In the world of sewing, pattern numbers are like a secret code, providing valuable information about sewing patterns that, once deciphered, can make your creative journey smoother and more enjoyable. 

What is a pattern number for sewing?” is a fundamental question that every aspiring or seasoned sewist must understand.

Pattern numbers are not just random digits; they carry a wealth of information about the pattern’s brand, style, size, variations, and more.

These seemingly cryptic combinations of letters and numbers serve as the key to unlocking the perfect design, size, and style for your next sewing project. 

In this exploration, we delve into the significance of pattern numbers, uncovering their secrets, and unraveling the code that simplifies the process of choosing and working with sewing patterns.

What Is A Pattern Number For Sewing

What Is A Pattern Number For Sewing?

Pattern numbers in sewing are unique identifiers assigned to sewing patterns by pattern manufacturers. These numbers serve several purposes, including organization, tracking, and cataloging of patterns. 

Here are some types of pattern numbers and their descriptions:

Commercial Sewing Pattern Number

Commercial sewing patterns, often produced by companies like Simplicity, McCall’s, or Vogue, have distinct pattern numbers that help customers locate and purchase specific designs. 

These numbers usually consist of digits and possibly letters, making it easy to find a particular pattern among a brand’s offerings.

Vintage Sewing Pattern Number

Vintage sewing patterns also come with pattern numbers, which are typically used for identification and reference.

These numbers may vary in format and may be essential for collectors and vintage enthusiasts when tracking down specific designs from the past.

Indie Sewing Pattern Number

Independent pattern designers and makers assign unique pattern numbers to their creations. These numbers help customers and sewists identify and purchase indie patterns. 

The format can vary widely, from simple numerical sequences to alphanumeric combinations.

Pattern Piece Number

Pattern Piece Number

Within a sewing pattern, each pattern piece is usually labeled with a specific piece number. This helps sewists locate, identify, and assemble the correct pieces during the cutting and sewing process, ensuring accuracy in construction.

Pattern Company Reference Number

Pattern companies may use internal reference numbers to manage their pattern inventory. These numbers can help track production batches, inventory levels, and other logistical aspects. They are not usually visible to customers.

Pattern Size Number

Sewing patterns often include size numbers to indicate the range of sizes available in a pattern envelope. These size numbers help customers select the appropriate size for their projects, ensuring a proper fit.

Catalog or Release Year

Some pattern companies incorporate the year of release in their pattern numbers. This can be helpful for sewists looking to recreate specific vintage or contemporary styles from a particular era. The year is usually embedded or indicated in the pattern number or name.

Pattern numbers are an integral part of the sewing world, serving as a means of identification, organization, and selection.

They help both pattern manufacturers and sewists find the patterns they need, ensuring a smoother and more efficient sewing experience.

Some Pattern Symbol

Some Pattern Symbol

Pattern symbols are visual cues and markings used on sewing patterns to convey various instructions and information to the sewist. They are essential for interpreting the pattern and achieving accurate construction. 

Here are some common pattern symbols with descriptions for each:


Notches are typically small, triangular symbols or marks found on the edges of pattern pieces. They indicate where pieces should be matched or aligned during assembly. 

Notches ensure that seams, curves, and corners come together precisely, resulting in a well-fitted garment.


Dots on a sewing pattern serve multiple purposes. They can indicate where to start and stop stitching darts, as well as the placement of buttons, buttonholes, or pockets. 

Dots are vital reference points for achieving symmetry and accurate positioning of garment elements.


The grainline symbol is an arrow that represents the direction in which the pattern piece should be aligned with the fabric’s grain. This ensures that the fabric drapes correctly and that patterns with directional designs (e.g., stripes) are positioned accurately.

Fold Line

A fold line is depicted as a dashed or solid line with an arrow. It signifies where the fabric should be folded, ensuring that pattern pieces cut on the fold result in a symmetrical piece. This is commonly used for items like the back of a skirt or a bodice.

Cutting Lines

Solid lines on the pattern denote the cutting lines. These lines indicate where to cut the fabric. It’s crucial to use sharp scissors and cut precisely along these lines to ensure that your garment pieces match the pattern accurately.

