How to Use a Sewing Pattern(Layout and Basics)

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If you are a seamstress or aspiring to be one, then you need to learn the art of using sewing patterns. This is a template that will guide you on how to cut your fabric to create a garment. The patterns are traced onto the fabric before cutting and assembling them before sewing.

You can never go wrong with a sewing pattern. If you are a beginner, don’t fret about it. The pattern comes with a booklet or a sheet for step-by-step instructions. This will also include labels, abbreviations used and different markings on the pattern.

The kind of fabric, measurements and even the right kind of threads are all laid out for you. This simply means all the hard work has been done for you.

This simply means all you have to do is carefully read it, if you don’t understand a step, read again. Once you are comfortable, trace the pattern onto your fabric. Pay attention to the different lines and markings. These will guide you on where to cut. Use a bright pen if you need to.

If you are tech savvy, print a pattern off the internet using PDF sewing pattern. For this method you don’t need to trace it unlike the traditional paper sewing pattern. All you need to do is print, trim and tape the pieces together.

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Understand the Pattern

If you are still new to sewing, get a sewing pattern with ‘easy’ on it. This is an indication of the sewing level. It will have few pattern pieces which is easier and quicker to put together. As you get more experience you can then use more detailed patterns.

The pattern will suggest the right kind of fabric you will need for that particular design. These recommendations will give result in a similar project as the one on the pattern. With time, you can perfect your skill by experimenting with other fabrics.

Pattern Markings

These symbols guide you on where and how to place the pattern on the fabric. They include the grain line, cut lines, button holes, darts, gathers and hip indicators. Pay attention to these markings for a professional final look.

Yardage Chart

This gives you an idea of how much fabric you need for your project. It provides the measurements and it should include pre-wash shrinkage. There are printable yard conversion charts online that work just the same.

Match your Pattern

This is where the creativity comes in. Matching your sewing pattern to your fabric can be quite challenging. It is more of trial and error and what is pleasing to the eye. Move the pattern around paying attention to details like whether the pattern and fabric run in the same direction.

Curved seams are usually difficult to get right. Stick to straight seams until you get a hang of it. Motif fabric will also determine how you match the pattern. Avoid these fabrics if you are still new to sewing.

If you must use motif fabric, then match larger prints to the center of the bodice of your design. Keep in mind how this will affect the final project.

Size of Fabric

Buy more fabric than what is on the yardage chart. This will account for shrinkage and any damage while sewing. You will also need more if you are working with striped or checked fabric.

It is better to have more than less and end up with an ill-fitting garment. The best way to deal with this is to measure out each pattern piece before buying the fabric.


Before making that visit to the fabric store, check out the list of notions you will need. It is usually next to the yardage chart. Notions are accessories and small tools you will require during or as an attachment to your finished project.

The specific pattern will guide you on whether you need zippers, pins, buttons, seam ripper, interface or elastic band.

Prepare your fabric

It is integral to get the right fabric before you begin your project. You should wash it before sewing to get shrinkage out of the way. If not, be sure to measure out your fabric with a few more inches.

Fabric can be made from cotton, linen, silk, satin, nylon, polyester among others. Use the guide on your sewing pattern to choose the right kind of fabric.

The weight of the fabric will also play a part in the final outcome of your garment. You can choose from light-weight, medium-weight and heavy-weight fabrics.

Cut out your fabric

Take time to find out the pieces you need. Use the pattern chart or layout diagram. Make use of the provided templates. The pattern layout will guide you on how to lay your fabric, arrange the pattern pieces. It will also outline the pattern markings for you.

To cut your fabric, lay it on a flat surface and place your pattern pieces on top. Lay them as illustrated on the cutting layout. Pin the pattern pieces in place using pins. Cut out through the fabric using fabric scissors.

Transfer the pattern markings

Don’t forget this important step. The markings on the pattern should be transferred onto your fabric. These will include darts, buttonholes, pockets and notches. If you miss this step, the final project will not match with the intended design.

With your patterns still pinned in place, you can now start sewing. This will remind you which piece goes where.


Sewing patterns are essential to sewing the perfect garment to fit. It will make your work easier and all you need to do is read and understand the instructions.

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