Video: How to walk a pattern

Mia asks:

I know you have said that the only paper you use for patterns is oaktag. I was wondering, how do you walk a pattern with oaktag (assuming it has seam allowances added already)?

These days I’m more inclined to walk patterns with my CAD program since it is more accurate and faster but between oak tag and marker paper (or still flimsier paper), I much prefer walking oak tag patterns. A major reason being that oak tag doesn’t bend as easily so it is more accurate.

Probably the best way to show you is with this example of a short video clip of me walking a shoulder seam. This comes from a video that Mr. Fashion-Incubator and I shot about how to check a pattern in preparation for grading. The full length video is yet to be released (who knows when that will happen) but it will illustrate one aspect of pattern walking. Forty seconds into the video it zooms in so you can see very clearly what I’m doing.

Another useful thing to know is how to pivot the pattern pieces while walking them. Once I find a clip of that I will upload it and include the link.

If you’re not sure what pattern walking means, it is a check that is done prior to pattern grading before the style can be put into production. This is the sort of thing that sewing contractors will expect in the way of production sewing accuracy from people starting a clothing line. Keeping with the theme, you need to know that contractors can’t work with soft or tissue patterns unless the soft patterns are a plot from a CAD file.

Tip for checking your patterns
How on earth do you use oak tag to MAKE patterns?
Paper patterns, soft or hard?

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  1. Louise says:

    When I try and walk my patterns they slide all over the place so the measurements aren’t accurate. I shall watch your video and learn how the pros do it. In the meantime I have been measuring each seam – carefully! – notch to notch, with a tape measure on its side. Why do you recommend walking the seams rather than measuring? What have I been missing out on by doing it this way? (Obviously I am only comparing too manual processes here, CAD is obviously the most accurate.)

  2. Kathleen says:

    I just played it from my iPad with no problem. What kind of trouble are you having? If the video were taken down, you would get an error message once you clicked through. Please elaborate.

  3. Mia Arenas says:

    Thank you Kathleen! I am currently running out the alphanumeric paper and it’s not in the budget to buy a new roll, so I started to use oaktag since I have a full roll of that. The only thing I don’t like about using oaktag, besides the problem I had walking the pattern, is that I have to iron it. The darn stuff keeps curling up even after ironing! I will be looking forward to the next video where you pivot the pieces :)

  4. Sarah_H. says:

    Two tips for that curling oaktag paper. One is to re-roll the paper a few days before use. Roll it opposite to the current rolling and tape it in that position. Even better is to cut it into sheets and lay them flat, with the curling side down, and weighted down so it lies flat. A few days of that will straighten out all but the tightest curl.

  5. Ann K says:

    Great video, Kathleen. But why a 3/8″ seam allowance rather than 1/2″? Would side and armscye seams also be 3/8″ then?

  6. oriole says:

    What happens to the seam allowance after this point? I was my understanding that the seam allowance had to match so that cut pieces matched exactly. How do you handle that? I usually end up making a new front pattern so I can add half the back seam allowane that is too big to the front and cut half of the excess off the back.

  7. Lisa Blank says:

    It was interesting to me to see that you took the difference off the back rather than splitting the difference between front and back.

    I look forward to the pivot video. I’ve had trouble getting consistent results when pivoting, so I’ve fallen back on measuring the seam line with the edge of a tape measure as Louise described.

  8. kay says:

    Another trick for curling oaktag is to fold it in half lengthwise and staple the two plies together. The curves counter each other.

  9. Sandy Peterson says:

    Love, love, love, the video!! Yippee!! “What happens to the seam allowance after this point?” From Oriole. I was kinda wondering the same thing. Thanks, guys!!

  10. Sandy Peterson says:

    Hey Kathleen, forget my question about the seam allowance!! I watched the video again this morning after I posted my comment and I figured it out. I was way to tired last night to think straight so I should have reread the post and watched the video again before I commented. Oh the lessons I learn.

    Have a wonderful and productive day. I’m going to get my potatoes ready to plant in a barrel. Oh, and did I say I love the video!!

  11. Susan says:

    It was wonderful to see you walking off patterns on YouTube. I can’t wait to see you walk a collar into a neckline or a sleeve into an armhole. I always walk my patterns instead of measuring. I believe that walking imitates what the seamstress does when she puts 2 pieces of fabric together and connects them with her sewing needle. When I walk, I imagine what the seamstress will be doing, in the correct sewing order. I check notches, pattern shapes when they are connected, to be sure that they are accurate for the seamstress. Measuring will not achieve the same result that walking off does. Talk to a seamstress. She will tell you.

  12. Liz says:

    The video worked fine this morning, and I’m glad I came back to watch it.

    I’ll be eager to see the entire thing, if you ever package it.

  13. kellyt says:

    Thanks for posting that great video. A picture is worth a thousand words! I am looking forward to more. I am also interested in Oriole comment about cut pieces matching.

  14. Traci Akierman says:

    Thanks for this Kathleen. When I first found your blog and joined the forum, I searched and searched to find some instructions on how to walk a pattern. I figured out a way to do it that I thought was right and it looks like I have been doing it right. Since I don’t have a line, I’ve been walking all the commercial patterns that I want to use (after transferring to alphanumeric or oaktag) and any that I attempt to draft myself. It’s amazing how far out some of the commercial patterns are!

    I keep learning so much from you. Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this site and the forum!

    PS – I *REALLY* hope you release the longer video for sale someday soon.

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