Free Sewing Patterns

Everyone loves something for nothing and while sewing can be expensive, it doesn’t need to be. There are some great places offering a slew of free patterns available for instant download and here are some of my favourite places to go hunting.

Just remember, you don’t need to be bound by a pattern, especially when it has cost you nothing. Whether sewing from scratch or working on a refashion, you can mash up various patterns to create your ideal garment. An arm scythe here, a neckline there and a skirt from yonder. Pull out the parts you need to create the garment you want. That’s the joy of sewing!

1. Peppermint magazine – Sewing School Peppermint mag Sewing School

Peppermint mag is a gorgeous Australian based eco magazine. As a bonus, each issue features a new ‘Sewing School’ project. But don’t be put off if you can’t buy the mag. It’s completely accessible through their online platform, no matter where you live.

2. Dresses and Me Dresses and Me free patterns

While Penny at Dresses and Me has a great selection of sewing patterns to buy (ideal for those in New Zealand), she has also curated a selection of links to free sewing patterns available for download, including the ever popular Sorbetto by Colette.

3. Oliver + S

Oliver and S free patterns

Oliver + S make the cutest patterns for kids. They make me want to sew for my kids more often. But did you know they have a range of free patterns available on their site too? Not to mention printable swatch cards. My stash needs that kind of order.

4. Burdastyle

Burdastyle free patterns

Burdastyle is a great resource for sewing patterns, inspiration and techniques. There is also a small selection of patterns available for free and what I really love, is that you can see what others have made using the patterns you like.

5. Dana Made It

DanaMadeIt

Dana has a beautiful blog full of tutorials, patterns and sewing advice. As with most of the links above, some of her projects do require you to purchase a pattern, but many of them are also free and her explanations are clear and thorough. Dana has projects for babies, kids, women and even home decor.

Where do you like to go for great free patterns?

Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic

This is a versatile little number that I hope will become a wardrobe staple. It’s the ever popular Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic Patterns.

Belcarra by Sewaholic Patterns | Offsquare.wordpress.com

Designed for woven fabrics, it features a raglan sleeve with turned up cuffs and relaxed fit with subtle shaping at the waist.

There are a lot of cute versions of the Belcarra on Pinterest. Lace sleeves, vibrant fabrics or a simple top featuring pleats on the sleeves. They also look as good with jeans as they do tucked into skirts.

Belcarra by Sewaholic Patterns | Offsquare.wordpress.com

The Belcarra is a reasonably quick make. It took just one rainy day complete with juggling kids on school holidays and all that entails, so I consider that pretty snappy. And do you recognise that sleeve fabric? I lined the sleeves of my blazer with it too. Matchy matchy!

The only alteration I made was to add 1cm to the top of the sleeves to narrow the neckline (via a tutorial on the Sewaholic site) because online reviews have suggested the neckline can be a bit wide and bra straps have a tendency to show. I’m pleased I did.

Belcarra by Sewaholic Patterns | Offsquare.wordpress.com

If you like sew-alongs, there is a Belcarra sew-along on the Sewaholic site that can walk you through each step of the way. Handy for tricky bits where you stare at the pattern blankly trying to work out what to do next. Not that there were any of those here, but I’ve had patterns previously with many such moments and sew-alongs are a perfect solution. Great for beginners too.

The Belcarra is a cute and easy to wear top and I think it’s a solid addition to the pattern stash. I’m all for getting some good basics in there and ones that will be used over and over again. The Belcarra fits that bill nicely.

Hooray!

Belcarra by Sewaholic Patterns | Offsquare.wordpress.com

Happy sewing everyone xoxo

Embracing Winter with a Blazer

My life needs a navy blazer! | offsquare.wordpress.com

Blazers! I mean, who doesn’t love a perfectly tailored blazer, right?

