A series or recurring set of numbers, shapes, actions... nature is full of patterns, and even in its attempts to distinguish itself from nature, the sum of human accomplishments also contain a surprising quantity of patterns.

A swarm of shot from a shotgun or similar emitter of multiple lead pellets. The shot pattern usually follows Gauss' normal distribution.
In the US, the quality of a shotgun/shot combination is often measured as the percentage of the shot from a shotgun fired from a distance of 40 yards that can be included in a circle with a diameter of 30 inches.
To get an idea of irregularities in the pattern, the number of 5 inch diameter circles not hit by a single shot within the 30" circle is counted. A larger number indicates a more irregular pattern, perhaps due to shot of low quality or a damaged or worn barrel.

Sewing: Instructions on how to make a garment or other project. The rest of this write-up refers to clothing patterns, which are the most common, but all patterns are much the same.

Each pattern is identified by a combination of the maker's name and a number. For instance, McCall's 6751 (the basis for most of my business skirts and casual trousers), or Style 2773 (a strappy princess-line formal dress). There are a few major pattern publishers who dominate the market (McCall's, Simplicity, Butterick), plus some specialised companies (such as Folkways, which reproduces traditional garments).

To select a pattern, look in the pattern books lying around in the sewing shop. Each publisher issues its own books, with drawings and photos of the different things its patterns make (each different garment in one pattern is called a "view"). The drawings are always of impossibly skinny people, but give a clearer idea of where the seams, tucks, pleats and darts are. Ignore body shape - if you're sewing, it's assumed you know what styles will suit you.

Once you've decided, note down the pattern maker and number. Figure out what size range you want; most patterns will do several sizes. Check to see whether the manufacturer is using American sizing.

Go to the pattern counter and ask for your pattern; you don't have to pay for it yet. It comes in a paper envelope about 6 1/2" x 8" (A5 size). The front of the envelope will have the same pictures that attracted your eye in the pattern book. On the back, there are a number of useful bits:

  • Schematics of the backs of the different garments, showing seams, zippers, darts, etc.
  • Suggested fabrics to use. Not all fabric types are suitable for all garments.
  • A chart of which body measurements translate to which size.
  • Fabric requirements for each size of each view, to cover all the variations of bolt width (either 45"/115 cm or 60"/150cm) and nap. If you want to use fabric with plaids or stripes, you'll need more than the amount stated.
  • Any lining fabric and/or interfacing required.
  • Measurements for the finished garments.
  • Notions required.

Once you've paid for your pattern, taken it home, and opened it, you will find a bunch of tissue paper and a bunch of normal paper. Start with the normal paper.

These are your instructions. RTFM. They give you:

  • A key to all the symbols used in the diagrams and on the tissue pattern pieces.
  • A glossary of the sewing terms used in the instructions.
  • Another schematic of the garments, front and back.
  • The number, shapes, and names of all the pieces in the pattern.
  • Cutting layouts for the different garments and different bolt widths. This tells you which pieces are needed for which views, which bits go face down and which go face up, what goes on the fold, etc. Unless you are very, very sure of yourself, follow the cutting layouts. They are sometimes wasteful, but never wrong. Note that you'll need to jiggle things a bit if you're trying to match up plaids or stripes at the seams.
  • Step-by-step instructions, with plenty of diagrams, for making each garment.

The tissue paper has the shapes of the actual pattern pieces printed on it. Once you're sure of the size of garment you want to make, you can cut out the pieces and go to work. It's fairly fragile stuff, so treat it with care to get more than 3 or 4 uses out of it.

Pat"tern (?), n. [OE. patron, F. patron, a patron, also, a pattern. See Patron.]


Anything proposed for imitation; an archetype; an exemplar; that which is to be, or is worthy to be, copied or imitated; as, a pattern of a machine.

I will be the pattern of all patience.


A part showing the figure or quality of the whole; a specimen; a sample; an example; an instance.

He compares the pattern with the whole piece.


Stuff sufficient for a garment; as, a dress pattern.


Figure or style of decoration; design; as, wall paper of a beautiful pattern.


Something made after a model; a copy. Shak.

The patterns of things in the heavens.
Heb. ix. 23.


Anything cut or formed to serve as a guide to cutting or forming objects; as, a dressmaker's pattern.

7. (Founding)

A full-sized model around which a mold of sand is made, to receive the melted metal. It is usually made of wood and in several parts, so as to be removed from the mold without injuring it.

Pattern box, chain, or cylinder (Figure Weaving), devices, in a loom, for presenting several shuttles to the picker in the proper succession for forming the figure. --
Pattern card.
(a) A set of samples on a card.
(b) (Weaving) One of the perforated cards in a Jacquard apparatus. --
Pattern reader, one who arranges textile patterns. --
Pattern wheel (Horology), a count- wheel.


© Webster 1913

Pat"tern, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Patterned (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Patterning.]


To make or design (anything) by, from, or after, something that serves as a pattern; to copy; to model; to imitate. Milton.

[A temple] patterned from that which Adam reared in Paradise.
Sir T. Herbert.


To serve as an example for; also, to parallel.

To pattern after, to imitate; to follow.


© Webster 1913

Pat"tern, n. (Gun.)

A diagram showing the distribution of the pellets of a shotgun on a vertical target perpendicular to the plane of fire.


© Webster 1913

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