Absolute Easiest Way to Lay Out Sewing Patterns
Accurately laying out a sewing pattern is an essential part of constructing any project. The guidesheet is like a GPS printout. It explains all the information you need to get from the start of a project to the finish. Refer to the guidesheet as you sew. It will answer any of your questions.
1. Check the guidesheet to see which pattern pieces you need for the view you have chosen.
- Unfold the pattern pieces; take out those you need. Refold and return the others to the pattern envelope.
- If several pattern pieces are printed on the same sheet, cut apart the pieces you need and return the rest to the envelope.
2. Press the paper or tissue pattern pieces with a warm, dry iron.
- Press pattern pieces to remove wrinkles.
- For greatest accuracy, extend the pattern grainline so it’s visible the entire length of the pattern. Fold the tissue pattern along the grainline arrow and press with a dry iron to extend the line the full length of the pattern.
3. Find the correct layout on the pattern guidesheet. To do this:
- Find the view you are making.
- Find the fabric width.
- Find your size.
Note from Nancy
It’s easy to confuse all the different pattern layouts, so circle the correct layout for the view you have chosen. It’s a simple step that eliminates frustration later.
4. Tile pattern pieces, if necessary.
Note from Nancy: Tiling is required when a digital pattern is printed on multiple pages to create one pattern piece. Read more on pattern tiling, here.
5. Fold the fabric as shown on the pattern layout.
6. Lay the pattern pieces on the fabric.
- Start by placing the larger pattern pieces, following the guidesheet layout.
- Locate the grainline arrow. Pin one end of the arrow to the fabric. Measure the distance to the fabric fold or the selvage.
Note from Nancy
I prefer to use a ruler rather than a tape measure when measuring the distance from the selvage to the grainline. The stable ruler is more accurate.
- Measure the distance from the other end of the arrow to the fold or selvage. Both distances must be the same. Shift the pattern until the two distances are equal. Pin the second end of the arrow. The grainline is now parallel to the selvage or fold.
- If a pattern piece has a “place on the fold” line, place that line exactly on the fold of the fabric. Pin the pattern along the fold. Extend pin tips beyond the fold so you don’t accidently cut along the fold of the fabric.
- Some pattern pieces may need to be placed on the fabric with their printed sides down. The guidesheet usually shows these pieces as shaded shapes.
- Pattern pieces may be placed close together, but cutting lines must not overlap.
- After all pattern pieces have been placed on the fabric and all grainlines are straight, smooth each piece and pin its corners. Place pins diagonally.
- Double check the guidesheet to make sure you have included all the pieces needed for the view you are making. Double check that grainlines are straight.
Note from Nancy
Another way to hold pattern pieces to the fabric (without using pins) is by using pattern weights. These weights hold the pattern and fabric together, and are recommended when cutting out large, yet simple pattern pieces, such as bags and totes, with a rotary cutter.
You’ll find these pattern layout techniques and so much more in my book, The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew. It includes a compilation of techniques to make sewing fun and easy for all skill levels.
Watch The Absolute Easiest Way to Sew Part One, Part Two, and Part Three on Sewing With Nancy online.
Bye for now,