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Make choosing a sewing pattern easy - we discuss paper, digital, printed fabric sewing patterns,
as well as drafting software and other pattern sources

It’s exciting times for sewers as new sewing pattern companies have sprung up making pattern choices much more interesting. But what type of pattern do you choose? Choosing the right pattern is important, it’s the first building block to a successful garment.

Tracing a paper pattern

This has been the most longstanding way of making and sewing your own clothes. Printed patterns usually have 3 elements: the envelope, the tissue pattern and the instructions.


  • You’ve a tangible pattern that can be used time and time again
  • Comes in an envelope that can store everything together
  • Many have multi-sizes so you can cut out the size that best matches your measurements.
  • Making adjustments for a better fit can be marked on the pattern


  • Well-used patterns become tatty and torn. Although you can make a duplicate pattern from freezer paper or from special squared pattern paper as shown in the photo above.

Most of the independent sewing brands now offer the digital choice and being able to download a pattern from the internet is becoming a very popular way to buy patterns.


  • There's no print production or postage charges so these can be a cheaper way to buy patterns
    (but not always).
  • Pattern is immediately downloadable
  • The pattern can be saved on your computer and printed out as many times as you need for making different sizes or alterations.
  • Many of the patterns are exclusive
  • There can be a much wider range to choose from

Some sewers don't like to join the printed A4 pages together to form the pattern pieces but this should take no longer than 20-30 minutes.

Waffle Patterns PDF sewing patterns are particularly good quality PDF's and have arrows on the pages to help line up the pattern.

Here's just a few of our favourites:
Waffle Patterns, Go To Patterns, Lekala, Colette Patterns, Sewaholic, So Sew Easy, On the Cutting Floor, Tilly and the Buttons, Christine Haynes, Sew Over It, Megan Nielsen, Liesl & Co, Burda Style, Indiesew, Salme, Tessuti, Victory Patterns, Jamie Christina, Made by Rae, Thread Theory.

Some companies offer their patterns printed directly onto the fabric providing a kit that contains everything needed to make the garment. This makes the dressmaking process quick and easy, and it's ideal for beginners and experienced sewers.

skirt printed pattern kit from clothkits.jpg

Clothkits has a fab range of fabric kits. This skirt is designed exclusively by Minimodern and has a fun pet and sounds fabric design that's been printed with a special pattern  guide so that you just select the size you want and cut! Available in sizes 8-20 for £38 and along with many other skirt and dress designs from Clothkits.


  • Very simple to make and follow
  • the kit contains printed fabric ready to cut and sew, zip, thread, label and the step-by-step instructions


  • Can be more expensive but remember this does include fabric and everything you need
  • You are limited to the fabric chosen

Pattern drafting software is a digital computer programme that allows you to input your own measurements and print out a personalised pattern block and eliminates some of the fitting issues.

Here's a couple if you are considering buying software:

Lutterloh - The pattern system consists of written instruction an instruction DVD, sewing hints, fashion styles with its corresponding sewing patterns, a cardboard tailors curve and a tool-set.

Soft Byte - Fittingly Sew is a UK based company whose main products are built-in pattern and body blocks for woven fabrics. The software gives you full control of where to place darts, tucks, pleats, as well as  seam allowances.

Wild Ginger - PatternMaster V5 software has a host of software packages for pattern drafting and looks like pattern envelopes with each CD-ROM containing one garment with a variety of variations much like a regular. The come with tutorials to show you how to save the patterns with your won measurements, and there's no size limitations! You can get a demo to download before you buy which is really useful.

TIP: Do make sure that any software you buy is compatible with your PC before buying!

wild ginger patternmaster.jpg

There are a wide selection of books and magazines that feature patterns including:

Burda style is a beautifully laid out magazine with over 40 patterns in each issue that offers a whole world of fashion for sewers. All patterns are rated by sewing expertise and there’s something for everyone, from the beginner to the more advanced. A great magazine bringing the craft of sewing to a new generation of fashion designers, fashion enthusiasts and DIY’ers. Priced at £9.99 per issue.

BurdaStyle magazine - June 2018

Many of the  sewing magazines have a selection every month of sewing patterns and sometimes with pattern sheets. Sewing books can sometimes include a selection of patterns too like the new Merchant & Mills Workbook (read the review) or Sew Over It Vintage (read the review).

Fabric or pattern first
This is the age old question. The pattern has been designed with specific fabrics, fabric weight, drape and stretch in mind. If you’ve a certain fabric in mind, make sure that you choose a pattern that includes it on the back of the envelope. Fabrics are usually listed from the easiest to the more difficult.

Easy, Intermediate and Advanced
Most patterns will have a sewing rating to show how difficult the pattern is to sew from beginner (easy), intermediate and advanced. The rating can be quite subjective and can vary between the pattern companies but it’s a good stating point. To understand more about the pattern, you should read the insturctions to see whether it has techniques that you’re happy to tackle buttonholes and adding a zip.

 If you have just started to make your own clothes, choose a relatively simple pattern with a not too fitted style such as an A line skirt or tunic top. Many sewing patterns companies will have their own collection of patterns for beginners. 

How to take accurate body measurements - Simple tips to help you get the best fit possible!
Threads to get good results - How to choose quality threads that are right for the job
Dress for my body shape - Learn to balance your silhouette and choose styles that suit it!
Beginner's guide to sewing pattern - get to grips with pattern lingo!

3 ways to create your own embroideries

Embrace the embroidery trend!
Here are 3 ways to create embroideries

1. By machine

You’ll need an embroidery machine or your sewing machine may also feature a range of embroidery stitches.

Janome MC500E

Janome’s embroidery only machine
The MC500E is the latest embroidery only machine from Janome, which can offer sewers professional-style embroidery at home. The embroidery machine is capable of producing designs up to 200mm x 280mm, making it easy to embellish garments accessories and furnishings. The full colour display screen tells you everything you need to know. Choose from one of the built-in designs or download your own from the internet – this model has a host of powerful editing features providing extensive creative opportunities such as flip, rotate, resize, edit or combine designs to make your project one-of-a-kind. The machine stops automatically after sewing each thread colour so you can walk away while its embroidering, then just thread up the next and see the design develop before your eyes.

2. By hand

A hand-embroidered design can really make a garment truly personal to you. There’s lots of websites with free downloadable designs or if you’re creative, you can sketch out your own design.

We love the new free embroidery designs from DMC Creative which are downloaded from their website. The Summer Peony Flower & Good Luck Dragonfly is shown on this denim jacket and the Cherry Blossom design shown on this stripy Breton top.
The DMC Creative designs are available to buy as kits too, which means you get all the coloured threads you need to stitch the design.

Summer Peony Flower kit, £12.96
Cherry Blossom kit, £6.48

3. Fake it with a motif!

There are some lovely ready-made motifs and patches. Give a garment in your wardrobe a new leash of life. Could something you made ages ago do with a bit of a refashion? Motifs come in iron-on, sew-on and glue-on options and are a great quick and easy option to customise.

We love this large floral cluster design - Design A130, £6.50 from Simplicity

Simplicity large embroidery flowers - 1930104005a.jpg

Things you’ll need to create embroidery designs

1. Stabiliser
Use a stabiliser to back your fabric. This will help your embroidery to stand out, retain its shape, and give you a much crisper professional finish.

2. Hoop
A hoop is an essential bit of kit and keeps your fabric taut while stitching. They come in a variety of sizes so choose one that comfortably fits your design.

