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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Preparing Your Pattern Before You Sew


Another Sew-A-Long!  Would you like to make a fun fall dress?  McCalls Pattern M5923 is so nice that my daughter, Sarah, insisted that I buy it and make it for her.  Sarah has a nice figure, and this being a somewhat fitted dress, it would look best on her.  Me?  No way.  At 51 and after having given birth to a basketball team - well, let's just say my hips would look silly in this dress.  If you are going to make your own clothes, know what is flattering and stay away from anything that might remotely make you look ridiculous.  Just some friendly advice from a woman who looks ridiculous in just about everything now.

I am making this dress, McCalls Pattern M5923, for Sarah for the fall.  She likes wearing dresses to school now and then and she always looks so pretty when she does. 

I drove Sarah to Hancock Fabrics and she chose the softest cotton blend plaid fabric she could find.  It is really nice and perfect for this dress.  It even has a little "give" to it, and I am sure that will add to the comfort.


Before I even open my tissue pattern, I want to understand, or at least "try" to understand the pattern instructions.

So, I sit down in my favorite chair, prop up my feet, grab my glasses and study each instruction so that I can visualize it in my mind.  This way, when I have questions in the back of my mind as I am reading, I'll most likely remember what they were when I am actually working with the pattern and the fabric. TIP: Sometimes I will make a mark on the pattern if I can't visualize what the instructions are trying to tell me to do, that way when I am actually working with the pattern and fabric, and I come to that mark, I'll take a closer look before I stitch anything.

After I have read the instructions, I fold them up and set them aside, because now I am going to begin to prepare my pattern before it even touches the fabric.


Don't be over anxious to begin any pattern!!  I'm guilty of this myself, and every time I jump in with enthusiasm to begin a pattern that I have not studied or prepared beforehand, I end up messing up and pulling out a lot of seams - and a lot of my hair too.

Open your tissue pattern up - all of the sheets - and lay them out on your cutting table and rotary mat.


One sheet at a time, begin cutting out the pieces of the pattern.  NOTE: DO NOT cut along the lines!!  And, DO NOT cut out your size!!  Instead, just take your rotary cutter and trim around the pieces leaving about 1/2" around the perimeter of each pattern piece.  It doesn't have to be exact in any way, we are just separating the pattern pieces from the tissue sheet.


After you have cut out all of the pieces, whether you are using them or not, head on over to your iron and ironing board.

One at a time, lay out each piece on your ironing board and press each piece on a medium heat setting on your iron.


If the edges curl after you have pressed a tissue pattern piece, simply flip it over to the other side and press lightly again.  NOTE: You may have to pull gently on the pattern pieces to stretch out the seams that were the original folds and creases in the pattern, otherwise it could result in a faulty size when you cut it out of the fabric!!


Lay the pressed pattern pieces out neatly on your cutting table until they are all pressed.  I use "sock pattern weights" that I made several months ago to hold down the pattern pieces.  I don't want them to blow away!  Every time one of my children comes barrelling into my studio, the pattern pieces go flying.  Weights are good. : )

Next, pick out the pieces that you are going to be using for your pattern and set them aside neatly (you don't want them to get wrinkled).  Fold the other pieces neatly and place them back in the envelope.  You are now ready to make adjustments to your pattern to fit yourself or the sweetheart you are making the dress for.


In my case, that sweetheart would be my beautiful teenage daughter, Sarah.  In this picture she is wearing the last dress I made for her this past summer.  You can read about it HERE!

We're on a good start with this new fall dress.  In my next post I will cover how to prepare your pattern so that the dress will fit perfectly - I hope. : )




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