If you’re just getting started in the world of sewing your own clothes, I highly recommend experimenting with some easy sewing patterns for beginners before you dive into buying sewing patterns for yourself.
These more simple patterns make for a beginner sewing project that isn’t too challenging and will help you to better understand the process of creating garments.
By starting a sewing project based on a free sewing pattern, you can almost guarantee that you’ll get started with the basic sewing techniques, and not thrown in at the deep end with more advanced sewing methods.
If you’re not sure about how to sew and are just thinking about getting started, check out this page of sewing tutorials – they’re listed in order that you should follow them so that you can build upon tour skills as you work through them.
You’ll also learn a little about the history of sewing too!
The key thing to remember is not to get frustrated. I often find that frustration mixed with some not-so-great-outcomes, often means that sewing beginners give up, and that is the last thing I want to happen to you, because sewing your own clothes really is one of the most fun and creative things you can do for yourself!
Now, some key struggles you may have on your sewing journey is the sizing discrepancies you’ll come across.
Not all sewing pattern brands use the same sizing, so much like how you find your size differs from one fashion brand to another, you’ll find the same thing happening amongst all the sewing pattern companies!
Sewing Pattern Brands: My Thoughts
There are many, many sewing pattern brands offering a multitude of different styles, sizes and skill levels. The big four pattern brands are Buttericks, Vogue Patterns, McCalls and Simplicity – with Mc Call actually incorporating Butterick and Vogue Patterns within their company.
However there are a growing number of amazing small indie pattern designers around the world, releasing patterns via their own websites as digital downloads, or selling them via a more traditional method in fabric and herbadashery stores.
Generally, the mainstream companies tend to offer the same styles, with new season lookbooks available to view and order from.
They do have some heavy weight pattern cutters behind them, but I genuinely feel that these are neither stylish not fashionable, unless you spend money on the ‘designer’ versions – Zandra Rhodes for Vogue is one of my all time favourite collaborations.
As such, I personally feel that the patterns released by the Indies are more original in design and style, often coming from designers like myself looking to supplement their income with quality products.
Considerations When Looking For An Easy Sewing Pattern
So, let’s move onto the things you need to consider when looking for an easy sewing pattern for beginners!
Your first consideration should be the simplicity of the pattern.
Is it easy to read?
Having a pattern that is well laid out is essential, because if you can’t read the pattern, you’ll end up making mistakes and being frustrated.
If you find a pattern doesn’t have clear instructions head to this guide on how to read sewing patterns . I include images of pattern symbols and more so you’ll find it super helpful!
Is there information on the sizing available?
This is key, because of there are no details on pattern sizing, you could be wasting your time downloading and printing the pdf sewing pattern.
Patterns are usually ‘graded’ for multiple sizes, making it easier for you to find your size, and if the pattern has been ‘nested’, you’ll also be able to print just the one size you need.
Information is usually printed on the back of the pattern packet, or available in the ‘more info’ tab when buying PDFs – make sure to check that out.
Using your measurements make sure to check that the pattern sizings available will cover your size before buying!
Does it inform you of the fabric and tools required?
Again, it is usual for patterns to suggest what fabric types work best, usually suggesting a varoty of options that would work well.
They also tell you how much yardage of fabric you will require based on the size you will be making – use this information to make sure you have anough fabric to complete the sewing project!
Patterns don’t generally tell you what tools you’ll need, but I have you covered with my basic sewing tools and equipment list.
The basics will of course be a sewing machine, fabric, thread and scissors.
How well marked is the pattern?
Pattern markings are the single most important thing to be aware of when it comes to using a sewing pattern, but these three points are esepcially important to remember:
- Notches are matching points. They help you connect the pieces correctly, like a jigsaw
- Grain lines guide you on where to place the pattern piece on the fabric
- The cut number informs you of the number of pieces that need to be cut
Without good pattern markings, you’ll struggle if you’re a newbie!
Do you understand the markings used?
- Is there a guide on the pattern as to what the markings mean? This is often referred to as a pattern symbols cheatsheet.
- Does it feel ‘easy’ to you looking at the markings?
Here’s an in-depth guide on how to read sewing patterns which included easily reconizable sewing symbols for you to cross check against.
Is it easy to sew, with simple seams for beginners?
What information is given regarding the seam allowances? Not all sewing pattern companies include a seam allowance in their patterns!
Are you able to work out what seams you could use with the available seam allowance? Sometimes, you may not want to sew with the recommended seam finish, so understand that the amount of seam allowance available can open up an opportunity to sew with a different seam finish!
How many pattern pieces are there to seam together? I like to keep track of the number of pattern pieces in a sewing pattern so that I don’t ‘lose’ anything – this has happened before with disastrous results!
If you need help knowing how to sew up a garment, do check out this 18 Step Sewing guide !
And of course, I have many tutorials on sewing different seam finishes if the instructions are not so clear!
