Pattern Ponderings

A cheerful, Monday morning to you all. I have my delicious Phoenix Latte in front of me, and today I’d like to chat about Free PDF Patterns. Yes my lovelies, truly free Sewing Patterns! What bliss! Using a Pinterest or Google search will pop up quite a few, even 1000’s of these however; I thought I’d share a few of the ones I like the most.

This week, I am still lusting after dresses, and easy to wash, wear and care work wear… which rhymes. So I have found, for your delectation and delight the following…

An Urban Outfitters Ecote Dress Knockoff. Now, as a lifelong Pattern Cutter I love a bit of searching the High Street for what you like but can’t afford and then popping home and making it up. In doing this I normally add/take away elements the original may have had or been lacking and end up with something unique in the process.

free pdf patterns postThis includes a hand made Pattern, full Sewing Instructions and would be a super easy make. There’re also instructions for making it larger (as I would have to)… I think I’d also be adding a little flair to the hem because this suits my body shape, and maybe some side seam Pockets. You’ve gotta love a bit of a Pocket in a contrast fabric!

This Pattern comes in a Small but you can find info on re-sizing Patterns here.

Next up is the Hemlock Tee Pattern from Grainline, which you may have heard talk about as it seems to have been endlessly made by many a Blogger! Paired with some Jeans or maybe some Capri or Cigarette Pants I think I would be happy with several of these! They’d also be a fab way to introduce yourself to sewing with Jersey (if you can’t make my T-Shirt Project Day of course!).

Britex x Grainline Studio | Hemlock Tee Pattern

The Pattern can be split to create a Two-Tone effect which I rather like. She also has some great tips for working with Jersey (She actually uses Tissue Knit, which can be awkward as hell but lovely!) and the Tutorial is very easy to understand however; you will need a Serger/Overlocker if you want to create it as it is in the Tutorial. A simple Stretch Stitch on you Sewing machine will enable you to create the top if you do not have access to one.

This Pattern comes in a S/M but you can find info on re-sizing Patterns here.

Finally, this fab-o Cropped Jacket Pattern from Camelot Fabrics!


This also comes in a S/M so check out re-sizing info here. I love the balance of this little Jacket, the Collar and the Short Sleeves. I think it would look amazing over a little dress for work or over Jeans and a Tee as they are wearing it. I’m always getting chilly so maybe this could be the answer for those awkward Spring into Summer days?!

It too includes a free PDF download, and The Coletterie have a great Blog Post about using PDF Patterns here. Having used quite a few, my advice would be to stick all of the A4 sheets together as explained then trace off on to Pattern Paper as this is much easier to use and pin onto Fabric. This has the added advantage of being able to pass the Pattern around if you know someone who would also like to make it! Ta da!!

Can’t wait to share more of these with you all, I am also working on a new Pattern Month all about Trousers so watch this space… it’s about to become Pattern Drafting central!

As ever, if you are in the Bristol area, why now check out my Classes and Courses, join me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter?

Happy stitching!



Top 5 posts of 2014!

Well readers, it’s been an interesting year! These are the posts published in 2014 which have been viewed time and again… thank you!

Whilst that’s self explanatory, I’d also like to say that the Pattern Free A-Line Skirt Tutorial and Pattern Month Tutorials beat these posts by a Country mile (but were published in 2013, so don’t count) however; this has made me so happy because I shall be concentrating on Pattern Cutting, Drafting and Making Up in the near future as I start to design and sell more Patterns.

I am so excited about this. I’ve got a new computer, new workroom and new passion and drive after a very hard end of the year which had left me questioning pretty much everything. But more of this later… on with the show!


Simple Sewing: How to Make a Patchwork Cushion

cushion43This is a fantastic make for any young or new Sewers out there, and you end up with a pretty fantastic Cushion at the end of the make too… and who doesn’t like a Patchwork Cushion?! You can make this with a couple of Fat Quarters and some backing fabric too so it’s pretty cheap. I love Patchwork for instilling straight lines and perfectly sewn seam allowances, I’m such a dreadful old bore of a teacher!

