Sunday, 25 July 2010

Pattern Layout

This is the 4th entry in the Simplicity Dress 3833 Series . If you have missed any of the previous entries please visit the Introduction Page.

Fabric Widths

On the pattern instructions it will show you recommended layouts for both the 45” and 60” wide fabric.  As I am making a toile version of the dress I have chosen to follow the 60” wide Cutting Layout diagram as my fabric is very wide.
Fold the fabric as required by the instructions on the sheet. I folded my fabric in half lengthways with the selvages near the top and the fold near the bottom (the ‘right’ side of the pattern facing inwards).

Understanding the Markings

Read the General Directions section on the instructions. Section A explains what the markings mean on the pattern and Section B explains how to prepare the fabric prior to laying out the pattern pieces. I will be looking out for the Grain Lines, Center Folds and Notches in my pattern pieces. A definition of pattern symbols can be found on

Grain Line Symbol

The pattern pieces I am using for this pattern are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Numbers 2, 3, 5 and 7 all contain the grain line symbol, which is represented by a straight arrow (circled in red in No. 5 above).

This means I have to lay all of these pieces parallel to the selvages of the fabric - accuracy is very important in pattern layout. Measure with a ruler and once happy that the distance is the same for each position of the arrow pin the pattern piece in place.

Center Fold Symbol

Pattern piece number 1 is for the bodice and this has to be placed on the centre fold of the fabric. This symbol will look like an arrow with two ends bent.











Notches are used to help with lining up the pieces when sewing. When cutting out the notches on the fabric remember to cut outwards, they will look like little triangles sticking out of the pattern piece.

Laying Out the Pieces

It is time consuming laying out the pattern pieces but it’s important not to rush this stage. When pinning the pieces to the fabric remove any creases which may have formed.

Read Further

If you want to know more about laying out patterns or any other sewing techniques. Please visit where they have a great selection of PDFs to download to help your skills grow.

My next blog entry will explain cutting techniques.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Tracing Patterns

This is the 3rd entry in the Simplicity Dress 3833 Series. If you have missed any of the other entries in this series please visit the Introduction page.

Why Trace a Pattern?

Tracing patterns may seem like a useless task when the pattern paper has been prepared already for you to cut out. These are my reasons as to why I prefer to trace the pattern instead of using the original paper. I like to keep my patterns in the best condition in case I want to use them again. I may want to make the same garment for a friend who may be a larger size then me. If I have cut the pattern to one of the smaller sizes it will be difficult to make it bigger without the other line sizes to cut around. Eventually I may want to sell the pattern. I buy a lot of second hand patterns on EBay and do check the condition of the patterns, if it has been cut I'm not interested in buying. It is best to keep these thoughts in your mind when tracing patterns.

Equipment Needed

  • Tracing Pattern/ Dress making pattern paper/ or greaseproof paper
    Mechanical pencil with clicking top
  • Ruler
  • Masking Tape
  • Scissors (paper cutting)
  • Weights (not shown in picture)
  • Iron
  • French Curve (optional)



I prefer to use greaseproof paper for tracing patterns rather than dress making paper, it’s cheaper to buy, comes in a bigger roll and is readily available from supermarkets. There are a variety of standard wooden pencils on the market including difference types for mechanical pencils. I prefer to use mechanical pencils that have a clicking top to push more lead out. A mechanical pencil is a lot better than a standard wooden one, there are a lot of lines and markings to trace and the lead quickly gets blunt and used up.

Preparing the Pattern

If the pattern is very creased iron it flat being careful not to rip the paper.

Tracing the Pattern

Decide on the pattern pieces you require from looking at the instructions. For my Simplicity dress pattern I needed numbers 1,2,3,4,5, 6 & 7 . Cut out enough tracing paper to cover the original pattern. If there is not enough to cover it, use the masking tape to stick the extra tracing paper together. Masking tape is best used for this as you can still see through and it is easy to draw on.

Trace everything you see on the pattern piece, all the dots, dashes and circles mean something and these will assist you in constructing the garment later. For future reference write down the pattern details i.e. size, pattern number etc. for future reference.

Cutting the Pattern

Cut out all the pattern pieces including the notches by making small triangle shapes sticking just inside the cutting lines, these help to match up the pattern pieces later.
Keep all the pattern pieces in a safe place until you are ready to use them for cutting out your fabric. My next blog entry will show you how to do the Layout & Cutting stage.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Understanding Pattern Instructions


This is the 2nd entry in the Simplicity 3833 Dress Series. If you have missed previous entries in this series please visit the Introduction page for the links to other entries.

Pattern Instruction Sheet


Pattern instructions can at first seem daunting, I know when I started sewing I really struggled with understanding all the terminology and diagrams. I hope this guide will make it easier to read patterns.


Garment Styles


When buying a pattern they normally come with a choice of different styles, this pattern has a choice of 4 dress variations and 2 back designs. After choosing which design you like best remember the letter shown underneath, as this will be used to identify the instructions which need to be followed later. I have decided to make ‘Dress A’ in the shorter skirt length.

Amount of Pattern Pieces


Next, you will need to understand which pattern pieces you need to make your chosen design. In this section of the instructions  it explains what all the pattern piece are for, as you already know from Understanding Pattern Envelopes that this pattern contains 9 pieces.  As I am going to make ‘Dress A’, I will need only numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 & 7 to make the dress.

Cutting Layouts


Generally there are cutting layouts for either 45” or 60” wide fabric top use with nap or without nap. It is best to follow the recommended layout on the instructions, as it explains how to lay the pieces out on the fabric according to the grain and will reduce fabric waste. I will be following ‘Dress A’ cutting layout 1B and will therefore circle this layout for easy identification.

General Directions


The General Directions section explains what all the symbols mean on the pattern pieces, this may take a bit of time to understand but is very important.


Sewing Directions


The Sewing Directions is the largest section in the pattern instructions and can sometimes also include instructions in other languages. I find it easier to photocopy all the English instructions and when I don’t understand a sewing term I can highlight a word and this will remind me to look it up later. This section is broken up into the different dress views, as I am making ‘Dress A’ I only need to read the relevant instructions. I find it best to read the instructions and study the pictures, put it down and come back to it later - sometimes they can seem very cryptic if  you don’t understand the sewing terms.


More Information

If you want to read in more depth about pattern instructions please visit Craft & Fabric Links Chapter 3 for Pattern Instructions.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Taking Measurements

This is the first part of my Simplicity Dress 3833 Series, View A. These measurements relate to the dress I am making but can be used for reference for other clothing garments. It is important to take accurate measurements and it is advisable to get a friend to help you.


To measure the waist hold the tape measure around the thinnest part and write down the measurement. Make sure its not too tight or too loose.

Back Length

From the nape of the neck to where the waist was measured.


Hold the tape measure from the fullest part of the back to the bust area.

Sleeve Length

Place your hand on your hip to measure the sleeve length. From the shoulder to the wrist this is the arm length.

Remember to record your Measurements.

If you are after a great way to record your details please visit Keya Lou blog to download a great Pattern Making Measurements Sheet in PDF.