How to Choose a Sewing Pattern for Beginners

Hello sewists! Hopefully you’ve been doing some of the crafts I’ve shared and even come up with your own crafts to practice, because now we’re taking the next step!

Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques of sewing through small projects and crafts, it’s time to move on to projects that require you to use a sewing pattern. Learning to use sewing patterns will open you up to a whole new world of sewing and give you more options for crafts and garments to develop your sewing skills as you become a sewinista.

A sewing pattern is a set of pieces and instructions that you use to create a garment or craft. The pattern will come with paper that you cut into pieces and trace onto fabric, and then cut out and sew those pieces together according to the instructions. It sounds really easy, but not all patterns are created equally!

When you go to choose your first sewing pattern, there are some things you should consider as you decide which project to take on. Here’s a guide you can use to evaluate a pattern before you take it home.

Look for patterns labeled “Easy,” “Simple,” etc. My rule of thumb is to find a pattern that you think you could sew with your current set of skills, put it back down, and buy one that’s one degree easier than that pattern. Not because you shouldn’t challenge yourself, but because it’s really easy to overestimate yourself and end up frustrated – I’ve done it several times! Fabric stores often have a display dedicated to very easy sewing patterns so that you don’t have to flip through the books, but if you do have to use the books you’ll find a difficulty level for each garment. The easy garments or crafts in the books are sometimes even separated from the intermediate or difficult ones. For now look for simple patterns on display, because these are usually for beginners specifically.

Check the “Notions” section on the back of the pattern. For now, look for patterns that don’t require any notions except thread. If other notions are required, the pattern will contain instructions for using these notions, but if you’re completely unfamiliar with the notion it’s best for now to just stick to old fashioned stitches. You should either see “Notions: Thread” or no notions indicated at all on the back of the pattern.

Check the recommended fabrics. Avoid patterns that call for stretch or double stretch fabrics. I recommend finding a pattern that lists broadcloth as a recommended fabric and then using that. It’s a very easy fabric to use. Woven cottons in general are what I recommend for beginners because they are very easy to use and you can often find a fabric that’s easy to maneuver without looking cheap.

If possible, find a pattern that calls for less than a yard of fabric. This isn’t always possible, but if you can find something that doesn’t require a full yard you may be able to find fabric at the remnant rack that can be used for the garment or craft. This is just a way to save money if you can, because remnants are pretty heftily marked down. But if you see a fabric that looks good and would work for the pattern don’t hold back!

Once you find a pattern that meets these criteria, take it home and get ready to take the next step in learning to sew like a pro!

Check back for more posts on how to use a sewing pattern! – Learn how to sew starting from step one
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