Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack!

SN1409Cover 500wpx Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack!The latest issue of Sew News is jam-packed with free e-patterns, along with tips and techniques to adjust, correct and make those patterns work for you.  Read on to take this refresher course on pattern layout and learn to prep your patterns like a pro.  Plus, comment below for a chance to win a pattern prize pack from Indygo Junction!

Pattern 195x300 Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack!

The Pattern

  1. Referring to the view you’d like to make, cut out the pattern pieces you’ll be using. Completely separate all the pattern pieces for the project.
  2. Press the pieces flat with a dry, warm iron. Pressing will make cutting easier and more accurate.
  3. Organize pieces by separating lining and interfacing from the remaining fabric, then put in numerical order.

The Layout

  1. Circle the pattern layout guide you’re using to avoid confusion. Look over the layout before pinning the pattern pieces to the fabric.
  2. Work on a large, flat surface so you can spread the fabric out flat. If you’re table isn’t large enough, work with one section at a time. However, don’t cut any pattern pieces until all are pinned in place.

Tip: For best results, don’t let fabric hang off the table edge. Support it with a chair or roll it so it won’t tug and stretch. If you must cut on the floor, a hard floor is better than carpet. If you’re working on carpet, spread out a bedsheet or a cardboard cutting surface and place the fabric on it. Try and keep your fabric as smooth and wrinkle-free as possible!

  1. Fold the fabric as noted in the layout, usually in half lengthwise, making sure the selvages are even.
  2. Pin the pattern pieces in place. Read your pattern carefully to determine if the printed side should be up or down.PatternA 300x262 Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack!
  3. Use a ruler or measuring tape to make sure the pattern grainline is equidistant from the fabric edge for its entire length. Once in position, pin the pattern in place along the grainline, then double check the grain by measuring the distance between the line and the fabric edge at each end (A).
  4. When the grainline is straight, place pins around the pattern perimeter.PatternB 300x240 Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack! 1/4″ inside the cutting line and perpendicular to the edge (B). Space pins about 6” apart. If the pins will damage the fabric, pin only in the seam allowances.
  5. If the fabric has a nap, like velvet or corduroy, use the “with nap” layout, with all the pieces laid out in the same direction.
  6. If the fabric has a large design, you’ll want to consider where the design will fall on the body when the garment is complete. For example, if your fabric has large roses on it, you probably don’t want them to be centered on the bust point.
  7. Take a break after pinning the project. When you return, double-check your layout before cutting.

Don’t forget to check out the latest issue of Sew News for more great patternmaking tips and techniques, plus more than 30 full color photo how-tos!


What tips and tricks do you have for working with patterns?  Tell us below for a chance to win this Indygo Junction prize pack!

Indygo Junction 300x225 Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack!


 Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack!
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70 Responses to Pro Pattern Layout Tips + Comment for a Chance to Win a Prize Pack!

  1. I love my tracing wheel and tracing paper! For me, it’s the best way to transfer markings from pattern pieces.

  2. Ingred Chamberlin says:

    The best tool to have is a pair of good quality shears that are kept sharp. Dull or cheap scissors make cutting out a chore. Keep your shears sharp and cutting will be a breeze.

  3. Patricia Visk says:

    I always pin all of my pattern pieces on to the fabric before cutting any of them out. If you don’t have enough fabric, then you will not have wasted anything.

  4. DebbieK says:

    I use a large mat, weights and a rotary cutter to cut out. Much faster and , for me, more accurate than scissors.

  5. Leanne Gifford says:

    Like many other commenters, I also trace all my patterns. I mark any alterations on the traced pattern. If I’m cutting large-scale print, I trace the pieces twice (if need to cut 2 of the fabric) and cut the fabric in a single layer. It’s easier to match motifs that way.

  6. Patty Mills says:

    With multisize patterns, I cut the largest size then fold for smaller sizes. :) This works particularly well for kids as they grow!

  7. Elaine Jacobs says:

    Make sure you identify all pattern pieces prior to laying out and cutting, just to ensure nothing is missed. Follow layout guide carefully.

  8. suzy greenwood says:

    Its always annoying when you accidently tear your pattern, or even if you want to alter it and need to re-join it.. I use the paper surgical tape used by hospitals, its very light weight and thin and once on your pattern blends in very well.. you can by it at the chemists too..

