Working with the Costume Pattern
Now that I had all my materials, it was time to start the project. I began by reviewing at the pattern and reading the instructions. The basic pattern instructions were: (Step 1) wash & dry the fabric (Step 2) iron the pattern (Step 3) Cut out the pattern (Step 4) pin the pattern to the fabric (Step 5) cut fabric along the pattern lines (Step 6) make all markings on fabric before removing pattern (Step 7) sew, instructions given for each section.
Step 1 was the only easy step and I accomplished it with great skill. Ha ha ha….
Step 2 is where my brain started saying “huh?” Yes folks, step 2 really says to iron the pattern. I have never looked at a sewing pattern before, much less ever used one. I was surprised to find that the pattern was several large sheets of what is essentially recycled tissue paper. I was terrified that if I even touched it that I would damage it. I was even more terrified that I would have to iron it without destroying it. After some trial and error, I found that reversing steps 2 & 3 actually worked best. It was hard to iron the pattern pieces while they were in one big sheet. Instead I cut out the pattern and then ironed the pieces. I also determined that the best way to do this was to start with the iron, on the lowest heat setting, on one side of the piece and in one motion iron to the other side without lifting the iron. Trying to go back and forth like traditional ironing methods caused the tissue paper to stick to the iron. Fortunately, the heat was so low that the pattern did not melt to the iron.
Step 4 was time consuming, but not confusing. I followed the lay out suggested in the pattern and was careful to lay out according to “with NAP”. Don’t know what NAP means? Neither did I. Thank goodness for the world wide web! According Threads Magazine, “The phrase with-nap on a layout sheet indicates that all pattern pieces are placed on the fabric going in the same direction, top to bottom. Use a with-nap layout for pile fabrics, like velvet and corduroy, and for satin and fabrics with a definite one way design.”
My fabric was satin and I laid it out exactly as in the instructional diagram. Easy enough. The time consuming part was reducing the size of the pattern. Remember my previous post where I told you that I bought a pattern for sewing sizes 8-20? Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t the case at all. Although the back of the pattern envelope gave measurements for sewing size 10, which is what I wanted, the pattern itself didn’t actually supply a size 10. If I had looked carefully at the pattern, it has written in small print U.S. size 14, 16, 18, & 20, but no 10. A rookie mistake. I had assumed that because the back of the pattern showed the measurements and size I needed that the pattern would include that size. Not so. So, fair warning everyone, find your measurements, your sewing pattern size, and make sure the pattern you purchase will actually give you the pattern for that size.
I’m sure there are many sophisticated ways to size down a pattern and I actually looked at a few, but the methods were long, complex, and confusing. I figured there had to be a simpler way. It couldn’t be that hard, could it? I decided to use a ruler and pencil to trace new lines on the pattern that would correspond to where the size 10 lines should be. To complicate matters, I wanted to save my pattern at all the sizes so I could make more dresses at different sizes in the future. Now, I know there has to be special tools & tricks that would allow me to trace each size and create individual patterns. But at this stage, I neither have the materials nor the skill to attempt this. So, I simply folded the pattern down to the size 10 line I had drawn and pinned it to the fabric. I then completed Step 5 and cut the fabric to the pattern size.
Step 6, transferring all markings to the WRONG side of the fabric seemed simple enough, but apparently I am sewing stupid. Originally, I used my quilting marker (the ink fades after a while) drew around the entire pattern piece and then cut along the line I had drawn. This seemed dumb. Why take the extra time to draw a line when you can just cut around the pattern that is pinned to the fabric? This could not be what the pattern meant. The only other thing the pattern said about markings was to mark the dots by placing a pin in the fabric on the spot where the pattern dot is located and place little cuts at the edge of the fabric that correspond to the triangles & center lines on the pattern (See picture for Step 5). I did this, but if there were other markings I was supposed to draw onto the fabric, I have no idea what they were.
In my next post I’ll tell you how I put it all together in the final step, Step 7, sewing the pieces into an actual Wendy Darling dress and of course, there will be pictures of the completed project! See you soon.