Sewing today is not what it used to be when our mothers and grandmothers sewed. Now we have the internet to download patterns and tutorials to follow that others have generously shared on their blogs.
But many of my students still want to try their hand at following a commercial pattern from such companies as McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, Kwik Sew, etc. Here are some tips to keep in mind before you buy your first commercial pattern.
1. If you want to buy a pattern to make clothing for yourself or a loved one, you really need to take along the body measurements of the person you are sewing for so that you will know what size pattern to purchase. Depending on what you are making, you will need bust, hip and waist measurements for tops, or hip and waist measurements for pants/skirts. The size clothing that you buy in the store will most likely not be the same size on the pattern. For those of you that know me, I take about a size 16 in patterns and that is not the size that I buy at the store. =)
2. When you choose a pattern from one of the many books at the sewing store, go to the drawer that holds the number that is at the top of your pattern (see Picture 1). Look at the front of the envelope to make sure the size you need is in the envelope. Many times the back of the envelope will list several sizes (see Picture 2) but only 3-4 sizes will be included in that particular envelope. I have had several students make this mistake and purchase a pattern envelope that did not include the size they needed.
3. If you are purchasing a pattern to make curtains, make sure you have the measurements of the size of the curtain you need for your window. Some curtain patterns are made specifically for smaller windows while others can be modified to fit larger windows. It should say on the envelope what size windows the pattern is designed for.
4. On the back of the envelope, you will find a list of supplies that you will need to purchase for your project. At the top of the section, it will list the types of fabrics that the pattern is designed for. Do follow their recommendations. Patterns are truly designed for certain weight fabrics and they will not turn out right if a different type of fabric is used.
Below that on the envelope, you will find the amount of fabric needed for your project listed under the size needed. Also note that it gives you the amount needed based on the width of your fabric (45" vs 60" wide). You will also find a list of other items needed (i.e. zipper, interfacing, elastic, thread, etc) for your project either at the top or under where the fabric requirements are.
Hopefully this will help you if you have never sewn before with a store bought pattern and are not sure where to start. Many stores have sales on patterns so look for them. This week at our Hobby Lobby store, McCalls patterns are on sale for 99 cents. What a great opportunity to go pick out some patterns and give them a try!
In my next entry, we will talk about cutting out your pattern pieces and also your fabric.