Are you using a P4P pattern for the very first time? I’m so excited for you to try out one of my pdf sewing patterns! Here are a few tips if you are brand new to sewing a P4P pattern, or to sewing from a pattern in general.
*Buying from the site- you will receive an email with a download link after payment is processed (check JUNK mail) and you can also log back into the site to download any purchased patterns anytime! Our freebie patterns downloads expire in 30 days once purchased, but fear not! You can add them to cart and “buy” them as many times as you want.
Our patterns include various formats so be sure to open the correct one.
Letter – used mainly in the USA, must be printed on letter size paper (8.5″ by 11″)
A4 – used outside of USA, must be printed on A4 size paper (8.25″ by 11.75″)
A0 – used to print on 36″ wide paper, usually at copy shops.
Projector – this new style of paperless/printless way of cutting the fabric pieces requires a special set up. I would not recommend this for beginners. Only the newest P4P patterns include projector files.
#1: Read the tutorial thoroughly before beginning. Before you start envisioning fabric selection and thinking about what size, you need to sit and read! There is A LOT of info in the first few pages of a P4P pattern. Here are some highlights in those first few pages:
*Printing instructions- You MUST open and print from ADOBE PDF viewer, not the app, not another PDF program! This will ensure the correct scaling! I advise only printing the pattern pieces (these are listed on the first page in the tutorial) to save paper and ink-you can read the tutorial instructions on a computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone-whatever you have available! You will want to print with scaling set to “none” or custom “100%”. Carefully measure the 1×1 inch square to ensure that the pattern is printed in the correct scale (I always advise to only print the first page with the measuring inch first to test, then when you are sure it’s correct print the other pages). Our newer patterns include a 2″x2″ and a 4cm x 4cm square instead of the 1″ one.
Here is a shot of what your adobe printing settings should look like before you print: Custom scale: 100% and about the preview it should say 100%
Here is a shot of the printed page with a correct 1×1 inch square:
One of the most common printing mistakes is to have the “fit to page” option clicked. Here is a shot of “fit to page” INCORRECT printing. This will result in a pattern that is much smaller then intended!
If you look, you will see an outline around the entire page about 1/8″ that should not be there. The 1×1 inch square will also measure slightly smaller.
*Piecing the pattern pieces together- I have a quick video putting the “no trim pages” together here: (you must be a member of the P4P FB group to view) Video Link
*Choosing your size- I have a size chart both in the listing pictures and in the first few pages of the tutorial. Carefully measure yourself and find the size that your measurements correlate to. Chest-fullest part around your bust, Waist-where you naturally bend to the side, High Hip-around your hip bones, Hip-around the fullest part of bottom/booty. I only add the measurements that are important for that particular pattern.
Here is a blog post about measuring yourself.
- If your measurements put you in several sizes then you can mash/blend sizes between your measurements to create the perfect fit (this is why sewing is so great! Custom fit and size for your particular body type). Our P4P University blog series includes a very helpful post about grading. You can read the Grading blog here.
- Using the “Finished Measurements”- You can flat measure other garments that are well fitting and compare, or compare to your measurements. You should be able to know exactly how much you need to add or take off for the perfect length before sewing up!
- LAYERS – once you chose your size(s) you can print just the needed one(s) by selecting it/them on the left side of the pdf file. Simply use the cursor to click/unclick the little “eye” located on the left of each size.
- I also include the height my patterns are drafted for above the size chart (5’5″). If you are shorter or taller you will need to adjust for your height. I include a link right below the size chart to this post explaining how I prefer to add/take length for petite and tall adjustments: Petite and Tall Adjustment Blog Post
- Do not choose your size based on what you buy in ready to wear/store bought clothing. Store sizing varies extremely from store to store. Just choose based on your current measurements!
- Read the description of fit carefully (located under the line drawing in the tutorial).
- Look through the pattern album in the group! Yes, I have an album for almost every single pattern filled with A TON of pictures of every size and option for everyone to look through to see the intended fit of the pattern. You can see where it is fitted, loose, and how it looks on a variety of sizes and body types. Most pictures are also labeled with their size and their fabric choose to help even more! You can view the albums both mobile and on a desktop! Just go to the P4P FB Group and click “view group info”. From there you can click “pictures” and go to “albums”. Scroll through for the particular patterns you’re looking for! 🙂
*Choosing fabric- One of the most IMPORTANT parts of following a pattern is to use fabric that is suggested by the designer. If you don’t you will not have the intended look that is shown on the cover and listing pictures. The wrong fabric can mean a loose fit turns snug, a flowy fit turns tent-like, and so on.
