Intro to sewing
A sewing pattern consists of several pieces that you cut out in fabric and sew together. A sweater for example can have a front, back, two sleeves and a neckband. In our sewing patterns, all pieces that you need are included, in a wide size range.
A sewing pattern can come in different formats. Threads by Caroline makes both paper printed and digital patterns. Read about the difference here. You'll also get the detailed sewing instructions in a booklet (pdf or printed). This booklet contains step-by-step instructions for sewing, but also other useful info such as fabric requirements and a size guide.
TRACE THE RIGHT SIZE
With the pattern in front of you you can start tracing the chosen size onto another paper, something that is see through, for example baking paper or tracing paper (which you can find in craft stores). Place the tracing paper on the pattern and trace all pattern pieces in your chosen size. Don't forget to note on each piece the name of the pattern, size, grainline, cutting instructions, notches and seam allowance.
After you've traced all pattern pieces in your chosen size, you can cut them out and place them on top of the fabric.
Here are some words you'll run into in the pattern:
SEAM ALLOWANCE (SA) = The extra amount of fabric needed to sew together the garment. A seam allowance of 1 cm (3/8") is always included in patterns from Threads by Caroline (the few exceptions that exist are clearly marked). 1 cm seam allowance means that you should sew 1 cm from the edge of the fabric. For example, if you're sewing with a 2,5 mm wide zig-zag stitch, you should have 7,5 mm of fabric left to the edge. Or if you're using an overlock and its seam is 6 mm wide, you should cut off 4 mm of fabric when sewing.
GRAINLINE = is about how the thread is running in the fabric, which is parallell to the selvage. In a knit fabric one can feel that the selvage is a bit more stiff than the rest of the fabric. On some fabrics, the name of the designer is printed along the selvage.
On a sewing pattern's pattern pieces there is an arrow that marks the grainline. When you're placing the pattern pieces on the fabric, make sure that the arrow on the pattern piece follows the fabric's grainline.
PLACE ON FOLD = means that you fold the fabric and let the edge marked "place on fold" lie against the folded edge of the fabric.
OPPOSITE PIECES = If a pattern piece should be used to cut 2 opposite pieces, those two pieces should be mirrored. You can achieve this by folding the fabric and cutting two pieces at the same time, they will then be mirrored.
PREPARE YOUR FABRIC
Always wash your fabric before you start cutting it, since it could shrink with the first wash. It's also a good idea to wash in order to get chemicals from the printing process out of it.
When using a jersey fabric you don’t need to serge or finish the edges since it, unlike a woven fabric, wont fray. You shouldn’t use a tumble dryer, hang your fabric to dry instead. If your fabric is a bit wrinkly or has a crease on it after hanging on the drying rack you can carefully press it. Make sure not to stretch it out.
When you've traced the correct size you place the pattern pieces, one by one, on the fabric and pin them so they lie still. Or use fabric weights instead of pinning. If seam allowances are included in the pattern you'll cut right against the pattern piece. If seam allowances aren't included you need to add as much as you want, usually it's 6-10 mm when sewing in knit fabric.
On woven fabric it’s common to add some more seam allowance, about 1,5 cm. This gives a little extra space if you need to make any adjustments.
To cut you can use scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting mat.
When the pieces are sewn together, they are usually done so right sides together.
RIGHT SIDE = The side of the fabric that will be the visible side of the garment. A printed fabric will have its print on the right side. Look closely and you'll see the threads of the fabric run vertically on the right side. Learn to see the difference between right and wrong side on a printed fabric, and it will be easier to do so on a solid knit fabric.
WRONG SIDE = The side that is supposed to be on the inside of the fabric.
But we also think that you as a sewist should feel artistic freedom here. The side that YOU wish to be the visible side of the garment, THAT is its right side.
PRESSING = Press seams after sewing. Remember there's a difference between ironing and pressing. When you iron a fabric, you bring it back and forth over the fabric to remove wrinkles. When you press, you place the iron on top of a seam for example and hold still for a few seconds.
It's a common misconception that you need to have an overlocker/serger to sew in knit fabric, you can sew perfectly beautiful items in knit fabric with a sewing machine. We've gathered our best tips for how to succeed when sewing knits with a sewing machine.
A sewing pattern from Threads by Caroline is made to be easy to understand, fun and inspiring. We use nice and clear pictures that show each step in sewing, together with explanatory texts.