Finding and buying the right sewing patterns can be frustrating. There are millions of them online. Pinterest has a huge selection of sewing patterns you can buy or download, but not all of them are free and some of them are old and don’t exist anymore. Some of the sewing patterns are in different languages that you cannot understand.
So how do you actually find and buy a sewing pattern that you like, or better yet, when you find one, you don’t know if it’s going to fit you!
The most popular sewing patterns that you can buy can be found on websites such as Simplicity, Burda, New Look, Kwik Sew, Butterick, Mccalls or Vogue. These are the main companies that sell sewing patterns. You can order and buy the sewing patterns online or you can just download them and try to print them out. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not going to print them out correctly and they won’t work.
When you buy a sewing pattern you can also go to a fabric store. They have catellogues with the current season and latest fashion patterns. You then tell the assistant at the counter that you want to buy a sewing pattern and give them the number of the sewing pattern and make, for example Simplicity or Burda. They will then get the sewing pattern for you to buy.
The thing to note though is that you cannot buy the sewing pattern until you know what your size is since patterns sometimes come in different sizes when you buy them. All patterns have multiple sizes but it could be split into sizes such as 10-14 and another pattern for 14-20 for example. You need to ensure that you buy the right sewing pattern size. For this, you will need your measurements of your bust, hip, middle and shoulder especially. You then compare them to the average size on the pattern that you will need. It will not match the size exactly, you just see which size measurements are the closest and that’s the sewing pattern that you buy.
I hope that this helps the next time you want to buy a sewing pattern. Hopefully knowing a little more about what to look for will assist in the process for you to buy your own sewing pattern to sew.
So there are so many tutorials out there on how to create basic block patterns, but there are not many there on how to use the basic block pattern once you have created it and how to adapt clothes from the basic block pattern.
I’m going to show you how to modify a basic block pattern. This was my first attempt and I must say it came out pretty well. The end result was the picture below. Because my body is so awkward, commercial sewing patterns don’t always work for me. Once I had taught myself and drew and drew with some trial and error, I came up with a design from modifying a basic block pattern I made for me that I quite like. I just need to have a straw hat with it to make the outfit complete.
The first thing I did was make sure that I had pre-drawn what I wanted the outfit to look like on a piece of paper when it was done. This was a pattern I had a long time ago when I was younger and I wanted to re-create this pattern. With trial and error, I managed to modify this basic block pattern to copy the original design I had.
The next thing is that I laid out the block pattern on a new piece of pattern paper (or in my case gift wrap) and weighted it down to make sure it was secure. I then traced the block pattern with all the lines exactly onto the new piece of paper.
To modify the basic block pattern I started by shaping the neck. I wanted my neck to be lower and a little wider. I did this with the help of the french curve pattern making tool that I have made temporarily until mine arrives from Amazon.
I then measured out from the sleeve and side the amount I wanted the dress to hang loose or be away from my body. I measured all around and then with dots, drew the lines as in the two photos below.
Once I had those lines drawn, I added to the modifying process by creating an area for button holes in the front of the dress. The button hole area I made double the amount so that the fabric can be a bit thicker over the button hole area and so that the sewing machine won’t catch the fabric up and gather it while sewing the button hole. The below image is the progress of the modifying on the basic block pattern that I did.
You see, modifying a basic block pattern is basically taking a block pattern and just drawing in what you want to have on the pattern. What you want the dress to look like. The basic block pattern itself is your exact measurements to fit you snug and you will find an article on how to make a basic block pattern in my links.
The next thing I did was work on the back piece and enlarged it the same way, a little more on the side and the back neck part too…..
I then decided that the part of the pattern over the shoulder was too wide and it needed to be narrowed. To modify this part of the basic block pattern, I measured inwards on both sides, exactly 1.5 inches both sides (I did this for the front pattern too) and drew my lines.
With a little bit of artistic ability, this shoulder can be shaped right. I made sure I made it come down far enough before taking the curve. Otherwise it would have looked a bit weird.
The next thing I did to modify the basic block pattern was to lengthen it and make it straighter. The below images will show you how I did this. Because of my awkward body, it doesn’t look that straight, but it is as you saw from the fully made dress in the first picture.
