Focus on Fit: Pattern Review

This is something that I always do before I start out on a new pattern. Always. Pattern Review is such a great resource. Yes we all know that the site is a little bit janky, but once past that, the reviews are invaluable. Today I thought I would show you how I utilize it, just in case you were completely lost as to how to find anything on the site. But first, a few words. Before getting started on any pattern, its a really really good idea to read the pattern reviews of that pattern. Someone brought to my attention that one of the patterns on my pinterest board didn’t receive favorable pattern reviews and after they had tried it themselves, they concurred with the reviews. They also said that I should take this pattern off my board and no, I’m not going to do this. Friends, I don’t have time to check all the reviews on all the patterns I post there. Please understand that. That is your homework. If you find that you like what I have to say here and you find a pattern that you want to make from my pinterest board, please go on pattern review to read the reviews before you delve in. I don’t have any secret info on whether or not the pattern was well drafted or if it has fitting problems that are the same across the board. I only put patterns there because they look like basic patterns for all sewing levels (there’s a couple of Marfy’s and Stylearc’s on there). I also updated the bulletin message for that particular pinterest board. Now, let us move on.

Before I even purchase a pattern, I have a look at its reviews. Or if I’ve already purchased the pattern long ago, I have a look at the reviews before diving in. This can make or break a pattern for me. I actually won’t even start a pattern if its got serious problems from the get go based on the pattern reviews. To utilize the pattern review function on the Pattern Review site (ha ha) here is a step by step tutorial.


On the left hand side, click advanced search.


From there a screen will come up and you’ll enter in the pattern company name from the drop down and the pattern number – you don’t have to enter anything else, by the way. Then click search and reviews will pop up.


Sometimes it happens that no one has reviewed a certain pattern, so you have to go out on a ledge on your own and then of course, its up to you to write a review of the pattern and put it up on Pattern Review.

My second favorite place to peruse on Pattern Review are the Message Boards. Sometimes, someone will post problems they are having mid construction and try to get some advice from other pattern reviewers. It’s a great way to find out even more about a pattern.


So to do that you’ll click on the Message Board tab. Then click search board on the right.


Then enter a word or two on the subject your looking for. You’ll need to click either “Titles & Descriptions” or “Messages.” Then click enter and several message boards will pop up.

I know these are simple tutorials, but I have to admit that sometimes I find the site a bit overwhelming to navigate and when you try to search things many times, what you’re looking for doesn’t come up. So this is out there to help you out a bit more. Also, if you’re not a member, sign up! It’s free and I barely get one email from Pattern Review a month. Nothing big. It’s great when they have pattern sales and they have great classes too.

Do you use Pattern Review? Interestingly enough, I find Pattern Review much more helpful than any other “sewing community” out there just because all the reviews tend to take on the same format and they are all reviews, not just beautiful photos of someone in a garment (though I do love that too, just sayin). What do you think?


41 thoughts on “Focus on Fit: Pattern Review

  1. I use PatternReview the same way – it’s a great source for reviewing the patterns. I didn’t really look at the message boards but I will after this tip – thanks!

  2. I find Pattern Review to be a great tool, especially reviewers’ pictures! Many patterns only have drawn illustrations that can look very different from the real fit of the pattern. I used PR to review unused patterns to decide whether to try them or pitch. That simplified my stash of patterns.

  3. I *love* Pattern Review. I gladly pay the fee to use the site because it is just that invaluable to me. I too search for patterns that I think I might want, to make sure it doesn’t have tons of issues. And there’s merit to a pattern that has been made successfully, dozens of times.

    I love the forum as well. My favs are: beginners, fitting woes, patterns & notions and fabrics. I spend about 90% of my time there! πŸ™‚ Then we have a great discussion thread going about Project Runway!

  4. Great post! It’s a good reminder for me to check Patternreview. I also love perusing your Pinterest board. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

  5. It also took me a while to learn HOW to use the Pattern Review website. But now it is my go to place for most things. As you mentioned, I really love how people post not only the successes and pretty pictures, but also the failures, which are sometimes more important to learn about to avoid poorly drafted patterns. It is SO helpful to have years and years of reviews on ONE site only.
    I also like that most people use the same template – that way it reminds the reviewer to comment on certain aspects of the pattern that they may not have otherwise remembered. I think that Pattern Review is much much more helpful than Burda in this way. There are a lot of projects on Burda but often the reviews don’t tell you much of anything about the pattern and aren’t really that helpful in the end.

  6. I just started using this site recently and I’ve also found it to be a great resource. I especially like it for reading others comments about how a pattern worked for their body type.

