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The one thing you need to know to upgrade your sewing game - Part 1/3

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Imagine this... your dream is to build a house just like the luxury house pictures you've found on Pinterest. However, you have no building knowledge at all so it all feels like a dream that just isn't possible.


You want to create a website to turn your passion project, or hobby, into a business. You have all of these incredible ideas but you just don't know how to turn them into a working website without paying lots of money for a professional web developer.

Each of these creative ventures would be so much easier if you knew a little bit about the 'technical' side... 'the missing technical puzzle piece'. You would have so much more creative freedom.


Well, this is exactly the same when it comes to sewing... pattern cutting is the 'missing technical puzzle piece' that you'll need. It's your creative confidence, freedom and the one thing that will upgrade your sewing game!

I'm not saying that you need to be a professional pattern cutter, builder or a web developer BUT with just a little bit of technical knowledge, you can go so much further with any project.

With a basic understanding of pattern cutting, you can really transform your sewing projects and go from OK creations that end up at the back of your wardrobe, to dream garments that you're proud to wear.

Let me show you a few examples of creations where I've used just a little bit of pattern cutting knowledge to transform 'OK clothes' into clothes that really work for my style and shape.


Example 1 - From long unlined jacket to cropped, lined jacket:

This is one of my absolute favourite sewing patterns. It's from Merchant and Mills and I have made this pattern a few times but each time I’ve altered it to work for my style or a different occasion... and with a bit of pattern cutting knowledge this is possible for you too. 

How did I make this sewing pattern work for me?

There are a few things I changed on this sewing pattern to work for different variations:

  1. I wanted a hip-length jacket so I cropped the sewing pattern

  2. With the length change, the pockets were no longer needed for my design so I ignored them

  3. I also decided to add a lining to the jacket because I wanted to create a feature from the lining fabric I was using (it was a stunning Liberty, London Silk I had from when I worked at Liberty)

  4. I found the sleeves too wide for my style and shape so I made them more tapered

With simple changes like these, you can use just one pattern and simply adapt it and use different fabrics to create different looks, for multiple occasions giving you so much value from just one sewing pattern! Below you can see another version of the Merchant and Mills pattern that I adapted for a different occasion.

  1. I added a collar to create a different look and style.

  2. Added a deeper facing

  3. I also shortened the sleeves again and turned them up using the lining as a design feature to bring out the blue in the main fabric

And there we have it... two completely different looks from one sewing pattern. Cool right?! Well, you too can do this! My popular pattern cutting course, Fitting Confidence, is perfect if you'd love to adapt and create your own sewing patterns to fit you perfectly! Click here to discover more and join Fitting Confidence.


Example 2 - From a women's jacket to a menswear bomber jacket

I wanted to create a male bomber jacket and I couldn't find a sewing pattern that I really liked to fit a gentleman.

Instead, I found a ladies version that I adapted and transformed into a menswear pattern. This may seem a little strange but bear with me so I can show you that pattern cutting knowledge is literally like magic!

This was the pattern I started with:

The sewing pattern I found was a women’s teenage bomber jacket so I had to make the following adjustments:

  1. Take out the bust fitting

  2. Make the shoulders broader (Men's shoulders are normally always broader)

  3. Lengthen the arms and body

After making these adjustments I was able to create a menswear pattern to fit the style that I was originally looking for and the end result was perfect!

And here's the jacket I created:

If you can't find a pattern you like don't be afraid to adjust a different pattern to create your dream design.

All of these alterations just required a bit of pattern cutting knowledge! If you know the basics then you really will open up a whole world of opportunities.


4 tops tips for altering patterns to work for your style or size:

  1. Always ignore the seam and hem allowances when you're doing any alterations. You can either fold them over or take them off and add them back after you've finished (in pattern cutting the hem and seam allowances are always added last so that they don't get in the way)

  2. Add into the middle of your patterns when adjusting the fit or length NOT onto the edges- this means that any seams (edges of your sewing patterns) that should match up to another pattern piece will still match up

  3. If you'd like to add a lining to your garment - make sure to add a small pleat at the back to allow for movement. even just a 1cm wide pleat will really help - a lining is basically a copy of the outer garment but with facings added and a little extra space added at the back for movement

  4. Make a toile of the original pattern and then when you come to change anything you will be able to pin it in or draw on it directly to really get an idea as to how your adjustments work.

You can learn more about this and so much more inside my online signature fitting course, Fitting Confidence! You'll learn exactly how to create sewing patterns to fit your style, shape and size. You'll no longer have to spend hours creating clothes that don't quite fit, instead, you can make garments that you're proud to wear that YOU created. Let's make it a reality together... Click here to discover more about Fitting Confidence and what's included inside the course.

Pattern cutting is such a great skill to learn.  Even with just a small amount of pattern cutting knowledge, you too can start adjusting and creating clothes that work for your size, shape and style.

If you'd like to learn more sewing tips and tricks follow me on Instagram at @thesewingretreat Also, I'm a real person. Feel free to send me a DM on Instagram or an email to if you have any questions, I'd love to hear from you :)

Happy creating,

Sarah x

P.S. You can read part 2 of this blog series here which is all about beginning to work with pattern blocks.



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