Sewing Basics-research/picking a pattern

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Sewing Basics-research/picking a pattern

Post by tenebris » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:12 am

A commercial sewing pattern is one that can be brought from a shop/online ready for you to sew with.

Companies include:
Burda, New look, Vogue, Butterick, MCcalls and simplicity. Simplicity is often the easiest to follow. Stockists include most fabric shops, Etsy and Ebay. Not all places hold the same stock so its always worth hunting about.

Vintage (old or out of print patterns) are often fantastic. Etsy, Ebay, Boot fairs and Charity shops are the place for these.

Lots of these companies make costume/cosplay patterns for costumes like, rey, princess leia etc(they don't state this on the front, but you can tell that's what its mean to be from the picture). Often these patterns have the basic shaping but do not have all the accurate seams and detailing. Its the detail that really sets us apart as a costuming club and actually, sometimes the pattern for 'jyn's top' might not be the best one.

So when starting out Your first point should be visual references:
(this is your picture/photographic proof as it were that a costume looks a certain way). This is the 'research' bit we all go on and on about. Even though there might be a standard for your costume, you still need to know your costume really well, this includes colour, shape, seam lines, detailing's. Always be wary of advice given of facebook groups, they can be a fantastic resource, but always do your own research as just because someone 'cleared' like that, doesn't mean you will, especially if they cleared before the costume standards for that costume were written. Likewise if some suggests a fabric always check it out for yourself.

How I research:

Visual dictionary's, books, magazines, promo pictures, screen shots of the film (frame by frame photo's of the film) reading other WIPS and discussions on the main RL forum and UK forum. Facebook groups. Comics/games-if relevant. For animated characters I find the turnarounds (pictures where the animation is shown front, back and sides with detailing and colour pulls).

Once I have all of this information I put it all in a folder on my phone or in a google drive. It then means i have a visual reference to check through when reading the standards and through out building my costumes. If the standards don't call for an exact fabric or colour, I can also work out fabric colours and textures based on the clearest and best lit images.

Some standards like rey and Poe TLJ are very detailed and you just need to look at the picture and description, to find the right pattern to start with, others are a bit more vague and you will need to use the references more.

ALWAYS check everything you do against the standard. Officers standards are here

Picking a pattern:

Look at the reference pictures and work out where the main seam lines are, its unlikely you will find a pattern that matches exactly, you are looking to get close. If you find a pattern that looks the right shape, Look at the the black line drawing of the garment on the back of the pattern, this tells you where the seam line can then decide how easy it is to move or change bits to make it how you need it.

Lets take commander d'arcy as an example.





I would look at coat and jacket patterns that are similar in shape, or where the main seam lines I need are. it needs to be fitted and have a center back seam and princess seams. If your garment has particular details like: manderin collar or side split dress or double breasted coat....look for those or google images, those terms with the words pattern, or sewing pattern and see what comes up, sometimes you will get images of sewing patterns and you can then google the pattern number in a store or on ebay.


So This one looks pretty good, lets break down the changes (sorry about my messy lines)

back needs the shoulder detail changing, the vent closing (just sew it together) and shortening...that's pretty good.

Front needs more work. shorten to match the back, sleeve needs to be made 2 piece (sometimes the standards wont call for it, but its there in the refs so check the standards). Put a princess seam in front the shoulder and add a welt pocket, change the center front, put in the seam detail at the shoulder.


Its down to you personally to pick the pattern you feel most comfortable with changing. Some people hate collars, some people hate changing sleeves etc. You can also merge 2 patterns which I'll attempt to talk about in pattern alteration.

Now you have your pattern, you need to check the measurements to see what size you fall under, this will NOT normally be your dress size, or high street clothes shopping size. Usually patterns come in 2 sizes 8-14 14-22, Mens S/M/L L-XL

This simplicity guide breaks it down nicely: ... ze-are-you

Then you can look at the how to measure yourself section: