Tips for Choosing a Pattern

So it’s always tricky trying to choose which pattern to make. Especially when the pictures on the front of patterns are so uninspiring and never look fashionable. Sometimes I wonder if they make them deliberately unfashionable so they are rubbish in whichever decade they sell them in!… anyway… Here are a few things I do before I choose a pattern, and I hope they’ll help you too. You don’t need to do all these things, and if you have any tips of your own, be sure to comment below to share them with others.

How to choose a Pattern

The first thing to do is decide which garment you wish to make… Dress, Skirt, Trousers etc… thats the easy bit! Once you know that you can start searching for the ‘look’ you would like to achieve. To do this I have either an online search or pop into town for a little inspiration.


I subscribe to lots of shop and designer email newsletters, this gives you a little inspiration in your inbox every day. I love to look through them either when eating my breakfast or my lunch. I find it keeps me up to date with the latest trends and… I always pick shops and designers I love, but can’t always afford to shop at!

Lots of the shops, designers and celebrities I love, I also follow on instagram, this is a great place not only to get inspiration of shapes and garments but also colours and fabric to use. It’s great to follow bloggers on instagram too.

boden clothing christopher kane hm songsofstyle

Bloggers & Vloggers… These are like magazines on your computer, and as a self confessed magazine-a-holic I am fast becoming a Blog and Vlog-a-holic. Some Vloggers on YouTube also do ‘Hauls’ where they share things they have bought recently. It’s a great way to find out whats in the shops, edited down so you don’t have to trawl them yourself.


Pinterest… This is one of my favourite idea factories. I don’t really type in for sewing project ideas unless I want to make something crafty. I tend to search for things like ‘Wedding outfit inspiration’ or ‘Autumn outfit ideas’ or ‘Winter Coat 2015’ and the inspiration just keeps coming. Sometimes I also search for celebrities who’s style I love.

In the Flesh…

As I said before I am a magazine-a-holic, and I also subscribe to fashion magazines as well as sewing ones. They are a great way to find out what looks you would like to create yourself, and get an eye for the style you love.

Before buying a pattern or fabric I always have a walk around my favourite shops. Not always the ones I buy from either… yes you will of

Look at others… My friends have amazing style and usually a bigger bank balance than me, so I always look at things they are wearing for inspiration too.

When you are using all these avenues to get ideas from, you need to know what to look for. So here is what to keep an eye out for, and maybe even make notes on;

  • The Shape of the Garment – Look at where the seams lie, the length of sleeves etc.
  • How it Hangs – Does it drape or does it hold it’s shape?
  • The Fit – Are there Darts or seams to make it fitted?
  • Fastenings – Look out for where the fastenings are, what they are and how it effects the garment
  • Features – Do they have a peplum? Look at the shape of the neck, cuffs etc.
  • Fabric – Are you warming to a particular fabric or colour?

All these things will help you then decide which pattern you would like to wear the most having made it.

Finding a Pattern…

When choosing the pattern you need to bare all the above findings in mind and DO NOT LOOK AT THE PICTURE ON THE FRONT OF THE PATTERN. Yes I know that’s a bit extreme, and I am shouting! But the picture on the front of the pattern is always really rubbish! Never ever use this as a guideline for the garment you are making. On every pattern there is a line drawing of the garment. This is great to see the shape and seams of the garment without being persuaded by fabric choice and styling. See how the inspiration I saw for a dress led me to choose this Newlook Pattern?… The line drawing made me choose it, not the picture of the girl on the pattern.

dress inspirationDress PatternBack Pattern View

Once you have chosen the pattern, be a bit more sure by searching on google or Pinterest for the pattern name and number. You will see pictures of other people who have made the pattern and therefore be able to see it in different fabrics and on shapes. It gives you a little idea of the versatility of the pattern.

A new website has recently been released where you can search for patterns from lots of different websites called The Fold Line. It has a fab search tool which shows loads of pattern companies I never even knew existed and I love it!


Here are a few places I buy patterns from… – My go to for commercial patterns – They always have great sales on patterns and fabrics – A Canadian independent pattern company who make gorgeous designs – Home of lots of gorgeous independent patterns – A great community of both pdf and paper patterns – Great for easy to wear PDF Patterns.


Vintage Sewing Patterns


I just spent the whole afternoon looking at MaddieMod patterns on Etsy. It started with a request from a friend for a backless maxi-dress and finished with the realisation the whole afternoon had disappeared and my green tea had gone cold, but it was worth it.


Just looking through the images of vintage sewing patterns makes me fall in love, I love the style of them. The way the models have their hair and make-up done… big eyelashes, beehives and bendy waists. I am not sure people will look back on the sewing patterns of today with such fondness. They seem to have the same feel, even though just drawn, as models in a magazine and I just adore them…

Simplicity 8153


Of course… the fact I can actually make the item of clothing shown just completes the package. I have a particular love for 1960’s patterns, not just the pattern envelopes, the style of the clothes suit my body shape and I find the clothes are easy to wear but still look stylish. The 1960’s shapes are so classic and flattering I think they will always be fashionable. The shift dress patterns made in modern fabrics translate really well into clothes for today.

Butterick 4692McCalls 8755


If you are thinking of buying vintage patterns to make then remember… sizing from any era will be different from today, so always check the size measurements rather than just the number. If a dress is fitted on the bust (like the ones above) then go by the bust size. If you are making a skirt or trousers fitted on the hips go by your hip size.

Try to imagine how the dress will look in modern fabric. I always concentrate on the shape of the dress and the way it hangs. Most of the time you wouldn’t even know an item of clothing has been made from a vintage pattern, except I think it has a more individual, designer feel to it, far superior to buying vintage clothes. It’s the ultimate… vintage cuts, in modern fabrics.

Polynesian Pattern Lokelani 162Simplicity 6510


…and then there are the patterns where you can’t ignore the vintage fabrics, the ones you buy, but haven’t quite plucked up the courage to make in bright yellow fabric or orange and purple crochet…and it would be sacrilege not to. Sometimes these are the ones I collect just because I love the eccentricity of them.

Polynesian Pattern Kanani 121 Golden Hands Pattern


and each pattern I find just reminds me to never throw out a pattern… ever.

Have you made a vintage pattern? Whats your favorite era?


What to look for when buying a Sewing Machine…

I always get emails from people asking for advise on buying a sewing machine for the first time, so a friend suggested this post to help everyone out… and here it is;

I hope that helps you choose the perfect machine for you. I would love to hear about what sewing machine you have…

Happy Sewing x