For the skirt part, I took double the width of the shirt pattern at the top and added it to the skirt part so that there is space for gathering a bit. I then realized that I didn’t have enough fabric so had to use less than what my pattern indicated but it still worked out.
The facing was a bit of a different story. I laid out the basic block pattern that I had modified and drew the arm and neck curves. I measured about 1.5 inches in and drew the facing lines.
I hope this has been helpful in teaching you how to modify a basic block pattern. As I’ve mentioned before, there are so many tutorials out there on how to create a basic block pattern, but not many on how to modify one. Since this was my first time I attempted to modify a basic block pattern, I really think I did ok. I hope this can help you too.
If you’re about to lay out your first sewing pattern but you don’t quite know how to go about it, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I am going to show you how to lay out a sewing pattern on fabric. There is another article I wrote on how to cut the pattern.
Once you have the pattern that you have decided to use, and checked the measurements on the back, you will know which size to use on your sewing pattern. The trick now is to cut out along the lines of the specific size that you need for your pattern.
The first thing to do is to fold the fabric in half length ways and lay it out straight and nice on on a flat surface such as a table or a pattern board etc. The fabric needs to be folded with the right side of the fabric inside and the wrong side on the outside.
The next thing is to lay the pieces out on the fabric, in such a way that it will fit. But you need to be careful how you lay out the sewing pattern pieces as not all pieces gets laid out the same way. Some pieces needs to be laid out with “cut on fold” and others need to be laid out along the grain line. The indication for cut on fold is an arrow that shows inwards (First pic) and the indication for a grain line is a straight arrow with two points in 180 degrees (second pic).
The grain line of the fabric is usually the direction in which the side seam (edge) of the fabric is running.
Lay out the sewing pattern on the fabric, with the “place on fold” arrow on the fold of the fabric so that it cuts double fabric, but on the fold. In other words, once you open the piece after cutting, it will be a full piece covering both sides of the body, not just a half size.
Lay out the other pieces of fabric as indicated with the grain line matching up to the grain direction of the fabric.
Once you have been successful in the lay out of the sewing pattern, it’s important to indicate all pattern marking. You can do this with either pins or a fabric marker or even just a pencil. You do not need fancy tools when working with sewing patterns, even though they will make your job easier.
Now that you’ve learned how to lay out a sewing pattern, and you’ve done all the pattern markings, you can go ahead and cut out the sewing pattern on the lines. Be careful not to cut the pattern itself as that will ruin your pattern and make your sewing shears blunt, which is something you don’t want.
Remember to pack away your sewing pattern that you used to learn how to lay out the sewing pattern so that you can use it again on the next item of clothing that you want to make with this particular pattern.
I hope that you’ve learned how to lay out a sewing pattern today. This is the way I lay out my sewing patterns and it’s always worked for me. There is an article on how to cut your sewing pattern that you can read if you’re unsure about how to cut the pattern before you lay out the pattern.
I recently picked up a lovely girls summer outfit pattern at quite a cheap price. The pattern was perfect, but the size was not. First I needed to figure out how to enlarge the pattern that I bought. Once I figured that out, the rest was easy.
When you are looking at how to enlarge a pattern there are some crucial tools that you need to start with. These include a 90 degree ruler, tape measure, french curve, marker and pattern paper. Well, I don’t have the pattern making tools yet, they are on order from Amazon so in the meantime, I made my own which you can also do. I also am not going to spend a fortune on pattern paper, so I used the inside of gift wrap paper to do my pattern. In addition to that, I have a pattern marker / cutting tool and of course, my pattern.
The first thing I did with enlarging the pattern is to get all the pattern pieces I needed. The next step was to iron the pieces with a light iron so that they aren’t creased. Creased pattern pieces makes for wrong measurements. I’m someone that often use un-ironed pattern pieces, but that’s because of my experience. For enlarging patterns though, I am venturing into waters I haven’t done much of and so I want the measurements to be exactly correct. Especially if I’m going to have the pattern correct.
The next thing to do is to lay out the piece of pattern you need to enlarge on a pattern board or hard surface. A table is also fine. Trace the paper onto the pattern paper you have chosen exactly. Make sure every mark and line is exactly correct. You can do this by putting weights down on the pattern while you trace it so that it does not slide.
