Tino’s beginners guide to sewing patterns.

Hello my lovelies ♥️ Today’s blog I’m going to talk about the foundation of sewing – Patterns! You know until I learnt how to sew, I had no clue that sewing required a pattern, I honestly thought once I had a sewing machine I was ready to go! Ha ha ha, I was so naive. YouTube didn’t help much as the most popular video’s were those of people that just cut directly on fabric and after watching the video they leave you more confused than before. But now we know 😉

Sewing Patterns

A Pattern is a template used in sewing that is traced on to fabric so you can cut and sew your garment. The good news is that patterns are easily accessible as you can either buy them online, at fabric and crafts store or you can make your own patterns (pattern drafting). Also there are many free patterns, most pattern houses will have a free pattern on their website. I think most of us focus on the use of the sewing machine as the most important thing in garment construction, I tell my students that machine use will get easier the more you use your sewing machine. Understanding and manipulating patterns is the most important skill in my opinion in garment construction, this easily determines the success or failure of your garment.

Buying Patterns

BIG 4 Pattern Companies

There are many ways to access patterns, at fabric stores you will normally find the big pattern companies such as Simplicity, McCalls, New Look, Burda etc. these patterns are arranged in pattern books by numbers and you will find the pattern number you want and they will give you the corresponding pattern. The patterns range from about R80 to R150 depending on the pattern company. These are printed on to tissue paper and you can either cut or trace your corresponding size. They come with written instruction on the order of construction and tips on sewing techniques. Some pros and cons from these patterns:

  • I find that in general these are not very user friendly as a beginner and the instructions are sometimes not very clear but once you’ve made a couple of patterns they become easy to work with.
  • It’s probably a good idea to trace your corresponding size because once you cut that size you can’t make a different size. So this can be time consuming.
  • I love McCall’s patterns, I think they right on trend, most trends coming from the runways, McCall’s will incorporate that trend on to their patterns releases.
  • They release patterns often with the corresponding season. Unfortunately South African fabric stores take about 6-12 months bringing these here, so I normally buy mine directly online from www.somethingdelightful.com and print it at home, that how I get most recent McCall’s patterns.

PDF/Indi Patterns

PDF / Indi patterns are normally from online small businesses that design patterns and release them as PDF downloads. You can either print the A4 papers and assemble them (which is time consuming and tedious, if you are like me or relaxing and therapeutic, if you are like you😉) or you can print them out at a copy shop in A0. PDF patterns can be quite expensive for us South African’s as most of these companies are base in the US, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and we know the the exchange rate is not favourable as the Rand is trash at the moment. Most patterns cost about USD 14/EUR 11/ GBP 11.50 which is roughly ZAR 243/ZAR 210/ZAR 240 respectively, these exclude the bank charges for buying in foreign currency so add approximately another R5 – R10 to these prices. This can get expensive really quickly but here are some great advantages to Indi patterns that I have found:

  • They have a large size range, therefore can accommodate a variety of body sizes and shapes. There’s a big movement in general for pattern companies to be more inclusive and Indi patterns are at the forefront at making the change.
  • The instruction are normally very good and they will give great tips and therefore learn techniques that you can use on your other projects. Most are very beginner friendly.
  • The also give great tips on fit issues and adjustments that you can make to correct those issues.
  • They use ordinary home sewists to test their patterns before they release them. I find that they therefore have good clear instructions and good fit overall because they were tested on a variety of bodies.
  • Since you get a PDF file, you don’t have to trace the pattern, you can cut your size and if your size changes just print it again. Not very environmentally friendly with all the paper usage but I get lazy with too much tracing.
  • They are usually time cost effective, as you can get to the fun sewing part quicker. Well if you decide to get them printed at the copy shop.

Personally I buy mostly Indi patterns and I am happy I discovered them first as these have helped build my skills and confidence quickly. I’m actually a Seamwork ambassador, I get to see and review the patterns before they are released. Seamwork has a large pattern inventory and I love mixing their patterns. If you would like to try the seamwork subscription, CLICK HERE to use my referral code and get $3 of your first month.

Pattern Drafting

The other side of sewing pattern is you can make your own patterns using the basic blocks/sloper. Basic blocks are the templates used in pattern drafting that you can use to manipulate to get the desired patten design. This is a skill that you can learn and there are many books that can help teach you how to draft your own blocks/slopers. I learnt patten drafting the same time I learnt how to sew. I would also recommend everyone has some basic knowledge of drafting even when you use a lot of bought patterns as sometimes you don’t always like a design feature of the pattern and drafting knowledge can help you know how to remove it or change it in the bought pattern. Here are some advantages to pattern drafting:

  • You draft according to your true body measurements therefore the fit is for you and your body.
  • You create the exact design you want to achieve, no need to hack.
  • If you would like to start a business or side hustle and make custom made clothing this is a valueable skill for your customers as you can offer them unique designs made for their bodies.
  • It is financially more cost effective than buying patterns, all you need is pattern paper and a pencil.

When I teach my students sewing I teach them how to make their own basic pattern block and sew it, I also teach them how to read and use a bought pattern. If you would like more more information to learn how to sew with me, you can Click Here to contact me.

I hope you found this like blog post useful especially if you’re a beginner and it gives you options. In sewing there’s are many ways to get the same place. Do what makes you feel comfortable and makes sense for you.

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