How to Read Commercial Patterns

3:57 AM


Hey fashion lovers! This post is dedicated to inspiring designers, beginner sewers or those who have been sewing for years but don't know how to use a commercial pattern. 

I got this pattern from Walmart for $2.97, but you can find patterns from places like JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, Hancock Fabrics or online pattern shops such as Simplicity, Butterick, Burda, and McCall. My pattern is for a cape that comes in a variety of styles. There are patterns for just about everything. 



When you purchase a pattern make sure you look at the size of the pattern. This can be found in the upper left hand corner. Also, the pattern number is above the sizes. So if you are browsing through a catalog book make sure to remember that pattern number to find it in the bin. Sometimes you don't always have to look through the bins some patterns will be on display ready to be picked up. My pattern size ranges from XS-XL.


Located on the back of your pattern will be crucial information. You have sizing charts, the amount or yardage of fabric needed for either A, B, C or D, notions, how much interfacing needed.... IT'S A LOT! :) but looking at this info can make your journey in the fabric store easier.


At the top on the back you will see your sizes according to bust, waist, hips, and back-neck- to waist. Some patterns may not have these exact size measurements but most will have them. If you look and see that your bust is one measurement and your hips fall into another size don't panic it just means you will have to alter the pattern to get the fit you want. 


Below the sizing is each style of the cape labeled A, B, C or D. You read this from left to right. For example, if I select B, I see that if I have 45' fabric (width of fabric), and I am a size XS, which is size 10-12 in this pattern, I would need 2 3/8 yards of fabric. This section also tells you how much interfacing and lining you would need. Most fabric widths are from 45', 58', and 60'. 


In the bottom section of your pattern you will find the suggested fabrics, notions and the finished measurements. My pattern suggests that I use either flannel, lightweight wool and wool blends, satin, taffeta, or brocade fabrics. Be sure if you get fabrics with stripes or plaids that you get extra yards. It's better to have to much fabric for a garment than too little! Been there done that and trust running back to the fabric store again and again is no fun so save yourself and your wallet with just a one time trip. Below the suggested fabrics are the notions needed. Notions are things like buttons, zippers, hooks and eyes, trims etc., pretty much the finishings for your garment or project. 


Here is what should be inside your pattern packet: instructions/layout and pattern. The pattern sheets are relatively thin so BE VERY CAREFUL! 






The instruction sheet is front to back and usually has two or three sheets. This shows you what pattern pieces to cut out, the layout of it and it also has definitions of sewing terms used in the instructions. Also, the instructions show pictures too instead of just words like the third picture of instructions. To make things easier when finding your pattern circle the pieces you need to cut out on your instructions.


Lastly is the pattern sheet. It has every pattern piece you need for your garment just unfold it carefully because it can tear easily. I just took a picture of a piece because the full pattern is too big. If you can see the pattern piece is piece number 6. It says "cut 4 of fabric" meaning you need four pieces of fabric. It has the grain line which is the arrow, this shows how you should lay the piece on the fabric, which would be parallel to the selvage edge. It has dots at the corners so be sure to take a fabric maker and mark that on the wrong side, this is for matching up the fabric. You can use these patterns or alter them and add your own unique spin!

So I hope this post helps you with your knowledge of using a commercial pattern. I want to incorporate more sewing knowledge and DIYs in blog. It will help me express myself and maybe provide a little entertainment and education to you guys! It's always been a dream of mine to be a fashion designer and it's time to let the doubt in and fear go. Sometimes people don't do things because they don't have the money or procrastinate but don't let that stop you make due with what you have and just remember if you don't use your talents you will eventually lose them overtime. So  be inspired, encouraged and just go for the things you want in life! :)















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