Update on sources of quick-make patterns

I added a list of all the timed patterns currently available from the Big 4, and this post got so large I’ve divided it in 2 sections. The more recent posts are :
1. Speedy patterns to make in half a day or less
A list of links to current patterns taking 3 hours or less sewing time.
2. Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed
This is not much changed from the post below.

There are wardrobe sewing contests at both Stitchers Guild and Pattern Review at the moment (March 2016).

Many contestants find themselves doing some speed sewing in the final weeks, to get the full number of garments made. So what are some good sources of quick-make patterns ?

Obviously these patterns have to avoid any technique that takes time. So they’re very simple, with few added design features and little shaping. But there are designers who manage to respond to this need by providing interesting shapes and design features that don’t need much work.

It’s also helpful to know which sewing techniques you’re relaxed about. For example, most quick patterns avoid zips and buttonholes, collars and set-in sleeves, any hand sewing. But if you’re a sewist who can do those in a whizz, then why not.

Fabric choice can be crucial. Quality fabrics can give a luxury look to even the simplest of styles. Choose wovens with a bit of body, so they don’t need much support from interfacing and don’t change shape while you’re sewing them. Not slippery, doesn’t fray easily. Similarly with knits – choose ones that aren’t too floppy. Knits have the advantage they don’t fray, so no need for seam finishing. And there are non-knit fabrics like this too.

Some of these patterns may use less than ideal sewing processes to speed up the make. You can always choose to take a bit longer on better techniques, though it may take some thought.

(The patterns are tissue unless download is mentioned.)

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Patterns which the publishers suggest times for

This is the section replaced by a new post.
These times assume you’re an experienced sewer !

BMV used to give sewing times for several of their patterns, but do it less often now. Some of the timed patterns are still available. For casual classics, see previous posts on speedy patterns from the Big 4 which are supposed to take less than 2 hours sewing time.

Here are some new examples from Simplicity-New Look :
New Look 6816, knit cut-on sleeve tops, elastic-waist skirt and pants.
Simplicity 8180, shirts
Simplicity 2414, elastic waist pants and tiered skirts.
New Look 6399, skirts and pants
Simplicity 1068, knit skirts
Simplicity 8219, lined vests.

For modern casuals, try Seamwork download patterns from Colette Patterns – supposed to take less than 3 hours in total.

For more formal modern classics in less than 3 hours, see Textile Studio Patterns. Shorten the skirts and dresses to transform the look. Or try the jackets at thigh, knee, or low calf length.

Easy patterns which are not timed but only slightly less quick

Here’s a very simple pattern for skirts and pants :
Butterick 3460.

For casual outfits, combine those with these free slouchy top download patterns from Tessuti :
Cut on sleeve, straight sides (sheers)
Cut-on sleeve, a-line (knits)
Boxy with separate sleeves (knits)
There’s also the free MariaDenmark kimono tee (link in right menu).

All the patterns from 100 Acts of Sewing are ultra simple.

And the ePatterns among the download patterns from Sewing Workshop. Add quick elastic waist skirts and pants for a complete wardrobe.

If you like a flouncy / lagenlook style, and have tried the pattern so you’ve found the pitfalls, Tina Givens patterns use simple shapes and techniques, and most are downloads. Though ‘buyer beware’, you do need to know enough to correct any gaps in the patterns and instructions. If you like a softer look but don’t want to go completely lagenlook, many of these can be shortened to thigh length and worn with other skirts, pants or jeans.

If you don’t need good instructions, there are the ‘one figure’ styles from Hot Patterns. Some are available as downloads.

And it’s worth searching for the gems among the dross in the free download patterns from fabric.com (many of these are from Hot Patterns).

Also most of the styleARC patterns suitable for beginners are quick and easy.

Yet more simple tops and bottoms among the Sure Fit Designs Made in a Day styles. Most of these can be made starting from any basic top and pants fitting slopers, not just the SFD ones. Though you do need to do a bit of pattern work the first time you use them.

Quick and easy jackets are usually loose fitting with no collar. Maybe no closure, or use snaps, clasps, frogs, ties, cord loops instead of buttonholes. Often with cut-on sleeves. Or made from rectangles with square armholes. Sometimes raglan sleeves. There are patterns for these from many companies. Here’s my post from 2011 listing quick jackets from independent designers – most are still available.

MacPhee Workshop It’s Magic and World’s Easiest are ingenious simple casual patterns, though for my taste the techniques are sometimes over simplified. As they’re in Canada, there are many warm jackets and coats – not usual in quick pattern collections.

