How to use a sewing pattern

A sewing pattern can come in different forms. Here on my web page you'll find both paper printed and digital patterns. And here you can read more about how to work with a digital pattern.

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 and two sleeves. In a sewing pattern, all pieces that you need are included, and often in several sizes. With a sewing pattern from Threads by Caroline, you'll also get a booklet (pdf or printed) and that includes a size guide which you can use to determine which size to sew for your child. 



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 crafts 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.

Here are some words you'll run into:

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. 

ON THE FOLD = means that you fold the fabric and let the edge marked "on the 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. 



When you've traced the correct size you place the pattern pieces, one by one, on the fabric, pin and cut. 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. 

To cut you can use scissors or 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 I also think that you as a sewer should feel artistic freedom here. The side that YOU wish to be the visible side of the garment, THAT is its right side. 

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. Here I have gathered some tips for how to succeed when using a sewing machine. 


A sewing pattern from Threads by Caroline is made to be easy to understand, fun and inspiring. I use nice and clear pictures that show each step in sewing, together with explanatory texts. 

You are always welcome to contact me if you get stuck and would like help with a certain step. You're also welcome to join my facebook group, where members can share advice and inspiration.