Nifty Needles 4-H Club

Youth Sewing, Life Skills, Service and Leadership
Wakefield, MA

Sewing Fun
Choosing a Pattern, Design, and Fabric


  1. What do you need for your wardrobe?  Want?
  2. What is my sewing level? __________________________
  3. Look at lines on garment sketch in pattern book.  How many are there?  Where are they located?  The fewer the lines, usually the more easy the pattern
  4. What size will you be for this pattern company?
              If a top, dress, jacket – focus on chest measurement
              If pants, shorts, skirt – focus on hip measurement
  5. Find pattern and correct size
  6. How do you want it to look, changes you would like to make to the pattern?  This will be based on your level of sewing

a)      Drape of fabric

b)      Fabric – more than one kind?

c)      Trims

d)      Zippers, buttons

e)      Length of garment

f)        Topstitching

g)      Other


  1. What is your budget?

  2. Find Fabric and supplies

a)      Choose fabric based on your level of sewing

b)      Choose colors that will complement your skin tone

c)      Look on back of pattern envelope for suggestions and supplies needed

d)      Threads to match or decorate (might depend on seam finish chosen)

e)      Type of zipper if needed

f)        Type of interfacing needed for fabric selection

g)      Trims


  1. Write down all fabric, trim, and supply fiber content and washing/drying directions


  1. How much is needed of each fabric and supply

a)      One-way fabric?

b)      Extra for added length or width or change of design?


  1. Keep receipts and fiber content/washing directions in 4-H binder
4-H tips for choosing a pattern size and supplies

How to Choose a Pattern:

·         Parents and member should discuss together what the member would like to sew

·         For first year members:

-          keep the pattern simple (no zippers, buttonholes, or stretch-fabric-only patterns)

-          skirts, shorts, pants with elastic waist a good choice

·         For second year on:

-          pattern may be more difficult based on past experience and goals

-          the more difficult the pattern, the more you will need to sew at home in order to finish your item


How to Choose your Size:

·         Take the following measurements while member is in their undergarments,  swimsuit, or clothes that are the least bulky (no pants, sweaters, thick shirts, etc)


_____ waist (at the natural curve)


_____ hip (the fullest part of the hip and buttocks)


_____ chest (the fullest part of the chest for most; girls with larger
should also measure just above the fullest part for a
                      high bust 
                      – if high bust
measurement is 2 inches or larger go by the 

                        high bust measurement)


                        _____ neck to waist (tie a string at the waistline; start to measure at the
                                   bone at the base
of the neck and measure to the waistline)



·         Once you have all the measurements compare to the pattern measurements

-          if making a shirt or dress, go by the chest measurement

-          if making bottoms, go by the hip measurement

-          adjustments for all other differences will be made when we lay out the pattern

-          member should bring all their measurements to the meeting

-          some patterns contain multiple sizes in the envelope, make sure you get the correct sized pattern



How to choose fabric and other supplies:

·         First year members: stick with cotton.  Knits, fleece, and slippery fabrics are
   not good 
choices for your first few projects.

·         Look at the back of the pattern envelope.  There will be a section telling what 
  types of fabric the pattern is suitable for.  The envelope back will also tell

       how much is needed by size.

·         Before going to the cutting table with your fabric look at the end of the bolt to
  find out how
to take care of the fabric for washing/drying.  Also write down  
  the fabric name and content.

·         Thread should be matched to the inside of the fabric or main background
   color of each fabric you use.  Choose a slightly darker color.  If any will
on the finished item, ,match it to the outside.  If different, purchase a
one to match. 
purpose thread works fine for most items, however better quality thread
give better results

·         Zipper teeth and pull should be matched to the outside of the item.

·         Purchase correct size sewing machine needle for type of item you are making.  
weight fabric (cotton) can use size 70/10, 75/11 or 80/12.  We will 
  discuss some of this at the club.

·         Be sure to purchase any interfacing that is needed.  See back of pattern

·         Wash or prepare fabric according to instructions before lay-out and cutting

Be sure to save all receipts from fabric, pattern, and other supplies and bring to meeting

Where to Find Fabrics, Tools and Notions

Welcome Members


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