The next thing I did, as indicated by the figure above, is to measure the different sizes of the pattern exactly. I measured how much space between each line (indicated by the red arrow), and added double that space as I enlarged my pattern two spaces (indicated by the green arrow). I then used the french curve to hollow out my pattern’s arm hole as indicated by the blue line. The blue line is where the curve was hollowed our by the french curve, and joined to match the lines of the measurements I’ve taken with the green arrows. The other markings were mistakes which can be ignored. I did the same to the other side of the pattern.
At the bottom of the bodice pattern that I’m enlarging, I carefully measured again and once again used my french curve to draw the line, as indicated in the next image.
The french curve can work nicely when placed in the hollow of a pattern to hollow our an arm or to do something such as the bodice.
The last thing was to finish off the pattern, add all the markings and cut the new pattern piece out. Enlarging this piece of the pattern was not so hard after all. Here is another picture of another piece of pattern enlarging I did from this particular pattern.
It is easy to do some enlarging of a pattern. You just need to add the exact measurements to each size enlargement that you do and the pattern will work. You also need to use the french curve to perfect the arm holes and the other curved pieces of the pattern. The french curve was used again in the second piece of pattern, towards the top where I enlarged the sizes to make those lines follow the pattern.
I’ve recently relocated countries and well, everything is wrong. I can’t find clothes that I like. I left my belongings in my home country, and with that, my sewing patterns. So now I’m sitting with a huge problem. I’m in a foreign country, I have none of my favorite sewing patterns and so my only option is to resort to making my own sewing patterns.
I’ve done a lot of research into making my own sewing patterns. The one thing that I’ve realize is that with my twenty two years of experience in sewing my own clothes, and the success I’ve had recently in copying patterns, that I can in fact succeed in making my own sewing patterns. It IS possible. I can do this.
So without further ado, I will explain the different ways that we can make our own sewing patterns. There are several methods, but I will explain three of the main methods here, in this post.
Tracing my own sewing patterns
The first way that I started making my own patterns started back in my home country when I felt ready to start “spreading my wings” and exploring more sewing knowledge. It is basically called “tracing patterns from favorite items of clothing”.
To do this, you need your favorite item of clothing. For my example I would use a simple “short”. Basically, you would fold the front part of the shirt or pants in half, on the seams, and trace it onto some form of paper. After it has been traced, you literally have “half” the pattern as it’s a fold, so you need to also remember to make the part where you folded the pattern a “cut on fold” part of the pattern. I will explain more about tracing patterns in a future post. You then trace the back of the pattern the same way and to both pieces, you would need to add a seam allowance.
Making a block pattern
Another way of making my own sewing patterns as I have discovered is making a block pattern. This is a basic pattern that fits you snug according to your exact body measurements. It’s quite a bit of math and working out equations to get all the measurements right. But anybody can do the math and with today’s calculators this is made easy. Especially if you’re not good at division! It really is simple math and nothing to fear. Anybody can do it.
Making my own block sewing pattern is easy and I will explain it in detail in a future post. However, you do need to have your exact measurements to be able to do this.
Another way of making my own sewing patterns is not really a sewing pattern to start with. It’s by draping fabric on to a mannequin. Yes. Literally drape the fabric in the way you want the dress to be, pin and sew. This is a method that I have not explored yet and hopefully never have to do. For the purpose of this website we will focus on patterns, adjusting patterns and so forth.
Making my own sewing patterns is fun and easy as I’ve recently discovered. I’m incredibly happy that I managed to successfully make my first block pattern a while back. And in the next post, I would love to share with you how I went about making my own block sewing pattern.
So I recently made a new block sewing pattern for myself. But I didn’t have the correct equipment. It was a rather difficult process making the block sewing pattern without the correct equipment.
In this post I will outline the different pieces of equipment needed and what I did, not having the correct equipment, to still be able to make my basic block sewing pattern.
The first thing you need is a measuring tape. You need the measuring tape to measure yourself as well as make measurements on the actual pattern piece.
