Archive for November 2016

Speedy Patterns – to sew in 3 hours or less – 2016

November 19, 2016

The 2022 version of this post, with links that work! is here.

These are patterns which the pattern companies claim you can sew in 3 hours or less. Mainly a list of all the timed patterns I found in print in November 2016. Since then I’ve been adding individual patterns when I’ve come across them.
These times assume you’re an experienced sewer !
And they usually only mean sewing time, not including preparation and cutting time.

(2022) Sadly both Simplicity/New Look and Butterick/ McCall’s/ Vogue have completely changed their sites since this was written 6 years ago. I’ve updated some of the links but, sorry, a few of the links are unchanged.

I’ve posted several times on the topic of quick-make patterns, starting in 2010. My last post (March 2016) has now expanded so much it was getting unwieldy. So I’ve divided it in two :
– this post, on patterns the companies claim a sewing time for,
– a second post on patterns that are also very quick and easy, though no one makes any claims about how long you’ll need : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed.

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 (see Eileen Fisher for examples). 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, don’t fray easily. This is not the time to be trying viscose or thin silks. Similarly with knits – choose stable 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.

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Big 4 timed patterns

These are the Big 4 time-limited patterns available in November 2016.
Most Simplicity-New Look patterns have a download option.

New Look 6816 capsule of knit top, skirt, pants.

Tops, Dresses, Shirts

The links in this section are correct in mid-2022.

All the dress patterns can be shortened to tops and tunics.

New Look 6483 sleeveless and sleeved woven tops.

New Look 6892 peasant style tops.

McCall’s 6558 peasant style tops and dresses.

New Look 6347 sleeveless dresses.

New Look 6889 sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

New Look 6352 sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

McCall’s 5893 sleeveless and short sleeved empire waist dresses, knits.

McCall’s 6465 sleeveless and sleeved dresses.

Also for men :

Simplicity 8180 1-piece collar shirt, tie, shorts.

For previous editions of these patterns, Palmer-Pletsch claimed their unisex camp shirt and banded collar shirt patterns took 2 or 3 hours. They’re now not so optimistic !
Butterick 6846 1-piece collar camp shirt. Some stores still have this as McCall’s 6932.
Butterick 6841 band collar shirt. Formerly McCall’s 6613.

Skirts and Pants

In 2022 all the timed patterns have disappeared, except for this one :
New Look 6843 skirts with zip.

There are of course multiple easy patterns which are not timed, see the posts on elastic waist skirts and elastic waist pants.


Again in 2022 only one of these remains :
McCall’s 6209 ponchos.

Butterick used to have a quick pattern for waterfall front jackets, Butterick 4989, which is now out of print.

And they had an unlined blazer pattern that Butterick claimed you could sew in 2 hours ! 😀 Look for Butterick 4138 dated 2004.

McCall’s 6172, the famous Palmer-Pletsch 8-hour lined blazer pattern which sold over a million copies, is now also out of print.
It might be worth hunting out if you want a more female shape.

The more recent boyfriend-shaped Melissa Watson designed blazer is still available from Palmer-Pletsch, McCall’s 7818.

Costumes for men and women

Neither of these is still in print :
McCall’s 7229 : nativity.
McCall’s 6142 : clown.

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Independent pattern companies

Again these are just a few patterns I’ve found which claim specific making times.
There are many more independent pattern companies mentioned in my other post on quick patterns : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed.

For modern casuals, try Seamwork download patterns from Colette Patterns – supposed to take less than 3 hours in total (a few for men).

Seamingly Smitten claims most of their download patterns can be made in an afternoon.

The elegant simple classics by Loes Hinse sold by Textile Studio Pattern, are no longer available, but might be worth looking out for.
Shorten the skirts and dresses to transform the look. Or try the jackets at thigh, knee, or low calf length.

With a little more time – Decades of Style ‘Everyday’ patterns are supposed to be sewable in a day. Most are also rated ‘easy’.