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See the original Tutorial here.


Corset Month

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Following on from the release of my very first Sewing Pattern- the Eventide Corset Pattern- this March I did a Sew-a-Long for the next month with hints and tips to sew up your very own Eventide! With such a fantastic reception (and despite the evil new VAT regulations)  I shall be releasing more Patterns in 2015, all of which will have a slightly Victorian/Edwardian or unusual flavour. I can’ wait!

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See the first article here which has links to all of the posts.


5 Tips for Product Photography

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Covering tips on Backdrops, placing your Products, Framing, Lighting and Editing Software it’s no wonder this tutorial is so popular! It’s part of an occasional series and was recently followed by 5 Tips for Craft Fairs.

See the original article here.


Notions: Concealed Zips


The first entry from the Notions Series, which is (or is supposed to be!) a weekly photo tutorial on a specific technique. Lamentably abandoned in recent months, I will be resurrecting it as soon as I can as they are ridiculously popular, and exceptionally useful in class! It is no surprise to me this is the most popular as Concealed Zips are a problem for a lot of Sewers’, I’m just pleased this has helped a little bit!

See the original Tutorial here.


The Sorbetto Top from Colette


Who else is looking forward to The Great British Sewing Bee in 2015? This is a post I wrote to accompany last years Sewing Bee, when they made a simple top… which covered an awful lot of Sewing Techniques! A lot of my students were left in a spin and I like the Sorbetto for teaching these techniques, whilst making a garment from not much fabric (also known as, if it mucks up, don’t worry it didn’t cost too much!). Covering making Bias Binding and sewing it on, Slip Stitching, Understitching and a couple other techniques this is a most informative little post and the Pattern is still free over at the Coletterie! Wow!!

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See the original Tutorial here. Added bonus, click here to see my Interview with Sarai from Colette!

Well, that was 2014, I didn’t do so bad upon reflection. I am trying hard to think which was my favourite post from 2014 and I think it has to be this one. There’s much to look forward to in 2015, and it all started in that little Studio!

Happy stitching!

Pattern Making Musings: Madalynne


Welcome one, welcome all to the last Pattern Making Musings! Boy, what a month it has been, and we are ending on a high with some great advice from Maddie of Madalynne.

Starting as something to occupy her during a holiday, Sewing turned out to be the most amazing transition for Maddie and you should hop on over to her website to have a read of how she got where she got! Starting out as a self confessed ‘Science Nerd’, she attended college yet never graduated, deciding instead to do something which I strongly advocate- get industry experience and stay there if someone offers you a job! Starting out as a Production/Technical Designer- which means tons of Pattern Making!- for Urban Outfitters she now teams Dressmaking and Pattern Making with Blogging for Urban Outfitters and… but I’ll let Maddie introduce herself properly…

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Hi, my name is Maddie Flanigan and I am the blogger behind Madalynne, the cool sewing and pattern making blog. If Steve McQueen was the ‘King of Cool,” then Madalynne is the “Queen of Cool.” My blog covers everything from how to draft a Sloper (Basic Block) to interviews with seamstresses and what projects I’m currently working on. For two and a half years, my day job was in the technical design department for a very large fashion company in Philadelphia, and about a year ago, this company took note of my personal blog and asked me to start an intranet blog that would create a cohesive voice for all their brands. Sweet, right? I consider myself one lucky lady to be able to do what I love both day and night (blog and sew), not to mention I receive a stellar discount off some really fancy clothes!

Do you have any other Blogs or Websites you would recommend?

All sewing and pattern making blogs provide a lot of useful information and each one has their own vibe. If you’re looking to strengthen your patterning and sewing skills, don’t focus on a particular blog, instead, pay attention to the post content. Any post about a garment that a blogger just made will detail the construction steps and tricks they used – that’s where you gain a lot of information.