3. Correct thread and needle
Use embroidery thread that is designed for the job. Hand threads, which can be divided into several strands are handy and allow you to vary the weight of your stitches to add depth to a project. Select a good quality thread that is washable and fade resistant. Use a ballpoint needle for best results. The pointed end will pierce and stitch most fabrics,

Embroidery tips:

It’s easier to add an embroidery while the pattern piece is flat and before before putting a garment together.
If new to embroidery, start with a small design that’s not too challenging.
Always do a test embroidery first on a spare piece of your chosen fabric.

The ultimate guide to dressmaking books released in 2017

If like us you're hooked on sewing books and can't get enough of them – we've got the ultimate guide to dressmaking books, which were released in 2017

Designing Clothes with the Flat Pattern Method
By Sara Alm

Sewers learn a technique that opens up myriad possibilities for making one-of-a-kind garments with this book. By using basic pattern blocks called slopers, Sara shows you how to design new shapes, style lines, and fashion details - creating patterns for nearly any piece of clothing they want to sew. For example, taking  basic straight skirt pattern, and it can be converted into any other skirt design. Change the hemline or the basic skirt shape from straight to A-line to full swing with gores. Try adjusting the waistline placement or convert it from waistband to waistline facing, and change the style and placement of the closures. Once sewers understand the basics of flat-pattern designing, the options are endless. Divided into sections – skirts, tops, and trousers, the knowledge is easily transferred to designing other garment such as dresses, shorts, jumpsuits, and outerwear. 
Where to buy
Published by Creative International Publishing, and available for £15.18 from Amazon.


Singer: The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing
By Nancy Langdon

This is such a good reference for every sewer and includes 352 jam-packed pages and 1,200 photographs covering every aspect of fashion and décor sewing. It will help you choose the right tools and notions, use conventional machines and sergers,
and perfect your fashion sewing and tailoring. With step-by-step instructions
for basic projects beginners and highly skilled sewers will turn to this book time
and time again. This is the third edition and has been updated with new photography and the latest innovations in sewing products and techniques. Learn how to get the most out of your sewing machine, take proper measurements , read and understand commercial sewing patterns, alter store-bought patterns for a perfect fit and achieve thoroughly professional results.
Where to buy
Published by Creative International Publishing, available for £16.99 from Amazon

The Maker's Atelier: The Essential Collection Sewing with Style
By Frances Tobin

A career in fashion, a love of fabrics, a lifetime making clothes, a keen sense of style that works for women of all ages and shapes make Frances Tobin patterns for
The Maker's Atelier so successful.
Frances has designed eight essential patterns, with options to create a collection of 31 stylish pieces for your wardrobe. The collection is mix-and-match, offering garments for all kinds of occasions where key fashion trends have been improved to create versatile simple staple shapes, which translate well into dressmaking patterns to make easy-to-sew garments.
Patterns come in sizes 8-20 (UK) plus guides on measuring and fitting, and advice on fabrics.
Where to buy
Published by Quadrille, and available from Amazon for £19.82 (normally £30)


Sew Caroline Weekend Style
By Caroline Hulse

Popular sewing blogger, Caroline Hulse’s new book is perfect for those learning to sew, and includes must-have-tools and materials, basic stitches and step-by-step finishing techniques. The book is full of pretty pastels, modern photography and wonderful easy-to-follow projects, making it a perfect title for your summer sewing and crammed full of wardrobe must-haves. A couple of our favourites are the afternoon skirt, Saturday morning shorts, date night skirt, and darling shift dress.
Where to buy
Published by Fons & Porter, distributed by F&W Media in the UK, priced at £18.99 and available on Amazon for £11.10.

The Skirt Emporium
By Madame Zsazsa

This is a fun, quirky book that’s packed with 25 gorgeous, colourful skirts for adults up to size 20 UK (16 US) as well as some for children. Using the clear explanation, useful sketches and beautiful pictures to guide you, choose from A-line, bell, circle, straight, gathered, wraparound and elasticated styles, and also learn how to add underskirts and create maternity wear. All the skirts can be easily customised using the full-size pullout patterns, and each is shown made from several different fabrics and trims to inspire you to follow your own personal tastes. With tips on stitching, advice on choosing fabric and a comprehensive guide to cutting and using the patterns, the book shows you exactly how to create your own fun and flattering designs!
Where to buy
Published by Search Press, and available for £9.78 from Amazon (normally priced at £12.99)

Stylish Wraps Sewing Book
Ponchos, Capes, Coats and More - Fashionable Warmers that are Easy to Sew

By Yoshiko Tsukiori

Popular Japanese fashion designer and author Yoshiko Tsukiori presents a fabulous new collection of lightweight wraps that are easy to sew and look fantastic.
The book provides five pull-out patterns, which can be used to create to create 22 timeless wraps to keep the chill off and look great in the process. Just a few of the pieces that can be made using the patterns are a casual-to-dressy hooded cape, flowing draped jacket or vest and a simple, feminine, lightweight poncho. 
Yoshiko Tsukiori is an icon of DIY fashion, garnering fans in France, Australia, the UK and the US, as well as in her native Japan. She is the author of the universally popular Stylish Dress Book series.
Where to buy
Published by Tuttle Publishing, and available for £9.55 from Amazon (normally priced at £11.99)


Stylish Remakes
Upcycle Your old T's, Sweats and Flannels into Trendy Street Fashion Pieces
By Violette Room

Now you can use Japanese fashion ingenuity to up-cycle and re-invent tired old clothes and charity shop finds into trendy new clothes. In this book, Violette Room - the Japanese clothing company known for relaxed, everyday styles - shows you how to give new attitude to clothes you've had hanging around for years. With just a little cutting and sewing you can create fun new pieces from flannel shirts, T'shirts, sweatshirts, bandanas and more. It's inexpensive and often free too. Add a fun and fancy bow or collar to your favourite T-shirt or sweatshirt. Make a dress or bag from a handful of old bandana scarves. Combine a skirt and top to create a unique new dress or tunic. Craft a fashionable new skirt or dress from a pair of flannel shirts. Embellish your old sweats and other odd bits-and-pieces to morph them into something new!
Where to buy
Published by Tuttle Publishing, and available for £6.66 from Amazon (normally priced at £7.99)

A Beginner's Guide to Overlockers, Sergers & Coverlockers
By Clémentine Lubin

Get the most from your machine whether its an overlocker or coverlocker with this comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide. Full of practical advice to help you master all the features and applications of your machine, you will learn how to handle your machine using its more complex features and will soon be finishing hems like a professional sewer. There are 50 beautifully photographed step-by-step lessons to guide you through all the skills you need to get started, and 15 lovely projects to make, to apply your knowledge and help you realise your sewing goals. This book includes full-size, foldout patterns and is the essential guide for all aspiring sewers. It’s a fab resource for those new to these machines and a great source of inspiration
and ideas.
Where to buy
Published by Search Press, and available for £9.55 from Amazon (normally priced at £12.99)

Sewing Machine Magic
By Steffani Lincecum

Sewing machines are complicated machines, but with the instruction you'll find in Sewing Machine Magic, you can make even an old sewing machine work wonders.
With just a little know-how and the right accessories, you can get the most out of your sewing machine and give all your sewing projects a professional look. In this book, author and sewing expert Steffani Lincecum shares 30+ years of experience on how to handle a sewing machine with greater ease and confidence, and explains how to easily find and use the right presser feet and other accessories for your machine, whether you’ve purchased it at retail or found it at a yard sale!
You'll learn the logistics of managing thread, how to achieve the proper stitch formation for every project, and how to troubleshoot a variety of common sewing problems. Learn to use more than 30 presser feet and other accessories, from the basics to more specialized tools designed to maximize efficiency, precision, and creativity. The 10 fashion and home decor projects show inventive ways to use some of the feet and accessories.
Where to buy
Published by Creative Publishing international, and available for
£32.99 from Amazon