I bought this pattern (McCall’s 4928) many years ago, captivated by the multiple front and back seams and the fact that it’s fully lined. Those kind of seams make for ideal tailoring, meaning you can cinch it in or let it out exactly where you need it. The packaging though, arghh … It’s ugly. McCall’s, if you’re listening, your illustrations could do with looking more en-trend. Please, for the sake of our inspiration, could you help us out a little? I needed serious imagination with this.

McCalls 4928 | offsquare.wordpress.com

If you’re shopping for a pattern through those big pattern books you find at the fabric store, may I suggest using the line drawings as a guide more than the illustrations? Look at the seams, where they sit and how they might be altered, how different fabrics might look … it takes imagination, but don’t let the illustrations put you off from a potentially amazing pattern.

My life needs a navy blazer! | offsquare.wordpress.com

Back to the pattern. This is actually my second attempt. I used a polyester faille for my first and it was just too light to handle the seams. There were puckers on the back seams that I restitched about three times each and pressed to within an inch of its life, but they just wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t handle that and the whole thing got ditched.

My life needs a navy blazer! | offsquare.wordpress.comSo this version is made from a navy double knit ponte (pronounced pon-tee), in view C but with flap pockets. I made a sway back adjustment running through the centre back and side back seams and I reduced the sleeve head by about 2cm. One of my favourite features is those sleeve slits. I don’t know why, but they make me happy.

My life needs a navy blazer! | offsquare.wordpress.com

The body is lined with navy polyester lining fabric that I found at the op-shop for $1, but with a floral tencel fabric on the sleeves as a fun accent for when they are rolled up. It also ensures there is more of that fabric for other projects.

My life needs a navy blazer! | offsquare.wordpress.com

Being a double-knit, it’s snuggly warm and will serve me well this winter. I don’t intend to button it up and haven’t even bothered adding buttons/buttonholes yet! An open blazer just feels less formal (and I don’t trust my machine to do a perfect buttonhole first try without eating the fabric).

Wouldn’t this be fun in a bright, loud colour? I’m talking, neon loud with just a black t-shirt and jeans, maybe nude heels. Fun!

Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns

I have a personal rule that track pants are not to be worn beyond the letterbox (unless, of course, legitimate exercise is taking place). So it’s really fun to have something as effortless as track pants without the ‘I’ve given up on life’ look.

Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns | Offsquare.comWhile these pants are a little louder than I’m accustomed to (and it’s why they’ve sat in the wardrobe for a few months), with the addition of fun red heels and a racer back top, I finally get it. Like a lightbulb has just switched on. Patterned pants are fun and sassy and bold … maybe even sophisticated. Yes, I could get used to this.

Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns | Offsquare.com

The Pattern

These are the Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns. To me the name sounds like Enema Pants. Yeah. Like Book Depository where I always think of Book Suppository. But I digress.

This is a beautiful pattern to work with. The pockets come together easily and are fixed along the top at the waistband, so you won’t have them moving around during wear. It is designed for knit fabrics, so if you wish to use woven fabric, it’s advisable to size up in the waist and hips. This is a surprisingly quick make and a good pattern for beginners to tackle with no zips or buttonholes to sew, featuring instead a false fly (don’t panic, it’s easy!) and elastic waist.

Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns | Offsquare.com

I’ve made the pair with no cuffs, sized up for the woven (non-stretch) fabric and took in the side seams of each leg for a tapered ankle.

The fabric is just polyester and (thankfully) has less static than I had expected, but won’t crease with wear like some natural fabrics.

Do I Recommend It?

Yes!

Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns | Offsquare.com

Oh, and heels with these pants are a must for outings beyond the letterbox, just for some extra attitude ;)

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank

In my pursuit of finding the perfect tank top pattern, I caved in and bought Grainline’s Tiny Pocket Tank pattern.

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank | Offsquare.com

Oh man, I’m not gonna lie … it was a tough road. This pattern has some quirks and fixing them did my head in. There were several occasions where I dumped it all in a bag and shoved it aside in frustration, telling myself to just forget about it and quit. But how awesome would a great tank top pattern be for the arsenal? I wear them all the time! So, I couldn’t let it go completely. A dog with a bone, I tell ya.

