Sew a garment in less than 3 hours ? – 2019 patterns

Posted March 2, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: speedy sewing

These are patterns which the pattern companies claim you can sew in 3 hours or less.

These times assume you’re an experienced sewer ! And they usually only mean time at the machine, and don’t include preparation and cutting out time. Also they use quick techniques which may not give the best quality result – from looking at some of these instructions, they may not include seam finishing and pressing time. . .
But still these times are reasonable, they’re not stressed-sewing. They’re much easier than the patterns that Great British Sewing Bee contestants are expected to make in 3-1/2 hours.

These are the timed patterns I’ve found in print in March 2019.
Speedy patterns are mostly basics which stay in the catalogues, but there are a few new ones since I last wrote on this (2016), and a few have disappeared.

There are 100s of patterns in general for men, see this post. But there are very few speedy patterns for men.

In 2016 I also wrote a post on patterns that are quick makes but the companies don’t claim specific times for : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed (I have not checked that for still-valid links.)

Obviously these patterns have to avoid any technique that takes time. So they have few design features and little shaping. But there are designers who provide interesting shapes and design elements that don’t need much work.

Very few of these patterns include pockets.
Add a patch pocket taken from another pattern. Or see this pinterest board for patch pocket design ideas.
Or here are instructions and pattern piece for in-seam pockets, from Sew Over It patterns (easy), or Christine Jonson patterns (scroll down, more complex).

And allow for the sewing techniques you’re relaxed about. Most quick patterns avoid zips, buttonholes, collars, 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.
For easy making : choose wovens with a bit of body, so they don’t need much support from interfacing and don’t change shape while you’re cutting and sewing them. Not slippery, don’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.

– – –


These are the Big 4 time-limited patterns available in March 2019.

Outfit patterns

4 hours for a 2-piece outfit, 6 hours for 3 pieces ? Well, perhaps double that to include preparation and cutting out time.

Simplicity 1563, knit tee and tank, woven elastic-waist pants/shorts and kimono/robe – unisex casual wear, nightwear.

For a quick capsule, make all those items at several lengths in casual and dressy fabrics (tee and tank dresses, capris. . .). Perhaps add a dressier top and a skirt from the patterns below.

New Look 6816, knit top, skirt, pants.

Tops, Dresses

Surprise – the patterns above are the only timed knit fabric tops. Of course many people find knit tops a quick make, but the pattern companies don’t label the patterns with times.

All the patterns here are for woven fabrics. All have bust darts and no waist seam, unless mentioned.
The dress patterns can be shortened to tops and tunics, or vice versa.

New Look 6483, sleeveless and short sleeved tops.

New Look 6892, peasant style tops with gathers.

New Look 6347, sleeveless dresses.

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

New Look 6352, sleeveless and short sleeved dresses, no bust darts.

McCall’s 6465, sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

New Look 6889, sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

McCall’s 6558, peasant style tops and dresses, gathers at shoulder and waist.

McCall’s 6098, girl’s dresses, no darts.

printed for you, USA only, very expensive :
Simplicity EA591701, jumper dresses, no bust darts.

Shirts, also for men :

Simplicity 8180 1-piece collar shirt, tie.

In previous editions of their unisex shirt patterns, Palmer-Pletsch claimed their camp shirt and banded collar shirt patterns took 2 or 3 hours. They’re now not so optimistic !
McCall’s 6932, 1-piece collar camp shirt (Palmer-Pletsch say 3 hours on their web-site, McCall’s don’t).
McCall’s 6613, band collar shirt (no time now given).
Lengthen for a shirt-dress.

Skirts and Pants
for women

There’s no longer a timed commercial pattern for the basic ‘sew 2 rectangles together with an elastic waist casing’ skirt, but there are several in the other post about quick patterns. The Hassle free make your own clothes book says you can make one in 10 minutes 😀

These patterns have elastic or knit band waist unless mentioned.

Simplicity 6338, girl’s skirts, knits and woven.

New Look 6053 2-hour skirts with darts and zip.

New Look 6843, 1-hour skirts with darts and zip.

printed for you, USA only, very expensive :
Simplicity EA701501, skirts.

Butterick 5153, shorts and pants.

Pants for men :

All have elastic waist, no pockets.

Butterick 5153, casual shorts and pants, no fly opening.

Simplicity 1563, casual shorts and pants, no fly opening.