Pattern Cutting: The Architecture of Fashion
By Pat Parish

Not available until the end of the year but well worth pre-ordering. Pattern cutting is an essential yet complex skill for every sewer/designer to master. Pattern Cutting: The Architecture of Fashion demystifies the pattern cutting process and clearly demonstrates pattern fundamentals, enabling you to construct in both 2D and 3D, and quickly get to grips with basic blocks, shape, sleeves, collars, trousers, pockets and finishes.
This popular and inspirational sourcebook has been updated to reflect new directions in construction design and techniques, and to include more advanced patterns, such as the Magyar sleeve and the jumpsuit. With handy tips, shortcuts and tricks of the trade, the second edition is a must-have sewing room resource.
Where to buy
Published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts, and available for £32.99 from Amazon

Sewing your Perfect Capsule Wardrobe
By Arianna Cadwaller & CathyMcKinnon

This book is both inspiring and practical and seamstress Arianna Cadwallader and designer Cathy McKinnon present a set of sewing patterns and instructions for the five key pieces that will make up a capsule wardrobe.
The patterns include a great shift dress, well-fitting trousers, simple yet stylish skirt, light blouse, and jersey vest. Their focus is on quality and fit, and all patterns can be adapted to fit and suit you perfectly, whether you prefer long, short or cap sleeves, high or low waistbands, and slim, straight or wide legged trousers.
Once you've created the garments, you can then mix and match them to create a variety of looks and styles. Aimed at advanced beginners, the book guides you through how to measure yourself and all the techniques you will need.
Where to buy
Published by Kyle Books, and available for £13.59 from Amazon.



The Savvy Seamstress
By Nicole Claire Mallalieu
Transform garment patterns, one small detail at a time with this book. Add or remove pockets, adjust the neckline, or swap a zipped back to a button front! With step-by-step instructions, clear illustrations and how-to photos, learn to make and sew endless variations on your favourite sewing patterns, which have a professional finish. Whether you have basic sewing skills or are a confident dressmaker, you can learn to how to make the most of your clothes.
Where to buy
Published by C&T Publishing – available for £22.49 from Amazon (normally priced at £24.99)

Sewing Supplies Handy Pocket Guide
By Carla Hegeman Crim

With tons of information in one tiny book, you’ll never be stumped by a sewing dilemma again. This mini book is packed with mega information on common sewing tools, supplies and materials. Carla Crim from the Scientific Seamstress shares 65 plus essential nuggets on everything from sewing machines and cutting tools to pins, elastic and thread.
Whether you're wondering how to use a particular interfacing or which sewing machine needle is best for each kind of fabric, you'll find yourself turning to these useful charts and infographics again and again.
Where to buy
Published by C&T Publishing, and available on Amazon for £4.46 (normally priced at £5.99)

A Maker’s Guide: Embroidery
In association with the V&A Museum

978 0 500 293270
Technically not dressmaking but a handy book to have if you love the embroidery trend. Thames & Hudson has a series of book in association with the Victoria & Albert Museum. The maker’s guides offer a fresh and contemporary approach to handmade traditions from around the world. A Maker’s Guide: Embroidery contains 15 beautiful step-by-step projects for sewers of all skill levels. Each one taking its cue from a tradition including Indian Kantha, English wholecloth quilting, Japanese boro patchwork, and the block- and strip- pieced quilts of North America, as well as appliqué traditions from Hawaii and Panama. The projects are both functional, and on-trend and include tips on how to create beyond the book, to develop individual and original designs. The book includes 15 projects based on sewing techniques such as English goldwork, Indian beetle-wing embellishment, Japanese Kogin, and Irish whitework, as well as contemporary machine embroidery. This modern maker’s handbook demonstrates decorative stitching traditions and will expand the readers’ sewing horizons and become an invaluable addition to every sewing shelf.
Where to buy
Published by Thames & Hudson, and available from Amazon for £11.30 (normally £16.95)

All New Fabric Savvy: How to Choose & Use Fabrics
By Sandra Betzina
The essential guide for every sewer just got better! All New Fabric Savvy is updated to include detailed information 107 different fabrics; must-know information on determining fabric content, working with knits, working with different types of interfacing, removing stains, and choosing lining material; recommended tools and notions; illustrated reference sections on seams, details, closures, and hems; 476 photographs and 110 illustrations. Organized alphabetically, the 107 fabrics include old favourites - like cotton, wool, knits and silks - to new options, some of which you might never have heard of or sewn with synthetics; those that resist water, sun, stains, and wrinkles; those made from animal hides (and, of course, their faux cousins); those regenerated from wood pulp; and many more.
Where to buy
Published by Taunton Press, and available from Amazon for £19.60 (normally £23.99)

Complete Dressmaking – Essential skills and techniques for beginners
By Jules Fallon
Complete Dressmaking has been written by Jules Fallon, who is the owner of the business Sew Me Something and well-known name in the dressmaking and sewing community. It’s a wonderful book for any sewer that loves dressmaking, and wants to familarise themselves with the terminology that’s associated with making your own clothes from learning about sewing patterns, understanding fabrics to sewing techniques such as inserting zips, creating the perfect pocket and decorative ideas including bias binding and topstitching.
The book is perfect for visual learners as each technique is explored with carefully curated step-by-step photographs and illustrated artworks. Jules addresses the most common problems that beginner dressmakers encounter and advises on how to tackle them in special ‘Help!’ panels throughout the book.
Where to buy
Published by Quarto Press and available on Amazon for £12.61 (normally £20)



The Gentleman's Wardrobe: Vintage-style projects to make for the modern man
By Vanessa Mooncie

For men who have ditched the denim in favour of tweed, this wonderfully illustrated book features an extensive range of stylish garments and accessories to sew, and includes beautiful garments such as pyjamas, shirts, trousers and jackets, plus indispensable accessories such as a cravat tie, flat cap and wallet.
Where to buy
Published by GMC Distribution and available on Amazon for £9.73 (normally £16.99)

Girl with a Sewing Machine
By Jenniffer Taylor
ISBN: 9781782214564

Written by The Great British Sewing Bee, season two contestant, Jenniffer Taylor, this stylish book shows the reader how to up-cycle and adapt items of clothing, as well as creating one-of-a-kind clothes that will fit the sewers personality and shape.
Using Jenniffer’s fun and imaginative ideas, learn how to customise clothes with doilies, tassels, tie-dyeing and block printing. Jenniffer also covers some of the basics on how to measure yourself, create patterns and make clothes from scratch such as dresses, skirts, tops, trousers and a coat. This stylish no-fuss guide to making and adapting your own clothes is ideal for beginners.
Where to buy
Published by Search Press and available on Amazon for £8.82 (normally £12.99)

girl with sewing machine 9781782214564


Make it, Own it, Love it – The Essential Guide to Sewing, Altering and Customising
By Matt Chapple

Matt Chapple was the first male winner of The Great British Sewing Bee in 2015 and brought out his first book in 2017. Make it, Own it, Love it shares his knowledge and takes sewers from the hand sewing techniques through to creating your own garments, as well as the all-important  repairs.
Where to buy
Published by Jacqui Small and available on Amazon for £16.89 (normally £20)

The Tunic Bible ­­– One Pattern, Interchangeable Pieces, Ready-to-Wear Results! 
By Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr

Well-known in the sewing industry for their pattern reviews and online garment challenges, Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr make the tunic top accessible to sewists of all levels. The Tunic Bible is an in-depth look at the tunic and how to sew the perfect one. The book features lots of ways to express your own tunic style from simple and modest to daring and chic. There are lots of style options with mix and match collars, neck plackets, sleeves variations. Stitch up a sharp bodice pattern, which has been designed to fit sizes XS to XXL in a wide range of lengths, styles, and trims.
Where to buy
Published by C&T Publishing and distributed by Search Press and available on Amazon for £14.14 (normally £21.99)

9 tips to elevate your sewing to the next level

Kim Collins, designer and owner Ann Normandy Design shares her tips on how to create a beautifully constructed investment garment from your sewing room:

  *  All fabrics used in the garments show here are made from reclaimed antique hand-woven French linen. The Maxi Dress fabric was a late 18th century French duvet. All fabrics are sturdy enough to be machine laundered.

