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best pattern for a real novice?

DashPat | Posted in Patterns on

I’m new to this group and quite inexperienced at sewing. I picked up some basic sewing skills from my mom, and I worked in the costume shop for a year as a theatre major (mostly sewing in zippers and serging seams) but I’ve never made clothing from a pattern. I’ve enjoyed sewing crafts lately and would like to try my hand at using a pattern to make a skirt or something simple to wear. The advice in Threads about Easy to Sew patterns not necessarily having a nice fit makes sense. Any advice about where to start?


  1. fabricholic | | #1

    You should have no trouble sewing garments, if you have put in zippers, and such. Go to mcallspatterns.com or butterick.com and pick out a simple blouse you like. Butterick lists if it is very easy, easy, average or advanced, I believe. Take your measurements and buy a pattern and material. It is easier to adjust the waist and hips than to adjust the breast on a pattern. You can make a practice shirt first and then adjust where you need. You can also, flat measure the pattern, minus the seam allowances to see if you need to add or subtract from the pattern. If you get stuck, I'm sure someone on this thread can help you. You will do fine.


    1. DashPat | | #2

      Thanks, Marcy! I'm going for it. I'm pretty sure I can lay out the pattern properly, but what is the best way to make markings? Aren't there several different ways?Best,

      1. fabricholic | | #3

        Yes, I use the little marking wheel and put the pattern marking paper on both sides of the material and just roll over the markings on the pattern, such as a dart line. I usually use orange marking paper. It comes in a pack or different colors. I also, have a blue chalk pencil.Marcy

  2. sosewnem | | #4

    Hi DashPat,

    I've been sewing for many years, though just recently started to sew for myself again.   This afternoon I went to the local bookstore and picked up a copy of Sew Stylish magazine, which is another magazine that Threads just started putting out (4 times per year).  I wanted to see it first before ordering a subscription.  I ended up buying it and have learned some new tricks of the trade even after sewing for so long.  I had thought I'd look through it and then pass it on to my daughter who is pretty much a newbie to sewing.  Nah!  I'm going to keep this!  I would recommend this new magazine to you because it has many helpful articles for someone fairly new to sewing.  (And as I read somewhere else - for those returning to sewing.) 

    In the section entitled "finding your best fit" there are several articles that are ever SO helpful! 

    I admit I was skeptical at first whether this would be of much use to me as a somewhat experienced sewer, and WOW - Yes it is.

    I haven't even finished going through it yet.  So, go to your local bookstore that sells magazines and pick up a copy - you'll see what I mean about how useful it is!



    1. AmberE | | #6

      Thanks for your nice comments on Sew Stylish. I love to hear this as I've always felt that while the magazine is for less skilled, it's a great little compendium of techniques. As to the question on the pattern, there is a Simplicity Sew Stylish pattern that goes with the magazine projects. It's a great way for a beginner to progress in skills.

  3. Ralphetta | | #5

    My pet peeve about pattern companies is their preoccupation with "only" 2 or 3 pieces, as if that solves everything.  Just remember that with more seams it gives you more places to "tweak" or correct little problems with fit as you are putting it together.  The other thing I've learned is to pay attention to the fabric recommendations on the back of the envelope.  Figure out what the common denominator is.  (Sometimes it's easier to figure out what is NOT being suggested.)  Some of my biggest disappointments have been because I thought I was smarter than them.  Good luck and have fun.

  4. sewingkmulkey | | #7

    With the experience you already have sewing and serging you should have no problem sewing a garment.  Fitting the pattern is the biggest feat and will greatly affect the outcome of your first garment.  I agree with Ralphetta in that you shouldn't steer away from a pattern due to the number of pieces it contains.  Princess seams, in particular, will give you a nice custom fit.  Also please remember that if your bust is a size "C" cup or larger that you need to go by your high bust measurement when selecting your pattern size to give the proper fit for your neck, shoulders, etc.  Then you can do a FBA for your bust.  This is very easy to do with princess seams.

    Best of luck!


    1. DashPat | | #8

      Thanks, everyone, for the tips and encouragement. I think my sewing skills will be good enough if I take my time, but it is the pattern adjustment process that intimidates me. The main reason I want to sew garments (I've been happily sewing crafty stuff) is to acheive a good fit that's hard for me to find in ready-to-wear, and I have almost no experience using patterns, let alone adjusting them. I've read some fitting articles, but can anyone recommend a rather basic pattern adjustment checklist?Should I start with a top, rather than a skirt? Will that be easier to fit?Thanks!

      1. Ralphetta | | #9

        Personally, I think a skirt is easier because you don't have to worry about things like sleeves, collars, buttonholes, that are usually part of a blouse.  I've always thought it was almost as easy to make a dress as a blouse....but maybe I'm just weird.

        1. SewNancy | | #12

          I think that it is easier to make a dress, unless of course you make a shirtdress! Simple skirt from one of the companies that have good directions. Try one of the Threads patterns from Simplicity or Sandra Betzia's patterns at Vogue as they have terrific instructions.

      2. sewingkmulkey | | #10

        Yes, I vote start with a skirt.  They are much easier to fit as you only have waist and hip measurements.  Look at the tops you have in closet then go shopping for fabric to match or coordinate - solid or prints - have fun!  You can play it safe with a simple A-line (possibly a print),  try one with pleats (solid), or get a pattern with an uneven hem or flounce.   I would, however, avoid a pattern cut on the bias for your first attempt. 

        Get some fabric that you dearly love and it will inspire you to dive into the challenge.




  5. fabricholic | | #11

    I don't know why I said make a blouse or shirt. Of course, a skirt would be more simple to make. I can be a goof ball. That doesn't mean to steer clear of other garments, though. Read all you can get your hands on about altering and fitting. That's the way I learn.


  6. spicegirl | | #13

    Just want to reinforce one thing - buy your pattern using your true measurements and not on the size you buy in ready made.  One thing I have been doing for years and is not for everyone, but I do not tuck in my tops, so I go with elastic waists.   Might try this with sportswear or pjs before you decide if it is for you.  Good luck, I think you will find sewing is fun.  Don't sweat the small stuff - we all have sewn the up side down and backwards at least once.  That's why they make seam rippers! 

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