Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Essential Guide to Choosing Your Sewing Patterns

Top Pattern Collection Tip: After finding and listing all of the patterns you will need, organize them by company to take advantage of discounts and sales. You can use the printable worksheets in this post to help you.
Attempting to sew a  year round wardrobe for 3 kids is a big undertaking. Not only does it require a substantial amount of time, but the money that you would normally be spending on clothes goes to patterns, fabric and notions leaving little room for error. Even with that in mind, the results of sewing an entire year round wardrobe can be rewarding beyond measure. 
 The first step to sewing a designer wardrobe  is to acquire a collection of  quality sewing patterns.

As with most things, careful planning can help you reach your goal. Today's post focuses on selecting the patterns you will need. These patterns are your building blocks. They are the structure of your wardrobe. Every thing that comes after is cosmetic. I've included two free printables (see download links below) that I created and use myself to help keep my projects organized. 

Free Printable from to help you build the pattern collection of your dreams!

The Pattern Collection Building Worksheet can be used as a checklist for the basic patterns that you will need to sew a year round wardrobe for a girl. If you are sewing for a boy you can still use the printable. They're is plenty of room to add additional options.

Organize Your Pattern Wishlist by Company to get the most out of sales and multi purchase discounts

The Sewing Pattern Wish List  printable can be used by anyone, even if you are not planning to sew your child's entire wardrobe. It is a pattern wishlist that can be organized by company. Print one sheet for each company. I keep them with my sewing patterns and when there's a sale on a particular company I pull out the corresponding wishlist and stock up. It's also great for taking advantage of the multi-purchase  discounts that many pattern companies offer. 

But with so many patterns out there how do you choose?

My pattern selection process starts with three basic questions.

What do you know?

Read as many reviews as you can about the pattern. Is there a common problem that a lot of people have? If there is do you know how to fix it? Are you familiar with the suggested fabrics and techniques?

What can this pattern teach me?

If the answer to any of the previous questions are a no, that doesn't mean that the pattern is not worth buying. Take a closer look at it. Is there something really unique about this pattern that you don't think you could do without instructions? I have included a section in the first printable called Learning Patterns. I reserve this space for the "statement" pieces of my children's wardrobe. These patterns include techniques that I want to learn and improve on. They also feature an interesting and unique design to add a little style and flair.

What else can I do with this pattern?

The majority of your patterns will be basic patterns. You will want to keep them as simple as possible so that you can alter them to create a few looks from the same pattern. My children will go through at least 10 pairs of pants each in a year. That's 30 pairs of pants that I need to be able to make out of 3 or 4 patterns. Dress patterns can also be used to make shirts and skirts and vice versa. The best patterns are the ones that come with variations. If you have a dress pattern with multiple sleeve options, you can then use those sleeves on any garment that you want.

Where do you start?

There are an infinite number of patterns available on the market. Sorting through them all and weighing their pros and cons can be overwhelming  The best thing to do is start with what you know. Choose two or three pattern company's that you are familiar with, either from sewing with them before or from reading lots of reviews. 

Buying the majority of your sewing patterns from just a handful of company's will make it easier to mix and match the design elements giving you infinite possibilities. 

It will also help you become familiar with the quirks and techniques that each company uses frequently and in turn your sewing projects will be completed much faster and easier.

Most likely, you will not be able to find everything you need from these few companies. I would never recommend buying a pattern that you don't absolutely love under any circumstances. You will be using these patterns over and over again for at least a year, possibly longer depending on the size options. After choosing as many patterns as possible from your main companies, venture out and find one or two more sources that you can use as a backup for when you can't find exactly what your looking for.

Here is a list of the company's I use. If you scroll down farther you will see exactly which pattern's I use from each company and why. I prefer independent pattern companies for the convenience,  more accurate sizing charts, and the number of reviews available.

My Top 3 Choices for Patterns
Peek a Boo Pattern Shop(affiliate link)
Go To Patterns(affiliate link)
Violet Fields Threads (mostly learning patterns)

My Back Ups
Simplicity has a huge selection but I recommend using a muslin because sizing their sizing charts tend to be off.