The Quirks

The issues I had were tightness and pulling above the bust and also a weird wrinkling in the body from the bust and darts, down and out to the waist. The latter wasn’t as major as the first, but still drove me crazy and made the top look ill-fitting.

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank | Offsquare.com

 The Fixes

After yet another frustrated shove-it-all-in-a-bag moment, I sent Jen at Grainline an email (this is the cool thing about indie pattern makers) and she replied with this:

It’s possible that what’s happening is that the Tiny Pocket is drafted for a slightly larger B cup than the rest of the line and this is affecting the fit on you. It was the first pattern in the line and I was using a different fit model than I do now. You may need to go up a size in the pattern and then do a small FBA [small bust adjustment?] to take care of the large bust.

Good advice and sizing up was definitely the way to go. That alone removed a lot of the tightness and this might be all some people need to do. But it didn’t fix my wrinkling at the waist.

Then Lisa at Notes From a Mad Housewife shared a fix. Ah, blogging community, how I love thee! Here’s what Lisa suggested:

The biggest thing is getting the dart position right (I had to raise it maybe 1/2″). The other is changing the strap angle. I sliced from the side of the neckline to the armhole, then opened it up 1/4″ or so (pivoting at the armhole). That does lower the neckline, so you may need to adjust that. A lot of people had tightness above the bust, and making that small change did wonders!

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank | Offsquare.com

Lisa, you are a legend. So I went a size bigger than the measurements suggested, lifted the bust dart 2cm (using this method by Tilly and the Buttons) and opened the neckline 2cm before raising the neckline. This totally fixed the bust tightness (which was almost eliminated by sizing up anyway) AND the wretched wrinkling at the waist. Two issues fixed in one chop.

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank | Offsquare.com

I did leave a little of the wrinkling from the bust because I didn’t want the neckline to gape when sitting, but it’s a far cry from what it was and doesn’t bother me now.

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank | Offsquare.com

Finally! My ideal tank top pattern. This has plagued me for so long, you have no idea. Hubby got to the point of non-response whenever I called from the bathroom that I thought I had found a fix. He knew I’d be shoving it in the ominous green bag shortly after.

So this top is a badge of honour and boy do I plan on making a pile of them now.

Do I Recommend It?

Only if you are prepared to do some tweaking. I wish I had known about this fix before I started. It would have saved me HOURS of tracing, amending and mock ups. I see the same issues replicated with this pattern all over the blogosphere, so it’s not unique to me, but in saying that, the end result is a really fantastic top that I adore. So it’s a conditional yes from me.

Seriously, my wardrobe is gonna be brimming with these bad boys and it was totally worth it.

 

Robson Coat

The trench coat is one of my all time favourite jackets. The structure, the practicality and the fact they never seem to go out of style makes for a solid investment. I already own a vibrant coloured one (via Ezibuy, no longer stocked) that has been worn consistently every winter for the last seven years … and it’s still going strong.

So when I spotted the Robson Coat by Sewaholic, I just couldn’t say no.

Robson Coat | Offsquare.com

I found some navy fabric (I think it was Raintex? That was too long ago) at a local fabric store that was sadly closing down and sourced the pattern from DressesandMe. If you’re in New Zealand and want to buy indie sewing patterns, this is THE place to go. Penny is super lovely to deal with, so if they don’t stock what you’re after, flick her a message and see what happens.

Robson Coat | Offsquare.com

This is a great pattern to use with clear instructions and lots of illustrations (yay for visuals). The pattern is for a double breasted unlined jacket with front and back storm flaps, welt pockets, epaulettes and a tie belt. It uses princess seams on the front and a two part sleeve, both of which make the finished jacket look beautifully tailored.

I considered underlining this and using french seams, but yikes, that sounds intense for the first try! Instead I skipped the lining and just serged the seams instead of using the recommended bias tape. Much quicker and super easy.

