Learn the key pattern cutting/making terminology and how to read and write the abbreviations used in pattern cutting/making just like a professional.
I still remember my first day in the fashion atelier seeing loads of patterns with so many abbreviations I had never seen before in my life (even though I had already studied pattern making!!!). Pretty daunting eh!?
Let me explain why abbreviations are used and what they mean.
Why do we use abbreviations? Basically, these are used to save time and space. It may seem silly but it’s like trying to write all the information you need on the back of a postage stamp!
The most common abbreviations that you will see on a pattern are:
- CF (Centre Front). It’s quite basic but it’s really important when you are making patterns from the dress form (from the dress form = on a mannequin). It tells you where exactly the centre of the garment is so that you can line this up against the model or on the dress form. You also need to have a CF when making flat patterns so that the centre of the garment is clear. For example if you were making a shirt with buttons on the front, there will be many lines on the pattern so you will need to indicate which one is the CF.
- CB (Centre Back). Same as the CF but on the back of the garment.
- SS (Side Seam). This shows the seams on the side when the garment and are very useful where the pattern is very big or has an unusual shape. Sometimes these are obvious on simple patterns so SS is not used.
- WL (Waistline). It’s quite important to know where the waistline is. Imagine that you are doing a drape on a mannequin, many of the lines will start to be confusing, so it is always good to mark the waist.
The following abbreviations are usually found in the information box of each pattern. They are all related to the number of times you have to cut the patterns and how to cut it:
- PR (Pair). This one is a common mistake made by students. You normally don’t cut 2 fronts for a pair (e.g. for trousers you don’t want 2 right legs). You need to cut 1 pair (i.e. one left side and one right). If you say to a factory to cut a pair, they will take the pattern and cut one side then flip the pattern to cut the other side which ensures the fabric is always cut correctly. If the instruction is to cut 2, you may have 2 fronts for the same side so when you flip it, one will have the wrong side of the fabric showing (imagine a pair of jeans, you want the back of the denim on the inside for both legs and not just on one side!). If you need to cut only one, the most common thing to say is Cut a Single or Cut 1.
- RSU (Right Side Up). This is an instruction to cut the fabric. It means you need to cut the fabric with the good side facing you. You normally use this when you cut an asymmetrical garment (e.g. where the right and left pattern are different).
- WSU (Wrong Side Up). The opposite of RSU.
- BLK FUSE (Block Fuse). Before cutting the pattern you have to fuse the fabric for that piece.
The RSU and WSU are important when sending patterns to a factory. If you don’t explain how to cut the fabric, it may come back to you wrong and you will not be able to complain! It might be common sense but you need to specify how the pattern should be cut.
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