Archive for the ‘sewing’ category

Update on sources of quick-make patterns

March 5, 2016

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 (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.

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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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Sewing Patterns for Men’s Clothes

April 12, 2015

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee 2015, I’ve been looking for men’s patterns. And I’ve been adding to this list when I find a new source.
You might think there’s nothing for men learning to sew for themselves, between making a cushion cover and tailoring a suit, but in fact there are many options.

Learning to sew menswear

Even the simplest modern sewing machine is a complex machine tool. (Here are links to information about the mechanisms.) And it’s surprising how many different techniques are involved in making even the simplest sewing project. Some people love challenges, some people prefer to learn one new technique at a time.

The first step is to learn the basics of using a sewing machine, see side menu at Aim for Quality for many free guides.

Then learn the simplest basics of cutting fabric and constructing something from it.
Do you prefer to learn from video or written instructions ?
There are ‘learn to sew’ bag and home dec patterns at Kwik Sew Kwik Start which can be made in men’s fabrics. This pattern line has good special instructions for early beginners.
There are a couple of free video classes on bag making at Craftsy/Bluprint.

There are some special easy patterns for men’s clothes, see next section.
There are also some special courses :

There’s a subscription service for learning to sew mens’s clothes from complete beginner. Taught by Mimi G, Sew It Academy, about $12 a month – videos with few written instructions.

If you prefer written instructions, here’s a “learn to sew” project book for complete beginners. The Merchant & Mills Sewing Book has a sequence of unisex bags and home dec (clothes patterns in this book are small and difficult to use, M&M single patterns are good).

The Sewing Guru is a trained tailor who has videos for making shirts and suits (and pyjamas), using speed and classical tailoring techniques. Projects vary in difficulty, and there’s no formal sewing school with a suggested sequence for learning sewing skills.

Burda Academy has an online video course for learning to sew menswear, which includes patterns for jacket, pants, and Barbour. This is also not for beginners.

‘Learn to Sew’ clothes patterns for men

These could be ‘early beginner’ projects, a first garment after learning basic cutting out and construction from simpler projects :
Robe : Simplicity 1946.
Tees with V and crew necks : Kwik Sew 3878.
Pyjama pants with fly opening (no closure, add snaps) : Kwik Sew 3793.
Elastic-waist pants, no fly opening : Kwik Sew 3345, Simplicity 2290.
Elastic-waist cargo shorts with ‘mock fly’ (doesn’t open) : McCall’s 6933.

The next I suggest might be ‘extra help for the first time you do this’ patterns – not for a complete beginner at garment sewing, but perhaps for a beginner at sewing these styles :
This shirt pattern is labelled ‘Learn to Sew’ by McCall’s, but definitely not easy, McCall’s 6972. For some reason they chose the most difficult way of attaching a one-piece collar.
And this ‘Learn to Sew’ pattern is for pants with zip fly, McCall’s 7987.
These jumpsuit costumes have zipper closure : McCall’s 7675.

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General Patterns

When you’ve learned the basics of how to sew, where can you go ?
I haven’t linked to individual patterns here, as there are 100s of them ! These are just links to pattern sources.
Sections here for :
Casual wear
Activewear and Outdoor gear
Suits, vests, coats.
These are all paper patterns unless noted.

Plus a final section on making your own patterns.

There are about a dozen patterns for men in this list of patterns supposed to be sewable in less than 3 hours.

If you’re specifically looking for patterns for larger men, here’s a post from the Curvy Sewing Collective which lists some patterns for men which go up to larger sizes. (See also the ‘make your own patterns’ section below.)

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Casual wear
Some of these sites are not sorted for men/women.
Some are in several languages.

Burda tissue patterns / Simplicity
Burda Style download patterns
Colette Patterns – Walden for men
Elbe Textiles
Green Style Creations
Hot Patterns
I Am Patterns
Jennifer Lauren Handmade
Kwik Sew
Liesl & Co.
Merchant & Mills
Patterns for Pirates
Patrons les BG
ProperFit Cothing – caps
Seamwork (download)
Sew Sew Def (download)
Silhouette patterns
Stof & Stil
The Tailoress
Thread Theory
Toby K
Wardrobe By Me
5 out of 4 patterns

’Made to Measure’ pdf download patterns

Most of these only use a few basic measures, such as height, chest, waist, hips.