* All fabrics used in the garments show here are made from reclaimed antique hand-woven French linen. The Maxi Dress fabric was a late 18th century French duvet. All fabrics are sturdy enough to be machine laundered.

  • Where are you at? Consider your skill level, analyse the pattern details and the techniques needed to create the garment. If you’re a beginner sewist, pick one new technique to learn with each garment. Perfect your skills by creating a muslin/toile first.
  • Fabric quality. Select the best quality fabric that pairs well with the design and the construction techniques for the garment.
  • Fabric prep - prewash and dry as per manufacturer’s recommendations and press. Eliminating the fabric sizing brings the fabric to its original drape and hand qualities.
  • Pattern prep - cut just inside the edge of the pattern line. Once the pattern is traced and marked, carefully cut on inside edge of the tracing line.
  • Pressing matters! The iron is as important as your sewing machine. Proper focus, heat, pressure and moisture and time taken to allow your pressed seam to cool are essential to achieve a crisp seam finish. Use a Ham for pressing curves and shaping curved seams and a wood Clapper puts pressure on a freshly pressed seam to help set the press. Carefully manipulate the fabric/seam with your fingers as you press. Blocking can add or eliminate shape. Press the fabric with steam until it’s damp, shape as desired, and let dry completely.
  • Elevate the quality and finish of your garment by encasing your seams into a flat, finished seam. The seams aren’t only a beautiful couture technique, but they give the garment additional weight and stability to hold its shape.  
  • Binding – applying a strip of fabric to cover a raw edge seam gives a clean finish. A beautifully bound seam starts with precise and evenly cut seam allowances. When folding the binding over the seam allowance, keep the fabric taut over the fold.
  • Control your single needle stitching. Take it slow, especially when approaching corners, and pivot points. Each stitch matters.
  • Interfacing. Consider using a lightweight, fusible interfacing to help stabilise loosely woven fabric, as well as reinforce shape and create body.
Kim Collins.jpeg

A bit about…
Kim Collins, designer and owner Ann Normandy Design. Kim lives just outside of Detroit, MI, in the US with her husband, 13-year-old son and their St. Bernard, Bode. She also enjoys travelling, cooking, singing, playing the violin and snowshoeing.
It doesn’t get any better than to bring together constant lifetime passions to create a women’s apparel sewing pattern collection. Kim Collins’ journey in clothing design started early in life while being taught how to sew by her grandmother. From there, theatrical costume design was the natural next step continuing the creative thought process of ‘making do’ with limited budgets and resources. Period pieces between 18th and 20th century are her forte and passion, using studied design and observing time-honored techniques as her guide. Inspired from sewists and the linen textiles of those periods, she created a sewing pattern collection using careful consideration to construction details that surpass most high-end ready to wear garments on the market.


Sneak peak of the Trouser and Shorts pattern that will be released early autumn this year showing the detail of flat felled seams and a welt pocket. 


Take one - classic white shirt

Embroidery, see how it’s done by the professionals. The Janome team showcase what their machines can do!

The Janome team love to use the machines they sell. To highlight just what can be done with an embroidery machine, they’ve transformed a simple classic white shirt.


1. shirt 1 Jan 28.jpg

Shirt 1
Appliqué flower embroidery by Ann White

The designs that Ann chose came from two different Janome machines. The appliqué flower design came from the Janome Memory Craft 14000. By using Digitizer MBX V5 software the size has been adjusted. On the machine itself, you can use the edit screen to adjust designs 20 per cent larger or smaller without altering the stitch count, by using the software it adjusts the stitch count in the design giving endless options for using the same design from a tiny flower to a huge bloom!
While the leaf design was taken from the new MC500E embroidery-only machine, the size has again been altered in the Digitizer MBX V5 Software.
Templates for the embroidery designs were created in the MBX software to help with the accurate positioning of designs these were printed onto vellum.
The pocket was removed from the shirt for the embroidery to allow this to fit into the hoop. Ann placed Tearaway stabiliser in the hoop, and attached the pocket piece to the stabiliser using the basting stitch in the embroidery trace and baste function.
The template was then used to make sure that the design was paced in the correct position.

Shirt 2
Parisian Style by Ruth Cox

The shirt provided a great blank canvas, Ruth wanted a design that was bold but with clean lines and not too heavy in terms of stitches and colours. Because the shirt is a classic tailored style in a crisp cotton fabric, she felt the overall look should be smart but also feminine.
The Parisian Girl design was initially selected as it evokes images of fashion and travel. Ruth looked for designs in the machine that would work with this and selected the Redwork range by Y.Ganaha on the Janome MC15000. She loved the idea of swallows flying over the Eiffel Tower, and there was a good variety of shapes in the rest of the collection to create a pretty scalloped edge on the front band and embroidered cuffs. The designs are quite open and delicate to balance the Parisian Girl design, and the touch of red in the shoes and lipstick helped bring the whole look together.
This Janome MC15000 embroidery/sewing machine was used to stitch the designs after editing them initially in Digitizer MBX software. Ruth also used the Janome AcuSetter app as this is the perfect tool for embroidery placement on a ready-made item.
With AcuSetter, you can photograph the shirt using an iPad once it’s placed in the embroidery hoop, then you can manipulate the embroidery to ensure that it’s correctly aligned on each area of the shirt. Once you’re happy with the positioning of the design, it can be transferred wirelessly to the MC15000. You can stitch out with the confidence knowing that the finished result will be successful!

Shirt 3
Blue lace butterflies by Jayne Brogan
Jayne used the Janome MC15000 for all the embroidery and machine stitching of the Blue Lace butterflies. The inbuilt lace designs are beautiful and intricate although they’re not shown very often especially when demonstrating the machines as they take quite some time to stitch out. Jayne felt that the design could be altered or added to at a future time if required as the motifs are removable. The lace designs give a good opportunity to further embellish the motifs when they’re applied. In this case, she used some beads and a small crystal on each motif to add a little extra sparkle.
Jayne enlarged the butterfly design by the maximum 20 per cent in the machine itself and then duplicated the design to fit as many designs as she could into the hoop - five individual butterfly patterns could then be stitched out at one time!
A double layer of Janome Ultra Solvy was used as a stabiliser to ensure the design was stable throughout the stitching process. The motifs were then soaked to remove all the Solvy and pressed flat. By leaving some residue of Solvy in the motifs, they could be also be shaped into 3D designs if required.
The motifs were placed on the shirt and stitched using a mono filament thread and a small zigzag stitch by stitching down each wing. The beading was attached by hand and the stitches down the centre of the bodies then held the butterfly flat against the shirt and added extra stability.
The big plus when using presewn motifs is that you can easily rearrange them before finally stitching them onto the shirt to give the desired look and you can also remove them at a later date and re-use them!

