How To Use A Paper Pattern

If you’d like to try one of our paper patterns, but are a bit daunted by what’s involved, here are our top tips on how to use a paper pattern…

This guide, taken from The Dressmaking Technique Bible explains how to use a paper pattern:

Inside the pattern envelope are the pattern pieces ready to be used as templates for cutting out the fabric, and step-by-step instructions for constructing the garment. Use the information printed on the envelope to help you select a pattern:

1. PATTERN DETAILS
The company name and a pattern identification number are always stated on the front of the envelope.

How to use a paper pattern2. SKILL LEVEL
Sometimes the level of skill required to make up
the pattern – whether the construction is easy or
difficult – is stated on the envelope.

3. IMAGE OF THE FINISHED GARMENT(S)
This will indicate what the finished item will look like. Normally, there are variations of a style – short and long sleeve options or different collar choices, for example. Be aware that photographs give a more accurate illustration of the finished garment. Drawings may have a designer’s licence, showing tall slim figures, and may not represent how the finished garment will look on a smaller, rounder figure.

4. SIZE
The pattern will have a size printed on it, whether it is a single-size pattern or a multi-sized pattern in a large or small range of sizes. There will also be a size chart included with the pattern stating the standard measurement for each size. Choose the most appropriate and adapt as necessary.

5. BACK VIEW
The back of the garment will normally be illustrated as a line drawing showing details such as pocket positions, fastenings and seams. Front views may also be illustrated in a diagram.

How to use a paper pattern6. FABRICS
The amount of fabric required is given for each size in the standard fabric widths (6a), along with suggestions for suitable fabrics (6b).

7. HABERDASHERY (NOTIONS)
Any extra requirements needed to complete the garment are included – the number and suggested size of buttons, for example.

8. GARMENT DETAILS
Specific information about the design is often printed on the back of the envelope. For trousers, for example, it may state the circumference of the leg at the hem or the side length from the waist. This gives a better indication of the fit and style.

OTHER INFORMATION
A description explaining the details of the designs is often included, together with the general fit, such as “loose fitting” or “slim fitting”.

SEAM AND HEM ALLOWANCES
Some patterns include seam and hem allowances on allpattern pieces, but some do not and you have to add them yourself. As a general guide, allowances are typically included on patterns sold in English-speaking countries only. The example shown here, for instance, is the European version of the pattern and does not include them. It is easier to adjust a pattern that does not include allowances.

So, now that you know how to use a paper pattern, go and check out our huge selection of paper patterns. Pick your favourite, get sewing and let us know how you get on!

*’How to use a paper pattern’ has been excerpted from The Dressmaking Technique Bible.

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