Simplicity 8180 shorts, fly opening with snap closure.

printed for you, USA only, very expensive :
Simplicity EA995801, boxer shorts, fly opening with snap closure.

for women

Except for the blazers, none of these have any shaping darts.

Pullover layers :
Try New Look 6892 View A,B
1 size larger for 2″/5 cm more ease, 2 sizes larger for 4″/10cm more ease.

Layers with front opening :

A camp shirt is classic casual layering : try McCall’s 6932. Check the finished garment sizes and make larger if you prefer.

Simplicity 8219, lined vests.

McCall’s 6209, ponchos.

Simplicity 1563, kimono, perhaps shorten for a jacket.

Butterick used to have a quick pattern for waterfall front jackets, Butterick 4989, now out of print.
And Butterick 4138 was an unlined blazer pattern they claimed you could sew in 2 hours ! That is also oop, but it’s interesting to know someone thought it’s possible 😀

McCall’s 6172, the latest version of the famous Palmer-Pletsch 8-hour lined blazer pattern which sold over a million copies, is sadly out of print.
This has been replaced at McCall’s by a unisex blazer pattern, McCall’s 7818.
Palmer-Pletsch claim this is an 8 hour pattern, McCall’s don’t !
Palmer-Pletsch say this has ‘boyfriend’ styling for women. Roomy and straight with shoulders wider than hips, so best for wide-shoulder inverted triangle, rectangle body shapes.
McCall’s 6172 blazer was for women only and had more shaping and closer fit. Probably better for full busted inverted triangle, hourglass, triangle body shapes.

There are many other quick jacket patterns. Some of them are on this pinterest board. But very few jacket patterns are given specific sewing times, which is the focus of this post.

Layers for men :
All mentioned before.
camp shirts : Simplicity 8180, McCall’s 6932.
kimono robe : Simplicity 1563.
blazer : McCall’s 7818.

Costumes for men and women

McCall’s 7229, nativity, adult.

McCall’s 7228, nativity, children.

McCall’s 6142, clown.

– – –


These are just a few patterns I’ve found which claim specific making times. I’ve looked at very few of them, so give no guarantees !
There are many more independent pattern companies mentioned in my other post on quick patterns : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed.

Pattern lines and wardrobe books :

For modern casuals, try Seamwork magazine download patterns from Colette Patterns. Early patterns were said to take less than 3 hours in total (a few for men), they now cover a wider range of times but still mostly simple.

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

The wardrobe planning and pattern book Dressed from Deer & Doe patterns has 9 downloadable pdf patterns claimed to be makable in an afternoon.

Tilly and the Buttons has a pattern book “Make It Simple” of clothes said to be makable in an afternoon. Site has photos of styles included, mainly knits. Traceable overlapping full size patterns included, or download pdfs if you prefer.

‘Made in a day’ :

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

If you love making your own patterns there are several simple tops and bottoms, many of them knits, 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.

Individual patterns (only the first is for men) :

For a very quick unisex fleece jacket/coat, watch Shirley Adams show how to make a jacket without a pattern and only 2 seams – in her Bog coat video. She claims 10 minutes. Take a little more time and add strips to the front opening if you want it to close.

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 ?

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

CNT patterns : ‘A little somethin’ 3 hour shawl collar jacket.

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, with download pattern and showing how to make it on a serger/overlocker and a sewing machine.

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

Sew Over It claims an Intermediate sewer can sew their Ultimate Shift dress paper / download pattern in 3 hours.

Silhouette patterns :
600 classic blouse, with 1-hour sew-along webcasts.
85 sweater wrap, basically a knit circle with added sleeves.

– – –

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

Surprisingly, there are few knit patterns in this post, though there are many in the related post : 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 prefer slow sewing and quality, and I don’t do well under pressure. I need to develop the fit of a pattern and get secure about the techniques used before I’m relaxed about 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.

– – –

First written March 2019, links checked August 2020

= = = = =

Pattern making for front openings – 2. combined facing to front edge and neckline

Posted December 6, 2018 by sewingplums
Categories: pattern making for clothes

The first post about pattern making for front openings was about adding zips or bands down the opening edge, with a separate finish for the neckline.

This is about finishing both front opening and neckline with a facing.
Again starting from a basic pattern, perhaps your TNT pattern for a pullover style, or your personal bodice block.
Doing the pattern work is still easy. But not quite so easy !

2 sections here :

Pattern making
Neckline facing patterns have curves, so it helps to draw them on paper first.
I give 3 examples, each a little more complex.

