size larger on the bottom than I am on top.
Fortunately, modern patterns come multi-sized. Mostly in groups of 3 sizes. Some come with the entire size range in one envelope. The pattern I have pictured above contains sizes 20, 22 and 24. It is designed for a full-figured woman.
You will choose the pattern size based on the measurements you have just taken. So, for example let's say you have measured 34" on your bust, or high-bust, but you have measured 40" on your hips. You will choose the pattern that has the 12, 14, 16 combination because that pattern contains all your measurements...the bust in size 12, and the hip in size 16. However, let's say you measure 44" on your hips. If the pattern is designed for "Loose" or "Easy" fitting you will not have to worry. You can stick with the same size combination. If the pattern is "Fitted" you will have to buy the next combination of sizes; 18, 20, 22, in addition to the first one. You'll have to buy 2 patterns in order to get the cutting lines for both your bust and your hips. Later when you are an experienced sewist you'll be able to alter the bottom of the pattern to accommodate your body, without having to buy the 2nd pattern.
Second; how do you know if the pattern is "Loose," "Easy" or "Fitted" in its design?
Located here is the rest of the information a sewer needs to
make an informed decision about his/her sewing project.
The back of the pattern envelope has the design description, and the notions and fabric needed to complete the project. By reading the design description at the top you'll learn that this particular pattern is "Loose-fitting." You'll also notice that it is a "Pull-over" style, meaning that you don't have to sew in any fasteners such as buttons, zippers, or snaps. This lack of fasteners is one of the indicative features of a "Very Easy" to sew pattern, which this one is.
If you are a beginning sewer I recommend you start with a pattern that says something along the lines of "Very Easy."
In addition to choosing the wrong size...a beginning sewer commonly chooses a sewing project too difficult, and therefore gets discouraged of her/his abilities.
There is a wealth of information in these drawings.
In addition to the verbiage on the envelope there is the designer's own line drawings. Notice the above drawings, which are very simple...yes, but precisely why they are important. Look at the picture of the garment on the front of the envelope. Now look again at the line drawings. Do they seem the same to you? They don't to me.
One of the problems with patterns is the photo on the front of the envelope is not of a real person wearing the garment. It is an artist's rendition of what the garment looks like on a real person. Even if the photo was of a real person..it is a model, in a studio...with correct lighting. Plus the garment has been accessorized.
My point is that you will learn to feel relieved once you understand the importance of the designer's line drawing and it's simplicity. The line drawing takes the mystery out of what the garment actually looks like...based on the designer's true intentions. You'll see if it is in fact an A-line shape, or is it straight up and down, which this dress is. You will also see where the shoulder/sleeve seams actually are, which in this case the sleeve is a raglan sleeve...one of my personal favorites because they are so forgiving (read; "easy") to sew...not to mention flattering on narrow shoulders, and smaller than average busts.
You'll also see where the seam lines actually are, so if you wanted to do any later alterations to the pattern you would see where they are possible. You see at a glance that the skirt is in fact an elastic waist....very easy to do, and that it also is a straight up and down...or "Pencil" shaped skirt, with no kick-pleat. Why? Because it is not drawn in. If the skirt had a kick-pleat it would be drawn in in the bottom row of drawings, which are the back views of the garments.
Some women (me) don't like narrow, long skirts without a kick-pleat...it makes for uncomfortable walking. However, since there is a full-length seam on the front of the garment...you can open it up at the bottom up to the knee...or higher, if you want...to make a walking opening. You would just finish the edges without attaching the 2 sides into the seam, and then do a bar-tack at the top of the opening to keep the seam from splitting any farther.
So, if you are not wanting to read the verbiage for some reason...you can see everything you need to know about the design from the line-drawing.
But, you'll still have to read the rest of the description anyway...in a hurry or not. Why? Because you need to know what kind of fabric is recommended for this garment. For example you might already have some fabric on hand, and are just itching to make it up into something. You'll want to know if this fabric is compatible to this pattern.
Let's say you've got a piece of denim...or you want to make something out of denim. Would it work for this dress? Go back to the section under "Fabrics." It says "Lightweight Woolens, Crepe and Matte Jersey." What do you think?
All those fabrics are very forgiving to sew. That means they are slightly stretchy...even though the first 2 mentioned are technically a woven (not a knit...by definition a stretchy fabric) fabric. Again, that these "forgiving" fabrics are recommended is indicative of the "Very Easy" to sew description of this pattern.
So, if you are determined to use denim...use one that is:
A) Lightweight (not the kind for jeans), and
B) Has some Lycra in it...making it slightly stretchy.
I hope this beginning pattern-reading lesson is helpful to you.
In subsequent installments I'll talk more in depth about other more finer details on the pattern envelope...such as how to determine how much fabric to buy...what are notions, and how to determine if the design is right for you.
If you want catch up, here is Jooj & Me; Part 1.
Comments and questions are welcome!!!