Each line relates to a different size for the garment. There can be up to 10 sizes on a pattern sheet, so you can either follow a single cutting line throughout or blend carefully between sizes to achieve a better fit.

Sewing pattern cutting lines


These explain how to lay each piece onto the fabric to ensure all of the pieces will fit on the fabric quantity suggested on the envelope. Remember to follow along with the correct view and size. Don’t forget to take care with directional prints – you wouldn’t want a floral-print top with all the flowers upside down.

Sewing pattern layout diagram


The arrow on the pattern piece must be ‘on grain’ with the threads of the fabric so that it can hang, move and stretch correctly. The grainline must always be parallel to the selvedge (the self-finished edges) of the fabric.

This arrow indicates the direction of the grain


This edge of the pattern piece is to be placed on the fold of your fabric, making it easy to cut out a mirror image at the same time.

This diagram indicates that the line should be placed on the fold of your fabric


Parts of the fabric to be folded for shaping, usually located at the bust, waist and neck. You can use tailor's tacks to mark the position of darts.

Example of how a dart may appear on a sewing pattern


Make a tiny snip or chalk mark at each notch location, within the seam allowance. These marks are used to match pieces together before sewing. Sometimes a pattern will have several styles of notches - you should match this when marking your fabric as it will help you match your pattern pieces together.

Notch marks


This indicates exactly where to shorten or lengthen the pattern piece or garment to make changes for improved fit. If you change the length of a pattern piece, make sure you also change the length of any corresponding pieces - for example, the back and front pieces of a pair of trousers.

This line shows where you can make length adjustments easily


These marks indicate construction details, such as zipper position, pleating, or the end-of-stitching line, as set out in the instructions. Some pattern companies will use triangles or squares in place of circle dots. Make sure to transfer these markings to your fabric too!

Pattern can use a range of shapes to show construction details


The placement for a button is marked with an X. The placement for a buttonhole is marked with an edged line.

Button (left) and buttonhole (right) markings


Transfer any tuck lines marked on the pattern pieces to the RS (right side) of the garment. Follow directional arrows where given.

This symbol shows you where to place tucks and pleats

Beginner's Guide to Sewing

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