General guide to adding a facing to an unlined garment.

Then a separate post with ideas for how you can add to a pattern with faced opening.

– – –

Pattern making

Tools :
– starter pattern pieces for front and back, with marked centre front CF and centre back CB.
– measuring tape.
– pencil.
– ruler.
– french curve – I have one with width measures round the curved edge, makes it easy to add seam allowances, here’s an example.
Consumables :
– pattern paper you can see through.
– transparent tape for joining paper pieces.

Edge to edge front opening, with cut on facing

Sorry my photos have got rather blurry at reduced size, but you only need to see the general idea.

attach pattern paper to CF of basic starter pattern which you want to adapt.
half size practice pattern from Czachor & Cole

fold paper on CF.

cut out along neckline, shoulder seam, lower edge, then unfold.
mark inner edge of facing.
set the facing width by eye or by measure, usually 2-3″ / 5-7 cm.

cut along this line.
Finished pattern

Overlap front opening

Add an overlap strip to the centre front.
Usually the width added to CF for the overlap is width of button.
This overlap/extension may be called a ‘buttonstand’.
So choose the size of your buttons before doing your pattern making !

Overlap with cut-on facing – often used on blouses.

attach paper as before.
add overlap extension width and draw fold line.

fold paper back on this line.

cut out along edge of neckline, shoulder, lower edge, then unfold.

mark inner edge of facing, at least 2x button width, usually 2-3″.
Blouses / shirts / dresses / skirts usually have vertical buttonholes, with horizontal ones at stress points such as shirt neck and waist.
Jackets / coats usually have horizontal buttonholes, so you need to allow a wider facing to have space for them.

cut along line.
Finished pattern

Overlap with separate facing – often used on jackets and coats.
A seam along the front edge gives a firmer result with more support, better able to stand up to wear.
Extension for double breasted/wrap styles can go out to about bust point or 4″/10cm beyond CF.

attach paper to CF.
add extension.
mark stitching line.
add seam allowance.
mark and cut on cutting line.
This is the front pattern.

You can trace off a facing pattern from this, or make it by cutting as before.
Pin to pattern paper and cut around.

mark width of facing :
– remember to include width of seam allowance down the front.
– facings for jackets and coats are often wider – out to bust shaping, so the garment looks good when worn open.
cut along marked line.
2 pattern pieces

If you prefer professional quality instruction 😀 here’s a video from the University of Derby. She’s using a half-size practice pattern block without seam allowances.

– – –

Back neck facing

Use the same method to make a back neck facing pattern.
Either trace the top of the back pattern.
Or pin the pattern to paper and cut out round the edge.
Make the facing with a CB fold, even if the main garment back has a CB seam.
Match length of back facing shoulder seam to length of front facing shoulder seam.
Then mark the facing edge, and cut out.

If you prefer a video, here’s one from Aneka Truman of Made to Sew.

Those facings are the same width all round.
Perhaps add interest by making your back facing deeper at CB.
Here’s a how-to video from Louise Cutting.

And of course, making a facing pattern for a front neckline without a front opening is just as easy.
Or a front neckline facing for a pattern with a front band or zip.
Or a facing to finish a sleeveless armhole.

– – –

Sewing a facing

These are general points which usually apply to sewing a facing to an unlined garment.
Just a list of what to do, not how to do it.

Prepare body unit :
Staystitch neck edge.
Sew, press, finish shoulder seams.
If possible do neckline-front opening work on main body unit before sewing side and sleeve seams – so the body unit can lay flat and is much easier to work on.

Make facing unit :
– interface facing pieces (optional).
– join front and back facings at shoulder seams.
– press seams open.
– finish facing edge.

Join body unit and facing unit :
– baste/pin facing in place, right sides together.
– stitch main body and facing along front opening and neckline edge.
– clip or notch so seam allowances lay flat (good advice in this photo tutorial from Sew 4Home on clipping and notching curves).
– grade/layer seam allowances (trim them to different widths so they don’t make a lump by all ending at the same point – trim main fabric s/a to about 2/3 width, facing s/a to about 1/3 width).
– under stitch (tutorial from Colette patterns).

There’s a wealth of facings information in this pdf from the University of Kentucky, though it’s not very visual.
If you prefer video instruction, here’s one on sewing facings from Sure Fit Designs.
Sarah Veblen has a photo tutorials class at Pattern Review on facings (not free).

