How to read your first commercial sewing pattern

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Reading my first sewing pattern was like learning a new language.  As I progressed in my sewing I began to experiment with various patterns. I wanted to make a dress for the holidays, so my mom and I went to the fabric store and sit for hours looking through pattern books. Once I found the perfect dress I wanted to make. I went over to where they were stored.

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It does not matter which store you go to ALL patterns are filed in numerical order. When I found my dress, I pulled it out and I was shocked and intimated by this pattern already. I mean I was already not very confident in my sewing, as I was still a beginner who kinda thought I knew it all. But now you are showing me an envelope with all of this jibberish on it and asking me to decipher it. Which I hated! I was always eager to just get started on the project. Lay out the fabric, cut the pattern and just start sewing. At the end of the project I was never fully satisfied, or I had to keep stopping to go buy trim or notions that were needed.

Later as I began to become more experienced in my sewing, I began to understand that you should always take the time to prepare and gather the things you need BEFORE you start sewing.  When reading the back of the pattern envelope, you will see a few brief measurements for your bust, waist and hips. These are basic measurements to determine what size you will need to cut out. Something else you will find on the back of the envelope are notions you will need and fabric yardage.  Once I gathered ALL my notions (thread, buttons, snaps, etc.) I was ready to sit and get started on my project. Sew I thought!!!

When I opened the envelope, all this paper fell out! Of course it was the paper pattern and the actual instructions on how to construct the garment. As I opened these pages, I began to sweat and become scared. There was so much to read and follow. Back in the day it seemed as though the instructions were a chapter long!!! A hint that a fellow sewer gave me was to remember. The back of the envelope is like a road map to your final destination. I was told to just do a little bit at a time and read each step will take you closer to your finished garment.

Sometimes, I would have to take my garment apart because I read the steps to fast and assumed one thing and it was another.

Once I was able to read and understand the pattern envelope and the instructions. Sewing became easier and I was ready to move to the next level of sewing.

I covered in detail how to read pattern envelops on my blog. You can read it here.

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