Sewing Machine Judge

2022 Sewing Pattern Reviews

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All you wanted was to sew a simple, flattering dress. You looked for free sewing patterns online, and found thousands of options. How do you know which are good for your skill level? What can you do to make sure the pattern won’t turn into a waste of fabric?

We’ve searched the best sites on the internet and found great designs for all types of projects. Pick what you like, get creative, have fun!

Free Tote Bag Patterns for Beginners

Tote bags are always useful. It seems like we can never have too many – carry one to work, haul another to the beach, and keep one in the car with an emergency change of clothes. A strong tote can even double as a grocery bag in a pinch.

This lined tote bag pattern from HGTV is easy to put together for even the most inexperienced sewers.  The project requires only a half yard each of the outer and inner fabrics, interfacing, and a canvas strap, making it an inexpensive project.

Sometimes we need a sturdier tote to withstand heavier weights or more frequent use. has a no-nonsense pictorial for a canvas tote. Since the fabric is plain, you have the option to decorate the bag when you’re done.

Misses’ and Plus Size Clothing Patterns

This stretch knit loose top with long and short sleeve options is from McCalls’ “Learn to Sew for Fun” collection. The top is economical as well, using maximum of only a little over 2 yards of material and no notions. The pattern can be used for all seasons due to the medium-weight fabric and sleeve variations. Sizes range from XS to 2X.

If you like 1950s vintage, you will love this sleeveless dress pattern with flattering empire styling. You can dress it up or down with fabric choices from cotton to shantung. One option even has a tiny sweet bow at the waist.

Here’s a gorgeous summery empire waist maxi dress designed by Anne Klein. The sewing difficulty is rated average, and will cost a little more to create due to the chiffon or charmeuse fabrics.  There is also a less expensive (and less stunning) matte jersey option. Sizes range from 6 to 22.

Create comfortable clothes for a relaxing morning drinking hot coffee in bed, housework, or exercise. Craftsy has six free patterns for yoga pants, sweats, tees, and other loungewear. Skill levels range from beginner to advanced. There are helpful pattern reviews at the bottom of each link.

Putting the Patterns Together

Maybe you’re thinking of making one of the ideas listed above, found another good pattern from a reliable website, or even purchased a paper pattern from your local fabric store. If you’re following a pattern you found online, you may have some confusion on how to print and trace your pattern.

When you print a PDF pattern, there will be a size or scale box. It might be 10cm by 10cm. Use your measuring tape or ruler to make sure the print is the same size as what’s marked.

If your measurement is smaller or larger than the box specifies, change the size by modifying the scale option in your print menu. To avoid wasting more paper, print only the page with the scale box until the pattern size is correct. After you’ve found the right scale, it’s safe to print the entire pattern.

The printed pattern has numbers, letters, or both for easy assembly. Tape or glue sheets of paper together, folding or cutting the margins. Sometimes, pieces will overlap. If the piece isn’t a straight line, you can figure out where to connect the pattern easily. If the portion of the pattern is a straight line, double check measurements with your measuring tape.

If you want to save your pattern for another use, trace the pieces you need onto translucent paper. Some inexpensive ideas include freezer paper and baking paper. Some products intended for tracing patterns are available as well. They come in widths to 45 inches, and are a more expensive option.

If you’re having trouble with a specific pattern, refer to the website where you made your purchase. Most sites have a sewing pattern review or comment section below each pattern. It’s possible others are experiencing the same issue. If you purchased the pattern from an individual designer, he or she may be available to answer questions directly.


Finding a good pattern can be overwhelming. There are so many options. You could support an independent designer with cutting edge design on Etsy, or go with dependable designs from old standards like McCalls or Simplicity.  You’ll find patterns for every skill level.

PDF patterns present a special challenge. Scale your pattern in the print menu and carefully construct the papers in order.

Sewing your own clothes is a fun and rewarding experience. Keep our tips in mind to help take out the frustration of finding a pattern right for you.



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