  9. Lynn Slabaugh Grate says:

    If you want to keep a multi-sized pattern, use a marker (not on top of the fabric!) to mark all the lines on the tissue so there won’t be any cutting mistakes later.

  10. Lucy Bryant says:

    I have several classic outfits I love but cannot find a pattern I can use to make another. I turn the item inside out and press aluminum foil along the seams, making sure the darts and other details show. I cut the foil to make the pattern. Cut the dart line and it will open up to the correct size when it is laid flat. Make sure to add a seam allowance when you use the foil as a pattern or transfer the foil pattern to paper or muslin.

  11. Catherine McLean says:

    I draw multiple grain lines across the pattern so I don’t have to measure across the whole of the pattern piece when the printed grainline isn’t close to the selvage edge I am using.

  12. Alijandra Mogilner says:

    Well matched seams are one of the marks of the best tailoring. If I am using patters that are difficult to match, like a complicated plaid, I try to minimize the number of seams – especially in very visible areas. For example, in many patterns the shoulder seam can be placed on a fold with the front cut from one side and the back from the other so seam is necessary. Many patterns allow side seams to be done the same way. Small changes in a standard pattern can make matching either unnecessary or much easier if you plan ahead.

  13. Sue says:

    I use a rotary cutter to cut out fabric. I find them easy to use and I just snip all the edge marks with scissors.

  14. Cecile says:

    If you have a pattern that is printed on tissue paper and you want to use it again, fuse lightweight interfacing to the back of the pattern pieces to stabilize the paper so it lasts longer.

  15. Rhoda says:

    I think that the more information you have on sewing, the better seamstress one can become. I try to watch an learn as much as possible.

  16. I am new to this website. I would love to receive the sew news magazine.

  17. Jenny Lynn Baker says:

    Always use nice cutting shears/scissors specifically made for cutting fabric. I also agree with pre-washing fabric and re-tracing patterns onto better patternmaking paper (if needed).

  18. Tanisha says:

    Awesome suggestions! I am new to sewing and will have to find this magazine.

  19. mary jo schuette says:

    I like to trace patterns onto Swedish tracing paper. It holds up so much better, keeps the original pattern intact, and can be sewn as a muslin.

  20. marla schier says:

    i always use the back of old unused patterns to make my test pattern…..when i get my pattern perfected…i use this clear plastic they sell at walmart on bolt for 97cents a yard to make my final pattern….its great because you can see through it, so when using prints…you get the perfect look you were going for:) and i prefer to make my patterns with no seam allowances so that i can sew the lines i drew on fabric….for a more perfected professional finish. also crayola fine tip washable markers are fantastic for marking:)

  21. Kris says:

    I truly love cutting out patterns with my rotary cutters. I have all different sizes. The cuts really come out nice. Then I finish up makes marks and snips with my scissors. The tiny rotary cutters can go around small curves very nice. Just take it slow on your first attempt and use a rotary cutting ruler if necessary. Of course, make sure your blade is sharp or new before beginning to cut.

  22. Cindy says:

    If there are a lot of adjustments to make for fit, it is helpful to sew the pattern in inexpensive fabric first (such as muslin) to then know exactly how to make up the pattern for the fabric you love without all the ripping and snarling.

  23. ABixby says:

    Great idea to circle the layout guide. I’ve mixed that up before.

  24. Patricia Hersl says:

    Believe the layout guide. In my youth (many moon ago), I assumed I was smarter than the person who drew the layout and I knew I could do it better. Seldom turned out that way. Finally learned the hard way that the pros know something I don’t!

  25. Kath says:

    Always read the pattern directions BEFORE you begin placing your pattern on fabrics and cutting! It is easy to just skim over the directions……but don’t!

  26. Tika Nicole says:

    My sewing tip: When using a pattern, I use clear, flat glass marbles (sold in the floral section of craft stores) as my pattern weights. They are heavy enough to hold everything place and yet I don’t miss any of the pattern markings because i can see through them :)

  27. Jennifer A says:

    Great tips for beginners like me. Thanks!