Bootstrap Fashion has patterns for several shirts and jackets. (formerly Make My Pattern) has patterns for most garment types.

Lekala patterns include more than 120 patterns for men.

For more detailed personalising of design and fit, see the ‘Make your own patterns’ section below.

Pattern magazines

There is an on-line sewing magazine specifically for menswear, Bartack.
This has been set up by Jamie Kemp, former contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee. Click on the Welcome to read about the content. It’s free to look at the content, subscription for the downloads.
There’s an extensive pattern finder section.

There’s the annual special family issues of Ottobre magazine, 7/2017, 07/2018, which have several traceable patterns for men.

Many of the download patterns at Burda Style previously appeared in Burda Style pattern magazine.

La Maison Victor is a Belgian pattern magazine said to have a pattern for men in each issue.

Occasionally there are stylish patterns for men in Italian pattern magazine La Mia Boutique

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Many of these sites aren’t pre-sorted for men/ women.

Burda Style download patterns

There are several specialist pattern companies for historic styles.
Such as :
Laughing Moon
Patterns of Time
Reconstructing History
The Recollections of J.P.Ryan

Choose the era you are interested in at
The Great Pattern Review
That doesn’t link you direct to the pattern.
Here’s their list of links to sources.

The Great Pattern Review site also has a ‘futuristic-fantasy’ section.
For cosplay costumes for specific characters, you can usually find ideas on specialist sites for the character.
There are some ‘online only’ cosplay costume patterns from McCall’s : Cosplay by McCall’s.

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Active wear

Burda Style download patterns
Controlled Exposure
Daisy Kingdom
Green Pepper
Round Earth Publishing – martial arts
Shelby Kaava
Storm Mountain Designs
Suitability – patterns for riders and horses

Outdoor gear

Here’s a guide to tips on sewing outdoor gear which aren’t in most conventional sewing books.
Many heavy duty sewing projects here, from Sail-rite sewing machines.

Some patterns :
Pennine Outdoor (mainly tents and sleeping bags)
Quest Outfitters (tents, bivy bags, backpacks)
Rainshed (mainly special purpose bags)

Many free patterns for bike bags available on-line.

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Moving on to shirts and suits (if you want to)

Video courses on technique

David Page Coffin, noted for his books and DVDs on shirts and pants, has video classes at Craftsy/Bluprint, David Page Coffin.

Burda Academy have an on-line video course on making menswear, which includes download patterns for notched collar and barbour jackets, pants, no shirt.

The Sewing Guru is a tailor who has many video courses on making shirts and suits.

Kenneth King has video tailoring class at Taunton Workshops, Smart Tailoring.

There are many video courses on making women’s shirts, which use the same techniques. Such as this class from Sew Over It, which includes both men’s and women’s shirts with pdf patterns.

Patterns for Shirts

More than one shirt pattern at each of these sites :
Burda paper, Simplicity
Burda Style download
Islander Sewing Systems – classic shirts
Islander Sewing Systems – modern fit shirts
Kwik Sew
(a single shirt pattern also in some of the Casual wear listings)

Patterns for Suits, Vests, Coats

Burda paper, Simplicity
Burda Style download

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Make your own clothes patterns

The University of Fashion has on-line video lessons on drafting patterns for men. These are standard industry slopers.

There are ready-made full size basic pattern blocks for men from Shoben Media (average body shape, up to about 110cm / 43” chest) :
hoodie, shirt, pants, vest, jacket, coat.

Custom fit patterns

Don’t expect a perfect fit from these tools unless you’re lucky. They only cover about a quarter of all fitting issues. But they may give you a better fit than patterns for ‘average’ body shape.

‘Connect the dots’ tracing from a master pattern, by Sure-Fit Designs :
Shirts and casual jackets (easy to make any height-collar-chest combination up to about 157cm/62” chest).
Pants for men instructions used with pants pattern (up to 62″ hips).