What has been the best piece of Pattern Cutting advice you have been given?

The best pattern making advice that was been given to me was “use common sense.” At the time, I was working as an assistant technical designer and the woman I reported to, Alla, was a Russian pattern maker with over 30 years experience. I was a newbie in the industry, so I asked a lot of questions, but a woman can only handle so many, “Should I reduce the rise? Can I bring in the width from the side seams? What if I increased bottom opening?” After asking my umpteenth question, Alla turned to me and said, “Use your common sense!” So simple, but so true. Pattern making is not rocket science – a pattern’s curves and shapes must make sense and if they don’t, just put two brain cells together and make it make sense.


What is your must have item of equipment?

For this question, I’m going to have to answer with one of the simplest tools – a ruler or a measuring tape. Because I have experience in technical design, I’m a numbers kind of pattern maker / seamstress and I rely on my “specs.” When drafting, sewing, or altering a shirt, and this concept applies to other garments as well, I know that a body length spec (HPS to bottom opening) of 24” is perfect for my height and that anything longer than 29” long will look like a tunic on me. I stick to my numbers so much that I know my armhole depth by heart!

What Pattern, that you have you made, makes you the most proud?

I used to make elaborate garments that would take months to complete, but after finishing them, those clothes sat in my closet unworn because, well, where the heck am I going to wear a ball gown?! Over time, I’ve simplified the things that I make and as a result, I’m wearing more me-made clothing. Now, what makes me proud is not only that a garment is beautifully constructed, but that it’s wearable.

Which if the Independent Pattern Companies out there do you love at the moment?

Right now, my favourite pattern line is actually a book – Stylish Dress Book. It’s a Japanese sewing book that contains 15+ simple patterns. The designs are simple but also feminine and pretty. What I like most about these books is that even with a demanding full-time job, I can complete projects within weeks, not months, and that’s a great feeling.

How super cool is Madalynne? I especially love her advice about using your common sense. I am always telling my Pattern Class to use their eye, and if it looks a little odd on the Flat Pattern, it probably will make up odd. Don’t be timid- ironing out mistakes is what Toiles are for!

As ever, I would love to hear what you all have to say, comment below to join in! If you would like to read the other Pattern Making Musings the first was by Alexandra of IN-HOUSE Patterns, the second was from the lovely Sarai of Colette and last weeks was from Hannah of Sinbad & Sailor. Don’t forget to comment on Hannah interview to be in with a chance of winning a fandabbydozey Pattern from this new but oh so cool Pattern Company!

This weeks give away is all me baby! I am offering up the below bundle of goodies…

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A delicious Vintage Butterick Skirt Pattern, a stack of Dressmaking Zines including my newest Zips Zine, and one of my soon to be launched Sewing Tidy’s! Wow!! As ever, comment below to win. I’ll close the competition at midnight GMT 4th October 2013.

If you have just stumbled upon Pattern Month feel free to catch up through various posts from making the Basic BlocksToile and tips like Marking your Patterns, the Order of Sewing,  and Scaling Up Vintage Patterns! It’s great to have you with us!

Happy Patterning!

Pattern Making Musings: Colette

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A huge welcome to Sarai from Colette, who so kindly allowed me to interrupt her already busy days with questions about Pattern Making! At the end of this very informative Interview I am hosting a competition to win fabric and notions to make the Sorbetto Top by Colette, but more on that in a little while.

Founded in 2008 and ‘born out of a love of both sewing and the independent spirits of creative Women everywhere’, Colette are probably the most well known of the new independent Pattern Companies, with a gorgeous Vintage style, clearly illustrated and easy to follow instructions- their patterns include a super cute dinky little booklet stuffed full of illustrated instructions and even a glossary of sewing terms to help you in making up their designs- and an equally fabulous website supporting their Patterns and sharing sewing tips, they are definitely one to check out if you haven’t yet.