Some individual patterns :

Fancy Tiger Crafts free pattern for a One Hour Top is a simple dolman shape knit top. They have a video class for it at Creative Bug showing how to make it on a serger/overlocker and a sewing machine.

And if you enjoy self-drafted patterns from a book there’s the 1920s One Hour dress by Mary Brooks Picken.

Sew Over It claim an Intermediate sewer can sew their Ultimate Shift dress in 3 hours.

CNT Patterns have :
‘A little somethin’ 3 hour shawl collar jacket.
‘Start after breakfast finish before lunch’ jacket with raglan sleeves.

Christine Jonson Studio Collection draped vest and jacket download patterns for knits.
She says the vest can be sewn in 5 minutes !

These free download patterns from Camelot Fabrics are said to take an afternoon :
boxy dress – for variations : shorten to top / tunic, change neckline shape or finish.
cropped jacket – for variations : lengthen, change front shape.
pyjama pants – with elastic waist and side seams. Make a size smaller for a daywear version ?

Sewlidarity says she made 2 pairs of Sew Over It Ultimate Pyjamas (download) in 5 hours (vlog starts at 1.50).

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Of course you may well have your own patterns which you can whip up in a short time. I’ve just been talking about patterns which the pattern companies are willing to make a commitment about. They show that everyone can make a garment quickly, not just people who have a serger/overlocker and are making a tee 😀

Incidentally you may have wondered why there are so few knit patterns in this post. There are many knit patterns in the next post, on quick but not timed patterns : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed. Perhaps there are so many techniques / tools / notions for making knit garments, the pattern companies don’t want to guess the time you might need.

Whether you enjoy using these fast patterns may depend on your sewing style. I’m not a quick sewer, and I don’t do well under pressure. I need to spend time developing the fit of a pattern and getting secure about the techniques used before I can be sure of making it more quickly.
But there are many people who love to jump straight in for a quick reward to their sewing.

So Good Luck with developing a range of speedy Tried ’N True patterns, if that’s what you enjoy.

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Patterns and links available November 2016

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Very Quick and Easy patterns which are not timed

November 19, 2016

My previous post was on patterns which the pattern companies claim you can sew in 3 hours or less. The 2022 version of that post is here : Sew a garment in less than 3 hours.

The patterns in this post are obviously quick and simple, but the publishers are not committing themselves about how long you need to make them !
Few specific patterns mentioned here, instead there are many extensive pattern ranges to explore.

2022 – I have updated the links in the earlier version of this ‘not-timed patterns’ post.

The same comments about fabrics apply as in the other post :
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 stable 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.

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Some patterns for quick casual outfits

Some very simple patterns for skirts and pants :
elastic waist skirts.
elastic-waist pants.

For casual outfits, combine those with these free slouchy top download patterns from Tessuti :
Athina with cut-on sleeves, added length, straight sides (wovens)
Mandy boxy top with separate sleeves (knits)
Monroe top with turtleneck (knits, stretch fabrics)

Pattern companies and special pattern lines

Many of these suggestions are ‘easy’ pattern lines, on the assumption that means they would also be quick for an experienced sewist. The patterns may be easy, but you need to check if they would be quick for you.

There are many Burda Super Easy items (there doesn’t seem to be any way of getting a listing of just those patterns). Though do look at the patterns with care – there are patterns in that group which include darts, inseam pockets, zips. Burda envelope patterns do include seam allowances.

I find Burda Easy magazine is a more believable source of easy patterns. Here’s the Burda Style site. Scroll down the left menu to where individual issues of Burda Easy magazine are listed. Patterns from Burda magazines do need seam allowances added.

All the patterns from 100 Acts of Sewing are ultra simple. Her book includes 4 full size traceable patterns with instructions for many changes. And her Creative Bug video classes include download patterns.

See the ePatterns among the download patterns from Sewing Workshop. There’s a dress, jacket, vest, skirt, tee. Add elastic waist pants for a complete wardrobe.