Note different experts use different techniques. That can be disconcerting at first, but try them all and see which suits you best.

Then sew side seams, add sleeves, sew hem, add fastenings, and you’ve made your own design 😀

– – –

Enjoy using your pattern 😀
Then there are many ways you can vary it slightly.
Some ideas in the next post.

– – –

This is the group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band
1b. adding extras to a front band
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline (this post)
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing

And here’s an earlier post on the opposite : closing a front opening.

– – –

Links available December 2018

= = = = =

Pattern making for front openings : 2b.adding to a front-neckline facing

Posted December 6, 2018 by sewingplums
Categories: pattern making for clothes

As with a front band pattern, once you have your basic pattern with a front facing, there are innumerable things you can do with it.
Here’s the link to the starting-point post on making a pattern for a combined facing to front edge and neckline.

Basically, the seam along the front-and-neckline edge makes it easy to sandwich extra style elements between main garment and facing.
Here are some ideas.

– – –


Choose between fastenings which are added :
– between main body and facing, such as button loops, tabs.
– after the facing is added, such as buttons, snaps.
See this Craftsy/Bluprint class for ideas for special fastenings (not free).

Edge trims

Items to insert into the edge seam joining facing and main body include : frills, flounces, piping, beading, lace trims, broderie anglaise, fringing, zipper teeth, braid, pom-poms, ric-rac, prairie points. . .

Add these before sewing the facing unit to the main body unit.
Baste frills, button loops, trims, etc. to edge of main fabric – raw edges matching and right sides together. Trims point inwards from the edge while they’re being sewn on – one of those inside-out-and-back-to-front sewing techniques which doesn’t look right until it’s finished.

example from Vogue Sewing Book 1975

Then add the facing.

If you add bulky trim such as piping in the edge, it’s easiest to use a zipper foot when sewing facing unit and main body unit together.

Another option for a faced decorative edge (not an add-in) is to change the edge shape – to curves, zigzags, scallops. Change main body and facing edges to match.

Or attach the facing so it is outside rather than inside – though this does need some extra sewing techniques.


Like trims, collars can be sandwiched between main body and facing.

from Vogue Sewing Book 1975

top – baste the collar along the neckline.
bottom – add the facings unit over the collar, then sew body, collar, facings together with a single seam (may be much clipping of seam allowances needed to get the results to lay as they should).

Use the collar piece from another pattern.
You do need to check that neckline and collar stitching line lengths match up. Notes in this post about how to measure the neckline stitching line, and change the length of a collar pattern.

When attaching, placement of collar depends on collar style :
– stand collar : place outside of collar to right side of body, turn up once sewn.
– other collars : place underside of collar to right side of body.

Here are some videos.
Jules Fallon from Sew Me Something patterns demonstrates sewing collar and facing to a pyjama jacket.
This includes a collar with sharp corner – Sewing Quarter, 11 Sept 18, time 2.22 – 2.55 (drag time line blob along to time wanted).
More tips from her, especially about sewing curves and lighter fabrics – Sewing Quarter, 15 Nov 18, time 0.32 – 0.53.

This is the easiest method for adding a collar to a casual blouse/shirt/jacket. Much the same as making pjs – just different fabric ! (This is the method used for all blouse collars in the French equivalent of CGLI.)

This is the collar sewing technique used in most blazer and other tailored/lined jacket patterns, also RTW.

And use a similar method on a faced armhole, to add a cap sleeve or trims.

More comments on other collars in the post on add-ons to a button band front opening.

– – –

Can you tell I’m a fan of facings – an invisible edge finish and a hidden feature with so much potential 😀
Get inspired 😀 😀

And have a lovely holiday period enjoying yourself in whatever way best suits you !

– – –

This is the group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band
1b. adding extras to a front band
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing (this post)

And here’s an earlier post on the opposite : closing a front opening.

– – –

Links available December 2018

= = =

Pattern making for front openings : 1b.adding extras to a front band

Posted December 6, 2018 by sewingplums
Categories: pattern making for clothes

This post is a supplement to the main post on adding a front band opening to a starter pattern. That got so long, I’ve separated off this list of suggestions about what to do with your pattern once you’ve made it.

A zip or button band finishes the front opening edge – what to do with the neckline ?
The common neckline finishes are bias binding/facing, or a stand collar.

If possible, sew the neckline treatment after the shoulder seams but before the side and sleeve seams. It’s much easier to do it while the fabric is nearly flat.

