Friday, May 29, 2015

How to read a Simplicity Pattern

Forewarning this post is very picture heavy

So you’ve learned how to do basic sewing, you may have done a few easy beginner projects, and now you’re ready to try something more advanced. Well…..
I introduce to you a Simplicity pattern
Simplicity 1558

This pattern is more advanced than what I would choose for a beginner but for example purposes it works. I’m going to have other examples of simplicity patterns in this post, but we will keep coming back to this one.

A pattern, in my own words anyway, is the instructions on how to make the item, or items, it pictures. It contains shaped templates that you cut out of fabric and the instruction on how to piece the shapes together to make the item or items pictured.

When you look at pattern you’ll notice right away that there is tons of information written on the envelope alone, not to mention all the information inside the envelope.

First thing’s first, on the front of the envelope.
Brand and Number.jpg
The Brand and Pattern Number
These two bits of information are the pattern brand and number. It’s kind of like make and model on a car. It tells you what pattern you have and also how you find the pattern in a store.

Next on the front is
Size Square.jpg
The pattern size. This tells you what size or sizes the pattern, you grabbed, can make. Some patterns are “One Size” like this one
A One Size Pattern, Simplicity 1392
Which means that whatever the pattern makes only comes in one size, like patterns for bags, curtains, accessories, dolls, etc., things that don’t normally need to have a different size.

Most clothing patterns are multi-sized, meaning the envelope contains the templates to make more than one size, to fit a wide range of people. Each multi-sized pattern will have  a range of sizes it was designed to make. You always want to pay attention to the range of sizes a specific pattern can make.
Why you ask, look at these two patterns.
Can you spot the difference
They look identical don’t they. They are, except for one thing, if you look where the pattern size is one says “6, 8, 10, 12” while the other says “14, 16, 18, 20, 22”. These are the same pattern in two different size ranges. This pattern was designed in sizes 6 to 22 but instead of putting all of the available sizes in one envelope they split the range in half. Why? I don’t truly know. It could be so that you’re not having to buy a huge envelope, of 10 different sizes, to make one size. It also could make using the pattern pieces, and cutting out the right size easier, especially on smaller pieces. Anyway, you want to make sure pattern you are buying is the size you want to make, nothing like getting home with all the fabric and notions, only to realize your pattern is in the wrong size.
What size do you need? We will get to that when get to the back of the envelope but first there’s one last thing on the front.
The different views
The lovely pictures on the show what the pattern will make, different items made with the same pattern are called views. Views are indicated by letters (circled in blue). This pattern has two views. The outfit with the shorter skirt and jacket is View A, while the longer skirt and corset is View B.
Some patterns will have lots of views like this one.
Many views
This one goes all the way to view O.
And some patterns only have one view like this one
One view, Simplicity 9871
It only makes one item.
And then theres this type.
Simplicity 2172 Don't freak out about the price I got it during a $1 sale
This is technically one view, both dresses are the same design and use the exact same pattern pieces the same way, the only difference is the fabric chosen. What makes this different than the pants pattern is that this dress is made up of three different parts, the skirt the, the bustier, and the jacket.

I like the call the pictures on the front inspirational views because they really are just a quick look at what the pattern could possibly make they don’t really go into detail as to what’s involved or even the differences between views. You will have to look on the back for that and that is exactly where we’re going now.

The back of 1558's envelope
This is the back of the envelope.
It has lots of information, a lot more than the front. This is only half the back because the other half is the same information only in a different language. Don’t freak out we’re going to talk about each area of the back and what they are for.
Back Views.jpg
The back views
This spot right here is a reiteration of the different views, mainly the back of each view. This is  always a great way to figure out what is actually included in the pattern, some patterns will be shirts pictured with pants but the pants are not included in the pattern, so you will see the pants on the front but not the back.
This view is also more detailed about what skills will be involved, like zippers at the tops of the skirts, and gathering at the tops of the sleeves.

Next on the back
Suggested Fabrics

This area is the suggested fabrics. It’s a list of fabric types that this pattern was designed to use. Note I said suggested fabrics, you can use other fabrics the biggest thing you want to pay attention to is that you do not use a stretch or knit fabric for a pattern that was designed for a woven fabric, and do not use a woven fabric for a pattern that was designed for a stretch or knit fabric.

Next up:
Notions required

The notions required. This is where you’ll find information on all the extra items you will need besides fabric. It will list thread, buttons, zippers, closures, and anything else you might need besides your fabric.

And then the all important:
Size Chart.jpg
Size Chart

Size chart. This is how you figure out what size you need to make. You have to take your measurements to figure out what size of pattern you need to cut out. Always double check your measurements from pattern to pattern and especially when crossing from different pattern companies, and it’s a good idea to keep your measurements updated regularly (like every few months or so), you’d be surprised how much an inch can change your pattern size. Different sizes can drastically change the amount of fabric needed, also.

