If you know how to sew, you have an advantage over everyone who is limited to buying clothing in a shop: you can make any article of clothing you wish, in any colour or type of fabric you wish.
Unfortunately, clothing oneself is not as easy as draping a length of cloth around oneself, at least in most countries.
Naturally, you may opt to wear elegant saris or a gracious kimono but you would still need undergarments and they must be sewn.
Today, sewing your own clothes is more of a novelty than a necessity.
Still, judging by all of the activity in fabric and sewing supply stores, it appears that sewing is enjoying a resurgence.
Perhaps you too have decided to dust off your sewing machine and put it to good use.
Maybe you feel inspired by the gorgeous fabric you found that would look stunning as a summer dress or a wrap skirt. Or maybe you could make the most of it by making a wrap dress…
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Ah, here comes the indecision: what to make of those three metres of fabric you fell in love with? And how to make that article of clothing, once you settle on what you want to make?
The answer to both of those questions is one and the same: a pattern.
In this article, your Superprof prowls around the best fabric and notions stores to help you find the best places to buy dressmaking patterns and patterns for other articles you might consider sewing, such as doll clothes and purses.
Did you know that purse patterns were a thing?
Find a Sewing Pattern at Hobbycraft
Hobbycraft is the UK’s hobby superstore; you can find just about anything you might need to engage in any hobby you wish, from papercraft to knitting and crochet.
Naturally, they have a whole line of sewing supplies, including patterns.
How would you like to make a tunic top with an asymmetric hemline? Or maybe you’d like to make yourself a smart cape for those evenings you go to the theatre…
Hobbycraft offers so much more than just a handful of patterns and definitely more than clothes patterns; they have patterns for doll clothes, costume patterns for fancy dress – are you going to a fancy dress party for New Years?
So far, we’ve only mentioned women’s clothing but did you know that Hobbycraft has patterns for men’s clothing as well?
You can find trouser, vests and pajama patterns and more than one shirt pattern suitable for men, you can also find many patterns for loungewear for both men and women.
They stock lots of patterns for children’s clothing, too. Everything from fun rompers for active play to sleepwear to snuggle down in.
Offhand, it sounds a bit overwhelming, the selection they keep on hand but you needn’t worry about being subsumed by sewing patterns; to make your selection, you may simply look through their catalogues for a style that suits you. The shop attendant will then go find the pattern for you.
The only way that process could be made more effortless is by learning how to make your own patterns!
Patterns at Abakhan
Where Hobbycraft has something for everyone dabbling in virtually any hobby from sewing to painting, Abakhan deals almost exclusively in fabrics and the needle arts.
And, much like the other chain hobby craft store already mentioned, you can find an Abakhan in just about every UK city.
Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration.
Still, if you’re wondering where in Altrincham, Bolton or Preston you could go to look at a selection of patterns, you need only look for the bright green Abakhan banner.
Once inside the store, you will be greeted by friendly, helpful clerks who will do their utmost to help you find the pattern you are looking for.
Even better: if you are brand-loyal, you will surely find what you are hunting because they have their patterns catalogued by name:
- Burda Style
- Kwik Sew
- Vogue Patterns
- Simple Sew
- Tilly and the Buttons
As though their wide selection of brands wasn’t generous enough, they also have doll clothes patterns, patterns for pet wear, bag patterns and patterns for home decoration accessories like pillows and seasonal item.
And, if you enjoy the casual comfort of medical scrubs, they have patterns for those, too.
Should there not be such a fabulous store in your city, you may shop their website for the pattern you crave, or even just to get ideas of what you could make with that fabric you just bought.
By the way, did you know you could also learn how to make your own dress pattern?
Finding Patterns in Your Local Sewing Shop
Right after shopping online for everything from groceries to digital goods like music and films, chain stores are the go-to choice for most shoppers.
And why not? They are convenient, competitively priced and they always seem to have what you need when you need it.
While they are a boon for shoppers, such ventures usually make things more difficult for the independent retailer who often struggles with the same issues that plague those big box stores without the benefit of a corporation’s bank book to back them.
And, with taxation and regulation making it ever harder for the independent shops to keep the doors open – let alone to make a profit, supporting our local businesses could be seen as doing one’s civic duty.
Besides, your local sewing supplies store clerks most likely have a wealth of experience and advice you could benefit from, such as which fabrics would flow best for that A-line dress you wanted to make or any hacks for sewing a knit dress.
In fact, there is a good chance that you will be offered sewing tutorials; you may even get some instruction on pattern making!
All across the UK, there are delightful shops, often tucked away from the main thoroughfares, that are just brilliant in their resources and knowledge about sewing. Here, we’ve compiled some of the best.
Independent Sewing Shops Across the UK
|Bristol||Flo-Jo||0117 904 1498|
|Birmingham||Guthrie & Ghani||0121 449 8419|
|Cardiff||TrixieLixie||0292 034 4464|
|Leeds||Fabrics for All||0113 279 5007|
|London||Stag & Bow||0208 291 4992|
|Nottingham||Coles|| 0115 988 1550|
|Plymouth||Funky Poppy||0777 675 7300|
|York||Gillies' Fabrics||0190 462 6244|
You may even find that those shop owners are passionate about the needle arts and may impart to you pattern-making basics of fashion design.
Shopping for Patterns Online
You might imagine that, if we were surly about chain stores taking business away from the independent stores, we must be downright hostile about online shopping sites… right?
Quite the contrary, as it turns out!
Let’s go back to our opening scenario: you just bought three metres of dazzling fabric and you are not quite sure what you want to make out of it.
Earlier, we implied that you could look at the sketches on pattern envelopes, sort of flip through them – like Sheldon (The Big Bang) flips through comic books, to see if any design catches your eye.
The next best step would be to thumb through a catalogue.
Major pattern makers each have their own collections of patterns, so you might first look at a catalogue of Simplicity patterns, and then a collection of Butterick patterns…
You may even be interested in looking at vintage sewing patterns from those two major brands; after all, they have been around for over 150 years.
The easiest way to decide on a pattern is to look online.
If you don’t feel like spending hours in a brightly-lit shop, thumbing through sewing books and you don’t have an eclectic home-grown sewing shop nearby, your best bet to see a wide selection of clothing patterns is online.
The two chain retailers we mentioned both have websites with an entire page dedicated to the patterns they have in stock.
Amazon, the giant of online sales, also has a selection of dress patterns available.
However, their selection is fairly limited; for instance, they don’t have much in the way of clothing for men and only a few patterns for children’s clothes.
Here, we have to mention the revolution in clothes patterns: digitising them.
Many designers are scanning their patterns in or drawing them outright with computer drawing software, and then making their patterns available, either as a PDF download or paper patterns.
The advantage over the PDF files is that they are a bit less expensive than the other ones.
One of the greatest benefits to sites such as Closet Case Patterns and others like it is that the sizing is a bit more generous than, say, a Simplicity sewing pattern.
Much as we enjoy your company, isn’t it time you go look at websites with clothes patterns?
Oh, and before you make your first cut in that gorgeous material of yours, come back so we can show you how to adjust your patterns for size, length and the type of material you’re working with.
Yes, that is an important factor when choosing your pattern!