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.


Make for Your Man… How to make a bow tie


Lots of people don’t believe in Valentines day and the way it has become so commercial, but I think if there is an excuse to tell someone you love them… why not take it!?

Bow Tie

So, just ditch the commercial bit and make something for your man this valentines. Handmade gifts are so thoughtful and he will love it… and look great in it too!



Fabric – if you use a thicker fabric your bow tie will be more plump! I have used a blue/grey linen for this example and I am really pleased with the results.

I got my linen from Fabworks in Dewsbury and the floral above from B&M Fabrics in Leeds Market.


Cut pieces of fabric:
1 x Bow Tie: 12.5cm x 37.5cm
1 x Knot: 9cm x 7.5cm
2 x Band = 54cm x 4cm (Cut this piece to a point at one end)


1. With right sides together fold the Bow Tie piece in half length ways and press.
Stitch with a 1cm seam allowance around the cut edges, leaving a gap to turn through. Repeat with the knot piece.

Stitch and leave a gap

2. Clip your corners and turn through the gap to the right side showing. Hand stitch the gap with a slip stitch. Repeat on the knot piece.

Slip Stitch

3. Fold in half width ways and measure 6cm from the non-folded end. Then stitch together at 6cm.

Stitch Bow Tie

4. Open out the ends to bring the line of stitching to the centre…

Open Bow Tie

5. Lay flat and ‘stitch in the ditch’ to fasten in this position…


6. Pinch the bow tie to make a pleat in the middle.


7. Wrap the knot around the bow tie and hand stitch to secure.


8. To make the band… with right sides together stitch the 2 band pieces together, leaving an opening at the non-pointed end to turn through…


9. Clip the corners, turn through and press. Then hand stitch the open end, closed…


10. Thread the bow-tie onto the band and secure with a hand stitch if needed…


11. Add a popper at the end to fasten…


Tah Dah… You have made a bow tie! Package up in a pretty box and give to your man. I found it easier to leave the popper off until I had given the bow tie to my hubby so I could get the length of the tie fitting perfectly.

Bow Tie

How to make a simple drawstring bag…

Drawstring bags are one of my favourite things to make, one: because they are so easy, and two: because the possibilities are endless. A simple homemade drawstring bag can give any gift the personal touch, or make a messy toy room tidy again. You can use up small pieces of left over fabric, or it is great for Fat Quarters you may have stashed away somewhere. I love these drawstring bags and hope you do to. I would love to hear what you will be putting in yours…

Make a Drawstring bag

Just follow the steps…

Step One…

Cut Fabric Size


Step Two…

Hem Top Edges


Step Three…

Measure Ribbon Holes


Step Four…

Stitch your Seams


Step Five…

Press Seams and Turn


Step Six…

Stitch Top Channel


Step Seven…

Turn and Thread Ribbon


Now you have made your drawstring bag!… What will you use yours for? I have decided to give mine as a housewarming gift for my friend. My Dad keeps bees and she just loves his honey so I am going to give her some honey in my homemade drawstring bag… I hope she likes it!Gift with Honey

Our New Studio

After we received the news that the venue we hold our Sewing Classes in Leeds had been sold and we could no longer hold them there, we searched high and low for a suitable place. It was a long search and nothing seemed quite right, or was right… but at the wrong price! What I really wanted was my own place, somewhere I wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else, somewhere I didn’t have to travel to… and that is when the idea of the Sewing Studio was born!

Studio Landscape

We recently moved house to a lovely 1930’s semi-detached house on Rock Lane in Leeds, and although there is a lot of work to be done, I just knew it would be the perfect home for us. At the bottom of the sloped garden was a step down, about 22 foot wide and 10 feet deep. This would be the perfect place to have a studio to hold my classes in. Yes, there was a pond and a massive cherry tree to remove… but hey, I have a husband for that!

Overgrown garden Pond etc

The biggest difficulty was digging the trench for the electrics to run from the house to the garden… 2 feet down and thick clay soil with lots of rockery. Mitchell attacked it with a pick-axe and after a run in with the washing line, it was off to A&E… ouch!

Pick Axe

After clearing the jungle that was the garden (the house had been stood empty for a while, after its hoarding owners had vacated!) it was time to lay the base. 2 tons of hardcore wheel-barrowed down the garden and what seemed like a mountain of concrete later and the Studio had somewhere to sit.

Then on the magically day when the studio is delivered and it is to be erected in all its glory… the skies opened, but hey, we’re british!… We don’t let a bit of water get in our way, oh and did I mention, we are due to have classes in here in a week!?

9 Pictures

And whilst the men worked hard… Mum provided lunch and tea-a-plenty!

Once the studio was up it time for the technical bits… electricity and lights. Then… my favourite part of all… making it pretty!

Inside the Studio Photos

I cannot thank my Dad and my Husband enough for all the hard work they put into making my dream come true. We have now held 2 classes in the new studio and it seems people love it. A few more decorations needed to brighten it up, but I guess that comes with time.

Inside the Studio

It just goes to show that if you have a vision, and a Husband and Dad with a bit of muscle, you can achieve your dreams.

the perfect setting

We look forward to sewing with you in our new Studio soon x

(…remember… it’s not a shed!)

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?


Make a Button Peg…

The perfect accessory for your padded noteboard and great way to peg your notes to your board with a pretty twist…

Step 1. Drill a hole in a peg. If you don’t have a drill then bore a hole with a sharp point.  Step 2. Cover a button with your chosen fabric.  Step 3. Paint your peg and push the button stem through the hole in the peg.  Add some glue if needed.  Step four. Admire your pretty peg x

Make a Padded Noteboard

I am a note writer… notes on whats for dinner… what to wear… what to blog… so I was in desperate need of somewhere to stash them all and I had a very blank wall to fill in my sewing room! This padded noteboard did just the trick. I made a large one to cover an entire wall but you can choose your size.

I have used a staple gun (my new toy which I am obsessed with! Anything which wasn’t stapled down… it is now!) But you could use pins, tacks or nails.

Voila!… your life is organised… well your scrappy notes are at least!

We think this would make a great present too, if you made a small one for someone.


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