Learn to Sew Patterns - Featuring McCall's 7531

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Before moving forward with today’s post, I’d like to offer my condolences and prayers to the family and friends of our beloved Nancy Zieman, who passed away yesterday.  Nancy was an incredible blessing to the sewing community.  She founded the popular television show, Sewing with Nancy; Nancy’s Notions, a sewing supplies company, and authored multiple sewing books.  I loved watching and learning from Nancy and will forever treasure her teachings.  She will be greatly missed.  Thank you Nancy for your amazing contributions to the sewing community.

Learn to Sew Patterns  - Featuring McCall's 7531

Today, I’m sharing a little something for my new beginners. When learning to sew, choosing the right pattern for your skill level is very important to early success in garment construction. There’s nothing more frustrating than becoming stuck on a project because your pattern choice is too difficult for your level of sewing. With a plethora of pattern choices available, it can be both overwhelming and confusing when trying to choose one that’s just right. 

Has this ever happened to you? Don’t be discouraged. You can create successful garments by learning to choose patterns that match your skill level. But, where do you start? Allow me to share a few tips and resources to guide you through the process. By the end of this article, you should be equipped with enough information to make an informed decision about your next pattern purchase.


Learn to Sew Pattern Collections - Featuring McCall’s 7531


TIP #1:  Start Simple

As a new sewist, your first projects should be simple, with minimal design elements.  Zippers, Collars, Button Holes, Plackets and such are best reserved for later, after you have mastered the bare basics, such as stitching, pressing, hemming, interfacing, etc.  Simple designs usually consist of fewer pattern pieces.  Sometimes the number of pieces is printed on the outside of the envelope.  However, if you don’t see it there, you will find the information on the instruction sheet.  As a beginner, I suggest opting for designs with no more than 5 or 6 pieces.

Learn to Sew Pattern Collections - Featuring McCall’s 7531


TIP #2:  Read Instructions Thoroughly

Before starting your project, read the pattern instruction sheet from beginning to end.  This will give insight into the skills needed to construct the garment.  If you know beforehand that there are techniques involved which you aren’t familiar with, you can learn those techniques first, or opt for a different pattern until you have acquired the needed skills.

Learn to Sew Pattern Collections - Featuring McCall’s 7531


TIP #3:  Read Pattern Reviews

Before starting a project, check out pattern reviews to see what other sewists are saying about the pattern.  There are two ways I search for pattern reviews.

  1. Do a Google search on the pattern. The results will give you a list of blogs that have written reviews on the pattern.
  2. Search for a review on PatternReview.com. This resource has proven to be very helpful because, in one place, you may see several reviews for your pattern choice.  It’s an awesome resource because some reviewers give lots of information and tips to help others with the construction, along with photos of the finished garments.  They also warn you about issues they’ve had with the patterns and sometimes share solutions to problems.

Learn to Sew Pattern Collections - Featuring McCall’s 7531


TIP #4:  Watch YouTube Tutorials

YouTube is a great resource for sew-along videos, especially if you are a visual learner.  Once you find a pattern you like, check to see if there is a tutorial for that particular pattern on YouTube and follow along.  If you like the dress featured today, you may check out the step-by-step tutorial on my YouTube channel, Anita by Design.

DIY Video Tutorial - Easy Knit Dress - McCall's 7531

TIP #5:  Notice Pattern Ratings

Sometimes pattern companies include ratings on their envelopes.  While this is a great way to find patterns that fit your skill level, the ratings really are subjective.  What may be easy for one sewist could very well be more complicated for another.  However, ratings could be a good place to start if followed by further inquiry about the pattern, using the tips above.

Here are some ratings you may come across on pattern envelopes:

  • Easy/Simple/Beginner
  • Average/Moderate/Intermediate
  • Difficult/Advanced

Learn to Sew Pattern Collections - Featuring McCall’s 7531


TIP #6:  “Learn to Sew” Pattern Collections

One great way to find patterns that are designed with the beginner in mind is to choose a pattern from the “Learn to Sew” collection.  Both McCall’s and Simplicity Pattern Companies have “Learn to Sew” Collections.  I’ve found these patterns to be quite simple, as they have minimal design elements, very few pattern pieces, and very basic sewing information included in the instruction guide to equip you before leading into sewing the garment.  Also, on the outside of the envelope are hints about what you will learn while sewing the pattern.

I find these patterns extremely useful, not only for learning to sew, but they’re also great for mastering techniques and practicing new skills.  I recently used McCall’s 7531 to practice matching stripes.  Because it doesn’t include darts or other design elements that would interrupt the pattern, it makes a great choice for matching prints.  I also used it to make a cocktail dress, using a stretch sequin knit that I wanted to experiment with, to get a feel for how the fabric would perform.  My third creation with this pattern is the featured luscious, red, ribbed sweater knit dress.

Learn to Sew Pattern Collections - Featuring McCall’s 7531

Now that you’ve been equipped with information about choosing the right pattern for your next project, let’s get to sewing.  Choose a simple pattern, read the instructions thoroughly, check out pattern reviews and YouTube videos, notice pattern ratings, and don’t forget to try patterns from the “Learn to Sew” collections.  You’re ready!  Fabulousness awaits you!


Create the Look!


Thanks for stopping by,

Remember: When you live in your DESIGN, it is from there that God SHINES! 



Now, I have a new online sewing course for NEW BEGINNERS! To learn more about the course, WATCH THIS VIDEO. Then sign up to start learning how to Master the Basics of Garment Sewing.

Learn to Sew

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(DISCLAIMER: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission on qualifying purchases. All opinions in this post are my own.).)

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This Post Has 36 Comments

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  2. Maureen Robinson

    Hi Anita! It soooo good to see you and your blog. Hope your hubby is progressing well!
    Your dress looks gorgeous as always! Hope to see more.