Their goal, and it shines through whether you are using a Pattern, reading their weekly Snippets email or following a Tutorial, is to make sewing patterns which are exceptional, easily adaptable to a range of fabrics and despite being influenced by the past are modern and wearable.

I was rather in awe of receiving a positive response from Sarai, and yet again I have discovered a book I hadn’t heard of before! I do hope you enjoy the following, please do not hesitate to share in the comments box!

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The Eclair, Oolong and Hawthorne Patterns from Colette available here

Are there any books you love which you could recommend to beginner’s and old hands alike?

I really love the book Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis, especially for beginner’s! I think she does a great job of explaining the basics for a home sewer, and there are some good ideas and inspiration for more advanced Pattern Makers.

What is the best piece of advice you can give?

As someone who makes Patterns not just for myself, but for a large group of people, finding a good fit model has been key. Fitting on a Dress Form is a great start, but there are so many things that look different on a real, squishy, moving human body.


Is there a piece of equipment you simply cannot do without?

We do our Patterns digitally, so for me it’s our massive 42” plotter. Having done many Patterns by hand, it saves so much time to be able to print and re-print our Patterns as we work out the kinks.

What detail of the Patterns you have designed makes you most proud?

My Negroni Pattern (a Men’s camp shirt), has long been one of my favorites. I find Menswear so fascinating, because it’s very constrained and there are definitely set ways of doing things. I love how traditional it is, but at the same time there are lots of little tricks you can use. I really enjoyed researching and writing about all the proper techniques.  I also love the Anise Jacket Pattern, and the little ebook of techniques we wrote to go with it. Again, I love the Patterns that are a springboard for learning.


Finally, are there any other Pattern Companies you love at the moment? Are you dying to make any of their Patterns up?

My friend Tasia of Sewaholic does trades with me sometimes, and I’m so itching to make her Minoru Jacket! I just need more personal sewing time to make it happen.

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The Iris, Lady Grey and Jasmine Patterns by Colette available here

Thank you so very much to Sarai again for joining us for Pattern Month! Although difficult, if you are making Patterns for others it is very important to fit the Toile on the body itself where possible. Sarai quite correctly informs us that this is a very different experience!

For this weeks little treat, I am giving away fabric to make Colette’s Sorbetto Pattern, which is free to download here.

As you can see, you will receive all fabric, notions and a couple of Laura After Midnight Zines to aide your creation of the Sorbetto! It’s a great pattern, and a wonderful place to start if you are just beginning to stitch your own creations. If you are a little more adept, why not visit Colette’s website and change the Pattern up a little? Full confessional: I was supposed to have made up an example, and I have some utterly wondrous Cotton Lawn all at the ready however the ‘flu is still with me and I have just not been able to. I want one so badly however; that I may have to whip one up over the weekend!

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I have chosen some lovely Cream Cotton with a print in Green. The best colour match is the final photograph. Along with the Fabric you will receiver Laura After Midnight’s Seams Zine and the Darts, Tucks, Pleats and Gathers Zine as well as matching Cotton Bias Binding, Vintage Buttons and some dainty Trim!

All you have to do to get your name in the hat to win is comment below. Why not share some of your Patterning experiences with us? All comments are welcome! If you are just joining us here on Pattern Month get up to speed here and read the first Pattern Making Musings with Alexandra of IN-HOUSE Patterns here. The competition will run until midnight next Friday GMT as usual.

Next week, as well as the third Pattern Making tutorial all about making Working Patterns, another Pattern related Notions all about Lays and a great Wordless Wednesday, we have Pattern Making Musings from Hannah of Sinbad and Sailor, and another give away!

Happy patterning!

