Learn how to make clothing patterns with a how-to sewing pattern guide. A pattern is a template, usually made of paper or cardboard, that’s placed on fabric and used to trace and cut parts of a garment that are later assembled. Pattern books are perfect for providing ready-made patterns with step-by-step instructions, or for teaching you how to make your own designs from scratch. They are ideal for both the budding seamstress who’s learning the basics and the savvy sewer who’s honing established skills. Browse our selection of the best pattern books below.
1. The Magic Pattern Book
This clever book features six patterns that each make six different garments. For example, you can use the basic skirt pattern to make an A-line skirt, a maxi skirt, a pleated skirt, a pencil wrap skirt, a flared bias skirt, and a ruffled miniskirt. There are also six fabric recommendations for each garment. In addition to simple patterns, the book contains a sewing manual with recommendations for tools and fabrics as well as step-by-step instructions and a sizing reference chart, making it ideal for beginners.
2. How Patterns Work
Another good option for beginners, this book is an introduction to the fundamentals of pattern making, including basic terminology and techniques. It begins with the assumption that you have no previous knowledge, and the chapters slowly build in complexity with step-by-step examples and diagrams. It is written to work as a companion alongside more complex patterning books. The first half covers subjects such as darts, seams, and slopers, and the second half demonstrates how to make changes to existing patterns.
3. How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns
This helpful guide is organized in four parts. The first section provides essential information on tools and materials necessary for sewing and dressmaking. The following sections outline commercial patterning, how to alter a pattern, and how to design your own pattern. A great guide for beginners, this book is informative and accessible.
4. Pattern Design Fundamentals
This book covers the basics of pattern making, sewing terminology, and drafting concepts. Learn how drafts are constructed, why particular pattern markings are used, and in what order a pattern should be constructed. The first section walks you through the basics of construction, such as how to manipulate darts and create pleats and gathers. The second part covers seam lines, the third section outlines beginner design concepts such as pockets and collars, and the final part addresses finishes such as facings, zippers, and hems. In short, this book covers the material that most fashion design students learn in their first year of school, so it’s an ideal guide for self-guided learners or classroom instruction.
5. The Nani Iro Sewing Studio
If you’re a fan of Japanese design, then this book of 18 patterns from cult-favorite designer Naomi Ito is the book for you. These patterns are designed to be fluid and comfortable and include the Basic Blouse, the Cocoon Dress, the Everyday Jumpsuit, and more. This book has all the guidance you need to stitch a wardrobe of simple, beautifully draped garments.