Chapt 4 - Patterns
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Table of Contents ] Chapt 1 - Fabric ] Chapt 2 - Tools and Equipment ] Chapt 3 - The Sewing Machine ] [ Chapt 4 - Patterns ] Chapt 5 - Pressing ] Chapt 6 - Marking The Fabric ] Chapt 7 - Preparing to Begin ] Chapt 8 - Seams ] Chapt 9 - Seam Finishes ] Chapt 10 - Stabilization ] Chapt 11 - Control of Fullness ] Chapt 12 - Finishing Edges ] Chapt 13 - Hand Sewing ] Chapt 14 - Closures ] Chapt 15 - Body Measurements ] Chapt 16 - Ease In Clothing ] Chapt 17 - Pattern Alterations ] Chapt 18 - Finished Dimensions ] Chapt 19 - Common Terms ] Chapt 20 - Common Costume Fabrics ] Index of Sewing Exercises ]

Pattern pieces are blueprints to guide the cutter and stitcher in the creation of costume pieces. These 'road maps' include all the construction information and symbols necessary to make construction easier and more accurate. Commercial patterns have all this information preprinted on each pattern piece. Costume construction is much more custom, patterns are generated for a specific actor, so many times some of the information does not appear on each pattern piece but instead is verbally given to the stitcher at the beginning of the construction process. When working with costume patterns, take notes on all relevant information. Don't trust to memory.


This is a heavy, dark line on the edge of each pattern piece. Commercial patterns indicate the cutting line with a small picture of scissors. Commercial patterns have several pattern pieces all printed on a large sheet of tissue. The individual pattern pieces to be used must be cut out prior to laying them out on the fabric. The outside edge of each pattern piece is the cutting line when working with original drafts.


All seamlines are marked on commercial patterns with a broken line inside the cutting edge. Standard seam allowance is 5/8", any exception will be indicated. Original costume patterns may have varying seam allowances, side seams may be 1" while the neckline is 1/2" and the waistline is 1/4". In this case, all seam lines are transferred to the fabric before the pattern piece is removed. In either case, the seam lines must be accurately followed or the garment will not fit properly.


Both commercial and original patterns will have a long heavy line with arrows on either end indicating the direction the pattern is to be placed on the fabric. In most cases the line will run parallel to the selvage, if this is not the case the grain for that pattern piece will be indicated in the same manner. The grain line must always run exactly as the pattern indicates to insure the proper fit and and hang of the garment.


This can be the edge of the pattern or a solid line, indicating that it is to be place on a fold of the fabric. This most often occurs at center front or back. On original patterns the symbol is often an indication of a fold line.

Sample Bodice Pattern
Sample Sleeve Pattern


A basic bodice (also called a SLOPER) is a basic pattern in a uniform style of bodice, skirt and sleeves that has a standard set of darts to control fullness for fitting only. These basics are used to fit the actor exactly to his/her measurements, then a costume can be patterned and cut from these basics. The fashion seamstress also uses the basic as a point from which to start sewing and/or patterning for a garment.

Basic Bodice

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