Checking a pattern pt.2

If you’re just now joining us, I’d recommend reviewing part one of this series as well as the links contained within that entry. In this part of the series, I’m going to point out the importance of an intelligent notching system design. By notching system design, I am referring to the practice of planning your notches in such fashion that pieces cannot be mistakenly mis joined to pieces to which they do not belong. A simple example to consider would be the average eight gore skirt. Since all of the pieces look alike, Murphy’s Law dictates that you should expect for the wrong panels to be joined together. Specifically, you need to practice the concept of offsetting notches.

Returning to the sample provided by Dadadress, I specifically refer to the notching design of the front insets. First you have to see what the style looks like (below). Cute huh? I just can’t get over how incredibly well constructed the dress is. I regret the photo doesn’t do it justice. Everything lines up; it’s just beautiful. And you know how happy happy happy that makes me. Quality shows and it starts with your pattern. With patterns, the littlest things matter.

And this is what the affected side front and center front panel pattern pieces look like (below).

As you can imagine, it would be very easy for the wrong contrasting piece to be sewn into the wrong side. In a contracting situation -remember Murphy’s Law- the designer prevented this from happening with the notching system design. First I’ll show you what the contrasting inset pattern pieces look like (below).

If I’m not mistaken, many of you would have made just one piece and called it good. That is incorrect. This designer (who made her own pattern, yeah!) made one for contrast and one for shell as indicated by color coding as shown above. Not only that, she has prevented either from being mistakenly being sewn into the oppositional side through the notches. I realize that in the photo above, the notches look to be in the same place but in the photo below, you can see that they are not.

Similarly, comparing the inset area of the body pieces, you can see the notches are offset (below).

Now, I realize some of you may think this is overkill but I’d disagree. It is precisely in the areas of greatest potentiality for confusion where errors occur. In designing the patterns this way, not only are the incorrect pieces prevented from being sewn in incorrectly, it will also prevent the pieces from being sewn in if they happened to have been miscut. In other words, if the pieces had been flipped to the wrong side (these are cut only one way) they wouldn’t fit in. Likewise, if it happened that the fabric had a nap, it is likewise impossible to sew them in with the nap set wrong.

There was only one small error with regard to the making of these pieces and that is in respect to marking. Specifically, the wrong side of the pattern pieces needed to have an “X” on them which indicates this is the wrong side to have lying face up when cutting (the fabric also being face up too) as shown below.

Likewise, the face side of the pattern must have the directional indicated. You do this by writing R.S.U. (Right side up) or you can write “Face Up”; both are acceptable. A sample of this is shown below. The one on the right was the original; it does not have RSU written on it. The one on the left is the one I made to use for comparison.

Lastly, you’ll note the contrast pattern piece is correctly color coded in green ink. Shell or face pieces are always black. Purple colored ink is also acceptable for contrast as long as all of the contrast pieces of a particular pattern are all marked in the same color. In other words, it wouldn’t be acceptable to have some pieces in green and some in purple -unless of course you had two kinds of contrasting fabrics that applied to that style. But if that were the case, you’d need to mark all contrasting pieces specifically detailing contrast one or two (or three or four!).

[post amended]
Ack! I neglected to mention two more things.
In the photo above where I’m showing to “x” out the wrong side of the pattern piece, you can do that another way. Some companies use what’s called green-backed pattern paper. The backside of the oaktag is green. The green side is the wrong side. It’s very hard to make a mistake cutting out a pattern with green back oak tag because the green is so vivid. I mean, if you see green, flip it to the correct side.

Regarding the offsetting of notches. Personally, and maybe this is just me, but I prefer to have at least half an inch difference between notch pairs. When I showed the inset pieces above, one set of those notches varied only by a quarter inch. If it were me, I’d vary them by more, so that the differences would be more obvious.

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  1. carissa says:

    My husband used to be a cutter and I asked him a few detailed questions about his old job this morning. One very interesting thing he mentioned was about the patterns they had for striped fabrics. He said there used to be a stripe line running down the pattern board and in the center of the length of the stripe line, there was a diamond cut out so you not only lined up the stripe at the top and bottom of the piece, but inside the diamond,too. That way you knew there wasn’t a sway in the fabric under the pattern piece. I thought it was interesting in light of you writing about very clear patterns. He also knew some very cool cutting tricks that he had never told me. I can’t believe he’s been holding out on me!

  2. jocole says:

    wow, my patterns aren’t as complicated as this (right now — currently each pattern only uses 2 pattern pieces) but boy this makes me rethinking my whole notching strategy — which is wonderful.

  3. Trish says:

    First, I love this dress and I love the topic in general. One question, would you have to do anything to the fabric to avoid stretch while sewing the half circle?

    One thing I love about this topic is that it becomes very clear that the more effort and thought put into the original pattern, the less chances mistakes will be made in cutting and sewing.

    Sometimes I am sure my students think I have lost my mind when I stress the importance of all these “picky” details. I think that students (or perhaps new DEs) often fail to understand how complex it is to communicate from the concept to illustration to the pattern and specs… to grading, marking, through the cutting room to the sewing floor. So much can go wrong… and I am half afraid to mention Murphy’s Law because it always comes to prove it can pop up when least expected.

    Great communication whether by words or notches is essential and we cannot function without it.

    Oh, one more thing….in the grading of this pattern, would you keep the circles the same size throughout the size run? (I am hoping the answer if yes, since I would hate to grade all those circles and “holes”.)

  4. jinjer says:

    Great example, thanks to the designer for sharing and to you, Kathleen, for analyzing it for us!

    Carissa say “He also knew some very cool cutting tricks that he had never told me. I can’t believe he’s been holding out on me!“, and I’m intrigued. Any chance there’s a guest post lurking?

    Be well,

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