How to Lay Out Sewing Pattern Pieces

    by eHow Contributor

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    Laying out pattern pieces correctly are vital to your sewing success. Every pattern has a slightly different layout. Follow these guidelines to accurately and efficiently lay out sewing pattern pieces onto fabric.

    Things You'll Need

    • Fabric
    • Sewing Pattern
    • Scissors
    • Straight Pins

    Prewash your fabric according to the care instructions found on the bolt end. Press the fabric.

    Refer to the pattern instruction sheet or the back of the pattern envelope to see which pattern pieces are needed for the version, or "view," of the pattern you are making.

    Find these pieces and separate them from the rest. Use scissors to cut the needed pieces from the rest of the pattern. Put the unneeded pattern pieces back in the pattern envelope.

    Refer to the pattern instruction sheet to determine how the pattern pieces are to be laid out. For each view, layout options are given based on the fabric width and type.

    Fold the fabric, right sides together, along a single lengthwise or crosswise thread as indicated in the layout diagram. This will allow any necessary pattern markings to be made on the wrong side of the fabric.

    Place the fabric on a flat surface. Make sure the fabric edges line up evenly.

    Take note of any special symbols used on the layout diagram. These will be explained in the pattern instructions. For example, shading on a pattern piece indicates that the piece should be laid out with the printed side down.

    Find the grain-line arrow on any pattern piece not placed along a fold. Position the pattern piece so that this arrow runs exactly parallel to the selvage, or finished edge, of the fabric.

    Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric along the fold first. Lay out and pin larger pieces first, then position the smaller ones. Place all pieces as close together as possible without overlapping printed cutting lines.

    Place pins perpendicular to the pattern edge, about 6 inches apart. Keep pins inside the cutting line and perpendicular to the cutting edge.

    • Press necessary pattern pieces with a warm, dry iron. Pattern pieces will be creased and pressing them will give you a more accurate cutting line.
    • Circle the appropriate layout diagram with a pen or highlight it with a highlighter pen. This will help you distinguish your layout diagram from all others.
    • Fabrics that have a nap, such as velvet, or a one-way design use distinct layout diagrams. If you are using one of these fabrics, make sure that the layout diagram you are using is the appropriate one.
    • Measure the distance from each arrow point on the grain-line arrow to the selvage. If the grain-line arrow is truly parallel to the selvage, these measurements will be the same.
    • If your pattern calls for interfacing or lining, save time by pinning and cutting these items at the same time as your fabric.
    • Pin the grain-line arrow to the fabric before pinning the remainder of the pattern piece. This will assist you in keeping the grain-line arrow correctly aligned.
    • Pattern weights can be used as an alternative to pins.