Sewing Guide: How to Shop for Sewing Patterns

Shopping for patterns is the best part for me when it comes to sewing; however, I have noticed from many postings on sewing forums and websites that shopping for patterns is the worst part for some. There is no part of sewing that I don’t like, but I was dumbfounded at the fact that there are sewers who have a difficult time shopping for sewing patterns. I searched the internet both high and low looking for tips, and of all the free advice about sewing, there was only one article about buying sewing patterns: it was vague to say the least, and it had the usual regurgitated information that you can find in a half-written sewing book. Therefore, I decided to create this article in hopes to ease some of the stress and difficulties of searching for that perfect sewing pattern.

  • Know your measurements

Knowing your measurements or the measurements of the person you will be sewing for is one of the most important and basic steps to finding the right sewing pattern to purchase. As a sewer, it is your job to know what fits your body which makes knowing your measurements that much more important because you will be able to find patterns that will enhance the parts of your body you love as well as hide the parts you dislike. Should you have your measurements memorized? It depends on how good your memory is. Some memorize their body measurements and others simply like to write them down in their sketch books which probably comes with a section specifically for taking down measurements. Knowing your body measurements will not only make sifting through the hundreds of sewing patterns easier, but you will know based on the picture on the front of the sewing pattern envelope whether or not the garment presented will enhance your figure or make it look unflattering. Knowing your body measurement will save you a lot of time and stress.

  • Know your skill level

Knowing what your skill level as a sewer is also important to know when you walk into a store like Joann’s or Hancock Fabrics because sewing patterns are rated by sewing level: easy, moderate, hard. If you are a newbie to sewing and you are still struggling to thread a hand or machine needle, do not go over to the Vogue pattern’s section where it deals mainly with couture or purchase Wallies’ patterns that are specifically for advanced to expert sewers. If you are new to sewing, purchase a McCall pattern that does not require much technique and then build on your skills. Don’t take knowing your skill level as a means of sticking to what you are good at because there are plenty of times when I have walked into a sewing store or purchased patterns online that were too advanced for me, but I purchased them anyway because they were on sale and I knew with constant practice I could build my skill level. If you see a good price on a pattern, I say purchase it but don’t necessarily stress yourself out by trying to sew a pattern in which your skills don’t match.

  • Have an idea about what you want to sew

You will be surprised at this fact, but I know many sewers who go into sewing stores hoping to wing it or find that sewing pattern that speaks to them. Don’t go the ghost whisper route because you will be in the store all day, and you will have the workers looking at you closely the entire time. Have gist of what you want to purchase before walking out of your house and make a note of it. If you are going to a dinner party and you want to stand out, think about some dresses that fit into the idea of a “little black dress” or cocktail dress theme. Or, if you are going to the beach and you don’t want to have the same swimsuit as every other person on the beach, look for patterns specifically for swimwear. Having an idea about what you want to sew will also be beneficial when it comes to speaking with store associates because they have more knowledge than you about where specific patterns are located and if there are some available in the back that are not out front on the shelves.

  • Know how much you can afford

Knowing how much you can afford is probably self-explanatory, but I can’t tell you the number of times when I walked into a sewing store and did not have enough funds to purchase the pattern I wanted. Knowing how much you can afford will not only help you stay on budget, but it will also make sure that you can get that pattern your heart desires because if I have learned anything it’s this: popular patterns sellout quickly. Another reason to knowing how much you can afford is for price comparison. There have been plenty of times when I have gone into my local Joann’s and have seen prices that were both higher and lower than what they were offering; by doing a price comparison, you can get a better deal by letting the store know how much their competitor is selling it for. Never miss out on an opportunity to make a deal.

Although I have only listed four tips for purchasing sewing patterns, knowing these four will making shopping for sewing patterns less of a headache. If you are a novice sewer, then it will take time for you to find what is right for you when buying sewing patterns. You may use my tips and add on more that you have developed on your own, but the point is to get out there and have fun shopping for patterns because it really is a great experience once you get the hang of it.

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