Sewing 101: Sew What? Choosing a Pattern

Posted in: Sewing 101 — By on October 4, 2010 7:34 AM
Sewing kit?  Check.
Sewing set-up?  Check.
Now what?

At this point, if you haven’t already, it’s time to decide what you want to sew.  There are so many types of projects to choose from:  clothing, cushions, handbags, curtains…the possibilities are endless.  A word of advice: It’s best to try something fairly simple for your first project.

Sewing Patterns

There are a few kinds of patterns you can use for your project…

  • Commercial Patterns — These are found in most mainstream fabric stores and craft stores.  Common brands are Simplicity, Burda and McCalls.  You can browse through the pattern catalogues at fabric stores or check their websites to see the selection. We recommend checking out reviews of these patterns before buying (a great website is
  • Non-Commercial Patterns — These are patterns made by less mainstream companies and designers and can be found at specialty fabric stores or online.  Online patterns are sometimes sent to you electronically so you can print them out yourself.  These patterns are often more interesting and unique than mainstream commercial patterns. (Jordynn Mackenzie has her own line of sewing patterns, but check out too!)
  • Do It Yourself Free Patterns — For basic projects such as cushion covers, or custom projects like curtains, you may find that you can make your own pattern.  It can take some practice and patience, but this is a great way of tailoring your project to exactly what you want and need.  After a few projects, you may be able to make your own patterns for clothing and handbags, or customize pre-made patterns.  (We suggest browsing around websites like,,, or just doing a google search for tutorials and DIY pattern ideas.)

Patterns will say what level of difficulty they are — take this into account when choosing your first project.  Even if you’re the next Coco Chanel, it’s probably a good idea to start with an EASY pattern.  Remember:  If it has sleeves, it ain’t easy!

So find a pattern that you really want to make. Make sure that’s directed at your skill level and get ready to sew something!
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