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
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 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.