Sewing For Dummies
When starting a sewing project, measure twice, cut once is essential to your success. Follow these guidelines for taking accurate body measurements and buying enough fabric for your project. And remember, the best needle for the job is a new one, so choose the right type for the fabric and get sewing.
Taking Accurate Body Measurements for Sewing Garments
When you want to sew clothing, you start with a pattern. Determining your pattern size can be a humbling experience because it requires you to measure your body, but it’s an essential step in making sure the finished garment fits properly. Here are some tips on taking accurate measurements so your project ends up the right size:
Get someone else to take your measurements. It is impossible to take them yourself and get an accurate read, so find someone you trust, swear them to secrecy, and start measuring.
Dress in your underwear or a leotard, and tie a narrow ribbon or a piece of elastic around your waist, but not too tight. Move around a little bit until the elastic or ribbon finds your natural waistline. Note that this may not be where you wear the waistband of your favorite pair of slacks or jeans.
Measure by placing the measuring tape around the torso as parallel to the floor as possible.
Have your helper take the following six measurements:
High bust circumference at the crook of the underarms approximately 2 inches above the full bust: ____________
Full bust circumference at the widest part of the bust: ____________
Natural waist circumference (the narrowest part) at the ribbon or elastic: ____________
Hip circumference at the widest part and approximately 7 inches below the natural waistline: ____________
Back waist length measured from the bone at the base of the neck to the natural waistline: ____________
Estimating Fabric Yardage Needs for Common Misses Garments
When shopping, you may find the fabric you’re looking for . . . and a whole lot more to inspire you. When you don’t have a particular pattern in mind but find fabric that would, for example, make a great pair of dress pants, you can use this guide to help you buy enough fabric when the creative mood strikes.
Because fabric also comes several widths and your pattern envelope may only give you yardage requirements for two widths, you can refer to this guide to buy the correct amount for the width of the fabric.
This project chart gives you a quick reference and approximate yardage requirements for Misses sizes 10 to 14 at an average height of 5 foot 4 inches. Other sizes will vary from 1/4 to 1/8 yard. For fabrics with a nap and/or one-way designs, add 1/4 yard for each yard specified. For plaids, add the length of one plaid repeat for each yard specified.
|Garment||Fabric Width 35-36 inches||Fabric Width 44-45 inches||Fabric Width 50 inches||Fabric Width 52-54 inches||Fabric Width 58-60 inches|
|Pants, full length (add -1/4 yard for cuffs)||3-1/4 yards||2-5/8 yards||2-5/8 yards||2-1/4 yards||2-1/4 yards|
|Pants, Capri length||2-3/4 yards||2-1/4 yards||2-1/8 yards||2 yards||1-1/2 yards|
|Shorts, Bermuda length||2-1/2 yards||2-1/8 yards||1-7/8 yards||1-3/4 yards||1-1/4 yards|
|Skirt, straight||2 yards||1-5/8 yards||1-1/2 yards||1-3/8 yards||1-1/4 yards|
|Skirt, A-line||2-1/4 yards||1-3/4 yards||1-5/8 yards||1-1/2 yards||1-3/8 yards|
|Skirt, softly gathered||2-1/4 yards||1-3/4 yards||1-5/8 yards||1-1/2 yards||1-3/8 yards|
|Shirt/blouse, short sleeves||2 yards||1-5/8 yards||1-1/2 yards||1-3/8 yards||1-1/4 yards|
|Shirt/blouse, long sleeves||2-1/2 yards||2-1/8 yards||1-3/4 yards||1-3/4 yards||1-5/8 yards|
|Blouse, long sleeves with tie||3-3/4 yards||2-7/8 yards||2-5/8 yards||2-3/8 yards||2-1/4 yards|
|Blouse, capped sleeves||2 yards||1-5/8 yards||1-1/2 yards||1-3/8 yards||1-1/4 yards|
|Camisole, bias cut||1-1/3 yards||1-1/3 yards||1-1/4 yards||1-1/8 yards||1 yard|
|Dress, short sleeves with straight skirt||4-1/4 yards||3-1/8 yards||2-3/4 yards||2-5/8 yards||2-3/8 yards|
|Dress, long sleeves with straight skirt||5 yards||3-5/8 yards||3-1/4 yards||3-1/8 yards||3 yards|
Sizing Up Fabric Needs for Pillow Covers
For beginner sewers, pillow covers are some of the easiest, most affordable sewing projects that require the least amount of time and commitment. This table tells you how much fabric you need for typical pillow projects.
|Type of Pillow||Dimensions (Length by Width)||Amount of Fabric Needed for 1 Pillow Cover (Using 54-inch Wide Fabric with No Pattern Matching)|
|Standard bed pillow||20 x 26 inches||5/8 yard|
|Queen-size bed pillow||20 x 30 inches||1-1/8 yards|
|King-size bed pillow||20 x 36 inches||1-1/4 yards|
|Square pillow forms||12 x 12 inches||1/3 yard|
|14 x 14 inches||1/2 yard|
|16 x 16 inches||1/2 yard|
|18 x 18 inches||5/8 yard|
|20 x 20 inches||3/4 yard|
|30 x 30 inches||1 yard|
Selecting General-Purpose Sewing Machine Needle Point Types
If you use the wrong type of needle for your sewing machine and project, the results could be very bad indeed. Use this table to determine which needle is designed for use in your sewing machine and for your project.
|Needle Point Classification||Needle Point Type and Use|
|15 x 1H (American); 130/705H (European)||Multi-purpose or Universal: Used for most fabrics for general sewing|
|Blue Tip (American); 130/705HS (European); 130/705HPS (Pfaff); Q Needle (Sears); Singer 2045||Stretch: Used for knits and microfibers and designed to prevent skipped stitches and snagging|
|15 x 1DE (American)||Denim or Jeans: A sharp needle designed for sewing heavier fabrics|
|130/705HJ (European)||Tightly woven fabrics, such as heavy corduroy, denim, and upholstery fabrics|