For more information visit
Twitter @JanomeUK
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Pinterest Janome UK Ltd




With a change of season just around the corner, the pattern makers are wowing us with knit dresses and tops to take us from summer into autumn. Well-made knit fabric garments
create a wonderful flattering drape and require much less fitting (which is good news)
but at the same time, they can be a little tricky to work with.
Here are our top tips of handling and working with them:

 Frankie Knit dress from Tessuti

Frankie Knit dress from Tessuti

What actually is knit fabric?
Knit fabrics are made up of rows of interlocking yarn loops providing the fabric with its stretch.

1. Knit fabrics can suffer from pilling when worn and washed. You can test a fabric before buying by rubbing a swatch together to see what affect friction has on it. 

2. You’ll need to know how much stretch a fabric has and how it reacts when it’s stretched. Sewing patterns that have been designed for knits will have a stretch gauge to measure a 4in piece of fabric’s crosswise stretch to check for distortion. For Simplicity, this is called the Pick A Knit Rule.

3. Knit fabrics although don’t fray, the raw edges can roll up when cutting or washing. For knits that are more prone to this, finish raw edges with a top-stitched hem and twin needle. This will produce a neatening zigzag stitch on the reverse.

4. When buying a knit fabric, it’s important to feel the quality. Some knits can be quite rough on the skin, and usually the softer the feel, the better the drape.

Best needle - ballpoint
Best presser foot - walking foot
Best stitch – narrow zigzag
Best seams – Use a stay tape or knit interfacing within the seam to keep the seams from stretching out of shape.




10 tips for flattering your figure when being your own wardrobe designer!

Choose a hemline that makes the most of your legs. Most practical and flattering is a hemline that is just above the knee.
For more ideas check out Savvy Skirt in the Sewing tips & styling know-how section.

Make sure you have the correct bra size and that its doing the job it should. For larger busts, choose a bra with slightly thicker straps and not too much padding. For smaller busts, wear a bra that has extra padding in the lower part of the cup so that the bra pushes what you have got up and out! Why not try making your own?

measuring for bra.jpg

How to take accurate measurements:
Band size: This is the measurement taken under your arm and around the front just above the bust where the straps meet the top of the bra cup. Experts suggest the measurement here should be rounded down to the nearest even inch. 
Bust size: Without pulling the tape measure tight, measure the fullest part of your bust. Expert suggest rounding the measurement up to the nearest inch.

Wear colours on the top or bottom depending on which you want to play up or down  Wear light and bright colours to highlight and dark colours on the areas that you want to cover up.

Pick a pattern range that offers fitting options. Simplicity's Amazing Fit range is tailored to suit different figure types from slim, medium and curvy shapes plus separate pieces for bust sizes A to DD.

Think about your fabric choices carefully and make sure that you select a fabric weight and pattern that will suit your frame ie small petite framed ladies should choose smaller prints.
Fabrics that can be draped are also a good option. Jersey can be seen as fabric that can be a bit on the clingy side but on the other hand, its a very forgiving fabric to wear and will skim and fit your form, and actually make you look smaller.

Make sure you select the correct pattern size. Measure yourself and go by the sizing on the pattern (not the size you pick for ready made clothes). For more information about this check out our guide to
How to take accurate body measurements.

Diagonals, chevron prints, asymmetrical hemlines - all angles that are sloping downwards make you appear slimmer.

Accept that you'll need to make adjustments to your sewing pattern to make it fit you best.
Very few of us will match exactly a pattern company’s standard measurements for each of the measurements of a size.

dressmaker measuring.jpg

wear heels, a little height will make you seem taller and also slimmer. Make sure you wear the shoes when you're taking up the hemline to get the correct length for you.

It's all about making the most of what you've got! Empire line garments and the latest colour block dresses are brilliant at disgusting areas you want to hide. Wrap tops are great as they give the illusion of a tiny waist. Showing a little cleavage with a sweetheart neckline or a little leg with a slit is also a good way of drawing the eye away from troublesome areas.

The rule is that small petite frames can add flounces, beading and bows while fuller figured ladies should keep things more simple and add additional detailing with jewellery or accessories.

Shortcuts for successful sewing  - Tips for saving time
Skirt savvy - Which skirt style is best for you
3 smarter stitches for professional looking sewing - under-stitch, edge-stitch and top-stitch and
where to use them.
Threads to get good results - Different types of threads and when to use them.



Zips are probably the most common fastening but also the one of the most feared to insert! Choosing the right zip can be tricky as zips come in variety of colours, lengths, types,  some have metal or plastic teeth so which one should you choose?

Types of zip

There are the main zip types:

regular/conventional zip

Conventional (regular all-purpose) zip
Conventional zippers are the most commonly used, and only open at one end and are sewn into the seam. This type of zips comes in a wider range of colours, and come with both metal and plastic teeth. Centered insertion is the most common way to insert this sort of zip and used for front and back closings.

Concealed zip

Concealed (invisible) zip
This sort of zip provides a garment with a totally concealed closure, and on the right side, the teeth are invisible. These have to be used with an invisible zipper foot, which unrolls the coil as you stitch. The zip is stitched from the wrong side, and once it’s installed is hidden in the seam.

Open-ended (separating) zip
Metal separating zippers available in mid and heavy weight and these are as they sound – open at both ends and used for garments that need to be opened at both the top and bottom such as jackets and sportswear. These types of zips are available in standard black and white and not too many to other colours. It can be sewn so that the zipper teeth are on show.

Brass jeans zip

Metal (brass jean) zip
Patterns that require these sort of zips will specify its use on the pattern envelope as this zip needs a wider overlap to put in correctly. Brass jean zips have brass teeth, a closed bottom and are purposely designed for jeans and other medium to heavy fabrics like Denim.

Decorative zips
These are usually plastic and as such lightweight, durable and strong. Quite popular at the moment are the lacy edge zips that can be sewn on the outside of the garment to add to the garments style.

trouser zip

Trouser (front fly) zip
Always buy a zip that is longer than the opening it’s intended for. Inserting a fly front zipper is among one of the easier zips to sew where most of the sewing is done on the wrong or inside of the garment.

Zip anatomy
Originally named the ‘Hookless Fastener’, Elias Howe invented the first zip in 1851, but it didn’t really become popular until 1930’s.

1. Stop (Top) – This is the small bracket at the top of the zip that stops the zip pull/slider from coming off the tape.

2. Zip slider or zip pull – This small pull operates the zip, and makes the teeth come together to close or come apart to open.

3. Tape – This is the woven fabric strip, which the teeth are secured to, and its this that is sewn to the garment.

4. Teeth – This is the part of the zip that locks together and can be made from nylon or polyester.

5. Stop (Bottom) – This is the bracket that the slider/pull rests on at the bottom of the zip.

Parts of a zip

How to shorten a zip
·       Measure the correct length from the top of the zip
Mark with a pin
While zip is closed and zip coil facing down, machine zigzag using a stitch width 5.0 and length 0.5 across the zip teeth several times to secure.
Cut off the unwanted zip part of the zip about 25mm below the stitching and use

 Tips for choosing a zip
·       A pattern will specify which length of zip you should buy. If you can’t buy one the right size, always pick one slightly longer, which you can shorten.
Choose a zip that matches your fabric.
Always close the zipper and press the creases out before inserting
If using a cotton-tape zip, wash and pre shrink it first to avoid puckering
Always consider the weight of the zip with the weight of your fabric – if the zip is too heavy for the fabric, it will cause the garment to sag and not hang right
Applying basting tape to the right side of the zip can help keep your zip from moving while stitching.