The next piece of equipment you need for your block pattern is called a french curve. This is a ruler, shaped in the form of a curve. Because I didn’t have a french curve, I made my own. Click here to find out how to make your own French curve ruler
You would also need a hip curve. Well, I didn’t use one so I do not consider it a complete necessity.
I also used a 90 degree ruler. This ruler is in the form of an L shape and helps when you need to draw straight lines throughout the pattern, which the block pattern is FULL of.
In addition to the curved rulers, you also need some pattern paper. I am not someone who likes spending money on things, so I just used newspaper. It is not recommended though, especially if you’ve never worked with patterns before. For the pattern, I would recommend using a roll of blank paper, blank newspaper, pattern paper, brown paper, tracing paper or even baking paper (This works great for tracing)
In addition to all of the equipment listed above to make your sewing block pattern, you can add some markers, a pencil, pen, selotape, pins, a small ruler and a pencil sharpener and eraser.
I hope this is helpful. With these basic pieces of equipment, you can make your own sewing block patterns easily. Like I said, I use newspaper and thick markers for visibility.
Bias binding is really reall great. Especially if you’re applying it on a garment you are sewing that does not have an inside panel or interfacing. The last thing you want to be doing is to battle with a seam where it looks untidy, unkempt and like you have sewn your first garment ever.
The bias binding is a great way to make a garment look really pretty with a colorful edge around the sleeve or seam or used in another creative way. The trick is how to apply the bias binding.
The only thing is that if you don’t know what you are doing, how to apply the bias binding can be quite complex, confusing and downright difficult to figure out. I’m hoping that on this page, you can get some help with how to apply bias binding.
Make certain you have your sewing box out, because you are going to need a lot of pins for this. Yes! This is pinning down work. Regardless of how good you think you are, or really are, you are going to need to pin the bias binding on the edge of fabric you want to sew. In my case, in this tutorial, it is a sleeve.
Pin the bias binding around the fabric you want to have the bias binding on. Do this with the bias binding being equally thick on the inside and the outside stopping and aligning the two sides with each other. Then pin.
The bias binding now needs to be sewn. Go slow and carefully, stretching or straightening curves where it needs to be straightened for a better fit. As you sew, make sure the bias binding is still in the same position and the needle gets the bottom and the top part of the bias binding. That’s all there is to it!
At the top end of the bias binding where it ends, fold the end in underneath where you are going to stitch the bias binding to make a nice rounding off so that there are no rough edges. And bang, you’re done!
I bet you never thought that bias binding is this easy to apply! With a little bit of practice, adding bias binding to your projects will really enhance your work. Sometimes, it’s necessary to make your own bias binding. I have put together an easy bias binding tutorial that you can click on to see how it works and how you can make your own!
I recently had to urgently make some bias binding for a project I was working on. The pillow case dress tutorial I was drawing up has a link to this page, so I can link right back to the dress in case you want to see what the bias binding looked like on my pillow case dress I made. Just click on the “pillow case dress tutorial” link to see how the bias binding turned out.
Anyway, don’t get stuck not being able to continue with your sewing project when you don’t have bias binding. With a little creativity you can come up with stunning bias binding in a very easy way that will leave people’s mouths hanging open. It really will blow them away.
I have tried to put together a little easy bias binding tutorial for those days where you absolutely have no other option but to make your own. It really is easy and will take about half an hour to make using this bias binding tutorial.
Step one is to decide how thick you need your bias binding to be. The tutorial does not show the measuring of the thickness, but it’s pretty easy. If you want the bias binding to be an inch thick to the eyes, you need to cut it two inches thick. If you want it to be half an inch thick, you need to cut it at least one inch thick. It needs to be two times the final thickness when you’ve cut the strip you want to make bias binding of. Also remember bias binding goes around something, so your final thickness is half the actual thickness of the bias binding.
How long must the strip be? Well, as long as you need it to be. I made short little strips in this bias binding tutorial because it’s all I needed. But you may find that you need at least two meters. Then you need to cut two meters of bias binding strip.
The next thing is to serge both sides of the bias binding (all along the strip) or if you don’t have a serger, to use a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine. For a zigzag stitch, the closer you go to the edge of the fabric, the neater the zig zag will be as the sewing machine will automatically turn the last little big of edge over into a tiny but neat fold.
