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Becoming a sewing pattern designer

How to be a successful sewing pattern designer

Have you been tempted to create your own sewing patterns? If you’ve ever wondered what inspired people to set up their own sewing pattern brands, what challenges they’ve faced and what advice they’d give to anyone wanting to follow in their footsteps keep on reading. 

You may also be interested in our design your own sewing patterns article.

This feature has been sponsored by ABC Service who offer pattern printing for home stitchers as well as bulk printing for pattern designers. 

Crossover jumpsuit from Sew Differnt
Sew Different

Laura Casey is the owner of Sew Different. She describes her patterns as simple contemporary shapes for women. 

Laura had designed patterns for herself from a young age but once she was around 40 she noticed she wasn’t quite happy with the styles she was seeing in the high street shops and started to design her own patterns in ernest. One of the key features of her patterns are that none of them have zips. Although she didn’t start this as a deliberate policy she soon realised that, not only do the loose fitting styles she designs not need them, but that many people find the thought of putting in a zip off-putting. She also ensures her patterns cover a wide range of sizes, UK sizes 8 through to 24. 

When asked what the rewards of creating her own brand are she said  ‘It is incredibly rewarding to see my designs made up and worn by other people. I see so many details, fabric choices and hacks that would never have thought of that it often inspires me.”

How to set up your own sewing pattern company

The biggest challenge has been producing really comprehensive and clear instructions. Until starting her brand she never realised what an important part of the pattern they were. Now more effort goes into the instructions than any other single part of her patterns. 

Her top tip to any budding pattern designers would be TEST TEST TEST. What is clear to you can be gobbildygook to someone else. What suits your own figure can a poor fit on the rest of the population. 

So what’s next for Sew Different? A new pattern is in the pipeline – The Crossover Jumpsuit – along with more in the ever popular quick makes range. Laura will also be running several Yorkshire based sewing retreats as well as exhibiting at all the major sewing exhibitions in the UK. Find out more about Laura and her patterns at

An interview with Selkie Patterns
Selkie Patterns

(Since this article was written, Selkie Patterns are no longer trading but they offered useful advice)

Selkie Patterns was the brainchild of Alexandra Bruce and Caroline Akselson. They had both been working in the costume industry, had reached the peaks of their careers and were looking to create something new which would be truly unique. Selkie Patterns was born from their mutual love of sewing and sustainability.

The brand was best described as being clean line silhouettes with a vintage flair. They distinguished their patterns from others by adding techniques which may be new to the home sewing community, ones they learned in their time working in the costume industry. They liked to introduce their customers to complicated techniques so confident makers could improve and learn new tips and tricks. They sought out techniques that hadn’t been done very much in the independent sewing pattern industry.

How can I sell my own sewing patterns?

The biggest challenge they found running their own business was time, choosing which projects to focus on and what was feasible. When running a creative business there are so many ideas that you feel enthusiastic about, but there is never enough time to do it all. So when you are a small, growing business compromises have to be put in place to make sure you can execute everything well.  The most rewarding aspect of their business was meeting their customers.  Another business highlight was receiving a delivery of their in-house designed fabrics, seeing what started as a daydream and a painting becoming a reality.

When asked what advice they would share with aspiring sewing pattern designers they replied

”Find your USP (unique selling point). If you have your own style, outlook and marketing ideas you are good to go. Dream big and go for it! Also check out your competition and see what you think is missing. What can you offer that no one else has? It’s also advisable to really know about patterns as this facilitates the process of designing and creating. Decide how big you want to go as well, as setting up a business is a big deal. If you want to start it in your spare time, then research the costs involved. You will find that printed patterns have bigger costs attached than digital patterns, which will dictate what kind of skills you need to learn or outsource.”

Jennifer Lauren Handmade

Jennifer’s business came about as somewhat of an accident. She had been sewing and designing for a long time, mostly using vintage patterns and making alterations to modernise the fit, construction and details. There was a blouse that lots of people commented on so she decided to release the pattern, that was The Afternoon Blouse and she has not looked back since!  Jennifer Lauren Handmade patterns are a fun, modern take on classic vintage attire.

The thing that makes her patterns stand out from others is the details, both in the design and construction of the garment as well as the instructions. Her patterns are also built on form-flattering basics, using classic lines – each pattern is easily adaptable for women of all shapes, sizes and skill levels. What’s more they cover a big size range and many (including all future releases) will encompass A-D cups. 

Jennifer finds that the trickiest part of running your own pattern brand is the amount of hats you have to wear: designing, sewing, sampling and fitting patterns. Writing and illustrating instructions, editing sample photos and tutorials, writing newsletters and staying active on social media, dealing with customers and retailers, doing accounts etc. There is never enough time to fit everything in, yet at the same time it ensures you never get bored. 

Her top tip for aspiring pattern designers is to get some testers and take their feedback on board. Testers are the best – just make sure they’re really giving you good constructive feedback – it’s nice to hear how lovely a pattern is, but it’s those testers that really look at a design critically that are the gold. They’ll make every new release so much better than you could have imagined.

Browse Jennifer’s current range and keep up to date with new patterns at

Interview with made to Sew Aneka Truman
Made to Sew

Made to Sew is a pattern brand established by sewing tutor Aneka Truman. When she started teaching sewing classes in 2013, she would design students a bespoke pattern based on their individual body measurements, to fit and sew during the class. As the classes became busier this service was impossible to achieve, so the patterns became based on a standard block instead, graded to different sizes.

These have only been available to individuals attending Made to Sew classes until recently. Launching the Made to Sew patterns outside of the classes was based on customer request from people seeing her wear her patterns on YouTube and Instagram. Aneka describes her patterns as fashion focused patterns; helping individuals create garments that are not only the perfect fit but are also professionally finished. Her patterns cover a broad range of sizes, from UK size 4 to 32  (for her new patterns) and include the details you need to make fit adjustments, the bust apex, waist and hip markings, as well as the amount of ease included in the pattern.

Independent dressmaking patterns

The biggest challenge she found was working out what size to use as her block (starting size for designing). Although there are industry standards it needs to be based on your customer, who is your customer and what shape and size are they? What is the difference between your customers waist and hip, what is their cup size?  The most rewarding aspect is helping customers create beautiful garments. Items that fit properly and that are professionally made.

When asked what advice she would give to aspiring designers Aneka replied ”Think about your strengths and weaknesses, be honest with yourself! Outsource skills that aren’t your strength and focus on the things you are good at. Don’t be afraid to ask for help where needed. Plan your time effectively so that you can hit deadlines and deliver patterns to market where they are ready.”

2020 is going to be an exciting year for Made to Sew. Aneka is launching the rest of her dressmaking patterns in all sizes, as well as online classes; featuring some in pattern drafting and others in dressmaking skills and techniques. She is also launching a service called the Made to Sew Academy that will allow users to get Aneka’s help and support on their projects via Live Stream sessions and bi-weekly webinars. 

Visit the Made to Sew website for details:


If you are feeling inspired to design your own sewing patterns read our design your own sewing patterns article or sewing pattern printing made easy feature next.