 Thanks to WeaverDee for the zip images. WeaverDee has a wide selection of zips for all your sewing needs. To shop for a zip, click here. 



A dress form is also known as a tailor’s dummy, and owning one is like having a second pair of hands
and makes sewing your clothes so much easier!

 Prymadonna Violet dress form from WeaverDee - priced at £135

Prymadonna Violet dress form from WeaverDee - priced at £135

You can pin patterns and garments to the dress form, while leaving your hands free to make alterations and deal with fitting decisions. They’re great for making sure that collars lay flat, inserting zips and for taking up hems unassisted, and other tasks that are near impossible to do by yourself.

Shown here is the Prymadonna Violet dress (8-part body with dial adjusters and adjustable back length from Prym and stocked by WeaverDee. It has everything you need from integral pin cushion on top of neck, metal stand for greater stability, adjustable hem marker with pinning attachment.


It also adjusts at the neck, bust, waist and hips by means of push-rotate dial on the front, and rotating wheel at the back and at the sides. In total, it has13 adjustments possible. Shoulders designed to offer a better hang to sleeves, lightly padded fabric covering allows pinning. The body form is fully assembled and simply slides on to the metal stand. It comes in four sizes: XS (sizes 4-8), S (10-16), M (sizes 16-20) and XL (sizes 20-24) and is great value at £135 whatever size you choose from WeaverDee.

What I also like about this one is that you can buy a cover for it. The cover is washable and keeps it clean, and pattern pieces can be pinned to it without damaging the dress form. This costs £15 (normally £19.90) from WeaverDee at the moment.

Is there a difference between a dress form and display mannequin?
It can be quite confusing as dress forms and display mannequins are quite often sold side by side but they are totally different from one another. Display mannequins are designed for displaying garments, and looking pretty in the home, and although can be a place to hang up clothes, they’re not the best for fitting and mking your own clothes.

What things should I consider before buying a dress form?
Who’s sewing?

If you’re sewing for yourself, you could buy one that isn’t adjustable? However, most of us don’t stay
the same size so choosing one that allows you to make some adjustments will help to get a good fit.
Many companies stock small, medium and large versions so you’ll need to buy the one that relates to your size.

How often will you use it?
If you love making clothes, then you’ll probably use it a lot, so it makes sense to invest in a good one that will last.

Here’s a few things to look out for:

  • Check how many adjustments it can offer
  • Make sure it doesn’t tip over when it has garments draped over it – cheaper makes can be lightweight!
  • Some dress forms come in two halves, which is perfect if you need to put it away between using.
  • Some include covers, come with a chalk hem marker, and some have lockable wheels to make moving it from place to place easy.

What are you sewing?
If you like to make fitted garments, a dress form with adjustments is must-have. Some come with a dial that you can expand and adjust key areas like waist, hips and bustline. Some of these styles can be difficult to pin because of the gaps – we’d recommend the foam version, as it is better for pinning and for draping.

Some dress forms feature part leg forms designed to help fit trousers. Make sure you go to a reputable retailer where a good quality dress form will set you back between £100 - £300.


We share a few of our favourite shortcuts and tips for successful sewing

1. Lengthen the stitch
Your sewing machine is likely default to a 2.5mm stitch length but it’s actually a little shorter than required for making garments. Start by increasing to 3mm.

The thread should break first when you pull a seam apart and not tear the thread. Increasing your stitch length will also make unpicking is less painful!

2. Pinning
Place the pins at right angles to the seam with pinheads to the right side of the needle. This makes sewing much quicker, the pins are easier to remove as you sew, and you won’t prick yourself.

However why use pins at all on straight seams – they’re sometimes more trouble than they’re worth! Simply hold the fabric pieces together in you right hand as you sew to get the right tension. Try using a fabric template instead of pins to measure hems accurately and press into place.

tracing sewing patterns.jpg

3. Prolong the life of your sewing patterns
As sewing patterns are made from lightweight tissue paper, they tear easily when using especially if use more than once. For your favourite patterns, consider cutting out pieces of interfacing and fusing on to the reverse of the pattern pieces or tracing onto freezer paper.

Always iron the pattern piece before using as working with torn, tattered and creased patterns can affect the finished fit of the garment. Consider using pattern weights instead of pins when cutting out.

4. Clip corners
Make sure you clip the corners and trim away the excess fabric on pieces that require turning to the right side. This gets rid of the fabric bulk and makes the fabric lay much flatter and neater.

Sewing Threads.jpg

5. Posh threads
Don’t be tempted to skimp on your threads. Cheap threads can cause all sorts of problems from frustratingly breaking every few stitches, upsetting the tension on your sewing machine and causing skipped stitches or birds nesting where the threads bunch up underneath near the throat plate. You can diminish a lot of the problems buy choosing quality threads. For example the Gutermann thread pack has been specifically designed to be used with its fabric range Notting Hill.

6. Every which way you press
You should be pressing as much as you’re sewing. You can use your iron to help manipulate the fabric into place and just by adding steam if can help shape the fabric. It also makes top-stitching much easier.

Pressing and sewing.jpg

10 tips for flattering your figure when sewing
Skirt savvy - Which skirt style is best for you
3 smarter stitches for professional looking sewing - under-stitch, edge-stitch and top-stitch and
where to use them.
Threads to get good results - Different types of threads and when to use them.


Presented with a printed sewing pattern, it can be quite a challenge to understand it but
once you’ve
start to grasp the terms and learn what you are looking at
– you’ll find working with sewing patterns becomes easy!

The choice of patterns is much more exciting today with lots of new contemporary independent designers and companies, but whatever pattern you choose, the pattern language remains the same.



Most pattern envelopes show a model wearing the garment styles so that the sewer can get a feel for how it will look when the garment is made up. Some pattern brands also include illustrations showing seams, pockets, sleeves and any other styling options – these are known as views.

Patterns are usually multi-sized. Many pattern companies will also provide a pattern in two different size ranges that have a crossover of sizes. For example  Simplicity 1279 comes in H5 and R5 that covers sizes 6-14 and 14-22.

Named or Numbered
A sewing pattern has a number to identify the pattern design, which is usually a four-digit number. Smaller independent companies prefer to give their patterns a name, which helps sewers remember them easily.

The envelope may also have a description about the garment advising you on the sort of fit to expect or that the pattern belongs to a collection of patterns. In this case, the pattern (Simplicity 1279) shows that it is part of the Threads Magazine Collection.

Skill level
Most pattern envelopes will point out what sewing skills are required to make up the pattern ie beginners, intermediates or advanced level. Some patterns will also say how long it will take to sew – mainly found on more simple patterns.

If the illustrations or views weren’t shown on the envelope front, they’ll appear here on the back.
These explain about the design as well as particulars like zip location.

Pattern Types
This information will assist in selecting the right pattern for your height (without shoes) and your shape. The options are typically as follows:

  • Misses – Designed for women of average proportions between the height between 5ft 5″ and 5ft 6″
  • Women – Designed for women who are between 5ft 5″ to 5ft 6″ tall with larger bust and hips than Misses
  • Petite – Designed for women with a shorter back-waist length, and a height of between 5ft 2″ and 5ft 4″ tall

Fabric Suggestions
The suggested fabrics will be listed here and the pattern has been specially designed to use with these fabric types. We recommend following these suggestions as they’ve been rigorously tested to obtain the most professional finish for the garment. The list is very comprehensive and may also carry a warning of fabrics that aren’t suitable.