Robson Coat | Offsquare.com

My Tweaks:

  • I lopped a whopping eight inches off the bottom because I like the shape and flare of a shorter coat.
  • A 1cm sway-back adjustment. While I can’t tell what difference it’s made, I like the shape so no harm done.
  • Lifted the pockets by an inch, based on reviews by other bloggers and this was definitely a good move. Actually, I lifted them by two inches in the beginning, but that was overkill, so I had to unpick them and start over. One inch is perfect (I’m 170cm).

Things I’d Do Differently:

  • I am having issues with the front flaps and they won’t sit flat. I think I’ll add some hand stitches to help it stay in place, but next time I’ll try the fix suggested by Purls and Pleats.
  • I don’t think the collar needs as much interfacing as the pattern says either. It’s unnecessarily stiff, so next time I’ll leave the interfacing off the collar top and only put it on the bottom pieces.
  • When ironing the fabric, I inadvertently melted the fabric in two places while pressing seams, despite the low heat. Argh! Rookie mistake. By placing a tea towel between the fabric and the iron, the heat was diffused and the fabric protected. I highly recommend doing that right from the beginning if you have a heat delicate fabric e.g. Nylon.
  • There is a lot of ease in this pattern and I’m considering going down a size next time. My measurements put me in three size categories, but because I was a size 8 in the Sewaholic Saltspring dress, I chose that. It’s generally a good fit, but the underarm area is very spacious and the sleeves are wider than I’d prefer. While you generally want coats roomy enough for all those winter layers, our winters are mild and I prefer a snug fit. Just personal preference and if you have harsh winters, you’ll appreciate the ease.

Robson Coat | Offsquare.com

Despite my tweaks and preferences, this really is a great little pattern and one I’m so pleased to have in the stash. It’s got everything I love about a good trench coat and the classic style means it should be useful for many more years.  Totally recommend it to anyone on the fence about it!

Wouldn’t it look awesome in a vibrant, fun colour to chase away any dreary weather moods? Mmmm, yes please.

Soma Swimsuit

Until recently, I had put sewing swimwear in the too hard category. Right up there with sewing bras or shoes. Turns out they are actually surprisingly simple and one of the most rewarding things to sew. The whole way through this whole project I kept saying to myself “I’m making a bikini. I’m actually sewing togs here. Togs! I’m. Making. Togs!”

Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns
I was offered a Soma Swimsuit pattern by Katie at Papercut Patterns (seriously guys, Katie is awesome!), but when she also offered me a browse of her fabric stash, I couldn’t even feign polite reservation … It was heaven!

After a little pep talk to myself (I was daunted by the whole idea of sewing this!), I opted to make the bustier version. I love it! It’s a little puckered in the middle of the top because I did a last minute hack to give my girlies a boost. The pucker disappears when I’m wearing it, but because I’m too shy to post photos of me in a bikini, you’ll have to take my word for it. Soma Swimsuit

The Technical Stuff This is a great pattern and Katie explains techniques well. I made the XS version, based on my previous makes with Papercut Patterns and it was spot on. If I were to be picky, the cups are a smidge spacious for my little curves, so next time I might attempt blending an XXS cup size with the XS top. I also cut padded inserts from an old bikini and hand sewed them in for a little oomph and also to stop visible high beams when cold.

I was worried that the lack of clasp at the back would lead to  an awkward ‘halfway-out-and-I’m-horribly-stuck-oh-my-gosh-I’m-panicking-and-can’t-breathe’ moment in the bathroom after. But to my relief, they stretch enough that I don’t have to face that situation. And did you know that swimwear fabric was in the dance wear section at the fabric store? Good to know. I would’ve hunted forever.

All in all it’s a great pattern and not as intense as you might expect. Please don’t let yourself be intimidated by this make. It’s surprisingly rewarding for a small amount of effort and doesn’t it sound impressive to say you made your own togs? The simplicity of it will be our little secret though ;)