Friday, March 22, 2013

Pattern Prep, Newbie Alert!

 This is my next project, making the first of I hope several shirts, most of which will be white. While this may not be the most inspiring blogpost, it occurred to me, while starting this new project, that pattern prep IS important and it was years of sewing before I figured out how to do it right. I would like to save our newbie sewists that time and opportunity for error. It's one of the things no one ever really showed me and it was far too simple to be part of any discussion. Here is how I go about it. This is a  shirt pattern, a sorely needed basic in my wardrobe and here is how I prepped  my pattern.





Once I have decided on the view I will I measure the width of the fabric from selvedge to selvedge. I circle that pattern layout on my instruction sheet with a marker to prevent my eyes from needlessly wandering the sheet for the "right one"  as well as to prevent mistakes. Be aware that some markers will leach thru to the other side of the pattern sheet so test your marker out on the margin first.

I find it also really helpful to check of the sequence as so many patterns "jump around" from step to step all over the pattern instructions. I hate having to seek out the correct order of things when I really would rather be sewing.

After that, a bit of time in front of the TV with my "paper" scissors and  I do  a rough cut of the necessary pattern pieces, checking my layout as I go. Still looking sort of messy, right? Double check that you have all the pieces necessary.






For years, in my ignorance, I just smoothed them out and proceeded to cut the pattern and fabric out at this point. NO! It is off to the ironing board to IRON THEM FLAT. Patterns get the most amazing skinny wrinkles that stubbornly won't smooth out any other way. An 1/8th of an inch here, an 1/8th of an inch there, and fit inaccuracies set in. Trust me, it all adds up. If you have wrinkle discrepancies, then cutting discrepancies, then fit discrepancies, well, you can see where this is headed. Oh, NO STEAM from your iron ! It will shrink your tissue, more discrepancies. Use a low dry heat and get those pieces perfectly flat. See those micro wrinkle? They are flat now but you see their "residue".

Once all pattern pieces are ironed smooth, cut them out now on the black cutting line.Yes, I cut off this line, more discrepancy potential. Years ago these lines were much thicker and it was important to rid the pattern of their presence. Today it is clear the cost of ink is in play so the lines are much thinner. Either way, cut them off as best you can. Another reason to rotary cut! Oh, if you decide to not do this step, I can pretty much guarantee inaccuracy as you try to cut through your fabric layers and your pattern tissue at the same time. With a rotary cutter that habit will do a hatchet job on the pattern tissue, making it a mess to reuse again. With scissors it helps  you get a nice even cut.


 Doesn't this look sweet and ready to go?

Now it is to the cutting table or whatever you use to make your adjustments for fit. Using scotch tape will prevent you from re ironing the pattern on the next go round as it will result in a hot gooey mess and wrinkled pattern when ironed so use pink hair tape, a fave, cloth bandage tape, or better yet, actual pattern tape which you can get from places like Nancy's Notions.

ETA: I have learned to now use strips of leftover fusible interfacing to make fit adjustments to my patterns. I use the strips jist like tape but then iron them on. It makes the pattern much easier to prep the next time around.

Adjustments all made? Now you are ready to cut!! And remember, when your garment is all finished and it's time to squeeze all those pieces back into the envelope, read Pattern Folding 101 to make it easy on yourself and your pattern. Yahoo and happy sewing!

ETA 3/23/13: Make sure you read the comments. There are some additional great tips from our faithful readers. Thanks, FRs. 
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I have finished my Marcy Tilton dress and positively love it. Life has been hectic with hubby's needs and that's OK but I won't have pics till probably this weekend, pics and the down and dirty on my love/hate relationship with MT patterns. This was not the most earth shaking post but one that would have definitely helped me early in my sewing life and I hope it helps you a bit. As always, there is more than one way to handle a process so feel free to add your two pennies on the subject. I hope I have helped a few newbies. I love newbie questions and comments.  More to come soon!...Bunny


27 comments:

  1. Thanks, Bunny. I've never heard of pattern tape or pink hair tape before. Cutting-inside-the-lines is another tip I've never heard before, though I'd picked up a suspicion from reading a forum discussion somewhere about tracing/copying patterns.

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  2. You'll have a closet full of new white shirts/blouses, and a girl can never have too many. Looking forward to seeing what you make and your new dress.

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  3. ironing patterns, yes! I find it rather mindless and soothing to do. makes such a difference. Plus I love ironing. Am I a little crazy. good post.

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    1. Not at all! I love to iron as well, but just wish I had more time to get it all done instead of ironing on demand. I do like ironing my new fabrics once they've been pre washed.