Here, will be listed any items that you’ll require to make the garment such as items like threads, zips and buttons.

Body measurements
This section is important section to compare with your own measurements (height, chest, bust, waist and hips). It’s likely that you’ll  be a combination of sizes so if you are making skirts, shorts and trousers – choose your hip measurement. And if you’re making dresses, tops and jackets – use your bust measurement.

“We recommend highlighting each of your measurements on the pattern across the pattern sizes to see which pattern size is the closest to your actual size.”

Pattern sizes
Don’t be alarmed about whether you are a pattern size 10 or pattern size 20. Your aim is to make the garment fit you the best it can so always use your body measurements rather than a pattern size.

It’s a common misapprehension that you should select the same size that you buy readymade clothes on the High Street and the main reason why finished garments don’t fit as well as expected. It’s important to realise that very few of us will match a pattern company’s standard measurements. For more information of taking accurate body measurements.

“Keep a record of your measurements but always redo these every time you make a new garment, even if it’s a pattern that you’ve used before.”

Fabric requirements
The two most common fabric widths will be quoted 115cm and 140cm (45″ and 60″). This will help you choose how much fabric you require for your size and pattern choice. The yardage block indicates how much fabric, interfacing and lining you require to make a particular pattern view. Always take the pattern with you when go shopping for fabric to check the width and so that you don’t forget any notions you may require.

Finished garment measurements
What is ease?

These measurements allow for garment ease, which essentially means how much room there is to move around when the garment is completed.

It may also quote a wearing ease. This is the minimum amount of ease for comfortable. Within the sewing industry wearing ease is usually 6.4cm at the bust, 2.5cm at the waist and 7.6cm at the hip area. Design ease is the amount that the designer has added/subtracted to create a specific silhouette.

To determine ease, measure your pattern from seam to seam (excluding any seam allowances) and match these up to your body measurements to the total pattern circumference measurement – the difference is the amount of ease the pattern has.

“We suggest that you never cut corners here by skimping on fabric. Always use the correct seam allowance as these can affect the final fit of the garment.”

All the above information is provided in a neat table on the back of the envelope, so its easy to follow!

Instruction pattern sheet

This is your guide to making the garment. It will provide step-by-step through the making process with relevant images to explain trickier steps. Instructions do vary from company to company but the basics will the same.

Amazing fit skirt from Simplicity 2058,

Always read through instructions carefully before starting, as they will include advice on cutting layouts, how to arrange the pattern on the fabric and more useful information. On Burda patterns, cutting layouts are unusually on the tissue.

Pattern Tissue
This fine tissue paper is your pattern template and you will need to cut out the pieces that relate to your size and view. Check that the pattern includes seam allowances, some patterns from overseas sometimes don’t.

Croquis Kit
Croquis is French for rough sketch and this is basically what it is. Some patterns contain a Croquis Kit that can help you gauge whether a garment will suit you. Be the designer and use these rough line drawings designs to shade in fabric colour, texture and mix up the pattern pieces in order to get the right style for you before you buy and cut out fabric.

Other pages you might like:
How to take accurate body measurements - Simple tips to help you get the best fit possible!
Every pattern you'll ever need to know - We've A-Z directory of pattern terms.
Dress for my body shape - Learn to balance your silhouette and choose styles that suit it!
Sewing patterns demystified - We discuss paper, digital, printed fabric sewing patterns,
as well as drafting software and other pattern sources


Not keen on pockets, then you’ll love these in-seam pockets that hide neatly in the side seam. Handy for holding a mobile phone or emergency lippy! Meghan Hunt shows how to make inseam pockets

Find them in side seams of skirts, dresses, and jackets to create a hidden pocket or just tucking your hands in. Use the same fabric as your garment to make them nearly invisible, or pick a contrasting fabric to add a fun touch as shown here. Add this style of pocket to a commercial pattern before sewing up the seams or open up the side seam on a ready-made garment. Press as you go for best results.

Steps to make
1. Cut two pocket pieces using the template at the back on page 124-126. You will also need to decide where you want to position the top of the pocket on both the front and back pattern pieces of your garment at the side seam.

2. Lay the front and back pieces of your garment right side up. Position the pocket pieces right side down lining up evenly on both sides. Using a 1cm seam allowance, sew each pocket piece to the garment piece along the straight seam line.

3. Finish the edge by sewing a narrow zigzag stitch or by cutting along the edge using pinking shears. This will prevent the raw edges from fraying.

4. Press each pocket piece open, with the seam allowance pressed toward the pocket.

5. Pin your front and back garment pieces right sides together along the side seam, making sure the pocket pieces line up. Using a 15mm seam allowance, start sewing the side seam at the top of the garment. Continue sewing down the side seam 2cm past the top edge of the pocket, then backstitch to secure your stitching in place. Leave a gap with no stitching where your pocket opening will be, and start a new line of stitching about 2cm before the bottom edge of the pocket, again using a 1.5cm seam allowance. Stitch all the way down from the pocket to the bottom of the garment.

6. Now stitch the pockets together along the edges. Start stitching where you left off at the top of the pocket pieces, sew all the way around the pockets, and finish at the bottom of the pocket, connecting your line of stitches to your side seam. As before, use a standard 15mm seam allowance.

7. As in Step 3, sew a narrow zigzag stitch or use pinking shears to prevent the raw edges from fraying. If you use a zigzag stitch, trim off any excess seam allowance without cutting through the zigzag stitches. Turn the garment right side out and admire your beautiful new in-seam pocket!

NB: These instructions are for making one in-seam pocket. For a pocket on each side of your garment (such as in a skirt, dress, or jacket) repeat these steps on both the left and right sides of your garment.

This guest feature was written by Meghan Hunt. For more excellent tutorials from her visit: MadebyMeg.


Up the ante by adding pockets to restyle a tired garment in your wardrobe or easily add then to a sewing pattern. Meghan Hunt shows how to add patch pockets

Patch pockets are versatile and very easy to sew, and can be found on anything from shirts and trousers to purses, dresses, tops, bathrobes and more.

Steps to make
1. Cut two pocket pieces using the template at the back, or drafting your own by cutting a rectangle that is 2cm wider and 3.5 cm taller than the desired pocket size.

2. On the right side of the pocket, mark 2.5cm down from the top of the pocket. Fold down with right sides together and press.

3. Using a 1cm seam allowance, sew down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side of the pocket. This secures the folded top down and creates a fold line. Don’t sew across the top. 4. Flip the folded section right side out so that the wrong sides of the fabric are now together.

4. Flip the folded section right side out so that the wrong sides of the fabric are now together.

5. Press the remaining sides of the pocket in towards the middle, folding along the stitching line as your guide. For nice and neat corners, fold the corners at a 45-degree angle.

6. Turning the pocket to the right side, stitch 2 cm from the top, catching the folded edge underneath. This secures the top folded edge of the pocket in place.

7. To attach the patch pocket to your garment, place your garment right side up and position the pocket on top. It may be helpful to secure it in place with pins. Then, sew along the edge of the pocket, starting on one side, stitching across the bottom, and sewing up the other side. Don’t stitch the pocket closed across the top. You now have a beautiful patch pocket!

Secrets of a stylish patch pocket:

  • Use a contrasting fabric to make your pockets stand out
  • Add extra detailing such as flap, pin-tuck or bias binding for a designer look.
  • To achieve perfectly straight edges: cut the pocket template from thin card minus the seam allowance and iron around that to get achieve the perfect shape pocket. Works even better on the curve edges.
  • Topstitch pockets in place with a contrasting colour thread.