I don’t sew knits myself so I’m not very aware of patterns for them, but I know many people like Pamela’s Patterns and find them quick to sew.

If you like a flouncy / lagenlook style, and have tried the pattern so you’ve found the pitfalls, a few of 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, all downloads. Also most of the styleARC patterns suitable for beginners (though ignore their claims about fit, there’s no way the same pattern can fit well on both triangle and inverted-triangle body shapes).

And it’s worth searching for the gems among the dross in the free download patterns from (adult patterns are from Hot Patterns).

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.
A couple of those are versions of the one-fabric-piece bog coat. Here’s Shirley Adams’ video about making a bog coat without a pattern.

I now have a pinterest board of patterns for very easy jackets and vests.

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 your co-ordination decisions quick and easy by using a wardrobe pattern. The list is much shorter than it used to be but there are still many easy New Look patterns for 2 or 3 items, such as :

for knits :
New Look 6735 (‘core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants),
New Look 6730,
New Look 6458,
New Look 6216.

for wovens :
New Look 6461,
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.

Here are two more easy-sew suggestions for simple basic wardrobes, both with several length options and more possible :
Butterick 3039 – top/tunic/dress, skirt, pants, short sleeve shirt-jacket – cut on sleeves, buttons – body bust 36-54″.
Simplicity 4789 – jacket/vest, jumper dress, pants – fitted sleeve – body bust 32-50″.

Burda 7075 is another ‘core 4’ pattern. It is in their Super Easy range, but includes darts, zips, in-seam pockets, so the techniques used are definitely lower Intermediate.

My favourite easy wardrobe pattern used to be the 6-item Central Park pattern by Park Bench Patterns :
park bench wardrobe
Now if you search for it you’ll get much information about benches in parks, but the pieces are easy enough to copy.

‘Learn to Sew’ pattern ranges

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

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).

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 instructions are better for beginners, but that won’t matter so much for an experienced sewist.

I’ve linked to pattern lines that I think are mostly genuinely ‘easy’. But this needs care – look carefully at the line diagrams of patterns labelled Easy or Beginner by many of the pattern companies, which may not be at all quick or even simple. Assess these patterns for whether they use techniques that are trouble free and quick for you.
I think the Very Easy Vogue label is especially mis-leading for beginners, these patterns often use techniques which would be called ‘intermediate’ by anyone else 😀

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Many good quick-sew 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 look good 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. Copy the well known designers (such as Eileen Fisher) who make very simple shapes in very special fabrics.

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

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Patterns and links available July 2022

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Make everything from one pattern ?

November 12, 2016

Make your whole wardrobe using just one pattern ?
Interested in the challenge of making everything from one pattern ?
And I don’t mean a wardrobe pattern !

For the Pattern Review One Pattern Many Looks contest e.g. 2016 you have to choose one view of a pattern. They only allow you to make changes in fabrics and trims.
They specifically exclude doing any pattern work, apart from fitting.

Personally I find it more fun to do some simple pattern work. I know many people don’t want to change patterns, but the alterations suggested in this post are simple.

Some of these pattern changes make different garment types, such as jumpsuit to dress, skirt, coat. Others involve more subtle changes to style elements : collars, pockets, front openings – good if detailed differences delight you 😀

Basically you’re doing the simplest aspects of pattern making, as taught in the big college pattern making tomes, but you’re starting from what is already a pattern in your style, instead of from a fitted body sloper.

– – –

A starter pattern

Several years ago I wrote a post on using one top pattern for a dress, top, jacket, vest, coat.
The pattern I used is now out of print.

This time I’m starting from Simplicity 8060 (2021 – also discontinued), a Mimi G jumpsuit pattern.