This post ends with some ways you can vary the pattern slightly to make other looks.

– – –

Bias binding or bias facing

Often the neckline is finished with bias binding or bias facing.
Staystitch the neckline, as a bias strip doesn’t add any stability.
Here are links to some tutorials on bias binding.
I’m preparing a tutorial on sewing bias facing without distortion, not a quick process.

For dealing with the top corner where bias facing joins button band, and the bottom corner where hem joins button band, see examples in the two photo tutorials linked in the previous post :
100 Acts of Sewing
Guthrie & Ghani

– – –


Here’s a free pattern from Colette patterns with several collar ideas.
These are patterns for a top with no front opening, so can’t be used directly, but are a source of ideas. Simply add a curve with seam allowance instead of the CF fold ?

Collar between main body and bias strip

You can borrow many collar shapes from other patterns and add them into the neckline seam between main body and bias facing.

from McCall’s Sewing in Colour 1964
442 – baste collar to neckline.
443 – black overlayer is wrong side of bias strip :
– stitch together bias strip-collar-body,
– clip seam allowances so they lay flat when the bias strip is turned down.
bottom – turn down the bias strip, turn in its edge and sew down by machine, or hand stitching can be less visible.

Stand collar

Finish the neckline with a stand collar which ends at the outer edge of the front opening, so it covers the top of the band. This may be called a ‘Mandarin’ collar. There may be a button if the ends of the band overlap.

Merchant & Mills Union dress

Use a collar from another pattern.
Or here’s a post on making a pattern for a collar band which comes to edge of front, from The Creative Curator.
This is what you’re aiming for :
half size practice pattern from Czachor & Cole
The lower notch matches the shoulder seam.
The upper notch marks the end of the upper collar, if used.

Band collar sewing video from Professor Pincushion.

Here’s a detailed photo tutorial on sewing a band collar, from Andrea Brown of Four Square Walls. Use just the band, or both parts of a 2-piece collar.

Collar length

When adding a collar/hood you need to match the neckline stitching line lengths of body and collar/hood.

For most collars added into seam between main body and neckline finish (bias facing strip or standard facing) :
Match length of collar to – neckline length from CB to CF.

For stand/band collar :
Match length of collar to – neckline length from CB to outer edge of finished band (or outer edge of facing).

Notes in this post on how to measure the stitching line, and change the length of a collar pattern.

Another band collar

There’s another style of stand collar, called a ’Nehru’ collar, where the end of the collar band is inset from the edge of the front opening.
A more complex pattern make and sew when combined with front bands, so I’m not covering it here.

Kwik Sew 4195

This sort of collar is tricky to combine with front bands but easy to add with a facing, see post on adding to a front-neckline facing.

– – –

Further pattern making and sewing

A few more ideas for a front opening finished with a band :

Two-part separate band
Add a seam instead of the centre fold of a separate band. Then there is a seam on both sides of the band, so you can add in decorative trims.

Add trims between main body and bias facing strip
Add piping, lace, frills, fringing etc. into the neckline edge seam between body and bias facing.

Neckline facing
Or finish the neckline edge with a true facing. See next post about facings : pattern making, sewing, using.
Can add a collar simply by using a full facing too, see that post.

Intermediate plackets
There are front band openings I haven’t included – I’ve gone for the easy ones.
Some which need intermediate levels of pattern making and sewing are :
Full length opening with covered/hidden buttonholes.
Half length opening : exposed zip, polo, henley.
Hmm – some day I’ll look for good tutorials on patterns for these. . .

– – –

As usual, many riches to add to your simple pattern making skills. With just a little practice, many styles can become do-it-yourself 😀

There are many little design decisions to make about openings. I give the conventions, but make adjustments if you want to.
Do what professional designers do – if it doesn’t work out quite right, change things a bit and try again.
(Megan Nielsen recently sent an e-mail describing the months of refinements that go into developing her patterns. In the Folds patterns has sent a similar e-mail – it sounds as if she makes at least half a dozen test garments. And we expect to get it right first time. . . )
Use your own judgement about what is right and what isn’t. Or collect examples of what you like.
Get to know your own wearing, designing, making preferences 😀 😀

– – –

This is part of a group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band
1b. adding extras to a front band (this post)
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing

And here’s an earlier post on the opposite : closing a front opening.

– – –

Patterns and links available December 2018

= = = = =