Hello! My name is Jess and in today’s tutorial I’m going to share a complete overview of how to read sewing patterns. When you’re just starting out, I know that reading sewing patterns can be super overwhelming, especially since there are a growing number of self-published patterns and independent bloggers.
Each designer formats their patterns differently including the general layout of the cover and instructions, using photos versus illustrations, and a wide variety of sewing techniques. However, common terminology is often used, which helps make instructions easier to understand.
There are so many talented designers and authors out there, who are consistently refining their techniques and sharing their knowledge which makes the sewing community such an exciting place to be!
So I’m going to break apart a pattern and make it easy to understand so you can get started sewing! Let’s begin!
At this point, it's a good idea to read through the entire set of instructions. That way, when you’re working through the project, you’ll be able to follow along and perhaps even anticipate what’s ahead. If you’re using a PDF pattern, make sure you print the pattern at 100% or actual size if it includes any paper pattern pieces.
You can start by cutting out any paper pattern pieces. Usually the pattern will instruct how to cut out the paper pieces, but generally, you either cut directly along the outer lines of the pattern, or use tracing to make a copy of the pattern pieces to preserve the original paper pattern. Make sure to transfer any cutting instructions, placement marks, and pattern symbols onto your traced pattern pieces.
You’ll want to watch my video on how to prepare your fabrics (linked below) before cutting out your pieces. And tomorrow, I’ll be sharing another video with my top tips and recommendations on how to cut out your fabrics. You’ll want to reference any cutting layouts included in the pattern instructions for the best use of your fabric and to make sure your pieces are cut out with the design facing the correct direction.
Then, you’ll begin the sewing instructions, taking it one section and one step at a time. I hope this tutorial helped give you some clarity and guidance for reading sewing patterns. Let us know in the comments below if you have more questions! Thanks for visiting today!
30 Day Sewing Challenge Schedule
Follow along each day, or watch the segments that interest you the most. Enjoy!
- Day 1: Learn to Sew Introduction
- Day 2: Basic Sewing Terminology
- Day 3: Sewing Supplies for Beginners
- Day 4: Sewing Machine Overview
- Day 5: How to Thread a Sewing Machine
- Day 6: How to Wind a Bobbin
- Day 7: How to Change Presser Feet
- Day 8: How to Change a Needle
- Day 9: How to Sew a Straight Stitch
- Day 10: How to Choose Fabrics
- Day 11: How to Prepare Fabrics
- Day 12: How to Read Sewing Patterns
- Day 13: How to Cut Fabric for Patterns
- Day 14: DIY Checkerboard Coasters
- Day 15: DIY Fabric Napkins
- Day 16: DIY Napkin Rings
- Day 17-20: Laptop or Tablet Sleeve
- Day 21-24: Drawstring Backpack
- Day 25-28: Hanging Closet Organizer