Beginner Sewing patterns for dressmakers
If you’ve been watching The Great British Sewing Bee and and it’s tempted you to try out dressmaking for the first time or you’re a maker already and you’ve been asked by friends who want to learn to sew, then you’ve come to the right place. When you first start to sew your own clothes or help a friend take up sewing for the the first time choosing the right pattern is essential. Here we’ve shared our top 10 sewing patterns for beginner dressmakers.
There are some crackers, all of which are designed with beginners in mind including dresses, tops and skirts. We’ve only included sewing patterns that use cotton, as this is the easiest fabric to learn to sew with. We’ve also made sure to exclude any tricky techniques such as invisible zips. We’ve also put together our top tips and ideas to get you or your friend started on their dressmaking adventure!
Tilly and the Buttons – Stevie Tunic
The Stevie Tunic from Tilly and the Buttons was an instant hit with the sewing community when it was released last year. It has none of the tricky darts, zips or sleeves to insert, making this a speedy make. The overall style is boxy with a round neckline and kimono-style grown on sleeves. The easiest way to finish the dress is with the fabric ties at the back neckline but you can also use a button and loop. Alternatively Stevie can be made into a top, which finishes at the hip.
What we think: Tilly writes the best instructions and so you are in safe hands as a beginner with this pattern. If you are feeling ambitious there are also extras you can add on including turn-up cuffs and a patch pocket. Read maker reviews of the sewing pattern here.
Format: paper pattern / Sizes: UK 6 – 20 / In the shop: yes
I AM Patterns – Jain top and dress
Our second option also comes with a dress and top option. Jain has batwing-style sleeves that can be short, long or finished with an elasticated cuff. The fabric for these pieces is cut on the bias so they can be fitted to give a raglan effect (the seam runs from the underarm to the neckline, rather than to the shoulder). The front neckline also has an optional keyhole opening, which is a nice design detail for Spring and Summer versions.
What we think: This pattern is a true wardrobe staple, offering great value with a dress and top style that can be worn every day. Once you’ve cracked this pattern you’ll be making them in different fabrics for all year round.
Format: paper pattern (PDF coming soon) / Sizes: EU 36 – 46, approx. UK 6 – 16 / In the shop: yes
Liesl and Co – Terrace Dress
If you are looking to make a dress for more formal occasions then the Terrace Dress from Liesl and Co is ideal. It’s loose fitting and has a relaxed, elegant style. There are darts for some gentle shaping and the option of pockets if you want to take on more of a challenge. Plus you can choose from short kimono-style or 3/4 length sleeves with two skirt length variations.
What we think: If you are worried about fit then this dress is ideal because it goes on straight over your head and is fitted using the waist sash. The mid-calf length finish of the skirt is really on trend right now and this would be lovely for an evening out.
Format: paper pattern and PDF / Sizes: XS – XXL, approx. UK 8 – 20 / In the shop: yes
Sew Over It – Ultimate Shift Dress
It’s an oldie but a goodie, the Ultimate Shift Dress was one of the first patterns released by Lisa at Sew Over It. It has darts for shaping at the bust and an all-in-one facing for a neat finish at the neckline. Again there are no zips or buttonholes to worry about with this pattern, it’s just fastened with a hook and eye. Below we show two sleeve length variations but you can also make it without sleeves for the warmer months. Plus the pattern comes with a top option as well.
What we think: this dress and top combination comes with lots of options to style it in your own way. Once you’ve mastered the basic dress you can add on sleeve frills too. It’s a classic shape that will never go out of style and you can make it for everyday or special occasions depending on your fabric choice. Read maker reviews of this sewing pattern here.
Format: paper pattern / Sizes: UK 8 – 20 / In the shop: yes
True Bias – Ogden Cami
This must be one of the most made patterns in the sewing community! I’ve seen some makers with more than five in their handmade wardrobes. It’s a simple cami blouse that can be worn on its own with shorts or jeans on lovely sunny days or layered with blazers and cardigans. The v-neck is a soft curve and the straps are delicate and narrow. The neckline and armholes are finished with a lining so there is no tricky bias binding to deal with to make the seams neat and tidy.
