After all the drama of the first two parts of this series, this final installment is a bit anti-climatic, because we, umm… follow the directions. Not that “just follow the directions” is always easy for a beginner. So, I am here with some tips to guide you along the way.
Read over all of the directions – start to finish before you begin. Start with the “Sewing” section of the “General Directions”, which gives the seam allowance for the project.
Then, read through each step for the “view” being sewn. In this case, the section labeled “Pants G, Shorts H”. Understanding how the pieces come together before starting to sew reduces construction error.
The key is your key! The “fabric key” clarifies the sewing diagrams. Are they showing the right side of the garment? Wrong sides? Interfacing? Lining? The key makes it clear.
Stuck on sewing terminology? Quite often unfamiliar sewing terms are defined in the pattern’s “Sewing Directions” section. If not, try my “Fearless Sewist’s Toolbelt” or the estimable Burdastyle’s Sewing Dictionary.
When pinning seams, match up pattern markings first. I am always so glad that I took the time to transfer my markings when I match the pieces together.
Interesting tidbit… Notches not only aid in lining up seams, but they also give hints as to where the piece belongs on the garment. Single notches for the front with the number of notches increasing towards the back. Crazy, eh? For example, the front crotch seam is designated with a double notch, and the back a triple notch.
Practice good sewing habits. Press and finish the seams as you go. The lazy reason is that it is easier to do it as-you-go than come back to it later.
Even without a serger, there are a number of ways to finish the seams. See Sew, Mama, Sew! for a handy collection of seam finishes. I opted to kept it super simple for these pants. After checking the fit, I sewed a zig zag stitch in the seam allowance close-ish to the seam. Then, I trimmed off the seam allowance up to, but not through, the zig-zag stitches.
Hemming is always the last step of the directions. The vague “fold up the hem” directions gets me every time, because it doesn’t say by how much. The assumption is that you are to fold up the hem to whatever length fits, but the standard hem length is given on the pattern piece. I have to hunt down that hem amount almost every single time. Annoying.
some words of encouragement
All of this information is more than overwhelming in the beginning, but, trust me on this, it will get easier with practice. Construction order becomes familiar, pattern conventions become apparent. Don’t let those overwhelmed feelings stop you from even trying. If something confuses you, ask for help or search google. Or just wing it. What is the worst that could happen? “Wasting” money or time on a project? Even the worst failure is never a waste because you will learn from it, and be better prepared for your next sewing adventure.
Do you have any more questions about pattern directions? Leave a comment and I will answer to the best of my ability!