Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

April 20, 2010

Sew handy: some sewing pattern references for new sewers

Taking proper body measurements
Burda Fashion
These 3 pages on the Burda website provide detailed instructions about how and where to take measurements for sewing women's garments. Good diagrams are provided. The last page helps you determine the shape of your hip, bottom and tummy.

How to choose the correct pattern size
Commercial patterns are sized for ten different body classifications, including children, junior and men. Use the information here to decide on the sizing for your next project. Of note is the explanation regarding differences between Misses and Womens patterns.

Browse the pattern company catalogs online
Simplicity and New Look
Kwik Sew
Butterick, McCall and Vogue
While nothing beats leafing through the glossy pages of a real pattern book, the reality is many of us don't have the time (for example, diverting my attention for a few nano-seconds from my preschools, would lead to an embarrassing rampage). These sites are invaluable for browsing from home. The downside is that seasonal-collection information is sometimes topsy-turvy for those of us in the southern hemisphere.

Downloadable patterns
If you like shopping in your pyjamas in the dead of night, then you will love these sites. Download, print, match, tape and cut out your own patterns at home. SewingPatterns.com offers a subset of commercial patterns for download at a reduced price. Burdastyle offers a range of lovely free and modestly priced patterns. Be warned though - you will need a lot of sticky tape and printer paper and some patience!

How to read a sewing pattern
If you are about to sew from your first commercial pattern, look no further than this excellent primer by Lara at Sew Mama, Sew. You will find lots of helpful details regarding the envelope back, the pattern pieces, markings and instructions.

Brief introduction to pattern alterations
New Mexico State University
This site gives an overview of types of pattern alterations you might make to improve a garment's fit. Its a good summary with short explanations and diagrams (though probably not a substitute for a good book or class).

The font of all knowledge
Last, but most definitely not least, is this outstanding site. The comprehensive knowledge base at PatternReview is always worth consulting before buying or starting on a pattern. Thousands of sewers have submitted their personal reviews; rating the best and worst. There is a lot of candid, anecdotal information about alterations and workarounds. If you are a newbie sewer, the benefit of a bit of reading may stop you heading down a path of doom before you even start! You can view recent reviews (including photos of finished projects) as a guest, but have full access as a member. Use the advanced search page for the best results.


  1. Having read your last few blogs I am starting to think I have been very lucky up till now with my sewing. I don't actually know how my machine works, I only ever change the needle when it breaks and I replace it with whatever comes to hand. And I usually make the size above what I think I should make and just hope for the best.Never actually thought of taking measurements. At least I know where to come when it all goes wrong.

  2. Cannot agree more...measure your body THEN measure the pattern (excluding the seam allowances) just to double check...always a difference in what they state and what the pattern piece is.

    That's what I have found anyway.

  3. Being a newbie sewer myself, well, someone who has been sewing for years but, has little idea of what she doing...I am finding all your experience and links very helpful!
    Thankyou Liesl
    How is that beautiful table runner going?
    I haven't been let out in blogland much lately...am scrolling back to see if I missed something!


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