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Forum > Beginner's Forum > How to choose a pattern - and avoid a loser? ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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How to choose a pattern - and avoid a loser?
fabricaddiction
fabricaddiction
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Date: 7/9/14 6:55 PM

I'd like to ask for the more advanced sewers' advice on choosing patterns: What has experience taught you in choosing patterns? How do you know there is a problem in a pattern? Can you look at a pattern and say right away "That's trouble"

Much thanks for the advice!

------
Absolute beginner. Hoping to move up to Advanced Beginner in 6 months. Have a TON of fabric to work through.

Karla Kizer
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Karla Kizer  Friend of PR
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In reply to fabricaddiction <<
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Date: 7/9/14 7:16 PM

Once you've sewn a few patterns, you'll begin to recognize when pattern pieces look too boxy, or armholes are too deep. One big favor you can do for yourself is measure and write down dimensions from some of your favorite clothes - measure across the shoulders, get a pretty good estimate of the bust measurement on blouses and knit tops, get a rough idea of what a comfortable armhole looks like, measure some skirts at the waist and 8-10" below. When a pattern includes enough ease that it's nowhere near the measurements you've written down, be very suspicious and consider dropping down a size. Carry those measurements in your wallet (or your head), too; they are a great help when you're shopping for RTW. After you've sewn a few things, you'll develop an instinct for what doesn't look right.

And don't overlook PR, perhaps starting with the Best Patterns of 2012 or 2013. When a pattern has 118 reviews, you can be pretty sure that achieving a good result is possible. Read through the reviews to see if everyone dropped down a size, or lengthened the skirt. It's likely that the garments of popular patterns didn't wind up as a bed for the kids' gerbil.

Beginners are kind of caught in a trap: the patterns that are the best-fitting are the ones with the least helpful instructions. Buy yourself a couple of Jalie or StyleArc patterns for the RTW-type fit, but get a book or two about constructions techniques to supplement the pattern instructions.

Good luck. We need new sewers to carry on the tradition - and help keep fabric stores open.

-- Edited on Today at 7:22 PM --

------
“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” -Robert Heinlein and Ann's father. Thanks for the reminder, Ann.

Where are we going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?

Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'



DonnaH
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DonnaH
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Date: 7/9/14 7:24 PM

Well, first you need to know what styles/cuts look and feel the best on you. This is different for everyone - even 2 people with the exact same measurements and body type may feel more comfortable in completely different options. Too closely fitted can be a disaster, but a blouse or dress that looks like you are wearing the bag it came in isn't any better. Something with a bit of design ease, in a silhouette you know you like is best to start with.

Then a peek at the construction order and techniques can be useful. I will pull the instructions our of a pattern envelope while at the store, especially to choose between patterns. As a beginner, you should be able to understand what is going on. If you don't, the pattern may be a stretch for your current skills - perhaps frustratingly so. Once you start to build up skills, there may be part of the construction (or the order) that you don't agree with. Better to move on and look for something similar from another brand.

Also look at the list of pattern pieces, and how many are needed for each view. Does it make sense how they fit together (or at least most of them)? If there are too many, each seam is another chance to make a mistake. Are you willing to spend that much time with your seam ripper? LOL And if you know the adjustments you usually need to make - can they easily be done with these pieces? I usually grade out a size or 2 between the bust and hips, need a narrow shoulder adjustment, sometimes a minor FBA, and usually shorten between waist and shoulder somewhere (it varies as to whether it's above or below the bust), and shorten between waist and hip as well.

Then the point where most beginners make the worst mistake. Choosing the fabric. This can make or break a pattern. Sometimes even the "recommended" fabrics on the envelope are wrong for it! And even the best pattern will look like a dud in the wrong fabric. If it needs body, a flowy fabric is wrong, if there is too much or not enough stretch or weight or something else, the result will look bad on anyone.

PattyE
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In reply to fabricaddiction <<


Date: 7/9/14 7:52 PM

I would suggest trying to stick to the recommended fabrics until you gain more experience. The wrong fabric choice can doom the project from the start.
Stick to silhouettes that have worked for you in the past. If an empire waist has not worked for you in RTW, don't be thinking you can make it work in a pattern.
Definitely check out the reviews here. You can learn a lot by seeing the experiences others have had. And don't be afraid to message someone if you have a question. People here are happy to help.

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