Sewing Patterns and How to Get One for Your Very Own

One of the things that can pique your interest in sewing is the sight of a beautiful piece of clothing. The outfit you love may be presented beautifully on a store mannequin or it may be worn by a passing pedestrian downtown. Regardless, it really catches your eye.

Unfortunately, the beautiful pieces of clothing that catch my eye always seem to have a very steep price tag. After the sticker shock wears off, your next thought may be that of “Why can't I make that?” The answer often is “You can!”

How? Well, the first step is probably looking for a pattern that approximates or duplicates the desired style. So, where do you look for that? What's the procedure for buying that pattern? And how do you know what else to buy?

Finding the Pattern Catalog

You can use a search engine to look for sewing patterns and find a website that sells them, but there's nothing like the quick gratification of walking into a store, then walking out again with the pattern in your possession.

To do that, use a search engine or your local telephone book (remember those?) to look for a local fabric store. Then use a search engine to see if there are any coupons or sales specials available. If there are, be sure to take advantage of them – sewing patterns are not getting any cheaper!

When you walk into the fabric store, look around for large filing cabinets, usually near a long counter with catalogs on it, or near tables with catalogs on them. These are catalogs of the pattern brands which the store carries.

The patterns are filed in the large filing cabinets, usually by pattern company, then by pattern number, and then again, by size.

Buying Your First Pattern

When I was trying to buy my first sewing pattern, I had no idea of how to actually get the pattern. All I saw were the catalogs – most of which are huge. So I sat down at the counter to look.

First, I searched the pattern catalogs until I found a nice-looking pattern that seemed to be what I wanted. Then I picked up the catalog, which was big and heavy, and took it to the register.

When the checker came to see what I needed, I pointed out the pattern I wanted. Very kindly, she informed me that patterns were self-service.

She took me to the pattern cabinets and explained that the patterns were in there, then showed me how to find the one I wanted:

  • Look for the pattern cabinet holding the pattern brand (such as New Look®, Simplicity®, Butterick®)
  • Next, look for the pattern number in that cabinet. The patterns should be in numerical order.
  • Once you've found the pattern number, check the picture to make sure it's the pattern you want.
  • Finally, find the proper size.

Now What?

Once I had the pattern in my inexperienced hands, I was uncertain of what to do next. This was actually kind of odd, because I had been sewing for about two or three years.

Before this though, I used old patterns we had been given without the original envelopes. Since I was using old sheets for most of my sewing, there was no picking and choosing yardage. I simply laid out the pattern pieces on a folded sheet and hoped there was enough fabric to hold all the pieces!

The pattern envelope, however, shows an amazing amount of information. It is all designed to help you make the best finished project possible with the least amount of expenditure needed. We'll talk about that in another article about Getting the Most Out of Your Pattern.