2021 : use Sew Over It’s Farrah jumpsuit pdf/A0 pattern : (body bust 31″-46″) with dropped shoulders, 4 flap pockets, and no yoke.
SOI Farrah

Or McCall’s 7330 (body bust 30″-49″), a less casual style, already includes sleeve and leg length, collar, pocket and belt variations.
mcc jumpsuit

The Merchant & Mills Thelma is for body bust 31″-56″.

If those aren’t your style, there are many other jumpsuit patterns. You could do these simple pattern alterations starting from any pattern with sleeves and waist seam. I collected some on this pinterest board. 2021 : jumpsuits are current, so there are many more.

Or of course you could instead work the other way round, and use your favourite top and pants patterns to make a jumpsuit. Make the length of the top pattern at your personal bodice length (nape of neck to waist) plus 1-2” / 3-5cm, to allow for movement. If you’d like a tutorial, here’s a video from Wonder How To.

If you find you enjoy this process, you’ll probably find it’s less work to start, not from the original multi-size pattern, but from a tracing of your size. Perhaps with some adaptations for you, such as different sizes for top and bottom, or adjustments to bodice and crotch length. Also tracings of one or two sizes larger, to use for layers such as jackets and coats. An investment in time that saves time later.

If you become a true addict of this process, you’ll want to transfer the basic pattern pieces to card so you can trace round them every time they’re used.

Most of these pattern altering ideas don’t just apply to one pattern. They’re general pattern altering skills which can be applied to many other patterns as well. I’ve begun a pinterest board of some patterns that are easy to change.

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Some simple ideas for what you can make from a jumpsuit pattern

(Apart from a jumpsuit !)

Style elements

– move / omit / change shape of patch and slant pockets.
More complex pocket changes : guides to making different pockets in this post.
– change the shape of the collar : round the corners, or use only the band.
More complex collar changes : patterns for many collars from momosAtelier – some are detached, the ones with partial front in the same fabric are attached to the garment.

Garment type

Use top and bottom patterns separately.

Use a larger size of the top for a bomber / blouson jacket.
Use the casing and drawstring for the waist.

Make a dress with a waist seam, by adding a gathered rectangle of fabric below the waist instead of the pants. Any length from mini to maxi. How about using some special occasion fabric ?
Several examples of commercial patterns which do that on this pinterest board.

Use the pants pattern pieces to make gathered waist pants.
Use the casing and drawstring for the waist.
(Using the Sew Over It Farrah jumpsuit pattern to make pants : continue with the buttoned front opening, or simply ignore the placket opening and extend the casing around the complete waist.)

With very little pattern work

These changes can be made direct with the pattern tissue if you want to.
Or for more speed there are even easier methods.

Lengthen or Shorten

Change body, sleeve and leg lengths – see instructions for lengthening and shortening the pattern tissue, given on many pattern sheets.
If you’d like more detailed advice, there are photos of lengthening and shortening in this post from Tilly and the Buttons.
If you’re tracing the pattern, you can just slide it along by the amount needed, instead of needing to cut and paste.

Lengthen the top to make :
shirt / tunic / shift shirt dress without waist seam.
Use a size larger for a shirt-jacket, longer for a duster.

If the top pattern is the same width all the way down from underarm to hem, you can just mark the added length onto the fabric when cutting, with no need to add on tissue. (Well, I need to check that’s big enough for my hips !)

Shorten the length of the jumpsuit pants to make a romper.
Shorten the pants used without the top, to cropped pants, capris, bermudas, shorts.

For speed shortening, just fold back the unwanted part of the tissue when cutting. Though only if the side seam meets the hem at a right angle (see ways of dealing with other angles below).

Omit pieces

Omit collar / cuffs / sleeves.
Make sleeveless tops, vests and sleeveless coats.
Add a bias binding or bias facing to the remaining edge.
Or make a facing pattern, see about 3/4 of the way down this post.

With a little more pattern work

For these changes, it’s best to trace the pattern and work with the tracing.

Style elements

Add decorative seams so you can use different fabrics in the same pattern piece. Draw the new seam line across the pattern piece. Cut along this line, or trace the two parts. Add seam allowances to both sides of the new seam.

