Sew along, day 8: Preparing your pattern for sewing

This is the last pattern prep day! I’m giving everyone another catch up day tomorrow to make sure we all start sewing at the same time. Pattern fitting, altering, cutting, and marking are my least favorite parts of sewing. If you’re bored right now, you’ll survive. We’re almost over the hump. You’ll also be thanking yourself later–when  I rush to cut out something without checking to make sure it fits or decide I don’t need fabric markings, I always kick myself later because the final product never turns out as well


This pattern doesn’t have a lot of markings–it really just has lines for the darts. You’ll also want to mark the center front and center back on each piece, which will make it easier to match up pieces later. I ALWAYS skip this step and then end up screwing things up. So, take my advice and just mark it! You’ll also have to copy the ruffle guide to your bodice front and iron on the interfacing to your lining bodice front and back piece.


We’ll start by ironing on the interfacing. Most interfacing comes with directions for ironing. First, iron the piece of fabric flat, and place it “right” side down, “wrong” side up. Remember, we folded the fabric so the right side was facing in. Then, bumpy/sticky side down, lay the interfacing on the fabric. Iron it on medium-high heat until it’s mostly stuck. Then, flip the fabric over to the “right” side to iron out any wrinkles. Finish by going over the interfacing side again, making sure it’s totally stuck. You’ll need to do this for the LINING bodice front and bodice back.

Iron lining fabric piece flat 
Lay the interfacing in place 
Iron on the interfacing, following the description in the text

Repeat for the other lining bodice piece

Now, using your fabric marker, mark the centers of each pattern piece on the “wrong” side of the fabric. This serves a two-fold purpose: 1) it will make it easier to line up pattern pieces for sewing later, and 2) it makes it easier for your to tell which side is the “right” side of the fabric and which is the “wrong” side once the pattern pieces are no longer folded up.

Mark the bodice center fronts and center backs at the top
and bottom (bottom not shown, this is for your lining and
dress fabric
Mark the center front and center back of the skirt, only at the top
 (the bottom doesn’t have to line up with another pattern piece)

Next, you’ll mark the darts. Assuming you have your pattern on tissue paper or packing paper, your fabric marker should be able to bleed through or press through the paper and onto your fabric. Line up the pattern piece with the fabric. I like to do three-five dots per dart, depending on its size, and then use a ruler to connect the dots directly on the fabric. I mark the point of the dart and the place where each dart connects to the stitching line. If the dart’s really long, I mark somewhere in the middle as well. Mark all pattern pieces with darts (bodice front and back–dress and lining). For really wide darts, I’ll draw the center folding line, also.

Mark the point (you can see my blue dot from the pen) 

Mark where the dart meets the stitching line
Connect the dots with a ruler 
The front dart is really wide
Mark the middle of it, as well, so you know where to fold

Finally, you’ll want to copy your ruffle guide to the “RIGHT” side of your fabric. The ruffle guide is that template that printed with the pattern that we set aside before. I find it easiest to first mark the stitching line around the neckline. You don’t need to do this for every seam because your sewing machine should have markings for 5/8,” but it makes it easier to line up the ruffle. Then, place the ruffle so points E and F fall between the edge of your fabric and the stitching line and the “center front” lines line up. Then copy each point to your fabric. Your template will probably still be on printer paper, which makes marking much more difficult. I usually poke through each hole and create a few more holes along the dotted ruffle stitching lines. Copy each lettered dot and label it, and copy the dotted lines as well.



Measure 5/8″ from the edge of your fabric to mark your
stitching line
Stitching line
Put the ruffle guide in place according to the
pattern instructions/my text above
Ruffle markings in place–sorry for the blue on blue, it’s hard
to see–they do sell other colors of fabric pens, I just don’t have one

Ok, your fabric is almost ready! The last thing you need to do to prepare actually involves some sewing! The instructions say to stay stitch the neckline and armholes. You only need to do this on the dress fabric, not the lining, since the lining has interfacing. Staystitch just means stitch ~1/2″ from the edge of your fabric (1/8″ away from your stitching line). This stitching stays in the finished product to prevent your fabric from stretching funny. I have to apologize that I didn’t take a picture of my staystitching till after I had moved on to the next step–sewing the darts! So in the picture, you get a sneak peek of Tuesday’s post.

Staystitching in place around neckline and armholes–
I think I made mine too far out (less than 1/2″ from the edge),
but don’t follow my example, follow the instructions
That’s all! Your fabric is all ready to go now. The sewing will be much easier since you did all this in advance 🙂

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