Monday, January 4, 2010

Reading the Back of a Commercial Pattern Tutorial

I know that reading patterns covers can be difficult, so here is a tutorial on how to read them.

  1. These numbers indicate the size ranges available in this pattern. This specific pattern is sized for sizes 8, 10, 12, and 14. Vintage patterns do not include this size range, instead they list only a size and a bust measurement (for women's patterns).
  2. These are the different styles of the pattern available in this pattern packet. There are only 2 styles included in this pattern: with or without sleeves.
  3. This is the pattern number. These numbers are re-used by the pattern-maker after several decades, but this is generally how the pattern is identified.
  4. This is the area that holds the magic measurements! Take your measurements and check them against this area. Keep in mind that if you are making a skirt that you don't need to measure your bust. :) (Here is a good tutorial on how to take measurements: Your measurements may not match up exactly. Also bear in mind that the pattern designers have already factored in some ease (extra room in the garment) to allow you some room to move around in the finished garment. Find the set of measurements that match up the best and follow the column up to the dress size that you will be using. Sometimes the pattern includes a set of finished measurements and it is helpful to look at these measurements. That way you can see how loose or tight it will fit when you are done.
  5. Some patterns (mostly Butterick) include a difficulty level. This pattern is ranked as "easy"
  6. This area gives a description of the dress. It will also tell you what the differences are between the different views (A, B, etc). For this pattern, both views are fully lined and have an A-lined skirt. Both views also include a contrast sash. View A has 2-piece cap sleeves with gathers, while view B has a sleeveless bodice. You will need to decide which view you would like to make. I will be making view A.
  7. In this section, all the needed notions are listed. For this particular dress, I need a 14" zipper, hooks and eyes, and 1/2" seam binding.
  8. Here is listed the recommended fabrics. Now you can always use a different fabric, but it may not look how the designers intended, and it may be harder to use, but it can also look fabulous! It just depends on the fabric and the pattern. Just use common sense. :) When it says with or without nap it is referring to fabric that looks or feels different when viewed from different angles (e.g. velvet and corduroy)
  9. These are the different range of sizes available. BB is the one that I have purchased.
  10. Locate the size that you have determined that you wear. Make sure to follow that same column all the way down!
  11. This is the fabric section for view A. For 45" wide fabric (standard size) and a size 10 I need 2 yards of fabric, and 1 7/8" yards of lining. Always look over the whole fabric area, just to make sure that you didn't miss anything. For instance, for this pattern, there is the contrasting midriff and sash that require additional fabric to complete the dress. Interfacing may also be required. 
  12. Fabric section for view B.
  13. Fabric requirement for the contrasting midriff and sash.
  14. Interfacing requirements. This pattern calls for fusible interfacing for both views.
  15. This is the width of the dress at the lower edge. This gives you an idea of the fullness of the finished skirt.
  16. This gives the length of the dress starting at the back of the neck.
  17. Line drawings of both views, front and back. These drawings can often give a better idea of the style. For instance, I wouldn't have known that the dress had a V in the back if I hadn't looked at these drawings.
  18. Certain knit fabrics are "stretchier" than others. Since the designers had a certain knit in mind when they designed the pattern, they include guides to help you choose a knit fabric. The fabric must be able to stretch from the first marked point, to the second point when doubled.
I hope this helps some of you! Once you get acquainted with commercial paintings, then you can easily breeze through this process. If you can't see some of the numbers, then you should be able to click on the pictures to make them bigger. Let me know if you have any questions!

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