The Basics of Using a Pattern- Part 3, Finally, We Sew!

  For the last two Fridays we’ve been talking about patterns.  How to choose them and how to set them up to cut properly.  This week we’re finally getting to the part where we break out our sewing machines and sew!  …which of course means MORE markings!

  As a quick aside, I need to apologize that my patterns in the pictures aren’t ironed (especially when I keep berating you that you HAVE to iron yours), but I’ve had to pull out a few patterns to get examples of what I want and since they’re not patterns I’m currently working with, I’d have to iron them all…and G doesn’t nap for that long.
  So the good news at this point: almost all of the remaining marks on your pattern are explained in the included pattern directions, so they’re pretty straight forward.  The bad news: they’re kind of a pain to mark.  You’re going to need either a disappearing marker or some chalk that will show up on your fabric.  If you’re really bad (like me) and are using a light enough fabric, you can get away with using a plain ol pencil.  Shhh.  Don’t tell.
  If you see any of the markings like the squares and circles above, simply mark them on your fabric and you’ll be told what to do with them in the instructions.  Usually it’s something along the lines of “gather the fabric between the two circles” or “sew along the seam until you reach the square” or “attach your tie to the large circle”.  It’s typically just an easy way to let you know where to start, stop or pin something.
  If you see one of these bad boys on your pattern (and if you’re sewing women’s clothing, you most likely will) you have a dart on your hands.  Darts are used in portions of a garment where you need to curve out and then back in around something (like a woman’s bust or your butt in pants) but don’t have a seam running through that portion of the piece.  The point of the triangle is at the fullest part of the garment (where your bustline pushes out the furthest in front of you) and the base of the triangle is where the garment is the smallest (around the waist under the bust for instance).
  To mark a dart, it’s easiest to just draw all the lines until you’re comfortable with how they come together.  You will be folding one side of your triangle on top of the other and sewing.  Don’t worry that the bottom looks like it’s below the rest of the fabric, when it’s folded and tucked to the correct side it will line up with the bottom of the piece correctly.  Your fold will be on an imaginary line between the top of the triangle and the bend in the “base”.  Some patterns draw it in (obviously this one didn’t).  When your dart is sewn, it should look like a seam on the outside of your garment with the folded over triangle of fabric being inside.
  Finally, if you are making a garment that has a crossed bodice (like a mock wrap dress) you’re likely to see markings like this.  These are all markings we’ve talked about before, but in this configuration, what they’re telling you is how to line up your overlapping bodice parts.  The triangle notches at the bottom of the piece help you line them up at the hem, the squares are most likely markers telling you to gather between them and the center front marking shows you, all the way up the piece, where the two should cross.  The center front line at the top of this picture should be where your neckline opens on the dress.  With patterns like this, I strongly suggest making this piece in muslin first and trying it on, as a two piece, crossed bodice can be really racy if it doesn’t fit properly.  The larger your bust, the more likely it is to push the neckline open further…sometimes to an extremely unflattering degree.  You can always tack the two pieces together, but it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into!
  That’s it!  Three Fridays and we’re done!  
  Give yourself a little slack if it takes you a little while to get the hang of patterns, as a friend of mine said, figuring them out really is a bit like learning a new language.  If you find you get stuck on anything, or have any specific questions, feel free to email me, leave a comment or stop by the Facebook page, I’d love to help!

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