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How to Read the Outside of a Pattern

Back to the Beginning – How to Read the Outside of a Pattern 


It’s the time of year that we all think about starting anew, new things, getting refreshed as the trees and flowers bloom. Graduations, new babies, spring and summer approaching may mean a gift is needed. It can be clothing for any occasion, bags for dirty laundry or fashion, home dec projects, or a quilt. Once you have decided the project, two things have to happen, you need to decide on the pattern to use and the colors to use. These don’t have to be done in any special order. You may have a pattern you have wanted to try and will pick the colors to work well for the pattern, season, occasion. Or you have been given or chosen the colors and now need to find the pattern that will work well with those colors.


Today we will review how to read whatever pattern you have chosen. It can be a single pattern or a pattern from a book. First, remember that the project can be made in any color combination that you like. It does not have to match the cover of the pattern (or if we have made a sample in the shop, it can be different from that too). There are many designers that do not choose the best colors to show off the project on the pattern/book sample. Some designers show the project with different fabric choices, switching the light and dark fabrics, different clothing type options (different necklines, sleeves, lengths), or different sizes. Some quilt patterns are based on one block that changes the look of the quilt depending on the way you put the blocks together. YOU decide what you want the final iteration will look like. Remember there are no quilt or sewing police.


Once you have decided on the colors and project, it’s on to the back of the pattern to figure how much fabric you will need, what colors will go where, and any other items that may be needed (interfacing, type of thread, zippers,  buttons, etc.).
All pattern examples below show you the different amounts of fabric needed, how many different fabrics they used for their samples, and the extras you need to purchase. Sometimes they get very specific such as the color or type of thread. Sometimes they assume you already have the basic tools, thread, and machine basics. Quilt patterns will separate the different requirements for the different sizes with slashes, parentheses and commas, or a chart. Clothing patterns usually have a size chart, measurements to double check you are buying the correct size, and the fabric requirements based on what version you are going make. Bag patterns may list all the extras you will need – strapping, interfacing, fleece/foam, bag hardware (zippers, handles, feet), etc.


If you have a pattern from a book, the information listed on a pattern back is the first thing listed in the pattern directions.

Always make sure you read this information carefully. Also read all the pattern directions before launching into making your project!!!!!

Next week we will go over how to read the pattern directions and tips of things to do before you start sewing.


Starting Tuesday, masks will be optional in the shop. If you haven’t been vaccinated, are medically compromised, or live and/or take care of someone medically compromised; please wear a mask. There is a surge going on in the UK and Europe, so we may need them again in the future. Don't throw them away. 


Don’t forget we are having our “Finish Your PHD” get together this coming Saturday. The shindig starts at 2:30pm. Bring what you have finished, what you are working on, and/or things you may need help figuring out.


SCISSOR SHARPENING is happening this Tuesday! Please drop off your items you would like sharpened with your name and phone number attached. We open at 10am, so you have time to run by and give us your scissors and knives. :0) If there is a problem with sharpening your scissors, we will let you know. The sharpener prefers you not wait for them. We will see you on the 23rd or later for you to pick them up.

You can tell spring and Easter are approaching because our weather is acting like a bunny rabbit - up and down and up and down! Enjoy the ups, sew on the downs.


Happy sewing everyone,

Phyllis and the QA staff

Quilting Adventures                                                                     Hours: 
6943 Lakeside Avenue                                                                  Tues thru Sat  10 - 5 
Richmond VA  23228                                                                     Sun - Mon  Closed
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Quilting Adventures
6943 Lakeside Ave
Richmond, VA 23228
(804) 262-0005
  • Hours 
    Tue, Wed, Fri: 10 am-5 pm
    Thursday 10 am-7 pm 
    Saturday 10 am-5 pm
    Sunday 12 pm-3 pm 
    Monday closed
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