Learn to Sew – How to Choose a Pattern

by Erin W

When you’re learning to sew choosing a pattern can be one of the most important steps. If you’re a beginner, then there are a few things you need to take into account before you make your pattern purchase. This post will identify what things to look out for when choosing a pattern, available resources to help you check the success of a pattern and also which brands are the most beneficial for you newbies.

Finding patterns that suit your body shape

It’s always fantastic to pick up a pattern on sale or online thinking you’ve got a great bargain. However, if you don’t do a little bit of research before you buy it, you could be wasting your money or setting yourself up for failure.

If you’re just starting out, one of the first things you need to do is go and have a look at your own wardrobe. Then pick out a few key pieces of clothing that you absolutely love wearing. You might want to start out with something simple, such as a skirt or a shirt. Look at how it’s made and identify why you like it. The main aim of this process is to understand what type of clothes fit your body shape and which patterns you should be starting out with, so that you don’t end up disappointed when you’ve finished your garment.

For instance, if you have a number of slim fitting pencil skirts in your wardrobe you can be fairly certain that a full pleated or gathered skirt is not going to work well with your body shape. Otherwise, wouldn’t you already own a number of these? If you’re still unsure there are plenty of online resources available that can help provide some insight as to how you should be dressing for your body shape. For example: Trinny and Susannah – Body Shapes.


Sewing Patterns for Beginners

Sewing has been growing in popularity, with more and more sewing pattern companies popping up online. We don’t just have the major sewing companies to choose from anymore, there are numerous pattern companies that you can order from online, download as a PDF and then print out at home on your A4, A3 or letter size printer. However, before you get your heart set on a particular pattern find out a little bit more about this brand. Some things you need to be aware of are:

  • How good are their instructions?
  • What’s included in your pattern purchase?
  • Is the pattern accurate to its sizing?
  • What reviews has it had (good or bad). Do they suggest any modifications?

Most major companies such as Kwik Sew, Butterick, Simplicity, New LookVogue and Burda Style all have professional instructions included in their packet. In addition, there are smaller online companies such as Colette Patterns, Victory Sewing, Jalie Patterns, By Hand London and many more who include neat, well written and detailed instructions perfect for beginners. Best of all, some of these brands actually label their beginner patterns as ‘Learn to Sew’ or ‘Easy’ because they only contain a limited amount of steps and pattern pieces. Go for these – they are perfect to get you started!


Image Source: Simplicity 8133 Pattern

Working through these ‘Easy’ patterns one at a time will help grow your confidence and understanding of sewing. They will guide you through key sewing techniques, such as how to cut a pattern, adding a gather, adding a pleat, inserting a zipper, connecting pattern pieces, interfacing, stay stitching and much more!

Pattern companies you need to avoid

There are particular brands that only include text written instructions which are often confusing and complicated for beginner sewers. These brands are aimed at the more intermediate sewers who have a good general idea about pattern construction and may not need to refer to them at all. These are the patterns we suggest avoiding as a beginner sewer, unless you have someone to help guide you through them when you get stuck, such as in a sewing class. We don’t want you pulling your hair out or getting frustrated before you’ve even begun. Learning how to sew takes time and practice, so don’t over-complicate it. Start off small and work your way to the bigger projects.

Research your pattern before you buy it

One of the best ways to identify how good a pattern is and how well it’s made, is by online reviews. Pattern Review is an online community of sewers offering informative reviews for people of all sizes. Users can also post photographs of their finished garments, which is one of the best ways to see what the pattern looks like when its completed. If you become a member (for a small yearly USD fee) you can read through their entire database of reviews. Learn about any problems people encountered, possibly sizing issues, instruction faults and much more! There is also a ‘Great for Beginners’ review section for you to browse through as well.

Pattern-ReviewImage Source: Pattern Review Photo Gallery

Join an online community

One of the best things about the internet these days is the help and support that you can get, especially in the sewing industry! There are unlimited resources out there to help, support and guide you. If you’re unsure of where to start I would suggest having a look at a few different patterns you like and then follow it up on Pattern Review. Find other members that have a similar taste in clothing or are a similar size to your body shape. You can add them to your ‘Favourites’ on Pattern Review, allowing you to easily check patterns that they have made. Plus, chances are they will have a blog showcasing all their garments, as well as giving information on different pattern companies they have tested out or tutorials they have either made or followed. This can provide a huge amount of inspiration for you to get started! Also, sewing bloggers love feedback, comments or questions, so reach out to them and ask them anything you want to know. Follow other blogs or pages that they are interested in and from there it will open up a whole new world of online sewing!

Once you’ve started why not start your own blog? You will be surprised at how incredible the online sewing community is in encouraging you through your sewing journey. Whether it’s good or bad, document how you went because soon enough even you will be helping others learn to sew!


If you’re interested in starting your own sewing blog the two main blogs that are supported by a number of the members in the sewing community are Blogger and WordPress. Best of all, these blogs are free to set up and very easy to use, allowing more time for sewing! Even a few of us here at Echidna Sewing have started our own sewing blogs. Follow Martyn Smith at Pro Sew and myself at Sixteen Stitches.

Stay tuned for more tip and advice for those learning to sew!

One thought on “Learn to Sew – How to Choose a Pattern

  1. Maureen Lupton says:

    Thank you for this info, after all these years I just found out what my shape is… this post I found very informative…

    Liked by 1 person

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