Learning to sew: The paper pattern

I am attempting to use my first ever paper sewing pattern, thanks to Sew Magazine (more on that when I’ve finished). As part of the learning to sew experience, which you can catch up with here and here, it demonstrates to me a number of vaguely interesting points.

  • Scissors are the work of the devil. How on earth do left handed people cut out patterns accurately?
  • Getting all your pattern pieces cut out, with the paper still pinned to the front is so satisfying. Well, it might be because it reminds me of the pile of pattern pieces that my mum would have next to her machine when she used to sew when I were a nipper, but just getting that far (and being reasonably sure that I had cut all the pattern pieces out to the same dress size) was pretty awesome.
  • When you are learning to sew from a pattern for the first time, you have to look up every single thing. Seriously, the first two steps on the pattern were ‘stay stitch around the neck’ (What the hell’s a stay stitch? And you haven’t told me which parts are the neck!) and ‘mark and sew the darts as indicated’. Now I know what a dart is, and I could roughly guess what you needed to do from the marks on the pattern, but I still had to google it just to make sure. I now understand why people learned to sew from someone else. Without a seasoned hand you have to look everything up – and it’s only on blogs that you get realistic tips. Without the internet, I’d have sewn all the pattern pieces together into a ‘flower’ by now and then burned it.
  • Not having any experience means you have no idea what’s coming next. Stay stitch around the neckline so it holds its shape? That was the last thing I saw coming, probably because I didn’t know it existed. Now I’ve done steps 1 to 4, twice, for the outer and the lining, and I have no clue where it’s going to go next. It’s quite exciting. If you like sewing. 

You want to know what I’m making right? Well, you’ll have to wait until I’m done. What did you learn when you first started sewing, any useful tips for me?


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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