DY(S)G: Guest Tutorial- How to Sew Ottobre Patterns

Dress your school girl

Please welcome Melanie from A Sewing Journal! Melanie has a wonderful blog and is always sewing beautiful things for her girls. She's here to take the mystery out of Ottobre patterns!

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Hi there, I'm Melanie and I blog over at A Sewing Journal. I have three girls (this year all attending school) ranging in age from 4 years to 10. I like making clothes for them for fun, as a creative outlet. I love that they all still want mom to make them clothes, so I will enjoy it while I can. (Though, I have to admit, it's getting a little challenging to make clothes for my oldest.)

I love Ottobre Design sewing patterns. They are stylish and offer a large variety of styles and sizes in each issue. Each issue includes clothing patterns for babies to tweens so there is a lot of information packed in there. While you could say that Ottobre Design doesn't have a lot of instructions, I would argue that all of the important and necessary information is there for you. I think the patterns are great for advanced beginners and up, but also for what I'd call adventurous beginners. If you're not afraid to look something up in a book or online when you come across something that you are unfamiliar with, well, go for it! Also, there are patterns in each magazines that are more difficult and some that are easier. Start by choosing a pattern that uses techniques you are familiar with, or maybe that introduce you to one new thing instead of multiple new techniques. Follow along as I show you how to decipher (it's pretty easy, really) an Ottobre Design sewing pattern.

Asj 2
This is the information page. So they don't have to repeat everything 40 times, most basic information is here. There are no cutting layouts, so this is where you read up on that and more. As with most European patterns, seam allowances are not included, but hem allowances are. Read this page before you get started. Asj collage 1

  1. Measure your child's height in centimeters.
  2. I like this part that reminds me how to determine the right size. I struggle with this all the time as my kids' measurements never seem to correlate nicely with the sizes listed on patterns and in books.
  3. When choosing your pattern, look for the little diagrams on the page, usually in the corner or along the side of the photos. These tell you the sizes for those clothing pieces.
  4. The diagram also gives you the pattern number. Asj collage 2
  1. This is the pattern instructions. That's it, it's all there. Short, clear and concise. Along the top, from left to right, you see a drawing of the clothing; drawings of the pattern pieces (see #2, too), instructions for the pattern pieces including how many to cut; which pattern sheet to use and the color of your numbers and lines (more on this in a bit); and your materials (listed in centimeters). There is a conversion chart in the magazine, but I prefer just to measure everything in centimeters when using Ottobre patterns otherwise I keep forgetting whether a number I wrote down was in inches or centimeters. Below that are the instructions for cutting and constructing.
  2. This is not the pattern I'm using, but I wanted to show you how a more complicated pattern has more information. For example, the parts shaded in grey are to be interfaced.
  3. Here are the instructions for the pattern pieces. We need pattern sheet C and our markings are in red. Asj collage 3
  1. Look, there's C, right on top! Take note that the reverse side of the sheets have different letters.
  2. This is pattern sheet C unfolded. Don't freak out! There's a system here, really. (I think this is when Ottobre loses a few people). Don't feel lost, this makes sense. Can you imagine how much paper they would have to use for each issue if they didn't overlap the pattern pieces? This really makes a lot of sense.
  3. Remember how we need pattern sheet C and the color red? When we look along the bottom of the pattern sheet we see a series of multicolored numbers. We need numbers 1, 2, 3 (the numbers of our pattern) in red. There are 1 and 2.
  4. We trace our finger straight up from the numbers on the bottom and find the corresponding numbers and lines on the sheet. Asj collage 4
  1. I like to use low tack tape to secure my pattern and tracing paper. I usually use Swedish tracing paper or Kwik Trace paper to trace patterns. I just use a pencil and ruler for the straight lines.
  2. With a bit of concentration the lines are easy to follow. I do not add seam allowances at this point as I feel with all those lines it's just too distracting for me. I add them on the fabric.
  3. Don't forget to check the key to see what the different lines mean. Ottobre does not use dashed lines and dots to indicate different sizes as you sometimes see on American patterns. All sizes use a solid line and the dashed lines indicate something else, like fold lines or grainlines.
  4. Be sure to label your pattern pieces with the piece number, size and pattern name and number. Asj collage 5
  1. The nice thing about Swedish tracing paper (and Kwik Trace paper) is you don't need pins or pattern weights. They make a friction (so to speak) with the fabric and don't move around on you.
  2. I add a half inch seam allowance (oops, I guess I don't do everything in centimeters!), just because I think it's easier than 3/8ths. You are free to make your seam allowance whatever works best for you. I usually use tailors chalk, but again, there are many different types of marking devices. Use what works best for you. (And remember, seam allowances are not included, but hem allowances are. It's always best to remind yourself of this).
  3. I like to cut my pieces out of the fabric with a rotary cutter. I'm just not very good with scissors. Asj finished skirt

This is as far as I'm taking you here. Putting together the garment just requires following the instructions, which are very clear. Let me know if you have any questions about Ottobre Design sewing patterns, I'd be happy to help!

If you'd like to see a review of the specific pattern I used, head over to my blog: A Sewing Journal. Here's a picture of the final product.

Find Ottobre Design Magazines here.

Thanks so much Melanie! I think we're all ready to dive into Ottobre now!

Don't forget to check out the Flickr group for Dress Your School Girl & Boy!

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  1. says

    Thanks Melanie! Inspiring post :) I just recently tackled some swim trunks from the Summer issue of Ottobre…thought I’d keep it small ;). It was alot of work to try to figure it all out, but once you do its very nice to use.


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