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The pattern cutting tools you actually need

By: The Sewing Retreat

We're here to help you to understand which tools you really need to start designing your own sewing patterns without spending the earth on millions of gadgets you don't need.

(Please note that we have not been paid to write this review, we just wanted to share our resources and provide you with a genuine review. We do however make a small amount of commission with any affiliate links you may use )

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Where to start?

If you'd like to start designing your own sewing patterns or altering commercial pattern so they fit better than you'll need just a few tools. We're here to help you understand which tools you need.


To be as ethical as possible start by checking which tools you already have, then search for second hand/ vintage versions and if all else fails then by the new, ethical version where possible. 

Watch our video to understand which tools you really need

Pattern Cutting Tools:

When you start out with any project I think knowing which tools to buy can be overwhelming and a lot of the time there are so many gadgets you just don't need. I thought it might be helpful if I showed you which tools I use and why. 

  1. Pattern Cutting Ruler - I use the Pattern Master ruler because I find the size covers most outfits I make. It's quite strong so it won't break (it's currently in my suitcase on my world tour and it's not broken yet, I think that's quite impressive) and it's super easy to do seam allowances with the extra lines on it.

  2. Propelling pencil & 0.5mm leads- This is a must to be able to get the accuracy required for pattern cutting. If you use a normal pencil then the lead will get thicker and thicker meaning you add the odd millimeter here and there to your patterns. These millimeters all add up and then you'll find your seams don't quite match.

  3. Paper tape

  4. Sticky tape - it needs to be one you can write over. We recommend a narrow brown paper tape otherwise scotch tape works well too but isn't environmentally friendly but you can write on it.

  5. Paper scissors- Please don't use your fabric ones they'll get blunt very quickly if you use them for paper!

  6. Pattern cutting paper

  7. Notchers - These aren't a must but they are useful if you want to make your patterns last longer. They snip a 'U' shape in the paper meaning it doesn't rip as easily as notching by hand creating 'V' shapes.

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