How do you find out how much fabric you need?
Yardage information

This area is where you will find out how much you would need of By-the-Yard items you would need. Anything that can be sold by the yard, like ribbon, elastic, boning, interfacing, aaaand…… FABRIC!!!
This part lists the views separated by a line, and then lists each fabric needed for that view. On  the left side of this chart, underneath the words “A Jacket”, is the number 60 with an asterisk. This number is the fabric width that the pattern is referring to, some patterns will list it in both 45 inch and 60 inch, this one only lists the 60 inch because it was designed with a 60 inch in mind. This does not mean that you have to use a 60 inch you can use a 45 inch but will need more fabric and you will have to arrange pattern pieces differently.
Now lets say you took your measurements and figured out you’re a size 14.
follow the columns.jpg
The yardage for size 14
Just follow that column down to the view you want and it will tell you how much fabric you need for your size. It’s as easy as that.

One final thing on the back
Finished garment Measurements.jpg
Finished garment measurements
These are the finished garment measurements. These are the maximum measurements a certain size will fit after it has been made. This is something you want to check in case you aren’t sure what size you need. If you look at the finished garment measurements it can tell you that maybe you can go down a size or maybe you need to go up a size. This is a fairly loose fitting garment so the finished garment measurements are fairly large.
This area also gives you length if you are working with skirts or pants patterns. A way to measure and tell that maybe you need to get extra fabric to lengthen the skirt, or maybe you need to shorten it.

As you may have realized this is for a multi sized pattern and the back will look different on a “One Size” pattern.
One size pattern.jpg
Back of a one size pattern

As you may have noticed on this one there is not size chart. Since this pattern only comes in one size, there is no change in the amount of fabric needed, so there is no need for a size chart. The many views are still separated by a line, and also notice that since there are so many different views on this one, the notions are listed with the particular view they go with.

Next the one view patterns
one view.jpg
Back of a one view pattern

This one has the lettered sizes instead of numbers so the measurements are in a size range instead of set numbers. Like extra small is 31-32. Since it only has one view it only lists the fabric needed once. It still has the finished garment measurements and still follows the column but there’s not other information to get in the way.

And the other one
2172 front and back.jpg
Back of the other one view one

Since this is one view it lists all the notions needed in one place. Even though it’s one view all the three items that make up the view are listed separately. It also has different yardage listed for 45 inch versus 60 inch. It still has the finished garment measurements at the end and included for the skirt is not only the length but the circumference of the bottom, which is 216 inches (that's 18 feet). It's good to know in case you want to add a structured garment underneath, like a hoop skirt, crinoline, or bustle.

And that’s the back of the envelope now let’s go back to 1558 and delve inside the envelope.
What's inside the envelope?
Inside the envelope you will find tissue paper and newspaper like paper. The tissue paper has the pattern pieces on it and the newspaper paper has the instructions on it.

First a look at the instructions
Another picture of the views front and back
Again there is another detailed look at the different views, front and back views.
Beside that
Pattern piece list
This is the list of pattern pieces contained in this envelope. It gives you a picture of each pattern piece, a number for the piece, and the piece’s name. In the written instructions the pattern is referred to by name not really by its number. If you’re ever confused about  what number goes with what name just refer to this list.

Next up
General Sewing Directions
These are the general sewing instructions they are typically the same in all patterns. They give you basic instructions and definition of certain terms, like layering a seam and what seam allowance is and stuff.
It also gives you a legend to what the pattern symbols mean. If you are confused you can refer to these directions to find out what to do.

The next three pictures are……
Cutting layouts

These are cutting layouts. They show you the most economical way to cut your pattern pieces out of fabric. The cutting layouts are designed to use the amount of fabric called for on the back of the envelope. Unless you bought extra fabric it would be a good idea to follow these.
This pattern only uses 60 inch fabric, but if you were using a pattern that used both 45 inch and 60 inch it would have separate cutting layouts for the different widths. They not only show how to layout the pattern pieces on the fabric but also how to layout your fabric, such as standard fold or crosswise fold.

And finally
The actual instructions
These are the actual instructions for this specific garment. There are written instructions and pictured instructions, and they tell you how to put your pattern pieces together to make the garment.

Next up is the tissue paper.
The fragile tissue paper
This is going to have all of your pattern pieces on it. It’s very fragile so be very careful with it.
Unfold it and find the piece you need.
Pattern pieces 3 and 6
We’re going to say we need these two pieces. I know there is a lot written on these pieces  but I’m going to break it down.
PP Brand and pattern.jpg
Brand and pattern number
This  is the brand and pattern number gain, this is put on each piece so once you cut it out you’re not hunting for what pattern it goes with.
PP Number.jpg
Pattern piece number
These are the pattern piece numbers. They label the piece for cutting and sewing so you’re never wondering which piece is which.
PP Name.jpg
Pattern piece name
These are these are the names of the pattern pieces, it’s usually how they are referred to in the written instructions and it will help you figure out which piece is fo what.
PP What to Cut.jpg
Cutting instructions
This is what to cut, even though it tells you what to cut and how many in the cutting layout, the pattern piece itself will tell you what needs to be cut out.
PP Multisize Pattern.jpg
Notice all these numbers on the different lines. These are the sizes, all the sizes are on one pattern piece. You have to cut along the lines that match your size. Be careful cutting out the size you need, sometimes you may be the outermost line sometimes you’ll be the innermost line.

Once you cut out the pieces you need and then follow the cutting layout, follow the instructions you will have a finished garment.

Don’t freak out about all this information just yet. It all starts to come together and make sense when you start doing your first pattern projects

Next we will discuss a Mccall’s Pattern.

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