Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Instruction Frustration

If it is a source of frustration for me I can only imagine how frustrating those instructions sheets that come with our patterns can be for a beginner.  I think of the person determined to sew to save money or for enjoyment only to get confused, frustrated and think it is their lack of skill as to why they can’t follow a pattern.  Well, it is not you!!   For an example I will show a pattern instruction sheet from  a 1980’s pattern.


This is a pattern for a simple little dress with a pinafore.  The pinafore was more detailed with ruffles and linings.  The dress very simple with elastic through the top.  Yet, you can see the print was small, the spaces filled with instruction, very detailed on how to make a casing. Even circles are used with drawings explaining  an area that might be difficult to understand.  The beginner had a better chance of success with these instructions.

A new pattern instruction sheet looks something like this:


Good luck figuring out what they are telling you. Does it explain to press your seams? What about seam finish choices or even what a seam finish is?   Do the people writing these instruction know how to sew?  Have they tried to follow their instructions?  I really don’t think so.

I want to encourage beginners to learn and so wish I could bundle everyone up and bring them to my sewing room. With the blog I am trying to do just that and hope I can make a difference to someone so wanting to dress their children in cute one of a kind  garments.

There is more expressions of frustration for this topic which you can read here  on the sewing forum. 

I will share more about my methods of putting a garment together, for now, I just want you know, you are not alone. 


  1. Yeah, I pretty much ignore the instructions that come with patterns. Luckily, I learned to sew from some excellent seamstresses and teachers! I would love to teach beginners too.

  2. You are so right, Nonie. I give the instructions a cursory look through and then do my own thing. If I need some instruction I will go to my Sandra Betzina books or the Vogue sewing book.

  3. I'm follower #55. My mom is very good at sewing and making patterns on her own. Unfortunately, I didn't get it from her. I hope you'll follow me too for more mutual blog visits :)

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  4. Hi Thanks for stopping by today and visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I so agree with you, I won't even bother with the new patterns if I don't have to, I'm sure glad I kept all my old ones even as far back as the 1960's. Guess we should suggest that they be looked for in yards sales. I can give you a good example, I recently joined a Cloth doll club, well last year and I copied off the basic pattern that was suggested and the maker hadn't added seam allowances, well how was I to know that, what a disaster, I stitched up the doll and she looks like a Twig! That is what new pattern creators would do, I'm glad I learned when it was taught in schools and by my Grandma! Hugs to you, Marilou

  5. My Momma taught me how to sew...thank goodness!!! Sometimes the instruction sheets might as well be written in Greek...a language I don't comprehend, of course!! :) HOPE you have a great weekend!!! Thanks for linking up to Fantastic Friday!!!