Now that you’ve gotten your first pattern, you’ve figured out your size, and you’ve gotten your fabric you are ready to start sewing. Once you open your pattern and cut out your size you may look at the pieces and realize there are several symbols on the pieces. Each symbol has it’s own importance when it comes to making your garment. I’m going to introduce you to the basic and most common pattern symbols.
-Grain Arrow / Fold Arrow
These will be the most common symbols you will see, almost all pattern pieces will have one or the other.
The Grain Arrow
When laying your pattern pieces on your fabric to cut, you want your grain arrows to be parallel to your selvedges, this is done so that when you make your garment the pieces sit on your body and drape properly.
The Fold Arrow
A fold arrow is used, instead of a Grain Arrow, when the pattern piece needs to be placed against a fold. Instead of cutting two identical pieces you will cut one symmetrical piece.
Notches are another symbol that will be on almost all pattern pieces.
Notches are used to match your pattern pieces up after you’ve cut your fabric. When you pin your pattern pieces together you want your notches to match up so that your seams will properly fit. Also they help if you are working with stripes or plaids so that your front and back will have matching stripes.
You will run across quite a few dots on your pattern journey
These can signify multiple things. They can signify where to stop sewing a seam, like where you are going to stop a seam, like a split in a skirt, or the point where the zipper is going to start. They can also signify where a button or buttonhole is going, an eyelet, a hook and eye, etc. Usually the instructions will tell you what to do with your dots.
These are the basic symbols you will find in a beginner pattern. If you ever get confused about what a certain symbol means the pattern will have a legend for the symbols in the general sewing directions.