Change neckline.
Here’s a post on changing necklines.

Close front of top to make a pullover top
Here’s a post on closing the front of a pattern.
Extend that to a shift dress.

Add a variety of half plackets to the top (henley, polo, zip – see this post for links to instructions for sewing these).

Add a full length front opening placket : to a pattern that has not got one, see links in the previous post on starting from one pattern. Change to an edge-to-edge opening, zippered, cut on button band, separate button band, cut-on facing, separate facing.

Change the leg shape of the pants – make them wider or slimmer, flared or bell bottom. Make the same changes to inner and outer seams of both front and back, to retain the balance of how the pant legs fall. If you don’t do this, they will hang oddly.

Garment type

To make a skirt from the pants pattern – lengthen downwards from the vertical part of the crotch seam.
Use the casing and drawstring for the waist.
(Going from pants to skirt is much easier than the other way round.)

I’ve extended the stitching lines in this example, as I tend to make my own patterns without seam allowances. You can of course extend the cutting lines.
Remember to add hem allowance.


That diagram is just the first step, marking seams and hem position.
The next step is to make the hem a smooth line, and for that the hem and seam need to meet at a right angle. So if your pattern piece has sloping sides, you need to curve the hem shape. Find a line at right angles to the sloping side that meets the hem about 1/3 the way along, then smooth the wide angled join into a curve.
Finally, check that the front and back side seams are the same length. Move the whole hem up or down if not.

For slight angles between seam and hem, as on sleeves and legs, there’s a much simpler ‘hack’ – just straighten out the tapered seam in the hem area.
(the upper horizontal line and centre vertical lines in this photo are pdf pattern join marks)

Hmm – what about a coat ? Use 2 or more sizes larger of a lengthened top pattern.
For more challenge, add a lining 😀 Easier than you might think : either copy the main pattern pieces exactly and make a reversible item, or make lining pattern pieces which fit onto the facings and hems.
2021 : The Threads magazine book on how to make and sew lining patterns is no longer in print, but you can still find copies, such as from Alibris or Abe Books. The clothes styles may be dated, but not the technique content.

Going Further

When you know more about pattern making there could be many other options ! For starters – what styles could you make if you widened some of the pattern pieces so you could add gathers, pleats, tucks.

It may be a long time before you want to go further than all the possibilities in this post. But when you do there are several people who specialise in making this process easy.

Here are some you could try. Use your starter pattern instead of their master pattern.

Judy Kessinger has a couple of books on doing this.
Also many free videos, such as :
Dolman sleeves.
Raglan sleeves.
Princess seam style.
More tops.
More pants.

The Sure-Fit Academy has many videos on changing starter patterns to other styles, not free.

More books :
The Act of Sewing by Sonya Philip has half the book on making simple pattern alterations. The book includes 4 very basic patterns, but you can apply the ideas to your own patterns.
Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch tells you how to draft starter patterns to your own measurements. Then instructions for various styles. Again you could use your existing starter pattern.

Sew Guide has links to many posts on simplified patterns for changing style elements.

For big changes : I suggest making a test garment (muslin, toile) to check the details are as you want them. Professional designers go through many iterations to finalise their designs.

– – –

This post focusses on all the things you can do to make different items from one pattern.
Well, all the things which involve only simple pattern work.

I haven’t mentioned all the possibilities for changing the look of a garment which don’t need any pattern work, such as changing fabric colour, print, type, or using colour blocking or patchwork, or adding decorative stitches, appliqués, trims, ruffles, or adding wadding and quilting to some sections, or cutting striped or plaid pieces on the bias.

This post used to end with a section listing some other sources which show how easy it can be to alter a pattern.
That section has expanded so much, I’ve now made it a separate post on Simple pattern alterations.

If you love playing with patterns, all this can be a fun and fascinating thing to do 😀

– – –

First published November 2016, some additions and links checked October 2021

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