What we think: This is a must for any budding dressmaker and you won’t be disappointed! It’s a great fit straight out of the pattern envelope, although you might want to make adjustments if you are fuller in the bust. Read a plethora of sewing pattern reviews here.
Format: paper and PDF pattern / Sizes: approx. UK 8 – 20 / In the shop: yes
Cashmerette – Montrose Top
The Montrose top comes with two versions, a basic suitable for beginners and a lace fabric option once you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt. The model wearing version A on the right has a scoop neck and short sleeves with a curved back yoke. View B has more complicated design details including a jewel neck to show off lace fabrics and keyhole back opening.
What we think: The Montrose Top is ideal to pair with jeans and this pattern offers great value letting you progress as your sewing sills develop. The basic top is gathered into a curved back yoke and this gives you more freedom of movement.
Format: paper pattern / Sizes: UK 12 – 28 / In the shop: yes
Grainline Studio – Scout Tee
The Scout Tee is a loose fitting t-shirt with capped sleeves and a scoop neck. It’s a simple design but a classic shape for casual everyday wear. Grainline Studio are known for their great instructions and timeless designs. Read sewing pattern reviews here.
Format: paper pattern / Sizes: Approx. UK 8 – 18 / In the shop: yes
I AM Patterns – Gaia Top
The Gaia top is a recent release from French designer I AM Patterns. It’s sleeveless with a v-shaped neckline and links which gather the fabric at the shoulders. This is a more ambitious pattern for a beginner but with the help of a sewing buddy, it should be no problem.
What we think: This is an elegant style that would be ideal to pair with trousers or a skirt on an evening out. Plus you only need 1 m/1 yard of fabric (excluding the bias binding)!
Format: paper pattern (PDF coming soon) / Sizes: Approx. UK 6 – 18 / In the shop: yes
Papercut Patterns – Kochi Kimono
The Kochi Kimono from Papercut Patterns is boxy in style and once you’ve mastered it in cotton, it can be made in lots of different fabrics depending on the occasion, anything from wool to a soft chiffon. It features an optional lining, 3/4 length sleeves, side seam slits for ease of wear, a tie front for easy fitting and patch pockets.
What we think: A kimono jacket is the idea cover up for lots of occasions, cool summer evenings, strolls through the park or over swimwear by the pool. Everyone should have one in their wardrobe! Read sewing pattern reviews here.
Format: paper pattern / Sizes: Approx. UK 6 – 16 / In the shop: yes
Liesl and Co – Everyday Skirt
This pattern is exactly what it says, a skirt for everyday! Thanks to it’s elastic back there is no need for zippers or buttons. This also makes the fit easier. It has smooth side panels and practical front pockets to keep all your bits and pieces.
What we think: Make you first Everyday Skirt in cotton and then try out different fabrics depending on the occasion, we think this skirt would also look great in wool or velvet too! Read maker reviews of this sewing pattern here.
Format: paper and PDF pattern / Sizes: Approx. UK 8 – 16 / In the shop: yes
Sewaholic – Rae Skirt
This skirt is really beginner friendly with straight seams along the front, back and sides. This means it has a better fit than more boxy shaped skirts. It’s designed for pear-shaped bodies where your bust and waist are smaller than your hips. It has three versions with different length and fullness options so you can choose your personal preference.
What we think: these instructions for this skirt take you through every step in lots of detail with clear diagrams so you can have confidence in completing your skirt with ease. Read sewing pattern reviews from makers here.
Format: paper pattern / Sizes: Approx. UK 0 – 16 / In the shop: yes
Tilly and the Buttons – Dominique Skirt
Last but definitely not least we have the Dominique Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. This skirt has been designed especially for beginners with straight side seams and an elasticated waistband for a simple fit. The hem finishes either above the knee or below and if you are feeling adventurous then you can patch pockets too.
What we think: Designed to grow with you as your skills develop, the flared version of the skirt is more challenging and you can add additional features such as belt hooks and a sash. Read maker reviews of this sewing pattern here.
Format: paper pattern / Sizes: Approx. UK 6 – 20 / In the shop: yes