How to Choose the Right Sewing Pattern

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If you’ve ever had the inspiration to sew a garment for yourself, you may have become overwhelmed with a trip to the fabric store. There are so many choices for styles, shapes, and sizes – and if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to spend hours (not to mention money) sewing yourself a garment only to find that it doesn’t fit or doesn’t flatter your body.

How to Choose the RIGHT Sewing Pattern


Learn how to choose the right sewing pattern the first time. We know it can be tricky but with these simple tips, your success rate will sky rocket! The Sewing Loft

Never fear – there are a few things you can do ahead of time to give yourself a better chance of success when choosing the right sewing pattern for your body. Here are some tips:

  1. Shop in your own closet! It may sound silly, but you already HAVE an idea of what looks good on your body – based on the commercial garments you already own! Grab your favorite dress from your closet, and take a few minutes to really examine it. What’s the overall shape? What features does it have? What kind of neckline, waist shaping, sleeve style, and length? Use those criteria to choose a sewing pattern that is similar, and you’ll be more likely to be happy with the end result.

  2. Consider the fabric choice. Do you prefer to wear garments that are cozy and soft, or something with more structure? Do you feel more comfortable in a stretch knit or a stiff wool? Keep these preferences in mind as you look at patterns, and choose one that calls for your favorite type of fabric.
  3. Know your measurements. This is a big one! You need to know your actual body measurements, not just your commercial clothing size. Sewing patterns don’t necessarily match up to the sizes in the stores, and besides – this is your chance to sew a garment that’s custom-suited to your actual body, so why not take advantage of that? Measure the following areas of your body (it really helps to get someone else to do it for you!) and take those measurements to the store: shoulder span, arm circumference, waist circumference (at narrowest point), hip circumference, distance from shoulder to knee, above-the-bust circumference, full-bust circumference.
  4. Check the size guide on the pattern. Make sure that all of your measurements will be fully accommodated by the pattern pieces – the pattern size range should include (and preferably go above & beyond) your body measurements. If it doesn’t, then check to see if that pattern comes in other sizes; often, the manufacturers only group a few sizes together so you don’t pay for a bunch of pattern pieces you won’t need.
  5. Don’t be afraid to mix and match! In order to get a dress that fits you, you might need to cut different pattern sizes to fit your body. For instance, you might cut out the bust area in one size and the back in another. Don’t be afraid to do this, but you should always double-check that the difference between the two sizes won’t be so significant that they’ll no longer fit together well.
  6. Utilize your options. Many sewing patterns come with options to customize the size, such as darts to fit a larger bust or to hug your curves over your hips. Use those options to make the garment fit your body in a flattering way.

If you follow these helpful hints, you’re much more likely to sew a garment that you love to wear.

Need more tips?

Check out our guide to making a pattern muslin before you cut into your nice fabric!

Pattern Fitting: Always Pre Fit |The Sewing Loft

How to decipher sewing pattern markings

This info graphic decodes the mystery behind commercial pattern markings. The Sewing Loft


How to print a PDF pattern,

Tips to help you print a pdf pattern at home.

Be sure to measure before heading to the store.

This measure your body worksheet from The Sewing Loft is the perfect way to keep track of key points of measure used when sewing garments. Print it out, measure your body and take it with you when purchasing your next pattern.

and how to use a sewing pattern at home.

Learn how to read a sewing pattern with these easy steps. Each part is broken down into simple terms. The Sewing Loft


The Sewing Loft





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  1. These are very important concepts to know when you’re making garments for yourself! I used to purchase TONS of patterns that didn’t look good on me or ended up fitting poorly because I didn’t measure the patterns correctly or take into account that I might need more than one set of sizes to fit myself. I would also add that you should find the pattern size that fits you. Most often, commercial pattern sizes for me are much bigger than what I buy in the store. Don’t look at the number, look at the measurements to get the right size.

  2. Lily de Grey says

    Hey, Heather! Thanks for posting this information on sewing! I’ve been trying to find different designs and patterns, so I’m glad that I stumbled upon your article. I’m going to head the fabric store later this week, and choose one—like you’ve mentioned—that “calls out” to me. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Or you can always get a made to measure pattern like Lekala.