A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing – The Language

If you’ve been following my guide so far, you should have your kit sorted and you’ve chosen a pattern. Now you’ve opened your pattern and you’re worried you’ve bought it in a different language… what does it all mean?

So the next part of my guide is to help get you speaking the sewing lingo and ready to apply for the next season of the Great British Sewing Bee!

The following things are what you would normally find on your pattern pieces and what you need to do with them.


A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language Notches

You’ll find notches on the edges of most pattern pieces and they are often triangular shaped. These are used to help match up pattern pieces accurately. For example match a notch on the side of your front bodice to the side of the your back bodice and all your side seams should match up! Ta da!

On the fold

A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language on the fold

When your pattern asks you to cut on the fold, it means place this edge on the folded edge of your fabric. When you cut it this will be one piece that you can open up. Often used for front pattern pieces as they wont have a seam running down the front.

Cut 2

This means once you are all cut out, you should have two of these pieces. If you’ve folded your fabric you should have two but, unlike when cutting on the fold, these will be separate pieces.

Seam allowance

This how much allowance has been added to the pattern to allow you to sew without compromising the size. Most patterns give you 1.5cm or 5/8inch but do check.

Grainline (arrow)

A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language grainline

This showing you where to place your pattern piece on the fabric. This line should run along the grain of the woven fabric you have. This is important as it can change how the final garment fits or hangs.


A Beginner's Guide to Sewing The Language darts

These are used to give your final piece shape. Your pattern, when on paper is flat, your body is not. When these darts are sewn into your fabric you can see how it creates a shape that fits with the human body. The fabric in this area is usually pinched together to create the shape. Usually found around the waist or bust the help remove the extra fabric. Clever little things.

So that’s it from me this week. Hopefully this helps you understand your pattern a little better.

Is there any sewing language I’ve missed? What would you like to see next?

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Five Reasons the Great British Sewing Bee Should Inspire You to Start Sewing – Huffington Post

Was everyone inspired by the GBSB? 

Well I was and this time it’s inspired me to write about  sewing for the Huffington Post. 

Be sure to check out my article 


A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing – The Patterns

Happy Monday Guys! Guess what? The Great British Sewing Bee starts tonight. Yay!

As I said last week, I’ll be running a A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing every Monday for anyone who’s caught the sewing bug from the show.

So here is part 2!

Last week I looked at essentials for your sewing kit, this week I’ve got my round up of my favourite patterns and this time I’ve made a video!

Keep up to date with all of my latest videos by subscribing to my channel.

Hope you enjoyed it and what did you think of the first episode of the GBSB? Let me know in the comments below.


A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing – The Kit

So there’s one week till The Great British Sewing Bee is back on your screens. Yay, sewing on the TV! I love any of the shows that start with the Great British anything and if you’re anything like me, they inspire you to learn a new skill that you’ll often never start. I considered pottery for a very long time after watching the Great British Throwdown, just sayin’!

But it’s great news that the GBSB is going to get so many people catching the sewing bug and hopefully prompt them to take the plunge into making their own clothes. However, from my own experience of being inspired by these shows the thing that often puts me off taking up these cool new hobbies is not knowing where to start. Once the shows are over you’re on your own.

I’m sure there are lots of you here who feel the same way about sewing and have a ton of questions in your head, like: what equipment do you need? Why do I need so many pairs of scissors? Do I really need to buy that? All valid questions, and questions that can cause people to quit before they’ve even touched a sewing machine. But don’t let all the equipment and jargon overwhelm you. During this season of the GBSB I will be running a beginner’s guide to sewing here on this very blog. Running alongside your Monday episode of the GBSB I will be posting a guide to ease you through the process of starting to sew your own clothes.

To kick it all off here is my guide to the perfect beginners kit to get your sewing journey started.


Sewing Machine

Ok this is the thing that might put people off. Yes, you can sew things by hand but if you want sewing to be enjoyable and if you want to be able to wear your clothes anytime soon I wouldn’t recommend this.

Sewing machines can be pricey but remember it’s an investment. You’ll be making your own clothes, so your sewing machine essentially will start to pay for itself. Now, there could be a whole post on sewing machines but there are plenty of machines available to suit your budget. So my advice would be pay as much as you can. Remember, an expensive sewing machine isn’t going to make you a better seamstress but it might last longer. It’s important to remember that sewing machines do last but people can get overwhelmed by sewing and give up easily. While this is shame for them it might be great news for you because you could pick up a second machine for cheap.

What sewing machine do I use: Janome DC3050

Fabric Shears and Paper Scissors

Yes, you do need this many pairs of scissors. Just like your sewing machine your fabric shears are going to be working hard, so spend your money wisely. However, the main thing to remember is that these scissors are purely for cutting fabric, don’t use them to cut paper!  Paper blunts your scissors making them harder to cut with and essentially making them useless. But paper patterns do need to be cut, so have scissors that you use just for this. I’m not fussy which ones you choose for this, go wild! I normally just use these scissors to cut pieces of thread, though I know some sewers like to have separate ones for this as well.

What scissors do I use: my fabric scissors are from a sewing shop in Brunei but check out these ones here… and my paper scissors are just from Ikea.

Pins and Needles

Steel pins with a sharp point are important when sewing your own clothes. You’ll forever be losing them but luckily they are quite inexpensive. Opt for glass-headed pins, they’re harder to lose!

What do you need them for? Pinning patterns to fabric so you can cut it and pinning together fabric pieces so they don’t move around while you’re sewing.

As much as I hate hand sewing it needs to be done. This is why you need sewing needles. Again this is something that doesn’t matter too much they come in various sizes, just make sure it’s sharp. Mine was a gift and came in this very nice Cath Kidston pouch. Again this is great because I’m always losing these as well.

Tape Measure

Measure twice, cut once. Well, you can’t do that without a tape measure.

What do you need it for? Measuring yourself, measuring fabric, measuring pattern pieces, measuring, measuring and more measuring.

Invest in a plastic-coated one to ensure it doesn’t stretch out. Actually, invest in 3 or 4 you’ll find you are forever misplacing them.

What tape measure do I use: Cath Kidston retractable tape measure but any will do.

Thread and Bobbins

You’ll eventually need a  bunch of colours to match your fabrics but starting off with white and black in your kit is never a bad place to start your collection. When hand sewing you don’t need to be too fussy with your thread but when it comes to your machine you’ll have to be a little picker. A good all purpose 100% polyester should do the trick and get you started. Also have some extra bobbins to go alongside your rainbow of threads. These go into the sewing machine and saves you having to thread them each time.

Seam Ripper

This thing will be your best friend. Trust me, everyone makes mistakes and every sewer needs a Seam Ripper in their life. It makes unpicking any mistakes a breeze. The amount of time I’ve sewn things together the wrong way and my seam ripper has saved me…

Tailor’s Chalk

As we progress through this beginner’s guide and we start to look at understanding your patterns you will find that are lots of little marks that need to be recorded as you sew. Enter tailor’s chalk. Leaves a mark for when you’re sewing but disappears when washed or even brushed away. I have mixture of these and pencils. They don’t cost much and you’ll soon find out which you like best.

So that’s this week’s ‘ A Beginner’s Sewing Guide’ check back next week for The Patterns.

What’s in your sewing kit?  Are you planning to start sewing?  Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about others starting their sewing adventure.