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How to Follow a Sewing Pattern

You don't need to be an expert designer to make your own clothes, only the patience to work step by step.


  • Step 1: Take your measurements Take your measurements with a tape measure wrapped snugly around your undergarments.
  • Step 2: Determine your size Read the chart on the back of your pattern and figure out your size. You will be a bigger size than you are in the store.
  • TIP: If you are between sizes, choose the bigger size and trim the pattern to be smaller where you need it.
  • Step 3: Determine supplies Read the back of your pattern envelope to learn the best fabrics to use and what notions, such as buttons or elastic, you will need.
  • Step 4: Cut out your pattern Cut out your pattern from the printed sheet. Because multiple sizes are printed on the same page, be sure to cut out your size.
  • Step 5: Cut out your fabric Review the general directions and cutting layouts on the instructions. Following the layout for your view and size, pin all pattern pieces to your fabric and cut out your pieces.
  • TIP: Use pins instead of fabric pencil to indicate markings, and mark notches by snipping the fabric no more than one-quarter inch from the edge.
  • Step 6: Follow sewing directions Follow the instructions for your view one step at a time. Refer to the piece list and general instructions at the top of the instructions.
  • TIP: Most patterns list a toll-free help number or a web site on the top of the page in case you really get stuck.
  • Step 7: Stay patient Read each step several times to make sure you understand it, and work carefully. With a little patience and effort, you'll soon have your own wearable piece of art.
  • FACT: Elias Howe patented the first functional sewing machine in 1846, but it took 10 years and several copyright infringement lawsuits before he earned two million dollars in licensing fees.

You Will Need

  • A flexible tape measure
  • A sewing pattern
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Patience

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