3 tips for using Sewing Patterns

These days, I make more vintage fabric accessories than clothing, but I still pull out my favorite sewing patterns every season.    

Making a  pair of custom travel pants or the perfect shirt to match them can be very, very rewarding. 

So for all of you just starting to sew your own garments, here are three tips I learned the hard way. 

1–Pattern sizing and ready to wear sizing  are NOT the same.   Trust me here–The 10 or 12 you wear off the rack is not the same 10 or 12 on the pattern you buy.    Check the measurements on the back of the pattern envelope against your body measurements.  When in doubt, always go up a to the larger size.

2–Patterns fit is NOT perfect fit.   I never work with a pattern until I compare the tissue paper pieces to a similar garment from my closet that fits really well.  Take the perfect pants–  I added 3/4 inch to length of the crotch seam and totally rechalked the legs to match a favorite pair of pants. 

3-Finally CUT FAT as in extra margins.  You can always trim off excess fabric but you can never add it back.  On my example pants, I added 1 inch to waistline and another to each side seam.  Different fabrics hang and fit differently, so give yourself some wiggle room. 

BTW–If you’re local, (Raleigh-Durham, NC) I’m in the Scrap Exchange Design Center on the 4th Thursday night of the month for Community Sew Night.   Bring your projects and your questions.  The next one is Oct. 25th.  It’s free and open to all!

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