With both Halloween and Christmas right around the corner, this is one of my busiest crafting times of the year. When making stuff to sell, you generally have to make your patterns from scratch, but when making gifts for others, finding a pattern that suits your needs can be a huge time saver. There are plenty of places around the web that can help you get your hands on these patterns quickly and cheaply.
1. Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick: Unless I’m in a bind, I’ll only buy these patterns when they’re on sale for one or two dollars at my local Joann Fabrics. However, looking around online can help you make a shopping list for the sale. These usually occur on the weekends, and the pattern books can be crowded. If you’ve got a list of pattern numbers, you can skip the browsing and head straight to the pattern drawers. These patterns are great for costumes, clothing, and some gift items like bags or purses. These site also sell a variety of supplies and notions that can be hard to find at your local fabric store.
Note: I generally don’t use any patterns from Vogue. They tend to be overly complex and don’t usually go on sale. Vogue also carries very few patterns for the type of items I make.
2. Etsy: This is one of my new favorite places to look for inexpensive and unique patterns. They’ve got everything from sewing and quilting to knitting and crochet. Many of them are available as PDF downloads and will arrive in your email inbox within a few hours of your purchase. This instant gratification allows you to get to the crafting faster. Another added benefit is that many pattern designers allow you to use their patterns to make things to sell, at least in limited quantities. Etsy is also a great place to find out-of-print patterns from the larger companies. These are usually pricier, and you have to make sure the listing states that it is uncut and complete.
3. Moda Bake Shop, Connecting Threads, Freespirit Fabric: These are three great places to find free quilt patterns. They are available as downloadable PDFs that can be printed when you need them. In addition to traditional quilt patterns, there are also a variety of quilted gifts including stockings, bags, and these adorable floor pillows. If you have a favorite fabric line, be sure to check out their website. Many fabric designers also put out free patterns that they feel will best showcase their prints.
4. Books: There are an endless number of books devoted to any craft you can think of. Most contain instructions or patterns that you can copy. It’s easy to wind up with a large pile of these books, so check and see if your local library has any books on the subject. While brand new fiction books can be hard to get your hands on at the library, the crafting section is usually well stocked. To top it off, most libraries have copy machines, so you can get your patterns copied before you even get the book home.
A larger number of crafting books are also becoming available as e-books. One of the nice things about this format is that they are easy to carry, easy to store, and you don’t have to figure out how to hold the book open while you’re working. If you don’t have an e-reader that does color, however, you might want to skip this format; many of these books lose a lot when only in black and white.
5. Magazines: I especially love special issues of magazines, like those devoted to special holidays or one particular craft. Some of my favorite special issues come from Martha Stewart and Better Homes & Gardens. The best specialty crafting magazines tend to be available at large bookstores and craft stores, but I’ve even picked up some great ones while waiting in line at the grocery store. The benefit to a magazine over a book is that they tend to be less expensive and have a wider variety of projects. They’re a great introduction when you’re getting into something new. These will also include patterns, often as a pull out section on a special pattern paper, no need for copying.
6: Google: It’s amazing the results you can get just by Googling the pattern you’re looking for. I’ve had great success with things like “Free Stocking Pattern” or “Plush Bunny Pattern”. You might have to refine your search as you go, specifying whether you’re looking for a sewing pattern or one for crochet or knitting, but you can almost always be guaranteed good results. Google is also really great for solving any problems you might be having. Starting your search with “How do I” can often find the answer you’re looking for in the first couple of links. Don’t be afraid to use too many words in your search; you can always remove some if you’re not getting the results you’re after. The internet is full of blogs and sites dedicated to the hobbies people love, and they are almost always willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.
Searching for instructions and patterns online is a great way to kick start your projects and often save you time and money as well. Start saving your favorite free patterns today!