Sewing Patterns

Sewing patterns can be a mystery when you are first learning to sew. I hope to resolve some, if not all, of the mystery for you. Starting with where to buy patterns, how to buy pattern and so on.

Sewing Patterns

 Where to find Sewing Patterns

Sewing patterns are easy to find. Your local fabric store will have catalogs featuring the various pattern companies.

Your local fabric store is a good place to start when looking for patterns. You can also shop on line for independent pattern companies as well as the large commercial pattern companies . There are almost endless options for sewing patterns.

An example of an online pattern store is You Can Make This.

You Can Make This website offers a wonderful variety for crafts and children apparel and the patterns are easily down loaded, so you don't pay shipping and handling or wait for your pattern.

The big pattern companies such as Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity to name a few, have user friendly, informative websites, that offers all the categories of patterns available.

I like to go online to see what sewing patterns are coming for the new seasons. Often the fabric stores have not yet received their newest catalogs and shipments of the most updated patterns for sewing styles, which the pattern companies have designed.

Going online and having a look to see what is coming to your local fabric supply stores is fun and gives a look at the newest fashions, decor, and craft patterns, coming ahead of time.

McCalls, Butterick,Vogue, and Kwik Sew patterns.
Simplicity and New Look, and Burda Patterns Websites
Burda patterns for sewing.
Jalie Websites

Vintage Patterns

If vintage fashion is your thing. There are many sites that help you find vintage patterns.

  • Vintage Stitching
    Buy authentic original vintage sewing patterns from the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's. We carry vintage patterns from all the major manufacturers. Worldwide shipping

Amazon is often the place to find reasonably priced vintage sewing patterns. I often find "out of print" and hard to find patterns on Amazon that sellers have in their inventory. If you are looking for something specific try looking here. You may have some luck where you didn't before. 


I like Simplicity sewing patterns for many reasons, vintage styles are one of them. They carry a good variety and you can count on the ease of sewing most of their styles. The only one obstacle I'll mention is if your Canadian, you will most likely have a difficult time finding a fabric store or any store that carries Simplicity patterns. This is very disapointing as I am Canadian. However, as I mentioned above, Amazon is a great place to find what you need.


I love Vogue vintage patterns. Vogue carries the classics and they have a good selection. The one thing I will mention as a down fall, they are more expensive than the other vintage patterns available, but if you don't mind paying a bit more, it is well worth it. 

Vogue Vintage Patterns

Drafting Your Own Patterns

Another alternatvie to purchasing sewing patterns would be to draft your own patterns. You can learn "how to" Pattern Construction on your own time, in your own space, at your own pace.

This method allows you to learn to draft your own simple patterns. There are plenty of books that can show you how to do this. The book below is a pattern drafting text book I purchased after taking a pattern drafting course. I highly recommend this book, it was worth putting out the money and has saved me in the long run from having to purchase commercial patterns. 

The Pattern companies

McCalls, Butterick,Vogue, and Kwik Sew sewing patterns.
Simplicity and New Look, and Burda Patterns Websites
Jalie Websites

Some of the sewing pattern companies own a number of the pattern brands.  McCall’s Patterns company produces Vogue and Butterick patterns for sewing. McCall's online you can now find Kwik Sew patterns. 

New Look patterns are produced by The Simplicity Pattern Company. 

The Burda Pattern Company is European and offers edgy European styles. Burda is now being offered by Simplicity Patterns. You can purchase Burda Patterns right from Simplicity website. 

Vogue sewing patterns tend to be more expensive, but they offer designer fashions as apposed to Butterick and McCall’s that offer main stream, North American styles of fashion.

Simplicity, New Look, and Kwik Sew are wonderful patterns for sewing basic styles in addition, if you are first learning to sew, these patterns are great to start out. However, you will find easy to sew fashions in all the pattern labels.

One more pattern company I would like to mention is Jalie Patterns.

This is a smaller pattern company, and their patterns are a little harder to find, however I like the fashions they offer and I have found the fit of the completed garment is accurate to the pattern cover photo.

