How to make the most of your patterns

My first advice on pattern choosing is to look further than the models on the cover, Most of them look like Barbie rejects or Kylie Minogue wannabees,with big hair, wearing, outfits made of the worst fabrics they could find.

Maybe its just me? Look at the shapes, look how many different designs there are on the pattern, sometimes the pattern cover shows 5 different models wearing dresses, but it is basically all the same pattern with a slightly different feature,such as a different neckline or length of hem. If it's a pattern you are only going to use once, then that's fine. Other patterns can be much better value for money and have ,for instance a skirt,trousers and a jacket all on the same pattern.

When I first started sewing ,my obsession for buying patterns was almost as great as the one I had for buying fabrics,hence I have a sewing room full of fabrics and patterns I have never used. It was quickly beginning to resemble 'Steptoes yard', so I decided to take the bulls by the horns and get some semblance of order. I recruited my neighbour who is a little OCD to sort it all out for me. (Well, she seemed like the perfect candidate!) She sorted my patterns into drawers of shirts, dresses, separates, trousers, waistcoats and a miscellaneous drawer ,for things like bags and hats.

My favourite patterns which I use repeatedly, I reinforce with a fusible interfacing. This way, the pattern can be used over and over without ripping or becoming weak from pin pricks. Be careful not to have the iron setting too hot though, or the pattern piece will no longer be a pattern piece, it will be a STAMP!

Vintage Tweed Shift Dress
Evening Blue Crepe and Lace Shift Dress

Use the same pattern to create different looks. I have shown two pictures of the same dress, one made in tweed and the other in a vibrant crepe with a lace over lay. One is something I would wear during the day and the other is dressy enough to go out in the evening, both made from exactly the same pattern. I have a waistcoat pattern which I have made 6 times in different fabrics, ranging from pretty cottons to tweeds and also nice black shiny cotton fronted one with the back cut from a heavy lace and added a sprinkling of diamantes. This is lovely for evening wear.

When you become a little more proficient at using patterns you can mix and match patterns. This is something I do frequently. The photos of the two dresses, are made from 3 different patterns.

Wedding Outfit
Summer 50's Style Dress

The bodice, the midriff and the skirt. As long as you make sure they all meet at the same place it doesn't really matter, don't be afraid to experiment. Take care to ensure you sew with the exact seam allowance either side so that all lines match or the garment will look homemade and not impress your friends, you may receive comments like:- "Oh, I see you've started making your own clothes!" Ideally, the phrase you want to hear is :- "I love that dress, you are so clever!" Trust me; I've heard em all over the years!

Lastly, be very careful to read the pattern, to see what the finish sizes of the garment are. Quite often they will vary from the shop sizes. You may buy a size 12 in a shop, but the finish size on a pattern might be smaller so, that you will need to cut out a size 14! Hey, you're a little chubbier than you thought, GET OVER IT and make a garment that fits you to perfection!

Posted: 3rd March 2014


Julie Gromett

Hi Wendy, thank you for reading the blog. I will be doing regular updates. I am so glad you enjoyed it


Julie Gromett

Hi Print Me Perry, absolutely, fit and cut is everything. You can disguise all kinds of imperfections with something that fits well! thank you for reading my blog. I shall be updating it regularly.



Loving the blog :-) look forward to reading more


Print Me Perry

Good luck with the new venture! We missed you on Tuesday!

I like your comments in your last paragraph. Having a good fit is so much more important than the size on the label (or pattern.) I remember seeing a skinny model who must have been a size 6 or 8. However, she had squeezed herself into a too-small dress and looked fat! If she'd worn a size bigger she would have looked sensational.