My Essential Patterns


Woven Fabric - Still looking Please leave suggestions in the comments

Knit (Stretch Jeans) - Peek a Boo Pattern Skinny Jeans (affiliate link)
Why: Bonus matching doll pants, easy to slim down or add more ease for other pants styles

Knit (Leggings) - Go To Leggings (affiliate link)
Why: The pattern includes lots of variations in length and details

Pajamas - Simplicity 3669
Why: Pajama pants are fairly easy to draft on your own, but I liked the tops available with this one. The pants are also very easy to adjust for size

Shorts - drafted from pants pattern


Why: tailored collar, two sleeve options, also includes a dress option

Knit Bodice - Carousel Top(affiliate link)
Why: Received great reviews from others, easy to alter 

Sleeve Type Variations - Go To Signature Dress pattern (affiliate link)
Why: 7 sleeve options, Tons of other variations

Dresses and Skirts

Knit Dress - Go To Signature Dress pattern(affiliate link)
Why: Tons of options, the possibilities are endless

Woven (lined dress) Go To Patterns Juliette(affiliate link)
Why: Includes a petticoat 

Woven (unlined dress) - Simplicity 3902
Why: This is possibly the most perfect pattern to ever come out of simplicity. The sizing is accurate, the princess seams are perfect and it is very easy to put together.

Knit Skirt - Self Drafted Pattern
Why: You can find tons of free tutorials with a simple Google search

Why: Basic yet interesting design


Lined Jacket - Still looking, Please leave your sugestions in the comments

Unlined Jacket - Jalie 2795
Why: Every size from toddler to adult. You can use it year after year for every member of your family. If you are comfortable with pattern altering you can also remove the zipper to make a pull over hoodie. 

Winter Coat - Still Looking, Please leave your suggestions in the comments

Raincoat - Peekaboo Patterns Puddle Jumper Raincoat (affiliate link)
Why: The sizing is much more accurate than other raincoat patterns I've tried

Winter Coat - Still Looking, Please leave your suggestions in the comments

Hoodie - Go To Patterns, Hang Out Hoodie(affiliate link)
Why: Multiple sleeve options and a dress options

Cardigan - Peek a Boo Patterns V-Neck Cardigan(affiliate link)


Why: Just a personal preference

Swimsuit - Peek a Boo Patterns Sun and Fun(affiliate link)
Why: Basic easy to alter, also great for ballet leotards

Bathrobe - Still looking, Please leave your suggestions in the comments

Backpack - Still looking, Please leave your suggestions in the comments

Handbag - Mother Huddle Little Bitty Bag
Why: This is a free pattern and it is better then any handbag pattern I have bought

Why: The pattern needs a little bit of adjustments to make it perfect but it includes a bonus matching doll pattern.

Learning Patterns

Peek A Boo Patterns Jasmine - One shoulder dress (affiliate link)

Peekaboo Pattern Pier 49 - Convertible Pants (affiliate link)

Violette Field Threads Vivienne - Layered Skirt with ruffles 

Violette Field Threads Whitney - Pleated Trousers and skirt

I am still looking for a pattern that teaches bound buttonholes. Please leave your suggestions in the comments.


  1. Cool post! I keep a list of patterns I want &try to get them on sale too! I usually browse catalogues each new season & make my list. I only recently began using PDFs- but for commercial patterns I use them all. I find the KwikSew patterns to have the best instructions, but they almost never go on sale :)

    1. Do you have a JoAnne's Fabric near you. Sometime's they will put them on sale for as low as a dollar right before the new patterns for the season are announced.

  2. This is great information! Thanks so much for linking up with Pin It Tuesday! I am a new sewer and glad to have you as a resource!

  3. Wow! Love this post. I need to do this to revamp my old wardrobe. Found you via Pin It Tuesday. Pinned and new follower.

    Handmade at Warratahstree

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this at my say G'day Saturday party. I've just shared this on my Say G'day Saturday Pinterest board and on Twitter.

    Hope you have had a great weekend!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

    1. Thanks so much for sharing. I hope that it encourages a lot of people to try sewing some of their wardrobe at home.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...