- Knit fabrics– I often give the percent of stretch knit fabrics should have for fitted patterns. Here is a quick link to my sister’s blog with a video on how to find the percentage of stretch: Megan’s Blog Post
- Different fabric = Different look and fit— if you do not follow the suggested types of fabric you have to be prepared for the garment to not look and fit how it is intended and showed in the pattern listing pictures. I make sure that all my testers follow those suggestions, so all the tester pictures are going to show the intended fit and look. If you are unsure, read our Different Fabric, Different Fit before you decide.
- Buying online- I love to buy online. In fact, I pretty much get fabric from an online source or scramble to “borrow” some from my Mama’s large stash ;). I hardly ever make it to a brick and mortar store! BUT, there seems to be an endless amount of fabric types to learn as a beginner seamstress and online shopping can be very difficult to navigate. I always suggest buying from a smaller shop that you can message questions to! Being able to ask how thick/thin, percentage of stretch and even if it would be good for a certain type of garment is such a nice bonus to supporting a smaller shop!
- There are a lot of shops offering non custom fabric online as well as an abundance of custom knit designers/hosts FB that are smaller businesses (but be weary-sadly there are many that have been scammed by these groups, so look for well established custom groups). I love destash fb pages where you can buy from other sewists, but often you’re buying from someone who doesn’t know the full description of the fabric, so I don’t recommend this for beginners.
- Stick to searching the exact recommended fabrics until you are confident with all the different kinds of fabrics out there.
- We also offer a monthly subscription where you can receive a 2 yard piece of fabric, hand selected by our team. Get all the details about Fabric for Pirates here.
- Fabric Requirements- I list fabric requirements on the last listing picture under the size chart as well as the first few pages of the tutorial. I often break up the fabric requirements into different options and different parts of the garment. Example: Relaxed Raglan I list main body 7/8yd and long sleeves 7/8 yd, this means you will need 7/8 for the main body and an ADDITIONAL 7/8 for the sleeves.
- As described in the tutorial, the fabric requirements do not include extra for fabric being cut off grain, shrinkage after prewashing (I ALWAYS recommend pre-washing fabric before cutting!), or to match any kind of patterned fabric/directional fabrics.
- I recommend buying a little more to account for these things 🙂
*Looking for more inspiration- If you have looked through the listing pictures, album pictures in the FB group and still want to see more you can use the search bar in the Facebook group. with our hashtags to help! Some pictures are tagged with hashtag/pattern name… here are a few for examples: #peglegs #carefreecardigan #cptmackcardigan… using the hashtag will help pull up pictures and not posts about the pattern 🙂
Now we’re finally ready to begin!
*Cutting fabric- It is important to cut your pieces along the grainline of the fabric. Grainline is easily found parallel along the selvage of the fabric (the sides that are not cut by the store). You want to match your selvage/grainline to the grainline arrow on the pattern piece. Making sure this is straight is important! If it is cut off grain/not straight it will hang not straight! Have you ever had a pant leg/sleeve/shirt always twisting while you wear it? That is because it was cut off grain! It’s really annoying! So take your time matching the grainline on both woven and knit fabrics.
*Cut chart- I include a cut chart for any rectangle pieces. The measurements for the cut chart are located in the first few pages of the tutorial and on the pattern pieces. This way you can cut your rectangle pieces without having to look up the tutorial :). Our newer patterns include rectangle pattern piece as well. Some sewists prefer to have everything printed so now you can chose.
- I prefer to use my cutting mat, quilters ruler and rotary cutter for cutting rectangle pieces. If it has a longer measurement I prefer to fold in half and cut on the fold for ease as well. Again, make sure you are keeping your grainline straight.
*Direction of Stretch- I also include a direction of stretch arrow on all pattern pieces for knit garments. It is always perpendicular to the grainline. Even with 4 way stretch fabric the greatest amount of stretch will run horizontally on your fabric. If it is on the fold, fold your fabric selvage (the part not cut by the store) towards the opposite selvage as wide as your piece and place on fold.
*Using a Stretch Stitch for Knit Garments- Since most of my patterns are for knit/stretch fabric I thought I would add available stretch stitches you can use. I use a serger in the tutorial, this is a great machine stitch for stretch fabrics if you own one. Basic sewing machine stitches that also work are
a) triple stitch
b) lightening stitch
d) overlock stitch
e) stretch overlock stitch-this is my personal favorite usually-
f) double overlock stitch
If you read your manual they will list the stretch stitches your machine have. If you don’t have or can’t find your manual you can always google for your manual! It is very valuable to have! 🙂
I hope these tips are helpful for first time users! You can always post other questions to the P4P FB group and don’t forget to share your final garment!