Whether you’re returning to sewing after a few years away from your machine or have never sewn a stitch before, it’s a good idea to begin your dressmaking journey with a simple pattern so you can perfect the basics.
We’ve all got to start somewhere, so fire up that sewing machine, give one of these beginner sewing patterns a try and we promise you’ll never look back…
(Oh and if you want to up your sewing game and learn some new skills, why not try our 3 issues for £3 offer?)
This post was updated on 6th August 2018. Main image (above): The Victory Skirt © I AM Patterns.
1. I AM Patterns: The Victory Skirt
Get started with dressmaking in style with this easy-to-construct starter skirt with a gathered waist – it’s a great project for learning how to use your sewing machine, handle fabric, add a button and finish with a hem. You’ll also get to try your hand at inserting a zip. Want to adapt the length or design? It’s easy to shorten or lengthen, and you can also choose from three different pocket styles.
- The Victory Skirt pattern includes six sizes. Get the paper pattern for $15 or download the digital version at iampatterns.fr
© I AM Patterns
2. Simply Sewing: Cropped kimono top
With just two pieces to cut out and stitch together, garment construction doesn’t get any simpler than this kimono top from Simply Sewing issue 3. It can be made in a variety of fabrics – make yours in a cotton print as we have for a crisp, structured feel, or try crepe or viscose for a more loose, draped look. And if the cropped length isn’t for you, it’s easy to lengthen to suit your style.
3. Sew Over It: The Silk Cami Top
Learn to sew with silky fabrics like a pro with this chic and simple top. You’ll get to practise sewing garments with a neat finish using French seams and learn how to add an all-in-one facing for a professional finish. Need a hand with your cami? Check out the Silk Cami Sewalong.
- The pattern is available in UK sizes 8 to 18 from Sew Over It’s pattern store at sewoverit.co.uk as a PDF pattern for £7.50 or get the printed copy with issue issue 43 of Simply Sewing magazine.
© Sew Over It
4. Tilly and the Buttons: The Cleo Pinafore and Dungaree Dress
The on-trend Cleo pattern has no fiddly zips to worry about and minimal fitting required. Make it dungaree-style with buckles or as a pinafore with button fastenings. You can vary the length and add optional topstitching and patch pockets on the front or back.
If you’re a complete newbie to dressmaking, never fear! The pattern comes with easy-to-follow steps and jargon-busting instructions, plus photos to show you how to sew each part.
- Shop the printed pattern for £12.50 at shop.tillyandthebuttons.com or download the PDF version for £9.50.
© Tilly and the Buttons
5. Colette: The Moneta Dress
Say hello to simple dressmaking with bags of understated attitude. With its mix of elegance and comfort, this is THE dress to make if you want to learn to sew with knits and make a garment in just a few hours or days (depending on your available sewing time!).
Choose between three versions which all share a curved neckline, fitted bodice and shirred skirt with in-seam pockets. You can adjust the sleeves, collar and bodice lining to suit your skills and style.
6. Named Clothing: Inari Crop Tee
Cropped tees are of the moment, and it’s easy to sew the trend! Not ready to wear cropped tops? No problem! You can turn your tee into a loose-fitting dress, as this pattern gives you both options. Try your hand at sewing short sleeves with a cuffed effect and adding slits at the side of the dress version.
If you’re a bit nervous about sewing with knits and heavier fabrics then this is the garment for you as it works well with light to medium-weight fabric with no or slight stretch.
- Buy the PDF or Printed pattern from €13–€19 at www.namedclothing.com and sew it in UK sizes 4 – 18 (EUR 32 – 46, US 0 – 14).
© Named Clothing
7. Tilly and the Buttons: The Coco Dress and Top
Learn to sew with knits and you’ll unlock a whole new world of dressmaking… and the Coco is here to show you how! Whether you choose to make Coco as a Breton top or knit dress this pattern comes with plenty of variations to suit your style. Plus it’s super simple to sew, easy fitting, and doesn’t include any zips, buttons or other fiddly bits.
- Buy the printed pattern for £12.50 at shop.tillyandthebuttons.com or download the digital version here for £9.50.
© Tilly and the Buttons
8. Merchant and Mills: 101 Trouser
We were looking around for a go-to trouser pattern for ages when we came across these drawstring trousers with side pockets and a false fly, cut to sit on the waist. Choose between three versions – a cropped and tapered trouser, wide, straight trouser or shorts (pictured below).
- Shop the paper pattern, in sizes 8 to 18, for £14.50 at merchantandmills.com
© Merchant and Mills
9. Colette: Sorbetto top
This simple-sew top from indie pattern label Colette is a great for practicing key garment-sewing skills. By the time you’ve finished making your own Sorbetto, you’ll have mastered bust darts, pleats and bias binding (and will likely want to make another!).
10. Simply Sewing: DIY wrap dress
Twist it, drape it, tie it… one dress, countless ways to wear it – and we’re here to show you how to sew it! Portia Lawrie has designed this convertible wrap dress tutorial for a clever multi-style frock that makes party dressing a doddle.
This is a patternless project, so you can skip the pattern-cutting stage completely and make this dress using just your measurements (and your chosen fabric, of course!). It’s simple and quick to make and you can style it in a multitude of ways.
11. Sew Over It: Ultimate Shift Dress
You can never have too many shift dresses! Designed with beginners in mind, the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress pattern will guide you through the dressmaking process, from sewing bust darts to attaching neckline facings. There’s plenty of scope for customisation once you’ve mastered the basics, and it comes with a free maternity hack option.
- This pattern is available in UK sizes 8 to 20 as a paper or PDF pattern from the Sew Over It pattern store
© Sew Over It
12. April Rhodes: The Date Night Dress
Some patterns just come up again and again on our Instagram feed and this simple slip dress is one of them. If you’re looking for a quick-to-sew garment with subtle drama, this is the one for you! Wear it loose, with a ready-made belt, with shirring, or with a fabric sash.
- Download this PDF pattern, in sizes XS to XXL for $18 at april-rhodes.com
Want to lengthen your dress? April Rhodes shares her tips for adjusting the length on the Spoonflower blog.
© April Rhodes
New to dressmaking? Check out these sources of pattern inspo:
- Watch and learn: Take a look at this gathered skirt tutorial by Gretchen Hirsche
- Sewing for Kids? Try Butterick’s Very Easy Shorts and Trousers Pattern
- Simple sewing: I AM PATTERNS Simples range is a good place to start
- Beginners’ pattern archive: The Fold Line have over 500 Beginner sewing patterns to choose from
Share your favourite patterns and we’ll include them here
What patterns have you found easy to get to grips with while you were learning to sew? Have we missed out your favourite beginner’s pattern in this post? Tell us about it! There’s nothing we love more than a sneaky peek at your me-mades, so tag us with your photos on social media, and if you mention a pattern we should have included here, we’ll add it in #simplysewingmag.