You can also find stretch knit patterns and out door apparel that are not always available from other pattern companies.

How to Choose A pattern

First Thing. . . You need your measurements

how to take your measurements
  • Waistline : It is easier to find your natural waistline if you loosely tie a string around your middle and let the string fall into place. This is where you will measure for the waist. Leave the string in place, for when you measure the hips.
  • Hips: The fullest part of your hips is usually 7" to 9" inches or 18 to 23 cm below the waist, so use the string as a reference.
  • Fullest bust area: Put the tape measure across the widest part of your back and under your arms and around the fullest part of the bust.
  • Back Waist Length: Place the tape measure on the bone at the base of the neck in addition, measure to the string at the waistline.
  • Height: Measure standing against a wall without your shoes. With a flat instrument such as a ruler, indicate the top of your head and place a mark on the wall. Measure from the mark to the floor.

Now that you have your measurements, you can look through pattern catalogs at your local fabric store or go online. I recommend going onto the websites of some of the major pattern companies to start looking for patterns to sew, especially if you live in a more remote area.

  • Depending on your skill level, choose a pattern for sewing, that is equal to your skill level. Some of the pattern companies, list the difficulty level on the front of the envelope.
  • I would like to mention a website I refer to often, for information and tips, as well as a unique page that lets you see what a garment will look like and details about the pattern.

The photos and information is submitted by sewers of all levels. You simply click the pattern review link and type in the pattern company and pattern number and 95% of the time some one has already made the garment for you to see.

You can become a member and this will allow you to add your own reviews of patterns and a lot more or you can just view what others have done. Either way it is worth checking out

The Pattern Front & Back

sewing patterns online
sewing patterns online
  • The pattern envelope is full of information that you will need. At first glance, it looks complicated, if you do not know what to look for on the front and back covers. Believe me they list everything to help you choose the right pattern and the right fabric and notions.
  • Check to see if the garment or project has buttons, zippers, or pleats etc. If you are just starting out I would choose something simpler. You will only end up being frustrated in addition, you could risk not finishing your project if you find it too difficult.
  • Also, choose a pattern for sewing that is right for your body type. It does not matter if you are slim or short or tall or what your shape is, there are some styles that will not look right on you. So take the time to look and choose wisely.

I once made the mistake of buying a pattern style that would have looked great on a women that is 5' 10" and slim.

I am slim but I am 5'3" and this long flowing gown looked terrible on me. In this case I have the sewing experience to take the dress apart and change the dress to suit me.

I made the dress and it turned out great, but I was in a time crunch and this did not help.

So even someone that has been sewing for many years, should take the time and choose a style that is right for them.

When I am choosing a style, I prefer (although not necessary)to see a photo of the completed garment on the cover of the envelope. It gives a better idea of how the garment will fit and hang.

The front cover gives multiple views so you can see how many options the garment/s has to offer.

It may show trim alternatives, variations of length, fabric choices and degrees of difficulty.

sewing patterns online
  • Before you purchase your pattern be sure to check the size. In some cases the pattern will offer multiple sizes within the pattern. This means the pattern offers you cutting lines for all sizes listed. In any case, be sure you have the right size because patterns are not returnable.
  • The photo above shows the flap of the pattern envelope. You can see the measurements that correlate with the pattern sizes available.

Over view of the front cover:

  • Multiple views showing style and fabric variations.
  • Pattern company name and style number.
  • Indication of difficulty.
  • Size indication, showing multiple sizes.

On the back cover

sewing patterns online

On the back cover you will find the style number repeated as on the front.

The sewing pattern you choose, will give an over view of the style, fit and what is involved in constructing the garment.