  28. Bunny says:

    The pattern layout is made to accomadate all sizes. If you are petite or take the smaller end of the size spectrum you can often squeeze up the layout and not use so much fabric. Then there is more leftover for bagmaking and doll clothes!

  29. Unless the fabric is extremely bulky- lay the interfacing material on top of the fabric before placing the pattern pieces on the cutting table. This way the cuts for the fabric and all facings and inner-facings are identical. When marking darts or center points, everything lines up together beautifully. The same can be achieved when working with multiply projects- if they are produced from the same pattern. Keep your fabric shears clean and sharp enough to complete these tasks.

  30. Margaret Haffner says:

    When working with a printed fabric with a geometric design, such as stripes or checks, dont just look at the pattern to align your grainlines. Sometimes they are not printed quite straight. Look at the back of the fabric, at the weave, and be sure to line your grainlines up with that.

  31. Janet Hall says:

    Always prewash fabric s0 there are no surprises when your newly made garment is washed!

  32. When working with large designs such as florals, copy onto the pattern where you would like them to fall, then place pattern tissue onto fabric.

  33. Press the pattern pieces before tracing, all those fold lines do make a difference. Then don’t ruin your original pattern, trace it onto something (I use old white bed sheets the advantage being that when you place the bed sheet fabric on your material it stays put without too many pins or weights, sometimes you don’t need ANY).

  34. I trace my pattern pieces onto Swedish Tracing Paper. I find it easier to work with than the thin tissue paper — It doesn’t tear when you pin it. As a bonus, when the original pattern remains intact, you can then use a different size later, either smaller or bigger.

  35. Chris Howard says:

    I’ve never pinned purpendicular to the cutting lines before. I think I will give that a try!

  36. Inita Bermudez says:

    When working with patterns, I trace the pattern on tracing paper, then alter were needed. I like using pins to mark patterns.

  37. Donna Church says:

    I use blue painter’s tape to repair stress points on my favorite pattern. Ironing over the tape does not harm the iron or pattern.

  38. Before pinning the pattern pieces to the (prewashed and ironed) fabric, I like to cut the pattern pieces out leaving about 1/4″ to 1/2″ of extra pattern tissue all around for any alterations that might be needed. Also, before you begin sewing don’t forget to transfer any marks you’ll need (such as darts, tucks, buttonhole placement, etc).

  39. Eileen Kay says:

    When working with large pieces or fabric, or very heavy fabric, such as denim, upholstery, etc., I find binder clips work very well to keep the selvage straight on folded fabric. This is especially useful when working with stripes. The clips are available in various sizes at office supply stores. I find more uses for them each time I start a project.

  40. Louise Wagner says:

    Love your magazine, and the best tip I have is to read all the tips your magazine offers, it makes for smarter sewing and better success!

  41. Agate says:

    I’m glad to know I’m laying out my patterns correctly. I hope this is the magazine I recently subscribed to! :)

  42. Margaret C. says:

    As you gain experience in cutting, you will discover that often by rearranging the folds of the fabric you can use a lot less. This can be important when there is a limited amount on your favorite bolt.

  43. For delicate fabrics, I use pattern weights instead of pins. And you’re right–always double check the layout! (#7)

  44. Carrie Cunningham says:

    Always mark the grainline when tracing a pattern…always! :-)

  45. Bonnie says:

    Great tips – thanks! My tip is a basic one, but I just started sewing a year ago, so you can’t blame me :) I trace my patterns onto Swedish tracing paper so I don’t cut up the original; this is great for kids’ patterns since my kids grow so quickly. Thanks for the chance to win!

  46. Linda Bowden says:

    I converted my sew news subscription to an e subscription and now I don’t get my magazines. The only emagazine I received was the Feb. one. Can I just go back to the paper one? I don’t think you have the kinks worked out of this yet.

  47. Cynthia says:

    I like to get parchment paper and trace the pattern onto that do I don’t cut through all the multiple sizes on a pattern. That way I can make then pattern again for a different size.

  48. Deborah McDonald says:

    Excited to be sewing again and to see the great ideas you share on FB with all of us. Thank you

  49. Sarah says:

    Make sure you check the pattern for ease measurements. If you are using a pattern from a smaller company double check the sizing as it may be different and you may need a different size. Many time sleeve length may be different or length overall. Lesson was learned the hard way.