    Stay well!


  3. chelvy

    Hello, I’m so happy to hear from you and to know to your husband is doing well it is all in God hands and the Lord has only loving hands. I would like to know will you be giving a class on what to do if you are between sizes: 37/32/39, when I tried to make a shirt in class at Joann a size 14 it turn out to large. I have had a bust reduction I’m confuse. Also, I’m 5′ and full figure. will u be teaching up grading, down grading, design and ease. I have learned a lot from you and appreciate everything you have taught.

  4. Gayle


  5. Mirline K

    Hello and thank you for sharing such great tips and easy to understand tutorials. Praying for you and the family. Your truly a blessing.. Much love!

  6. Monica

    Hi Anita. This is a great post. I was doing most of the things you stated, so it is great to see I am on the right track. I was also thinking how good your posts and pictures have always been, as you have not been blogging a long time. In face, I remember your first post. You definitely are gifted, not only in sewing, but vlogging and taping. God bless you and your family as you continue to live by God’s design, and therein, shine. I will continue to pray for CEMO’s healing as well. Thanks for all you do Anita!

  7. Sherry

    Hi Anita! I am So happy to see your post. Thanks for the blog and the dress is sooo pretty. I will continue to keep you and your family in prayer!

  8. Debbie Ambrose

    Hi Anita, it’s such a blessing to see you posting again, thank you for the time and effort that you’ve put into doing it, greatly appreciated. Your post is fabulous and your photos are always so sharp with such precision. Still praying for Cecil and your beautiful family that God will show up and show off. Love you girl.❤️

    1. Anita Morris

      Hey Debbie! Thanks sister! Love you too!

  9. Peggy

    ? Hi Anita. I’m so sorry to hear about Nancy. I’ve enjoyed watching her show in my short time of learning to sew. Her family is in my prayers. This is a wonderful and much needed reminder. I’ve have ventured out and started a project more advanced than I was ready for. I waisted money, time, and messed up beautiful fabric. Thank you for sharing and I’m continually praying for your family also.

    1. Anita Morris

      Hi Peggy! Thanks the article was of help for you. Thanks for the prayers.

  10. Kaija Brinson

    Good to hear from you. I continue to pray for you and your family.

  11. Cassandra

    You are more than fabulous. Thanks for sharing an excellent post!

  12. Nancy

    Wonderful to hear from you again Anita! great article! love the dress! My prayers are with you and your family.

  13. Carmen

    I have fallen i love with your red dress and your gorgeous handbag. Kisses and glad to see you again!

  14. Demetrius Howard

    To God be the Glory for all he has done!!! Glad to see you are slowly getting to doing what your love to do. By the way, i’m always on your blog.I’m glad to see your back. I love sewing and i have been doing it for the pass year now.

    Demetrius Howard

    1. Anita Morris

      Hi Demetrius! I love sewing too and so excited to get back to it. To God be all the glory!

  15. Yolanda

    Thank you Anita! God Bless you and the family. My prayers go out to Nancy’s family & friends on her passing. I felt like “just getting to know her”. But through her programs and books I have learned so much and continue to do so.thanks again.

    1. Anita Morris

      Thanks Yolanda! I’ve learned a lot from her too.

  16. Cynthia Willis

    So good to see you blogging, the red dress is FABULOUS! Praying for you and Your family. Yesterday was a sad day for me after learning of Nancy’s passing. I followed her for her entire career, she was truly an inspiration, as are you!

    1. Anita Morris

      Thanks for the prayers. A sad day indeed.

  17. Carmen

    So glad to see you are slowly getting back to blogging. Sending prayers to you and your lovely family. As well as to Nancy’s family. The red dress is stunning. I am ga-ga over the shoes! You are a tremendous sewing inspiration for me. Thank you for sharing your love of sewing with us. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season.

    1. Anita Morris

      Oh gosh! Thank you so much Carmen.

  18. Sherry

    Good morning Anita.

    So glad to see that you are slowly getting back to your sewing blog. You look beautiful and classy as ever. Continued prayers and get well wishes to your husband, Cemo.

    I was saddened to hear of Nancy Zieman’s passing. I learned of her by following your blog and purchased the book that you recommended, “Pattern Fitting”. I also taped a few of her television shows on PBS and purchased a few of her sewing materials. What a great loss to the sewing community.

    Again, welcome back Anita.

    1. Anita Morris

      Yes, I treasure my pattern fitting book by Nancy. It’s my favorite. Thanks for praying for CEMO!

  19. Teresa

    Great, helpful tips. The Lord placed the thought of sewing my own clothes in my mind a while ago. So I went on YouTube to look for tutorials on how to sew. Your sewing class was the first one I looked into. I found your instructions to be very easy to follow. I am having trouble with measuring properly but. I’m going to keep on trying. I have only made a pillow case so far, because I want to get the hang of sewing a straight line, but Im starting a new project today. I’ll be sewing an apron. Thanks for sharing for knowledge of sewing. And God is healer, he has healed my son. I will keep your husband in prayer.

    1. Anita Morris

      Hi Teresa! So glad you found my YT channel. The measuring will get easier. Watch tutorials and read books on the topic. The more you study your craft the better you’ll become at it. Take your time and enjoy the process. Yes, God is a healer. Thanks so much for the prayers.

  20. Angie

    Once again a great article. Yes I am a beginner of only about a month and I love you Youtube channel and Blog. So far I been making my own patterns from outlines of current pieces of clothing but I do wish to do more patterns and this was great info. Keep up the great work

    1. Anita Morris

      Hi Angie! Welcome to the sewing community. Awesome that you’re making your own patterns. That’s one of my goals for the future. I want to design my own patterns from scratch.

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