Pattern making software :
Wild Ginger PatternMaster Tailor Made (claims no upper size limits)

Formal Pattern Drafting books :
Patternmaking for Menswear : classic to contemporary by Kim & Kim
Metric pattern cutting for menswear by Winifred Aldrich
(There are several other general pattern making books for men, but these get the best reviews.)

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Other options :

Vintage patterns
There are many vintage pattern sites. Good places to start are searches on ebay and Etsy.

The Japanese produce marvellous pattern books, with full size traceable pattern sheets. So long as you don’t mind they’re in Japanese ! with many good line drawings of construction. A fun challenge, but not for beginners. Sizes are small. Body sizes are given with the book information, in cm. Multi-size patterns, so they may be quite easy to grade up.
These are the books for men’s clothes at my favourite source, which shows many sample pages.
Simply Pretty

Free patterns – with very variable quality of pattern drafting and instructions.
Sadly there’s no obvious good source focussed on men’s patterns.

– – –

It’s worth checking a pattern at Pattern Review, to see if anyone has helpful advice. (I find it quickest to search by pattern number.)
Pattern Review

Men’s clothing may not show the almost infinite variations in style elements that there are in women’s clothes. The differences are more in subtle details.
You do have to search thoroughly if you want something stylish, but there is a lifetime of possibilities to explore !

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First written April 2015, links checked March 2019.
I add a link whenever I come across a new source, but I don’t keep checking whether the links are all still valid.

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Pant/ trouser sewalongs

November 9, 2013

Love the extra support from following a sew along ?
I like following detailed instructions with lots of illustrations and demos the first time I do something. I also like instructions from a friendly encouraging voice, even if written !

This is the last of my sewalong series, links to the others are listed on this page.
And no, I’m not planning to post on sewalongs for dresses or blouses 😀

If (like me !) you only ever wear one style of pants, here’s a couple of styling ideas :

If you wear casual pants, but want to get away from jeans, YouLookFab has a post full of suggestions.

Once you’ve got a good basic pants pattern, here’s a Craftsy class about altering a pants pattern to make many other pant styles.

I have a couple of posts with ideas on pant fit :
Pant patterns and body shape
Fabric wedges below the waist

In this post, I’ve put the sewalongs in 4 groups :
– pants/ trousers, in 2 sections – on written tutorials and videos/ DVDs,
– jeans,
– sweat pants,
– elastic waist pants – not mentioned here, there are links to several sewalongs in my post on making pyjamas.

– – –

Written tutorials with photos

Colette Clover


tissue pattern with side seam zip

Sewaholic Thurlow


tissue pattern
sew along from Ladybird (scroll down for links)

Burda Style 07/2010/ 127 vintage style pants


download pattern
sewalong by A Fashionable Stitch

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DVDs and on-line videos (not free)

Sandra Betzina
pattern Vogue 2948 is oop but supplied with class


Craftsy class (associated class on fitting pants)

The Sewing Guru
Ladies trousers with no pockets, invisible zip, faced waist.
The Sewing Guru course tells you how to draft your own facing pattern so you could adapt Butterick 5391, which is also used in The Sewing Guru skirt course.


sewalong on-line videos in Collection 10

The Sewing Guru
Men’s trousers with slant pockets, fly zip, waistband.


pattern Vogue 2836, also used by The Sewing Guru in his courses on men’s jackets.
sewalong on-line videos in Collection 5.

The pattern they mention is oop.
Their current pants pattern, McCall’s 6567, has more difficult pockets.


There’s also a Palmer-Pletsch chinos pattern, McCall’s 6361 (includes skirt).


‘Pants for Real People – Sewing Techniques’ DVD (also a DVD on pants fit)

Those instructions suggest specific patterns, though they can be used with many other patterns.
These 2 are more general, just suggested style elements :

eSewing Workshop
self drafted pattern
sewalong – online videos, can be used with other patterns

You Can Make It
pattern : pants with side pockets, fly zip, fell and welt seams.
sewalong : teaching DVD. These DVDs are cumulative not stand-alone. Level 5 assumes you know the skills taught in Levels 1 to 4.
Level 5 DVD (scroll down page for information)

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Kwik Sew 3504 men’s jeans


sewalong by Male Pattern Boldness (free online written instructions with photos and discussion)

Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 5894 misses jeans



2 sewalongs for this pattern :

‘Jeans for Real People’ DVD

The Sewing Guru
this is the current version of the jeans pattern used in his
Collection 12 (online videos)

Pattern Review class from Jennifer Stern
Blueprints to Blue Jeans
uses her own jeans pattern.
Includes videos, fitting, styling, sewing.

