Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Sewing 101: Patterns

A friend of mine recently decided to get back in front of her sewing machine after a long hiatus and came to me with questions about where to buy patterns these days. I remember when I first started sewing - must be over 20 years ago now (and, yes, I did start sewing when I was five, thankyouverymuch) - you had to venture out to the fabric store, sit down at those banks of pattern books and dig through massive filing cabinets filled with patterns. My how times have changed.

For those of you just getting back into sewing, and those that are just starting out, here are a few of my favourite pattern resources to get you started.


Spool of Thread
Not only are owners Lili and Henry totally awesome, but their incredible selection of fabric is getting bigger by the day. You'll often find fabrics that aren't available in other stores and you'll never catch them stocking anything ugly (IMHO*). Of course, they also have a great selection of patterns available in-store. This, my friends, is what a modern sewing and fabric store looks like. If your skills are a little rusty or you are starting from ground zero, there's even classes to set you on your way and machine rentals by the hour.

It may be old-school, but you can't deny that Fabricana carries a HUGE range of fabrics and patterns from all the major manufacturers. I like the one-stop-shop aspect and the staff is incredibly helpful. Those who are new to sewing may wish to take this route just so that they can ask a few questions about the pattern they've chosen while they shop. I gotta say though, the major pattern manufacturers just don't seem to be putting out very current designs. Somehow, everything looks like it was designed/printed back in the early 90s.


Sewing books are awesome. For the price of some retail patterns, you get an entire book of ideas and inspiration, plus all the necessary directions and pattern pieces. Just be warned, all of the pattern pieces usually come on one really big piece of paper. And, yes, it is as overwhelming as you think. You'll need to trace the pieces you need for each pattern before you can get down to business. I find most of my sewing books at Chapters and at local fabric shops.

When it comes to sewing for little girls, Carefree Clothes for Little Girls is my go-to pattern book. I truly love the Japanese styling and since this one was translated into English, I actually stand a chance of following the patterns correctly!

From a technical standpoint, I really like Wendy Mullin's books (bottom two in photo). Her books include the basic patterns but also walk you through the steps to modify and make each pattern your own. Highly recommended if you're looking to take your sewing skills to the next level.

I've posted about several other pattern books over the years, so feel free to click on through and  read up on those ones as well.


Kind of goes without saying that the Internet is a great resource for finding patterns. But of all the options, I'd have to say that Etsy is probably the most useful when it comes to finding designs to suit any taste and skill level.One caveat, unless you know what you're looking for, it can be a bit overwhelming to sift through the search results. How overwhelming? I just got distracted looking at patterns for about half an hour when I popped over to grab the link above. D'oh!

Hope this post helps a few budding sewers out there. Good luck!

* It means "In My Humble Opinion" mom.


  1. Thank you for this post! Spool of Thread is just what I'm looking for. Can't wait to get a-sewin'!

  2. @Emma
    Emma, you'll have to send pictures of your new creations...good luck getting back in the swing of it.


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