- How to sew an open seam
- How to sew a welt seam
- How to sew a flat felled seam
- How to sew a French seam
- How to sew a lapped seam
Are the directions clear overall?
Overall, do you feel like the pattern is straight forward and that you would have success using it? If it looks a little too challenging, highlighting techniques you haven’t tried yet, it probably isn’t the right pattern for you at this time.
Quite often people trip up with complicated zipper insertions (invisible zippers and exposed zippers are quite tricky to start with) so make sure to practice if the simple sewing project you choose has a zipper included.
Finding Easy Sewing Patterns for Beginners
There are so many patterns available both online and offline. A quick search on Pinterest will offer up lots of ideas too. You could even check out my Sewing Patterns Pinterest Board for inspiration, where I curate a vast collection of Sewing patterns of varying complexity.
To make things a little easier, I’ve collected a list of five easy sewing patterns for beginners below that will make a great starting point for anyone wanting to sew clothes.
Now, this list is not exhaustive. There are so many patterns out there that it would take forever to search them all. What this list is, is a go to list for stylish, fashionable beginner sewing patterns. We want fashionable, not fuddy-duddy, and this list is a great start.
Oh, and if you’re plus sized, do check out this guide to 12 plus sized sewing patterns for beginners too!
My Top Five Easy Sewing Patterns for Beginners:
I searched over 200 free sewing projects online, and these were the ones that had any inkling of fashion style about them. I have no interest in showing you how to make clothes worn by everyone – there are a gazillion sewing pattern producers out there that can sell you those patterns.
My aim is to teach you how to create fashion pieces that are stylish, which means no ‘old lady’ style patterns here and no frumpy silhouettes either, thank you very much.
I may risk alienating a lot of people who are in my field, but I believe we all deserve to have some wow in what we wear!
These are my top five, free easy sewing patterns!
1: Wendy Ward’s No Pattern T-Shirt
This t-shirt & dress pattern is a super simple and easy ‘no pattern’ t-shirt or dress designed by the fab Wendy Ward. Wendy provides info on the amount of knit fabric you’ll need, along with a diagram and photos too on how to sew it up. You will need to be comfortable using knit fabric for this.
If the thought of sewing with knit fabric terrifies you, Wendy has a great book all about using knit fabrics that was nominated as the best craft book in the 2018 British Sewing Awards. It will help you with your knit sewing skills. How amazing is that?
2: Sew4Home: PJ Pants
There’s also this simple sewing pattern – another free pattern, for comfy Pj Pants. While not technically fashion if they’re bedroom items, I think 2016’s trend for wearing silky PJ pants out and about makes this a worthy addition.
And trousers are simple to sew, when you have the right pattern. I’d knock up a pair of these in a silky print and wear them with a fitted solid coloured top. What do you think?
3: By Hand London: Polly Top
I LOVE By Hand London patterns. This free pattern from them is a very simple top, with a separate front panel. This eliminates any need for bust darts with gives a more fitted look.
This is a free downloadable and simple pattern from By Hand London, who have quite a few fab patterns available for sale on their site.
This is a great beginner sewing pattern using woven fabric. My other favourite is the Victoria Blazer. And the Holly Jumpsuit.
4. So Sew Easy: Kimono Top
This kimono top pattern is a hit. Simple and easy to sew, and with sewing instructions too. It’s another free sewing pattern. Did I mention that?
I love that it is a wrap kimono top! Great to sew with a crisp cotton for structure, or a drapey woven for something less adventurous, it’s definitely an easy sewing project everone should try! Boom!
5: Great British Sewing Bee Patterns
These patterns from The Great British Sewing Bee are not necessarily the easiest, but they’re all free and a great way to try some high quality patterns for free!
Plus Size Sewing Patterns For Beginners
If you’re a plus sized woman, I have this great guide to the 12 best plus sized sewing patterns for beginners that you might enjoy reading through!
Other Beginner Sewing Project Ideas To Try
Since writing the first version of this post I have since expanded the content and tutorials on my site, so it makes sense to upudate this post with a list of beginner sewing projects that you might enjoy!
Simple Wallet Pattern
This simple wallet pattern is a very, VERY easy project for the beginner sewer that will help you to use up fabric scraps with! It makes a great gift when you’re running out of ideas of time – I make mine in more snazzy fabric for a more ‘expensive’ feel.
Easy Tote Bag
This is a super easy project for the sewing novice! I made my easy tote bag using some old curtain fabric, and have used it consistently since making it.
It makes a great book bag or grocery bag, and can be sewn with French seams for the more adventurous!
Simple Drawstring Bag
I started sewing up these simple large drawstring bags using woven fabric remnants when back in the UK during the pandemic. They made great ‘scrubs’ bags for family members working in the care sector, so of course I created a sewing tutorisl for beginner sewists to follow!
All of the above sewing projects use a small amount of fabric and will help you to practice basic sewing skills without worrying about the cost or waste of fabric and paper patterns.
Give them a go, and let me know how you get on in the comments below!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.