Pattern Making Musings: IN-HOUSE Patterns

in house title card

Alexandra, of IN-HOUSE Patterns, was enormously enthusiastic when I contacted her about Pattern Month, and was more than happy to answer a couple questions about how she works and what design element she is most proud of amongst other things. Alexandra is most generously offering an IN-HOUSE Pattern of your choice in our first give away! My particular favourite, the Belle Bow Blouse, is simply gorgeous. Sleeveless, with a drop shoulder and gathered front yoke and featuring stitched pleats this pattern has a bow tied collar or rolled shirt collar option, as well as the option to make from a sheer fabric. This beautiful top would suit anyone, and just as soon as I have time I shall be making one up… but more on that later!

IN-House Patterns are a Vintage and high fashion inspired dressmaking Pattern company based in Canada. Designing patterns which are sleek and super stylish, Alexandra has an impressive background as a pattern maker, designer and fit technician for several apparel companies however; her desire to tackle her own personal fitting issues has lead her to develop In House.


Like many of us, Alexandra has been sewing since she was a child, and her desire to fit an average hourglass figure with a full bust shines through, and it is one of the many reasons I have come to admire and respect independent Pattern companies- they cater for us! What sets In House Patterns apart however; is that they have been developed to create a completely professional looking finished garment.


In order to achieve this professional finish, Alexandra says that In-House Patterns are not quite the same as many other home sewing patterns! They are developed using industrial construction techniques however; these have been adapted for regular home sewing equipment. As someone who teaches sewing, I wholly approve of this approach, as I strongly believe in pushing oneself to achieve the very best garment possible. Using a combination of industrial, historical and home sewing techniques in both my working life and in my classes has helped produce good looking garments quickly, creatively and with a good finish.

I do hope you find the following interesting, and more importantly informative! I especially found the books Alexandra has recommended very interesting as I have not come across one of them! It is even now at the top of my Christmas List!

 As a professional Pattern Cutter, are there any tools, or equipment you would recommend?

I couldn’t live without my computer. I do all my Patterns on the computer using Pattern Making Software and Adobe Illustrator. If you are Pattern Making by hand, use Professional tools. They are expensive but well worth the price, were designed specifically for Pattern Cutting and will streamline Pattern Development.

 What has been the best piece of Pattern Cutting advice you have come across?

 Maintain a 90 degree angle at intersecting seam lines. This is a super simple notion, but makes all the difference in the fit and hang of a finished garment. Some books don’t mention or demonstrate this well and I think it is one of the most important techniques for great patterns.


Are there any Books you would recommend to aid Pattern Cutting?

I love all pattern making books! I have a very large collection which I reference on a regular basis. My favourite book for Block development is Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. For general Pattern Making with lots of content I use Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong. Overall I’ve found that no one book can teach you everything and no matter what book/method/class you go to you will need to do the manual labour of tweaking and perfecting your patterns. Your greatest teachers are experimentation and experience.


Of the patterns you have designed, which stands out as something you are proud of?

I made a strapless dress with an inner corset bodice which turned out beautifully. I loved that the inner corset supported the entire dress while the exterior looked effortless.

There are so many new, interesting and exciting Pattern Companies beginning to emerge at the moment, which has you excited to start stitching one of their designs up?

Thread Theory Designs, which are Menswear Patterns designed by Morgan who was a student of mine in the very first Pattern Making Class I taught. She’s a fellow Victorian, and has been developing her line over the past year and she’s an absolutely lovely person.

Thanks to Alexandra for being the first Interview for Pattern Month! Read more from Alexandra on her blog, and she has some sage advice on developing Pattern Blocks here. Pattern Cutting Software is something I have been meaning to investigate, having been trained in just the very basics at Uni. As quite a few of our interviewees have spoken of their love of CAD I am tasking Fella with assisting me! Do also look up Thread Theory Designs, their Parkland Wardrobe Builder Package is awesome, I especially love the cardigan. It’s completely unique and wonderful to see trendy, unusual patterns for men.

