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Simple and Easy Sewing Patterns for Beginner Sewers and First Time Sewers

Updated on May 2, 2012

I first learned to sew in the sixth grade when all girls were given six weeks of home economics and the boys went off to shop class to make a toolbox. I loved it.  I took Home Economics all through high school. I tried one summer in the 1980s to make a prairie style skirt and blouse. I had picked a pattern to advanced for my skills and had a horrible time. It became a UFO (unfinished object) the first of many that would follow in the future. I think I currently have four UFOs. After that dismal defeat, I didn’t sew for a long time.

Then years later, I inherited my grandmother’s sewing machine and a few of her supplies, and I tried sewing again. I managed a few curtains and Halloween costumes for my children.   About 10 years ago, I had revelation of sorts. If I could make Halloween costumes, I could make clothes.  I started with a simple dress pattern that had no sleeves, no zipper, and no buttons or buttonholes. I chose hot pink brocade with an Asian print. It was a success! I made one for my daughter and one for a friend. Every time I wore it women asked me about it.  A few years later, I sold it for $10 in a yard sale.

Slowly, I gained confidence and started trying patterns with sleeves, collars, buttons and buttonholes, zippers, pleats, gathers and all kinds of other “complicated” features.

Easy and Stylish

Often I hear women say they want to sew but aren’t sure they can do it or unsure about which pattern to choose. The pattern companies have made it pretty easy for beginning sewers. Look for pattern marked easy or very easy. Look for “See and Sew” patterns from Butterick. Simplicity even offers “Learn to Sew” patterns. InVogue patterns look for Very Easy Vogue.

Here are a few suggestions for patterns I feel are simple enough for first time sewers to be successful, yet fashionable enough for you to actually want to make it and more importantly, wear it.

Only three seams! Too Easy!
Only three seams! Too Easy!

Retro and Charming

My favorite is the lovely vintage Butterick 6015, or as it is known by its modern pattern number, 4790. It only has three pattern pieces, three seams and no sleeves, no buttonholes and no zippers. This lovely little number was the most popular pattern in the history of patterns when it was first printed. Butterick had to stop production on all other patterns just to keep up with the demand.

Butter-ific Beauties

Not looking for a retro dress. No, problem. Butterick has plenty of lovely of easy to sew modern dress patterns to choose from as well.  Butterick 5593 features two neck variations, shoulder gathers, raised front waistline, and skirt with front pleats. You will learn to make a casing (which is super easy). The dress is semi-fitted, mid-calf length with an empire (pronounced ahm-peer) waist with self-fabric ties in the back. It’s the perfect dress to take you from early spring into summer and early fall. It’s perfect if you work in an office that has climate control issues. You can layer a cardigan over it when it’s chilly and remove it when it’s hot.  Fabric choices are limited only to Jersey with this pattern, but it’s a fabric which is easy to care for, sew and wear.

Butterick 5523 is features a cowl neckline and soft gathers which are very popular for fall 2011. I particularly like the nonfunctioning button detail at the back waist. This pattern is only suitable for moderate stretch knits and double knit fabric. This dress is one that would quickly become your favorite work dress in fall and winter. Pair it with knee-high boots and you will be the most fashionable girl in your circle.

Butterick 5527 is easy and trendy. This one is part of Butterick’s Cut the Line patterns which lets you decide if you want to make a top, tunic, or dress. Heck, it’s so easy you might just want to do all three. Some views you will need to make an elastic casing, which is quite simple.  This blouse, tunic, dress pattern is loose-fitting which means there will be no difficult fit issues to deal with.

Need a dress for a hot date? Then try Butterick 5177.  This flattering dress can be constructed from a variety of fabrics. Make version A from Chiffon, Faille or Georgette for dressier look or make version B in lightweight Broadcloth, Crepe and stable Knits.  This sleeveless dress is a pullover style with an above the knee hem.

Thoroughly Modern McCalls

McCall’s patterns are usually very trendy and modern.  McCall’s pattern 6264 is a v-neck in three lengths – two- inches above the knee, knee-length and maxi.   It is softly gathered in front with a small elastic casing. This is a dress that should be flattering on all figures.  The above the knee version also features iron-on trim; however, you can incorporate that option in the other two views as well.  Version B also has little cap sleeves that you can also add to views A and C.


So Vogue

If you are looking for something a little sexier, than a Vogue pattern is the one you want. Just one word of caution, overall Vogue patterns, even the easy and very easy ones, tend to be a little more challenging than the other “big three” pattern companies. Patterns are rated very easy, easy, average and advanced. When you first start sewing refer to this handy translation guide: very easy = easy; easy = average; average = advanced; and advanced = do not attempt.  Try Vogue pattern 7898 for a little va va voom in your wardrobe. This asymmetrical, close fitting, wrap style dress has a sleeveless, flutter sleeve and long-sleeve option.

Sweet Simplicity

From Simplicity’s learn to sew collection is a short, sassy skirt with several different trims and options for pockets. Pockets! (There just aren’t enough skirt and dress patterns that have pockets.) This learn to sew pattern includes instructions on how to choose the right size, cut out your pattern,  stitch seams, apply trim, make and elastic casing and stitch a hem.

Stick with it!

Don’t worry too much about things being perfect or you seams being straight or whether or not you hem is perfectly even.  No one is really going to notice. If your first project fits, hangs properly and is wearable consider it a huge success. The more you try to practice the better you will get and the more enjoyable the process will become. You will have learned a life-long skill and the ability to make a wardrobe that fits you perfectly and is completely original.  It’s such a rush to wear you newly created original and to get that first compliment.  You will be able to reply with pride, “Thank you. I made it.”


Submit a Comment
  • howtosewadress profile image


    8 years ago

    Expressing yourself is the most uplifting feeling a person could feel. Once you learn how to sew a dress, you’ll be able to express yourself more. And you’ll be more proud with the way you look. Nice hub mate.

  • Tess45 profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from South Carolina

    yes, you will have at least three projects for Halloween...

  • DIYweddingplanner profile image


    9 years ago from South Carolina, USA

    Nice! Makes me almost want to sew something...but I'll wait till Halloween!


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