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  4. I use different colored highlighters to mark the directions for the individual view I am making. If I make another view I use another color.

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  5. I always try to cut the pattern right in the center of the line. This means that my rotary cutter squishes and bunches up the tissue paper when I try to cut. What a good idea it is to just cut the line out altogether! I am glad you pointed this simple step out.

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  6. Mega appreciation from a total newbie here. One who is teaching myself as I go, no less. I knew about ironing patterns before cutting fabric, but never knew I was supposed to cut away the line completely. Cutting freehand with a rotary cutter still freaks me out. Maybe one of these days I'll work up the courage (and/or buy a cutting mat big enough). I love all your posts, Bunny, and especially your newbie-friendliness!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kyleigh. It is really important to me to bring others "into the fold" and this wonderful world of creativity. I just can't spread the passion enough....

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  7. I have had the ink come off the pattern tissue, so I always face it with waxed paper when ironing the pattern. It doesn't stick or leave any kind of bad residue, but keeps things clean for me. Bunny, thanks for all the tips you share on this blog. I've learned much, as well as gotten confirmation that I'm not crazy when I tend to details like this one! LOL

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    1. As they say,"it's all in the details". Thanks for your lovely comments, Teresa, and the great tip, too. I was hoping this post would generate more tips on the subject and really appreciate your response.

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  8. Oh, no!! I use scotch tape on my patterns all the time!! Thanks for the lesson. I'll know for next time.
    -Jenny Jo

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  9. I've always ironed patterns before trimming; someone must have taught me that back in the mists of time. I prefer to keep the wide black cutting line in place so the edges are easier to see. Other good tapes to use are paper first-aid tape and strips of iron-on interfacing. I cut strips of interfacing to have them ready when needed. One can still read instructions to use cellophane tape to mend patterns but anyone who has tried it knows what happens.

    Thanks for this information; it is sure to be of great help to anyone embarking on the fascinating sewing journey.

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    1. Your interfacing tip is brilliant. I've always got a box of interfacing scraps around and this is so good to know. Thanks, Carol.

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  10. Great post Bunny. When you've been doing all of this forever, you forget that others just may not know the simple steps that will greatly aide in creating a wonderful garment.

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  11. Excellent pattern prep ideas. I really should trim off the excess paper...

    I admit to using transparent tape for alterations, but I always put it on the right side. Then I can press judiciously from the wrong side the next time I use it. No gooey mess :-)

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  12. Bunny...thanks for the reminders to those of us who have been sewing for a while and for those who are new. Great post..and timely too..since I'll be straying from my usual traced patterns to some tissue patterns when I can start sewing for myself again soon!

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  13. I love your generosity in taking the time to do posts like this for sewing newcomers. I've benefitted so much from your blog, even as an old-timer.

    Another good thing about preparing the pattern pieces in this way is that it gives you time to inspect each piece for markings you should note and transfer while cutting. While the pieces are on the ironing board, it's also easy to measure them and/or "walk the seams" to verify proper drafting, and for making fitting adjustments.

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  14. New follower here but a long time seamstress (going on 50 years). Thanks for a great "beginners" post. We often forget the little steps that we do when sewing. I have long wondered whether I was supposed to cut outside the line, inside the line, or on the line. Since I prefer to think of myself as an "outside the box" kinda person, I have always cut outside the line but figured it into my seam allowance. I love that beginning of a project, tv time while I mentally sew the pieces together as I trim them out. Kinda gives me a visual of the fun that's coming. Phyllis

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  15. Hello Bunny, I am sorry you have had such badly behaved people visiting your blog, especially at a time when you don't need it. I do like the blouse - I've just made a white one, as Gwen says, you can't have too many. Thank you for your instructions on how to prepare a pattern - I shall follow your advice in the future.

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  16. Great info, as usual Bunny! I've always ironed my patterns but I was never told to cut of the black lines. Thanks for the tip!
    So many of my patterns are for DGD & I usually trace the size I need, rather than cut into the master pattern so I can use it again when she has grown another size....like overnight sometimes! LOL

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  17. Love your gentle reminders! Sometimes I am in such a hurry that I forget all the necessary and important little steps that must be done first!

    One thing that I always do when prepping my pattern is to extend the grainlines on each piece so that I can be absolutely accurate as to grain.
    Cissie

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    1. Ditto! I do the same, Cissie. Thanks for bringing this forgotten point up. Those short grainlines really bother me.

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  18. This is brilliant. I do love a set of instructions with clear photos!
    Can we have some more beginners tips?
    Abaigael

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