As I mentioned Alexandra is rather kindly giving away an IN-HOUSE Pattern of your choice. All you have to do to be entered in to the competition is comment below either about what Alexandra had to say, or with your own answers to any of the questions! Simple! The competition will run until midnight GMT next Friday.

Belle Bow BlouseBlossomPDF sewing pattern for a knit cowl neck top from In-House Patterns

IH6000-Claire sketchKimono Tee PDF downloadable sewing patternNew York Mini

Next week, as well as the second Pattern Making tutorial all about making up a toile, another Pattern related Notions and a great Wordless Wednesday, we have Pattern Making Musings from Sarai of Colette, and a rather special give away!

Happy patterning!

Pattern Month!!

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I am declaring September to be Pattern Month!

In response to suggestions made by my wonderful followers I am going to be blogging alongside my classes with tutorials, advice and information, give-aways and competitions, reviews of and interviews with independent Pattern Companies such as Grainline Studio, By Hand London and In House Patterns to name but a few and many other Pattern Cutting related posts.

Each week there will be a tutorial of the Class I will be teaching that week which will include the following schedule:

To include taking accurate Measuring For The Perfect Fit and the drafting of the Basic Block, Skirt Block and Sleeve Block. Other posts in the first week will include a resources guide and a Notions on Marking Your Handmade Patterns as well as an introduction to Pattern Month on Pinterest, a killer Wordless Wednesday from one of my Vintage Sewing Books and an interview in our new weekly Pattern Making Musings and give away (eek!, it’s going to be soo good!).

Week 2 will introduce the Toile, adding Seam Allowance, relocating Darts and sewing up in preparation for fitting. Another beautiful, 60’s inspired Wordless Wednesday, a short but thoroughly interesting Snippets From Pattern History,  and a fantastic Pattern Making Musings with Sarai of Colette Patterns!

Kicking of the third week is a post all about Fitting your Toile, with resources pulled from my Vintage Sewing books and various other wonderful websites and blogs. Fitting the Toile also has a great little video tutorial on fitting. There will also be a very useful guide to Scaling Up Vintage Patterns, and using PDF Patterns, a fantastic Video from Dior which displays the amazing things one can accomplish when designing, a Wordless Wednesday for the Pattern Month Pinterest archive, a cheeky little re-blog from Etsy all about Patterning and Making your own Leggings, and a Pattern Making Musings from Hannah of Sinbad & Sailor.

  • WEEK 4: Making Working Patterns

Finishing off a fantastic Pattern Month, this week started with a post all about Making Working Patterns. With advice on how to break the design down by making a Technical Illustration, and a visual guide to the many pieces needed to create a design. Other posts included a Wordless Wednesday from a stunning Japanese Pattern Book, a post which talks about Pattern Books, and why having one is super important, an Order of Sewing from my Vintage McCall’s Sewing in Colour which is just superb and the last Pattern Making Musings from Maddie of Madalynne.

As reference I shall be using the wonderful Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. If you seriously want to start drafting your own patterns, I would highly recommend this book. I would also recommend furnishing yourself with some Pattern Paper (I prefer plain however; the more prevalent is Dot and Cross), and a Pattern Master. Sharp pencils, a selection of colourful felt tip pens and a calculator would also be useful.

My Notions series of posts will also be given over to Pattern Cutting and include useful tips on marking patterns and what information should be written upon each piece, marking the fabric, lays and the order of sewing, much of which will be taken from my collection of Vintage Sewing Books (I bought another a couple days ago tee hee!!), more information on which can be found here.

Lastly, I am very much hoping to have a couple of guest posts and interviews with some of the wonderful new up and coming pattern companies which are out there… a couple have already been in touch and I am seriously excited about what I have in store for you!

I’m too excited about Pattern Month and I’ve spent all evening making Fella help me learn how to make Buttons for you all to share!

I’d love to have you along for the ride! Feel free to place the button below on your Blog…


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It promises to be a great month! Who’s with me?

Happy stitching!!