This guest feature was written by Meghan Hunt. For more excellent tutorials visit her blog: MadebyMeg


Give your garments a professional finish with 3 smarter stitches:
top-stitch, edge-stitch and under-stitch and when to use them

This is a decorative stitch that's sewn parallel to the seam at is sewn on the right side of the fabric. Used to give seams a neat and professional look and the best news is it makes ironing much easier! There’s nowhere to hide with top-stitching, and every stitch is on show so this needs to be done as accurately and carefully as possible. Take time with your top-stitching.

When to use it:
To help keep fabric layers in place.
Maintain the seam’s integrity with normal wear and washing and avoid the seam from distorting.
Use around necklines and facings, hems, collars and lapels, cuffs and as a decorative stitch on pockets and patchwork.
It can be done with straight stitch or decorative stitches.

Tips for perfect top-stitching:

  • Choose a thread that is the same fibre as your fabric
  • Choose a slightly longer stitch for top-stitching than the stitch used for the seam. Longer stitches lay slightly smoother.
  • Choose the correct needle for the chosen fabric – this will help prevent skipped or pulled stitches.
  • Used parallel to the finished edge approx. 6mm (1/4in)
  • Try not to watch the needle and keep your eye focused on the inside edge of the presser foot. It’s easier to keep straight this way.
  • Use a thread colour that closely matches your fabric.

Styling idea:
Once you've mastered the art of top-stitching, you can use a contrasting or complementary thread colours to make a feature of your neat stitching!

Edge-stitching is much like top-stitching but its more of a functional stitch that's used to stop fabric rolling and help fabric to stay in place permanently. It helps to hold and condense thickness when layers of fabric are placed together on fabrics like denim.

When to use it:
Use on collars, facings and around a garments edge.

Tips for perfect edge-stitching:

  • Sewn very close to the finished edge, about 3mm (1/8 inch)
  • New sharp needle
  • Stitch length: 3.0mm
  • Most sewing machines will have a special edge stitch presser foot.

A great little stitch for stopping linings and facings from showing on the outside of garments. This is a line of straight stitching is sewn on the right side of the lining/facing fabric to give a crisp finish to a seam. Its purpose is the same as edge stitching, and stop the fabric from rolling and showing when you wear the garment.

When to use it:
Used a lot in garment construction especially around necklines and armholes that have facings, and also to keep linings in place.

Tips for success

  • Make sure to press at every stage for best results, begin by pressing the right side of seam.
  • Trim the inner seam allowance
  • Stitch inside the seam line approx 3mm (1/8 inch) on the facing/lining
  • Stitch as close as you can to any corners, don’t try to under stitch into corners

This was originally featured in Love to Sew bookazine, priced at £6.99 and availbale from My Hobby Store


Pins are the tiniest piece of haberdashery in your sewing box but probably one of the most valuable item and when there are many to choose from, when is one pin better than another?

Pins and all you need to know about the different types.jpg


  • Holding together fabric and pattern temporarily
  • Holding seam allowances together
  • Quick way to transfer markings

Different pin types have been designed for different tasks and the 5 parts to a pin determine which task it is best for:

The type of head will determine whether the pin can be pressed or not.

Flat (no head)
These can be used with a hot iron and are good for hand sewing because the thread doesn’t get tangled around the head. However the negative side of these sort of pins, is that they can be difficult to see on patterned and textured fabrics.

Use glass pinheads (instead of plastic ones) as these won’t melt under a hot iron which can then stick to your fabric and ruin it. Glass headed pins won’t melt and are also easily visible.

Metal pins are less common today, and experts advocate that “you use the best—toss the rest”. Mainly because metal pins bend and rust over time and will mark your fabric.

These come in different colours and sizes with ballpoint and flat, being the most universal.Pins with colourful plastic heads are easier to see, both on your fabric and when you drop them on the floor.

Flat & Flower
Flat, flower shaped plastic heads are ideal for using with loose weaves, slippery fabrics and laces where the large heads won’t slip through the holes in the fabric.

Pearl headed pins are generally for use with finer fabrics where it’s essential not to damage the fabric structure such as shirt and bridal pins.

The pointy end helps glide smoothly through the fabric, avoid snags and any unnecessary holes. Pins need to be sharp, and different fabrics require different types of points.

Like sewing machine needles – there’s a choice of sharp, extra sharp and ballpoint:
Sharp are all-purpose points for loose woven, medium-weight, and heavyweight fabrics whilst extra-sharp have a more defined and tapered point, which will pass through delicate fabrics easier. Ballpoints are for knits and they have a slightly rounded point and hence won’t pierce the fabric. Generally the finer the pin the finer the fabric!

Choose between long and short pins – dressmaker’s pins are medium in length, quilting pins are a longer length made for pinning lots of layers together.

Rule of thumb
The longer the length the less likely the pin will slip out of place.

There are many types of metal pin including nickel-plated steel, nickel-plated brass, chrome-plated steel, stainless steel and these vary in strength. Bridal and lace pins are made from nickel-plated brass, which makes them very durable and won’t rust so are perfect for delicate fabrics where pins need to be in place for longer periods of time.

The pin test
Pick up your pins with a magnet, everything but stainless steel and brass will be attracted to the magnet. Magnetic pincushions are great for picking up lots of pins and saving you from pricking your finger – simply point in the direction of the piles of pins and watch them fly towards the pin cushion!

Never leave pins in fabric for any longer than necessary, and always put pins in at right angle to the edge of fabric. It’s a good idea to make a note of your favourite brands, so when you run out you’ll know where to buy.


  • T-pin, use for upholstering and heavy weight fabrics (such as canvas).
  • Fork pins have a 2-prong curve which is good for slippery fabrics like lining.
  • Pleating pins are strong and fine and as named useful for pinning pleats.
  • Safety pins, still a pin and useful if transporting sewing as won’t fall out.
  • Curved pins as the name suggests are bent making basting quilts a doodle and also stops the layers from moving out of alignment.

The age-old question
“Should you remove pins or machine sew over them?
Some sewers will sew with the pins in place at right angle to the edge of fabric but it is advisable to set your sewing machine to a slow speed. However many sewing machine manufacturers, and sewing experts, feel it’s not worth the risk of damaging your machine from unnecessarily blunting. You can also break a lot of needles so best answer to this question is always remove pins as you go!


Here’s our handy guide to the most popular shapes for dresses
as featured in Love to Sew

dress hsape and style.jpg

From left to right:

Shirt, A-line, empire waist dress
Shift , tent or trapeze , princess-seam
Yoke, drop-waist dress, tunic, asymmetrical hem


Shirt dress – It’s styled as it sounds like a button through shirt.
A-line dress – Shaped like a capital ‘A’ in silhouette, and narrowing at the waistline to flare out to a wider hemline.
Empire-waist dress – A comfortable high waist dress that sits neatly under the bust.

Shift dress – Classic unfitted style made famous in the ‘60’s, featuring straight and simple lines. Usually knee-length or shorter.
Tent or trapeze dress – A pyramid-shaped dress that flares out to a very wide and flouncy hemline.
Princess Seam dress – Fitted dress is fitted with long front seams found that fit the body.

Yoke dress – This dress has a fitted area of fabric along the front and back of the shoulders.
Drop-waisted dress – A dress style where waistline sits on hipline.
Tunic style dress – A dress (or top) with a loose fit, worn slightly shorter and usually with leggings.
Asymmetrical hem dress – Uneven hemline either at the front or back or with different shape layers. Low high hemmed dresses are very popular at the moment.