There are 2 Craftsy courses on making jeans, not linked to specific patterns.

Kenneth King Reverse engineer your favorite jeans

Angela Wolf Sewing Designer jeans
recommended patterns listed in class

I don’t usually mention ‘chat and encouragement’ boards, but there’s a huge amount of useful information about sewing jeans in this one :
Pattern Review Jeans Tips and Tricks

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Sweat pants

Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous tailored trackpants


tissue pattern (use drapey fabrics, knits not necessary)
YouTube demo

Silhouette patterns 3400 3-piece yoga pants


tissue pattern
free webcast

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Whew there are a lot of these. Any of them right for you ?

Many thanks to all the people who post the free sewalongs – those do represent a huge amount of generosity and work. Isn’t the internet marvellous !

Hope you enjoy these 😀

No guarantee of completeness or quality. This is another use of the internet which is happily growing.

– – –

Links and patterns available November 2013

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Shirt sewalongs

October 19, 2013

Many people feel making a shirt is a step too far beyond sewing a top or blouse.
But there’s a good variety of support available, so it can be worth going for !

These are sew alongs which give detailed extra guidance to supplement the shirt pattern instructions.
I’ve chosen to focus on ones which include a band collar. (The word ‘shirt’ is a bit ambiguous, and there are many shirt patterns which don’t have a 2-piece collar.)
Some of the sewalongs also include a classic ‘tower / steeple’ shirt sleeve placket.

The free written tutorials are linked to specific patterns.
But most of the on-line videos and DVDs are not pattern specific, though they make pattern recommendations.

The classic shirt has such standard features that the Big 4 pattern companies all have several basic shirt patterns for women.

Kwik Sew are particularly known for their men’s shirt patterns.
This is Kwik Sew 3883.


As usual, I haven’t read or watched through all of these sewalongs, let alone worked through them – so no guarantee about quality !

– – –

On-line free written tutorials with photos

Wiksten Tova


This isn’t a shirt, but it has a collar band, so I’ve included it here.
Easier than making a two piece collar – perhaps a good starter piece ?!

pattern download

sewalong from verykerryberry.

Grainline Archer


(Those back gathers are optional !)

pattern download

days 1-5
days 6-14

There’s even a ‘chat and encouragement’ group at Pattern Review, for people who promised to sew one of these a month for a year !

Colette Patterns Negroni for men



Oh, this pattern doesn’t actually include a collar stand, ah well. . .

sew along from Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness
page 1 of posts
page 2 of posts

This pattern was one of the challenges in the Super Online Sewing Match.
Here are the Entries, which all show creative options (one of them added a collar band, which is what confused me !).

– – –

On-line videos (not free)


The Classic Tailored shirt class by Pam Howard

Suggested patterns for men and women in Lesson 2

class here

eSewing Workshop

They use their own pattern draft for the shirt, but you could use many other patterns.

bodice drafting
sleeve drafting

Shirt Sewing sewalong

The Sewing Guru

the Gent’s shirt video collection
Collection 9

[There isn’t much open access information at The Sewing Guru site, but you can sign on free for 2 days and have a look round. It’s easy to cancel from a PayPal account. Tailor’s methods.]

Instructions also apply to making a woman’s shirt.

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The latest version of the Palmer-Pletsch unisex shirt pattern is McCall’s 6613, with sleeve, hem, pocket options.


sewalong in ‘Learning to Sew a Shirt or Blouse‘ DVD

You Can Make It

Level 6 of their sewing course.
The course is cumulative, Level 6 is not stand-alone, it assumes you know all the skills taught in previous levels.

sewalong : Level 6 teaching DVD (scroll down).

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Would you like this sort of extra help with the instructions while you make any of these patterns 😀

Feel more confident that You Can Indeed Make A Shirt 😀

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Patterns and links available October 2013

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