For a slight increase in skills and time needed, there’s a large range of Fast and Easy patterns from Butterick.

Very easy wardrobe patterns

Make the co-ordination decisions quick and easy by using a wardrobe pattern. Many easy New Look patterns for 2 or 3 items (most both tissue and printable on-line, see size menu), such as :

for knits :
New Look 6762, New Look 6735 (‘core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants), New Look 6730, New Look 6461, New Look 6458, New Look 6420, New Look 6403, New Look 6402, New Look 6384, New Look 6216.

for wovens :
New Look 6428, New Look 6292.
This one isn’t labelled ‘easy’ (skirt and pants have darts and zips), but is nearly and has a ‘Core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants : New Look 6217.

‘Learn to Sew’ pattern ranges

If you’re an experienced sewer, then you’ll probably find these patterns easy to make.

Kwik Sew Kwik Start
Simplicity Learn to sew
McCall’s Learn to sew (avoid the camp shirt 6972, or add a neck facing so you can sew the collar quickly and easily – video on facing pattern here from Louise Cutting)

Although these are ‘Learn to Sew’ patterns, many of them would be challenging as a first project for most complete beginners. But they do usually use simple techniques and clear instructions. I think the Simplicity and Kwik Start instructions are better for beginners, but that won’t matter so much for an experienced sewer.

Beware patterns labelled Easy or Beginner by many of the pattern companies, which may not be at all quick or even simple. Assess these patterns carefully for whether they use techniques that are trouble free and quick for you.

– – –

Lots of good options. But we do need to allow for our own way of working. People who often sew quickly will go “oh good, 1 hour. . . whizz. . .done”. Meanwhile I’m saying “hmm, I do need to make samples of that stitch on my new machine. . . hmm, I need to adapt that pattern for my x, y, z fitting issues. . . hmm, that style element may be quick to sew but often doesn’t work well on me, I’d better make a test garment. . .”. I can take months to make a 1-hour pattern 😀 I can’t happily sew quickly a pattern that’s new to me. If I want some quick sewing, it has to be a Tried ‘N True pattern, one on which all the testing and development work has already been done.

But the quick pattern choices are wide. These days the need for speed doesn’t restrict you to making very plain classics. There are several designers who make very simple shapes in very special fabrics.

Good Luck with finding some speedy patterns which suit your clothing and sewing style. Then you can happily build a wardrobe with minimum effort 😀

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First published March 2016, links and patterns updated November 2016 (how quickly things change on the web. . .)

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Explore posts in the same categories: speedy sewing

7 Comments on “Update on sources of quick-make patterns”

  1. Cynthia Says:

    So nice to see you again!

  2. I’m a big fan of Pamela’s Patterns (pamelaspatterns.com) for speedy sewing with great fit and style. Her pencil skirt and the pant pattern are my go-tos. And the Versatile Twin Set, Banded Front Cardi and Draped Front Cardi are great choices too. Using rayon-blend ponte knits and these patterns I can literally complete a well-made12-piece capsule wardrobe in a weekend!

    • sewingplums Says:

      Nancy – many thanks for the excellent suggestion ! As I don’t wear knits myself (too many wobbly lumpy bits) I tend not to give these pattern designers the attention they deserve.

  3. fabrickated Says:

    Thank you. You always provide such generous resources.

  4. fetidstench Says:

    A very timely and informative post! I always think i should keep more of an eye out for these type of patterns, as i’m constantly in need of more clothing since i’m a slow seamstress. Simple lines made up in a luxurious fabric – what’s not to like, am i right?

    I have made up HP’s Fast and Fabulous Lantern Skirt. It is nice and quick, and is a great basic casual skirt. In fact i use the waistband pieces in most skirts i make now, they just fit very well. A good copy of the Eileen Fisher original – i was wearing it when shopping at a local fabric shop in the upstairs clearance/classes section. As it happened, the class being taught was on copying RTW. The instructor used me as an example of the EF lantern skirt she could teach her students to copy – i had to let her know I’d made it using the HP pattern. A very nice compliment!

    Always a treat to see a sewingplums post! mrs. eccentric (i’m at the spouse’s computer)

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Steph. No one is going to suggest a princess seam top can be made in an hour 😀 but there are many ‘interesting’ unfitted top patterns. More suited to my body shape perhaps. And certainly luxurious fabrics are the way to move the simplest garments into ‘designer’ class. I’ve added a note on that !

  5. Great advice, keep it simple, make it well is my mantra. Nice to hear from you again. I’m off to check out Studio Textiles, thanks for the link.

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