It's Friday and that means it's day one of my very first sew-a-long! I hope that my instructions make sense!! :) In this sew-a-long, I will try to discuss all of the basics of sewing and reading patterns for the beginner sewer. Pattern instructions can be very confusing for the newbie sewer so I hope to cover all of the details and make it not so scary for you! If you've sewn before, I'm sorry- just ignore all of that rambling! :) If anyone has any questions or if these instructions seem unclear, please don't hesitate to leave your question below!

wash your fabric. This will pre-shrink it so that when you wash it, you won't come out with a smaller apron. Pre-shrinking isn't as crucial with an apron as it is with say, a blouse but if you do it every time, it will get you into the habit of pre-shrinking.

Today, we will be cutting the pattern and fabric. I have had a lot of questions from gals asking about cutting on vintage fabric. It's scary because if you make one wrong snip, it's not like you can go to the store and get more! So, we'll cover laying out the fabric, grain lines and all that jazz....let's begin!!
Here's our pattern and pieces. Pull out page 1 of the pattern. For this apron, you will only need this piece of paper. You can put the other instruction sheet back in the package to avoid confusion.

Cutting Out The Pattern Pieces:
1.) What pieces do we need? We will be sewing this apron, view C. On the first page of your pattern instructions, you will always find the list of which pieces you need.

Since we are making view C, we will need all pieces marked with a "c"(in orange). Pieces used for all views aren't marked with any letters (in green)
For our pattern, we will need pieces 3,4,6,7

2.) What is your size? If you're sewing a fitted garment like a dress or blouse, you will want to measure yourself to determine which size you will sew. For modern patterns, you can look up size charts online or in the pattern catalog at the store. For vintage patterns, check the back of the pattern package to see what size you are. In this instance, we have a small, medium and large. Easy! Cut your pieces out, following the line that marks your size. I am sewing the large apron, so I will cut on the large line.

When you're finished cutting, you should have all of these pieces

3.) Iron your pattern: Once your pieces are cut out, heat your iron to low-medium setting and iron out the wrinkles. This is a quick step and will help you to cut out your fabric. I have been lazy and not ironed by pieces before. The world won't end or anything but flat pieces do make your fabric cutting job much easier!

4.) Read your pieces: I like to read all of my pattern pieces before I try to cut them out. Some pieces need to be cut on a fold, others need to be cut out more than once. Reading your pattern pieces will give you a better idea of how you need to lay them out on the fabric. Let's read the pieces together. If you're a newbie sewer, look at your pieces while we go through this so you have a better idea of how to read patterns in the future.

the pattern name is circled in blue and the things we need to know about it are circled in green. Here's another:

Pattern piece number 6 is the actual apron. Like it says, "Cut one on Fold" That means that the fabric will need to be folded in half and the "foldline" lined up with the fold, so when you cut it out, this piece will be twice as long. It's like cutting a heart out of construction paper for Valentine's day.

Number 7 is our pocket. It's that cute colorful section of the apron in the picture. The pattern says "contrast: cut 2" that means that this piece will be made out of a different fabric than the rest.

5.) Lay out your fabric. On page 1 of our pattern, you will see a diagram for laying out your pieces on the fabric. For a modern pattern, this is a handy tool and minimizes confusion. However, if you are ever sewing a vintage pattern, you may need to figure out how to lay out fabric on your own! That's where reading your pieces comes in handy.
In this instance, the diagram is right here:

and this is what it says:

feeling confused? me too! That's why every pattern has a key to explain what everything means. Reading a pattern is like reading a map and there is always a key. The key is located right next to the lay-out diagram. here it is:

so, the key is telling us this:

the "wrong side" is the side of the fabric without print or color. It's the under side of the fabric
the "right side" is the side with print or color. It's the side of the fabric that is seen when the garment is complete. For example:

okay, now we're going to cut out pattern piece number 6. Just like the diagram says, you will fold your fabric with the RIGHT sides together. When your fabric is folded in half properly, you will be looking at the backside of the fabric, the side with no print.
Piece number 6 has to be cut out on a fold. Look at the pattern piece to see where that fold should be.
Now, this part gets REALLY tricky!!
If you have a print on your fabric, you have to fold your fabric so that when you cut it out, your print isn't upside down. I have little birds on mine and it will be really obvious if I cut it out the wrong way!! The pattern layout diagram tells us exactly what to do. So, this is how you do it....Lay your fabric out so that the pretty print is right side up.It should be facing the right way and you should be looking at the colorful side with print. Grab the left side of the fabric and fold it over to the right, making the edges even. Now, do what the pattern diagram says and lay the pattern piece so that it is facing WRONG side up. You will be looking at the back of the pattern piece. Match the fold line on the pattern with the fold line on the fabric. In this image below, my finger is on the fold line.

If you do not have print on your fabric

Lay the fabric so you're looking at the side with the most color, the RIGHT side. Grab the left side of the fabric and fold it over to the right, making edges even. Take pattern piece number 6 and flip it over so you're looking at the back of it. Lay it on the fabric, matching the fold line on the pattern to the fold line in the fabric.

Now, you can pin the pattern to the fabric and cut it out!

Grainlines: Understanding fabric grain lines will really help you in your sewing! I I found this information regarding grain lines from
Fabric Grain effects they way fabric will hang and drape. There are three types of fabric grain.

1. Lengthwise grain refers to the threads in fabric which run the length of the fabric, parallel to the selvedge of the fabric.
2.Crosswise grain are the threads that run perpendicular to the selvedge of the fabric or the cut edge of the fabric as it comes off the bolt.
3. Bias grain is the thread line that is at a right angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric as it is on the bolt. The bias has stretch in woven fabric and will hang differently than a garment that has been cut on the straight or crosswise grain

If you're sewing with a woven fabric or a knit (with stretch) knowing about grain lines will save you a LOT of irritation. If you sew a dress out of a 2-way knit and cut it out on the wrong grain line, you might not be bale to fit into the dress because it won't stretch! Read more about grain lines here

Okay, now I'm going to let you fly on your own!! Read the pattern pieces, read the diagram and key and lay out the rest of the pattern pieces. We did the hard one together, so you can do this!! :) If you have print, just make sure it's facing the right direction before you cut it out. Don't forget to read pattern piece number 3, "Cut one of fabric, Cut one of Interfacing"
These are the diagrams for the rest of the pattern pieces:

7.) Pin the pieces to the fabric- You don't have to pin every inch of your fabric. Just use enough pins to tack the pattern down to the fabric. To pin, slide a pin horizontally into the fabric and up through the other side, just like this:

I have a habit of putting pins in vertically but I remember in school that the teacher always wanted them horizontal because they are easier to remove. I say, either way, just get the pins in! *hehe*

8.) Cut out the pattern: I always do an idiot-check before slicing through, just to make sure that everything is in place. When you feel confident that you've got it all taken care of, hack it up!! Be sure to cut the triangular shape notches outward, as noted in the pattern directions.

If you have any questions, problems or comments, please leave them in the comments box below or email me at I will be checking comments and emails all day to make sure everyone is on track before starting tomorrow's section.

Tomorrow: Sewing!

tootles! xoxo