  • There is a body measurements and size chart.
  • Do not be alarmed when you see you are now a size 12 on the chart, but you wear a size 4 in ready to wear clothing. The sizes for sewing patterns are larger.
  • So don't buy a sewing pattern based on the size you wear in retail clothing. The size of pattern you buy, should reflect, what your measurements are and the size indicated on the pattern chart.
  • Something else to consider, do not buy your pattern based on the finished garment measurements. The finished garment measurement allow for the ease or movement of the finished garment. If you make a garment and it has more ease or is more loose than you would like then you alter the garment in the construction process. So again, buy the size you need based on your body measurements and the sizes given on the pattern size chart.
  • Some times you will find that your top measurements are one size and hip measurement is another. This is when multi size sewing patterns, come in handy. You can alter the pattern to fit your body measurement quite easily.

Suggested Fabric Box: This indicates which fabrics are best suited for this style of garment. It is a general guide line, but when your starting out, I would suggest sticking to the suggestions listed. Finished garment measurements are listed to show finished length and width.

Reading a sewing pattern
Reading a sewing pattern

Over view of the back cover:

  • Style number.
  • Garment description.
  • Body measurement chart.
  • Suggested fabrics.
  • Finished garment measurements.
  • What notions are necessary.
  • Number of pieces given and view of garment back.

Fabric Calculations section, tells you how much fabric (and or notions and lining if needed) you will need for the garment view and size you are making. It will show you how much fabric you need depending on how wide the fabric is on the bolt.

It is not a hard and fast rule, but fabric generally comes from the factories as 45" (115cm) or 60"(150cm) so the pattern for sewing your project will list the fabric needed according to these two widths. So look for the size you have decided on a follow the chart down to the appropriate fabric suggested for that garment.

At the bottom of the pattern back, you can see how many pieces are in the envelope and a view of the garment to see details.

The number of pieces in the pattern is a good indicator for how difficult the construction will be.

Inside The Sewing Pattern Envelope

You will find the pattern pieces neatly folded, as well as the instructions that give you a step by step guide to constructing your project or garment.

Open the the instruction sheet and you will see information on, cutting out the pattern for sewing, seam allowances, number of pieces for each view. They have listed tips for, fabric preparation seam finishing, pattern markings, and seam allowances.

  • Here you can see the pattern gives you what the marking symbols mean on the pattern pieces. Once you open your pattern pieces, you will see symbols that may be confusing. Refer to the instructions to clarify any of these.
sewing patterns online
  • Here the photo shows each piece required to make this garment. In this case, all the pieces will be needed.
  • However, with a pattern that has multiple views or styles available, you would refer to this to determine which pieces you need for which style you will sew.
  • You can determine which size you will need to cut out based on the measurements you have taken of your self or whom ever you are sewing for.
How To Sew Understanding sewing patterns
  • These photos offer information about cutting your fabric. Read these first before cutting out. This will help you to eliminate errors. Or at least keep them to a minimum.
sewing pattern
  • Also, shown are cutting layouts. Look closely to see the correct layouts for the view/s you have chosen as well as your fabric width, there will be a layout according to the width of your fabric.
  • Circle the layout that is correct for your sewing project you have chosen, this will help keep your focused on the right layout.
sewing patterns online
  • These two photos show the step by step instructions the pattern gives you.
sewing patterns online
  • Most patterns are clear and easy to understand.
  • However, I like to read through the instructions before I start sewing, so I know what to expect and I understand what each step en tales.
  • Please read carefully each section of the sewing pattern instruction sheet before cutting out the pattern pieces or laying out your sewing pattern on the fabric.

Sewing patterns for garments and projects, are readily available and chances are you will find something that appeals to you.

If you read over the pattern envelope and depending on what you choose to make, again, be sure that you have the correct size and read over the sewing pattern front and back before you buy.

A little bit of effort on your part can assure a smooth and enjoyable result in the end. I hope this helps.

Do You Have A Sewing Tip? Want To Share Your Tip? Or Do You Have A Sewing Question?

Share Your Tip or Question With Your Fellow Sewers!

If you have a question, please give as much information as you can.
For example the pattern brand and number of pattern or photos of what your working on. This will make it so much easier for me to help you.