Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sewing Simply: How to Read a Pattern

{Just now joining in? Go HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for previous posts in this series!}


Today we’re going to learn how to read a pattern and the cut the fabric to make this bag:


It’s Butterick pattern #B5448. I picked mine up on a rack in Jo-Ann’s. If you really want to make this bag but can’t find the pattern in store, you can order it here.

The pattern envelope will tell you everything you need to know as far as supplies go.

pattern package

The YELLOW highlighted portion explains what the projects this pattern can make (in this case, purse A or B). It tells us the dimensions of the finished project.

The PURPLE highlighted portion, titled “Notions,” tells you everything you’re going to need in addition to the fabric. For this project, the notions include a 5 1/2” to 6 1/2” bag rings and one 3/4” magnetic snap (which I’ll actually be making the bag without to keep it easier).

The RED highlighted portion under “Combinations” and “Handbag A” tells you how much material you’ll be needing. For this project, we need 3/4 yard of 45” fabric (the standard quilting cotton bolt size), 5/8 yards of a contrasting material for the lining, and 1 3/8 yards of fusible interfacing (which is a product that increases the sturdiness of your fabric and can be ironed (or fused) onto your fabric).

The PINK highlighted portion is the bag we’ll be making. Most patterns give you the options to make more than one project.

The GREEN highlighted portion at the top is the pattern number. When you browse through pattern books, each one has a number associated with it. When you settle on the one you want, write down the number and go look in the drawers labeled for the range of number yours falls in and the pattern brand name. For this pattern, you’d be looking in the Butterick drawers in a range of something like 4000-6000.

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Ok, now that we have our pattern and understand what’s on the outside of it, let’s open it up!

Inside your pattern you’ll find instruction sheets

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And patterns

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Before you do any cutting, it’s important to read through the instructions.

pattern instructions

The GREEN highlighted portion is a picture of what all the pattern pieces look like once cut out, all numbered nicely to help you keep track of them.

The RED highlighted portion tells you which pattern pieces will be needed for Bag A, the one we’re making. Obviously there are more pattern pieces then we’ll be needing for this project.

The PINK highlighted portion walks you through how to lay the pattern pieces on the fabric before cutting. The very first paragraph can be ignored because it just talks about clothing. Some phrases you may (or may not) be familiar with in this section are:
-Seam Allowances—what we learned about yesterday while making the pillow! It’s the space between your stitches (seam) and the edge of the fabric. If you didn’t have a seam allowance, the stitches would eventually pull out. This pattern takes seam allowances into account. You don’t need to worry about adding anything extra like you did when figuring out how big to cut the fabric for the pillow yesterday.
-Selvage—the finished edge of the fabric that keeps it from fraying while it’s on the bolt.
-Grainline—the main direction in the threads of the fabric. Like the grain in some wood.

The ORANGE highlighted portion shows you how to lay the pattern pieces for the main part of the bag out on the fabric so you get the most out of it. You’ll notice that some pattern pieces have an arrow that says “Grainline” next to it. This means that that line needs to line up with the grainline of your fabric. Other’s say “center fold” which means that edge of the fabric will sit on the fold in the fabric and you won’t cut along that side.

The BLUE highlighted portion shows you how to lay the pattern pieces for the contrasting fabric (or lining) part of the bag.

The YELLOW highlighted portion show you how to lay the pattern pieces for the fusible interfacing.

The PURPLE highlighted portion is the glossary. These words will show up in the pattern instructions. I always read through them before doing anything, and then will probably refer back to them at some point while sewing.

And now you’re ready to cut!

First cut out the pattern pieces the instructions say you’ll need for this project.

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Pin your pattern pieces to the fabric (oops! forgot to take a picture). I have to be careful how I pin them because I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve accidentally [tried to] cut a pin and damaged my scissors. The cut along the outside line.

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Do the same for all the pieces for the outside of the bag.

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Then do the same for the lining.

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And then the fusible interfacing as well (I kept the pattern pieces pinned to the fabric I had just cut. It weighted it down enough that it kind of stuck to the interfacing and I didn’t need to pin it!).

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And then you have everything cut and you’re ready to start sewing… tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. This was an excellent tutorial! I have a couple of additional tips for you and your readers, if you don't mind.
    One important thing you forgot to mention was to iron your pattern pieces before pinning them to the fabric. If you don't, your cut pieces won't be exactly the size they should be. This isn't as important when making something simple like this bag, but if you are making a dress or something more complicated, it can be crucial to the fit of the piece!
    The grain of the fabric always goes lengthwise. An easy way to remember is to line your arrows up to the selvage edge - the same distance all the way along - then your garment will hang straight.
    When pinning your pattern to the fabric, put all the pins pointing in the same direction along the seam line - no danger of cutting pins.
    (Hope you don't think me presumptuous, adding these hints!)


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