Once you’re done serging, fold each side of the bias binding in towards the middle so that the right sides face up on the inside. Then iron it flat. There is the bias binding.
To apply the bias binding, you can see my tutorial on “how to apply bias binding” to help you get a better idea of how to use the bias binding.
So a friend put me up to sewing a pillow case dress recently. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I set out about figuring out and finding tutorials for pillow case dresses. It’s hard to find a free pillow case dress tutorial, but I managed to find two. And then it kind of rolled on from there.
I didn’t have the right color thread for the pillow case dress. So I had to make a pillow case dress (and document it for this tutorial) using a completely wrong color thread. I managed, and the thread is hidden. Nobody can see that I used white thread on a completely blue dress. I’m quite proud of myself.
The other thing with this pillow case dress is that I didn’t have bias binding. And I simply don’t have the money to go buy all those things right now. So my pillow case dress is made with my own bias binding that I made and with the wrong color thread.
Well, the dress turned out so well that I thought I would set out to write a pillow case dress tutorial for those who want to try and make a dress. With the added benefit that if you don’t have a serger or the right color thread, it’s no problem. You can follow the pillow case dress tutorial below:
Step one. My friend gave me a pillow case and said “See what you can do with this”. The most important thing to remember is When you work with anything, you have to lay it out on a straight, flat surface. So I cleared my dining room table as I have no work room and I laid out the pillow case on the table, ready to cut the dress.
I measured on the open part (top) a two inch seam for the ribbon at the top of the dress and cut it accordingly.
The next thing I did was measure four inches down (length wise on the pillow case) and two inches across (width wise). I then drew a nice arm hole and cut the arms for the dress. I don’t have a serger so I used my sewing machine to sew a zigzag stitch on the pillow case and all around.
The next thing I did was take two pieces of fabric that I measured wide enough for bias binding and cut it according to the length of the arm holes. I then zig zag sewed and ironed my bias binding that I made myself. For more on how to make bias binding you can click on the easy bias binding tutorial link to take you to my page about easy bias binding.
I did the same type of thing for the bottom seam and the seam at the top where the ribbon was going to go through. Only over here I sewed two strips with seams on them that I could use at the top by the neck and the bottom around the dress. I used white thread on a blue and white background to do that.
Carefully, I sewed the bias binding around the arm. I then cut open the bottom of the pillow case, zig zagged it and sewed a seam on the outside (wrong way) of the pillow case, instead of inside , and sewed on the strip of fabric I cut for that over the seam. This way, the seam is hidden by the strip of fabric and any sewing done is hidden too from the inside. This is especially helpful when you don’t have a serger to make it look neat.
I did the same again with the top. I sewed a seam on the outside of the dress and put the strip on for the top of the dress. I made sure that any bias binding that was left was tucked in under the strip I’m sewing and that the bias binding was worked off by a zigzag stitch as well. Remember when you do this part to make sure that you don’t sew the ends of the strip to the pillow case. You need the strip to be open to thread through the ribbon.
The last thing I did was thread through the ribbon and there we go! One pillow case made. Two tutorials read and not followed. I got this down. To enhance the pillow case dress I’m going to add some applique to the dress. You can follow how to applique by clicking on the link “how to applique”.
I hope you enjoyed this pillow case tutorial and that you will be able to use it in your sewing. I officially made a dress from a pillow case! Wow! Absolutely SO impressed with myself right now.
When you first open your sewing pattern, you will see different sets of symbols and lines on the pattern. These are the sewing pattern markings. Your sewing pattern markings is like a unique set of instructions for on how to use the pattern. Without these markings on the sewing pattern, you would not be able to complete the project.
Well, what on earth do these sewing pattern markings mean and how do I apply these sewing pattern markings to the fabric and the garment that I’m busy sewing? If you are wondering this question, you have already opened the sewing pattern to take a look at it, but the markings are confusing you. In the next couple of paragraphs, I will attempt to try and show you how to apply the pattern markings to your sewing pattern.
