Pattern for Success: How to Choose a Pattern for Your Skill Level

Pattern for Success: How to Choose a Pattern for Your Skill Level

When it comes to “sewing” successes or flops, choosing a pattern suited for your skill level can make all the difference in the world. 


If you’re a new sewer, your focus should be on learning great techniques and sewing habits, and understanding fabrics and patterns. Beginners should choose patterns labeled easy, which are less complicated and have fewer the pattern pieces. The fewer the pieces, the easier it will be to put together. And, easy patterns are more likely to include detailed instructions and tips, and less likely to include collars, cuffs, and other details that may prove tricky at first.  One of my favorites is the Charlie Caftan and Ceilo Top and Dress.

 A great first project is a pillow. You’ll learn how to cut and sew with seam allowances, and you can use almost any fabric. Next you can move on to things like PJ pants and tote bags.

Advanced Beginner & Intermediate:

Once you’re feeling comfortable and confident with basic patterns and have made a few garments, try introducing buttonholes and zippers, and more maneuvers like seam finishes and bias bindings, and plackets or collars. 

The Blog Colette recommends experimenting with a Sorbetto top, a free pattern that has only two pattern pieces and will help you learn to use bias tape, or the Laurel, which will use your bias tape skills again, and introduce a zipper. The Gingerq will teach you to install a waistband, and the Macaron will help you learn to install pockets, facings, and a bit of topstitching.


Once you’re an expert, the pattern world is your oyster, so to speak. While you’ll always be learning new tips and tricks, you can begin focusing on special techniques and tricky fabrics. You may even start making your own patterns, or heavily altering or combining patterns.

Whether you are sewing vintage or using modern materials, Chateau Sew & Sew is waiting to help you.  Call or come by.  

Remember to check out Monday’s, July 10’s  free PDF  - Humphrey the Hound  and July 17’s PDF, Trieste Tunic.

Come back next week, we will be off on new and exciting journeys.

I just know you are going to enjoy this fabulous recipe.  It is great old fashioned comfort food.

Mississippi Mud Cake

This decadent Mississippi Mud Cake couldn't be easier to put together whether you're heading to a family reunion or a last minute backyard BBQ.

By Southern Living Editors 

 Active Time:  15 mins

Total Time:  2 hrs 35 mins

Yield:  1 (13- x 9-in.) cake



  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (10-oz.) package mini marshmallows

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease a metal 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place butter and chocolate in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds until melted, about 1 minute 30 seconds total. Whisk together sugar, eggs, and melted chocolate mixture in a medium bowl. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; stir into melted chocolate mixture. Fold in pecans and vanilla.
  2. Spoon batter into prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, 20 to 21 minutes. Remove cake from oven, and cover top with marshmallows in an even layer. Bake at 325°F until marshmallows are just soft, about 2 minutes.
  3. While cake is baking, prepare the Chocolate Frosting: Heat butter, milk, and cocoa in a medium saucepan over medium until butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring mixture to a boil. Boil 1 minute, and then remove from heat. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Immediately drizzle cake with Chocolate Frosting. Let Frosting harden about 2 hours before cutting cake into squares.

Lots of hugs,
Susan & Karen