One of the things I love to do with my spare time (the little I have) is to sew. It’s such a lovely thing to take fabric and a pattern and create something beautiful. For those who’d like to try sewing, or are looking to get back into it, finding the right patterns is key.
So where do you find the best patterns?
The traditional place to buy patterns is a fabric store. They have pattern books on display where you choose your ideal look. Then you locate your code and size in cute, old-fashioned filing cabinets. I have fond memories of selecting my grade seven graduation dress just before we bought ALL the taffeta. But that filing cabinet is not the only place to look.
Here are few that you may not have tried …
Monthly Burda Magazines
Burda magazines are my pattern secret. They are released every month with around twenty (yes, twenty) patterns within them. You have to draft them from confusing pattern sheets and the instructions lose something in the translation from German to English. This post is spot on. However, once you get your head around those things, it’s such a great way to access a heap of patterns for around $20. You can buy the magazines from some new agents, or via subscription. Or you can a buy a yearly subscription for your mum and borrow hers (like I have).
You can also download patterns from a number of sites. Burda have their own site and I quite like the Tessuti site as well. The way it works is that you print the pieces out on your A4 printer. Obviously, the pieces will be bigger than A4, so there are visual guides to show you where to cut and paste the pattern pieces together. Yes, you have to make your pattern before you make your garment, but it is cheaper than buying the paper pattern. This post is helpful if you are wanting to try this.
Opshops, eBay and Etsy are great places to search for patterns – particularly vintage ones. Or ask your mum or grandmother – they may just have a stash they are willing to share. Just be mindful that the measurements have changed over the years. A modern day 10 might be a yesteryear 12 or 14 and the actual silhouette has changed over the years. I tend to match with my waist size and the grade hips and bust up or down as needed (mostly up).
Free Online Patterns
There are lots of online sites and lovely, lovely bloggers that offer free patterns. Like so often is the case, a quick Pinterest each is the best way to source them. Check this out.
Your Own Library
You can build your own library of patterns when you draft them from magazines like Burda or download them. I find it helpful to store them in plastic sleeves in lever arch folders. You can take a photo or print out the instructions and keep fabric samples with the pattern. Once you have a few pant, dress, skirt and top patterns you love, it’s easy to change them slightly and adapt them. Hems can be shortened and lengthened. Sleeves can be adapted. Darts can be omitted or added.
Your Wardrobe Templates
Your own wardrobe offers patterns. You can use what you have as a template to draft a pattern. This works particularly well for simple garments with limited darts and few separate pieces. Things like pants and simple dresses. I have an example on the blog here.
Brisbane city council libraries stock magazine titles that include pattern pieces. You borrow out the pattern templates with the magazines and draft them out. All it costs you is tracing paper and time. Some libraries do stock Burda, and there are other magazines, like Sewing World that have a pattern or two.
If you intend to sew a fair bit, you might like to create your own pattern blocks. These are basic pattern pieces that you draft exactly to your own measurements and then mix and match to create different patterns. You will need to find a good pattern book and some tutorials to help you.
For the daring, the experienced and those that have fabric to waste, you can always drape on a dummy (sized to your measurements) and sew as you go. You do this with a muslin first to get the exact fit and then with your final fabric. I have never had much success. The contestants on Project Runway blew my mind as to how they did it with apparent ease. If you have the knack, I’m impressed (and slightly jealous).
In the spirit of today’s post, I made the wide-legged printed pants.