Monday, October 31, 2016

Back To Basics: Understanding Patterns and Mock-ups

Keep and eye out for my video demonstrating this information.

So you got the machine, now you want to buy a pattern and fabric. What do you need to know?

First, you need to have some measurements available to tell you what size pattern you will need to purchase. That is your high bust aka chest, full bust, natural waist, and hips. When you buy the patterns you want to buy based on the high bust measurement. Your measurements may not fully align with the pattern packet, and this is fine, you can always adjust sizing, but we pick high-bust because it gives you the best fit in the arms holes, shoulders, neck, and back area if you're making a dress or shirt. If you are making skirts or pants, you choose the bigger measurement, which is usually the hips. This picture is an example of high bust vs full bust from Pamela's Patterns. This link will take you to a more in-depth blog on sizing and measurements. 

Once you know what size pattern packet to get you want to see how much fabric it suggests. It will tell you on the back under your size column. Error on the larger size for fabric amount because it's easier to take away than it is to add. As an example, I said to base your sizing off high bust for shirts and dresses, but let's say you have beautifully wide hips and that puts you are a larger size than your high bust, get the fabric for that. Get the fabric suggested for your largest size based off of measurements. Also, almost always you should pretreat/preshrink your fabric so allow a few extra inches for that. If you know ahead of time you need to add width, or length or other larger adjustments, bear that in mind as well.

Every pattern packet comes with a set of construction instructions, as well as the layout of pattern pieces for fabric based on size and width, plus tips for making simple adjustments or using multiple sizing, and other terminology. All the info provided is generic and included in all patterns so some may not apply just focus on that which does. I always encourage doing a thorough look over before you construct to see if there is anything you may be unclear on.

So now you know your pattern size, and fabric amount, time to start cutting right? WRONG!

All seamstresses will advise that before you ever cut into your pretty, pricier fabric, you make a mock-up. How you do that is by purchasing very cheap muslin fabric. That's right, you need to purchase more fabric. Muslin is a cheap cotton fabric that you can get as low as $1.99 a yard, and if you use those coupons you can get it sometimes a much as 60% off. I usually buy it by the bolt to always have a bunch on hand. (I suggested buying a bunch in an earlier blog for practicing threading, running fabric though machine, and different stitches before you ever considering buying patterns). The benefit of this is to make a mock version of your outfit to test for fitting issues so you can be aware of any fitting adjustments that need to be made prior. Also, it makes you familiar with the construction so you can work out any hiccups or questions you have before you compromise your pretty fabric. The biggest and most important benefit is the fitting, but the last thing you want to do is make an error during construction, and have to seam rip something like linen or rayon because it will start falling apart.

Quick side note: Here is some bolt information from the Sew Chic Pattern Company blog, there are a few things I want to direct you to briefly, and the most important one is the width. Fabric comes on the bolt folded in half (selvages together). The width is when it's unfolded. Most patterns have you cut fabric while folded. Muslin sometimes comes as narrow as 32 inches which aren't on the packet, so when making a mock up look at the fabric layout in the pattern instructions to see if you need to buy more muslin. Always ask someone, like people at the cutting counter what they suggest if you're not sure. You can get muslin that standard width but it may be a few dollars more expensive, just be aware of the width and how much the pattern says you need.

It will also give you care instructions.

So more info to come soon, and keep and eye out for video as well. :)

Jessi Harm

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