Seam Allowance

Seam allowance markings are often included on sewing patterns to indicate the distance between the cutting line and the seamline. This is critical information because it determines how much fabric to include for the seam and helps achieve the intended fit.

Pattern Alignment Marks

Some patterns include alignment marks, such as double arrows or notches. These help in matching pattern pieces together for specific design elements, such as pleats, gathers, or pattern matching along seams.

Understanding these pattern symbols is essential for successful sewing. They provide clear guidance, allowing sewists to cut and stitch fabric accurately, ensuring that the final garment fits well and looks as intended by the pattern designer.

How To Read The Sewing Pattern Number? 

How To Read The Sewing Pattern Number

Reading a sewing pattern number may seem like decoding a secret language, but it’s a crucial skill for finding the right pattern and size for your sewing project. 

Here are some ways to read and understand a sewing pattern number:

Brand Identification

The first part of the pattern number often represents the brand or company that produced the pattern. It can be a combination of letters or a single recognizable abbreviation. Knowing the brand can help you identify the pattern’s style and origin.

Pattern Type

Following the brand identifier, you may find a code or number that signifies the type of pattern. This could indicate whether it’s a dress, skirt, blouse, or other garment. Understanding the pattern type helps you locate the desired style quickly.

Pattern Size

Pattern sizes are typically included in the number. It may be a single number (e.g., 10) or a range (e.g., 6-12). This part guides you in selecting the size that matches your body measurements for a proper fit.

Pattern Variation

Some patterns have variations within the same style. Additional letters or numbers may denote these variations, such as “A” for one style option and “B” for another. You’ll select the variation that suits your design preference.

Release Year

In some cases, the pattern number includes the release year. This helps you identify vintage patterns and determine the era of the design. It’s especially useful if you’re seeking a particular historical style.

Pattern Difficulty Level

A few pattern companies incorporate a symbol or number to indicate the pattern’s difficulty level. This assists sewists in selecting patterns appropriate for their skill level, whether beginner, intermediate, or advanced.

Pattern Range

For patterns with multiple designs in one envelope, the pattern number might include a range or additional information, like “Misses” for women’s patterns or “Men” for men’s patterns. This ensures you pick the right design from the set.

Understanding these elements within a sewing pattern number helps you quickly identify the type, size, and style of the pattern you’re seeking. It streamlines the pattern selection process and ensures a successful sewing project.


What is a sewing pattern number, and why is it important?

A sewing pattern number is a unique identifier assigned to a pattern by its manufacturer. It’s essential for locating and purchasing a specific pattern style and size. 

The number contains valuable information about the brand, pattern type, size, and more, making it a critical tool for sewers to find the right pattern for their projects.

How can I decode a sewing pattern number?

To decode a sewing pattern number, break it down into its components. The first part often indicates the brand, and the next part designates the pattern type, followed by the pattern size, variations, release year, and sometimes the difficulty level. 

Can the sewing pattern number tell me the pattern’s difficulty level?

Some pattern companies include symbols or numbers in the pattern number to indicate the difficulty level. For instance, a single star may signify a beginner pattern, while three stars represent an advanced level. 

How do I use the pattern number to find the right size for my sewing project?

The pattern number usually includes the size range, such as “6-12.” Match your body measurements to the size range to ensure the pattern fits you well. Always refer to the measurement charts provided on the pattern envelope for precise sizing.

What if I’m looking for a specific vintage sewing pattern?

When seeking a vintage sewing pattern, look for a combination of the brand, pattern type, and release year in the pattern number. Vintage patterns often feature the release year, allowing you to identify patterns from a particular era, making your quest for retro styles more manageable.


Pattern numbers, often overlooked as mere identifiers, are indispensable tools in the sewing world. As we conclude our journey through the world of sewing pattern numbers, we’ve learned that they are more than a random assortment of characters. 

They are your map, guiding you to the right sewing pattern, size, style, and brand. Understanding the intricacies of pattern numbers empowers you to select patterns that fit your creative vision, body measurements, and skill level.

Whether you’re in pursuit of a vintage classic, a contemporary design, or a variation with your personal touch, pattern numbers are the keys to the sewing kingdom.

 Embracing their significance means a more enjoyable and successful sewing experience, ensuring that your creations are as unique and beautiful as you envision.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *