Sewing 101: Pattern layouts

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

Remember I said I was going to show you how to do something? Um, yeah. Well. Life kinda got in the way and now my camera won’t come on. I’m thinking it’s battery related- keep your fingers crossed. Once I finally get some batteries, there will be pictures with this post.

Before you lay out your pattern, examine the pattern layout as noted on the pattern instructions. Sometimes the layouts can get rather strange, so pay attention to how you’re supposed to lay out your fabric. Sometimes you fold the fabric lengthwise, sometimes you fold it crosswise, sometimes you fold it one way, cut on the fold and then turn the fabric around. And there are myriad other crazy ways they’ll have you lay out your fabric, so just make sure you follow the directions.

It will sometimes give you directions for laying out the fabric with nap and without nap.  How do you tell if your fabric has nap? It’s pretty simple. If the fabric looks the same when you view it upside down and cross-wise and every other direction, it’s without nap. If the fabric looks different if you’re viewing it upside down or another direction, it’s with nap. A good example of a fabric with nap is velvet. The velvet lays one way, and if you were to cut out a piece upside down, your garment would look funny.

But that also goes for patterns as well. Check out the pattern on the fabric very carefully. If it looks the same from all directions, you can use a without nap layout. For example, polka dots can generally be cut out with a without nap layout, because they look the same from all directions. But let’s say a person was making something with a pattern  of football helmets all going one direction. In that case, use the with nap pattern layout.

With nap is the safest way to  lay out a pattern, so when in doubt, use the with nap layout.


  1. Amy on March 10, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks, Ivy! I appreciate these posts. I gave up on my sewing course..I am a drop-out 😉

  2. Mrs. Micah on March 7, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Couple days ago, I accidentally cut satin on a very slight angle. You couldn’t tell until I sewed the pieces together. Then it pulled funny and the whole thing was wrong. *sigh*

  3. themomhalf on March 7, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    College sewing (tailoring) class: all the pins had to be going the same way when pinning down a pattern piece – and don’t forget to look for the arrows on the pattern pieces the arrows go with the warp – not across it.

  4. Angela on March 7, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I had a bad exp. with that once…I was making PJ pants and ended up with one leg the right way and the other leg all upside down…I did not notice it till they were all done:(

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