First, the sewing pattern markings helps with the layout of the pattern on the fabric. If you understand the symbols and lines indicated on the pattern, then you will have no problem applying them to the garment you are making. What’s more important, the garment you are making will then be a success. But if you do not understand the sewing pattern markings then things can go horribly wrong.
Below, I have a list of the sewing pattern markings and how to apply them. However, it’s important to note that most patterns come with a set of pattern instructions which very often have the explanations for the markings on their patterns. Depending on the brand, for example Burda, Simplicity or New Look etc, the markings may differ slightly although they are all pretty standard and look very much alike.
The first sewing pattern marking you should be aware of is the cutting line. This marking indicates the line along which you will be cutting the fabric once the pattern is laid out and pinned on the fabric. It is usually a solid line with a little pair of scissors indicated somewhere on it in one or multiple places. It looks like this:
The next sewing pattern marking that you should be aware of is the stitching line. This is usually indicated on the pattern as where you should be stitching. It is worth marking this line on your fabric as that’s the exact place the pattern is indicating your stitching to occur. The stitching line is usually a broken line and is indicated like this:
The grain line is a marking that is indicated in a vertical position on the sewing pattern. It usually has two little arrows at the ends, pointing up and down. Sometimes the grain line is indicated horizontally but in most cases it’s indicated vertically on the pattern. This means that the pattern needs to be placed so that the arrow shows in the direction that the grain of the fabric is running. It looks like this:
The next sewing pattern marking that you should be well acquainted with is the “cut on fold” marking. This marking on the sewing pattern indicates that where this part of the pattern is, the fabric should be folded in half, and the pattern placed on the fold of the fabric so that you can have half a piece of shirt to cut for example that you cut and then fold open to complete a full piece.
The bust point sewing pattern marking indicates where you match the bust point on the pattern with your own bust point. This will help with greater accuracy on the garment as you sew it. It’s a small circle and looks like this:
A lengthen and shorten line can be indicated anywhere on the pattern. Especially if you are sewing a pair of trousers, shorts, skirt or ladies top. It’s important to note, especially if the sewing pattern is a multi-pattern, meaning it’s a pattern that can either do a short or trousers with the same pattern pieces for example. In this case, the sewing pattern markings will indicate whether it’s a short and you should cut by that line or if you should use the bottom part to mark the end of the pattern piece.
Notches are important sewing pattern markings because they indicate where the pattern pieces are to be fitted together. The notches on the back of the pattern will match the notches on the front of the pattern and that is where you put the back and the front together. Notches can be colored in triangles or they could look like the image below. They could be one alone, two together or three together. Even up to five together. The matching notches on the front and back of the pattern is where it fits together. Remember, a sewing pattern is like a puzzle that you build and put together. For example, I have cut out the front and the back pieces of a shirt. But I don’t know where exactly to match them so that they fit together. The notches will tell me. I put the back panel together with the matching notches on the front panel. Here is an example of notch markings on a sewing pattern.
If your pattern has pleats like mens trousers or lady skirts, then the sewing pattern marking you are going to see looks like the image below. This is used to indicate pleats and used to indicate the fold lines for the pleats on the fabric.
Another sewing pattern marking that is quite common is the button hole. This marking indicates the button hole placement and size.
If your sewing pattern has button holes, you are likely to see a sewing pattern marking similar to the one below which indicates the button placement on the fabric.
Sewing patterns can also be equipped with zippers. The intention is to have a zipper inserted into the garment that is being sewn. The zipper sewing pattern marking is indicated below:
When you are deciding on which size of sewing pattern to cut, there will be different cut lines for you that’s indicated. The different cut lines will have a specific pattern for each size. That is the line that you would cut your fabric along to get the correct size garment.
The last sewing pattern marking that I will talk about is a group of markings called the pattern transfer markings. Those indicate that the markings for those need to be transfered on to the fabric itself.
Following your indicated sewing pattern markings are very important for the correct sewing of any type of garment, curtain or oven-glove! You cannot expect your garment to come out correctly if you do not follow the sewing pattern markings indicated on the actual sewing pattern. So with this bit of information on this page, I hope I have helped you to understand what all the jargon on the pattern means and how to better apply it when you cut your pattern.