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What do you need to start designing your own sewing patterns?

Updated: Jun 26

As with any craft, you can buy a million and one tools but you really don’t need most of the fancy gadgets

out there. You'll probably find a lot of the tools below hanging around the house already.

This list shows you what you really need and here at The Sewing Retreat we’re all about being ethical where possible so, I advise trying to find second hand or vintage tools where you can.

If it's not possible for you to buy vintage or second hand, then click on the underlined text below, or images, to find out where to purchase your own tools. I’ve also suggested eco-friendly versions too where possible.

(Please note that I have not been paid to write this blog. I do however make a small amount of commission with any affiliate links you may use but this helps to support me so that I can share more free information with you)


6 Essential Pattern Cutting tools

This is the most important pattern cutting tool and it'll speed up the process of creating sewing patterns. It's also possible to use a set square however, a set square is slightly limited to what you can use it for in comparison to the pattern master.

Even though it's a little pricier than the pattern ruler in the image below, I use the pattern master as it’s super strong, accurate and a multipurpose tool. It allows you to draw 90-degree angles, add seam allowance, draw accurate curves and also allows you to easily add seam allowance to curves such as armholes. It really is the perfect tool to help you adjust your sewing patterns.

There are other pattern cutting rulers out there, just make sure they have 90-degree marks and 0.5cm increment lines so that you'll easily be able to add on your hem and seam allowances.

I recommend using a nice light-weight roll of paper, approx. 50/70gsm. This is to prevent your patterns from ripping easily, and you should also be able to see through the paper so you can accurately trace other pattern pieces.

You can buy rolls of paper about 75cm wide which are ideal. Even recycled brown paper works well.

If your paper is too narrow you'll find you end up sticking lots of paper together so I recommend a minimum roll width of 75cm. I also use this paper for wrapping gifts and your orders as well so it's super handy!

A normal pencil gets blunt far too quickly and means that your patterns won’t be accurate. I advise getting a 0.5mm propelling pencil and refillable leads.

The best tape to use is eco-friendly narrow brown tape or even masking tape works well. You can write over it as well as being kind to the planet.

Scotch tape is also great to use as it has a clear matte finish making it easy to still see pattern lines and is super easy to write on. However, it's not very friendly to the planet so if you already have some then great, otherwise I'd recommend the brown tape below.

To make your scissors last longer, only use your paper scissors for paper and fabric scissors for fabric.

Using fabric scissors for cutting paper will make them go blunt because you are effectively cutting through a tree. The best scissors are sharp, so sharpen when needed too.

6. BONUS TOOL - Pattern Notchers

Notchers are like a hole punch but they are used to punch out ‘u’ shaped notches along the edge of the paper for the balance marks.

You don't need them but they do make your patterns last longer as they won't rip as easily and they make it a lot quicker to snip all of your notch points.

If you don’t have notchers you can just use scissors and cut small ‘v’ shapes instead.

Once you've got all the tools above, you're almost ready to get started! A good white eraser is also very handy as well as a sewing tape measure.


As well as these tools, you also need pattern cutting blocks. These are the stencils for creating 99% of sewing patterns.

To learn more about pattern cutting blocks head over to my blog post here.

Would you like to learn more about pattern cutting?

Happy pattern cutting!

Sarah x

P.S. Follow my stories on Instagram to see more pattern cutting tips and sewing tricks. If you have any questions just drop me a DM



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