  7. Sweet!!! I feel so special that my review is featured on your blog–however coincidentally that may be. Love your blog by the way.

  8. I love Pattern Review! Though I often forget to check before starting; I tend to check it either when I get stuck on something or when I’m about to finish and need a little extra kick in the pants to get going and finish that hem. I should definitely check it beforehand before buying patterns because it just makes so much sense. Thanks!

  9. I agree that PR is a great resource but I have to say (also living in the world of Ravelry – for knitting), it’s so hideous and clunky that I almost don’t bother with it. It REALLY needs an overhaul. I don’t post reviews on there because I can’t stand the interface.

  10. Yes! I looooooooove this site. It has fixed a few problems for me even before I start. “Gaping back? No worries, I’ll just size down and perfect!” “Also, thanks for the construction tip. It’s helpful to note why I’m pivoting there.”

    I even find inspiration there. I think seeing other people go through the process helps me psychologically say to myself: I can do it!

    Yay Pattern Review!

  11. I agree that the pattern database is the best sewing resource out there. However, I cheat, I check new patterns by going to Shop Patterns or More tab and then click on the pattern manufacturer. In a glance, I can see what patterns by the line are popular and how many reviews they’ve received.

    You gave such a great response to the person who suggested you remove the pattern from your board. I’m always amazed when fellow sewists assume you are suppose to do all the work for them instead of the situations being a give and take kinda of thing. Gotta remember your response for the future.

  12. Thanks for the info on searching Pattern Review forums! I’ve never thought of that!

    I hesitate to type this, because I really don’t believe in bringing up problems that I’m not willing or able to help fix, but I do wish Pattern Review would use metadata to create a final score for each pattern based on reviewer’s comments. I love that I can look at other sewer’s ratings and comments, but it is sometimes a pain to look at EACH AND EVERY REVIEW to check for trends. (First world problem, I know). I envision something like “4 out of 5 stars based on 10 reviews.”… “3 out of 5 reviewers stated ‘pattern runs small’…’5 out of 5 reviewers noted that notches on skirt vent are misplaced’.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Pattern Review and check it both before and in the midst of projects; I just wish it could channel a little Amazon or Boden on ease of the review process. I also check Burda (and sometimes just plain ol’ google pattern numbers) because often times they include links to more detailed blog posts, which give more information anyway.

  13. I’ve been a member of Ravelry (for knitting/fiber stuff) since it was still in beta format and have often lamented not having anything remotely like it in sewing form.

    I’ve used Pattern Review a few times, but it gave me such a headache that it never even occurred to me to hit the message boards. I’m totally gonna give it a try.

    I wonder if they are looking for anyone to, um, re-design their site for them?

  14. Pattern Review has a wealth of good information in an outmoded, clunky, and cranky interface. It’s like a old card catalog at a library — nostalgic, useful, and annoying.

  15. I am guilty of not using Pattern Review enough as I should. Also, I have never thought of actually adding my own reviews! Maybe I should!

    Sometimes, I will take a peek at people’s garments and how they look on real bodies to decide if I would like to sew it. Technical drawings and garments on stick models can only tell so much!

  16. I couldn’t agree more. The interface is clunky and the pictures are hokey. But, to be really truthful….I check it everyday. It links me to blogs I now enjoy. Most valuable to me? I get to see the garments on real people. All different bodies. If I am going to spend all that time and then it looks horrible on me, …What’s the point?

  17. How funny, I’ve just discovered PR! It’s a horrible site that’s about 10 years behind design-wise but the information it holds is brilliant. Thanks for the tutorial as I’ve been stumbling around it not using it to it’s full potential!

  18. I agree with you and all of the commenters about how helpful PR is. I logged in today before I cut out my latest dress. K-Line mentioned Ravelry. I often think of Ravelry in the context of PR, as Ravelry has an awesome interface, but does a lot of the same reviews, forums, patterns, etc. that PR does.

  19. I always go to PR before making a pattern, however I never realized I could check on the forums for reviews. Thank you so much. BTW: as much as I use it I am guilty or not posting my own reviews very often (I guess I need to start doing that!).

  20. Pattern review is so helpful! I always read it before starting a pattern and will note down any comments made by multiple reviewers. I just wish more people would note what size they make. Picking the right size is something I have a hard time with and seeing the garments made on different sized bodies is especially helpful when I can make the comparison of whether I’m bigger/smaller or like more/less ease.

  21. Maybe I’m one of the slow people that can’t figure out how to use a website from 2002… But I am grateful for this tutorial. I know PR has great information and so many people swear by it, but I have had such a hard time finding the correct pattern that I don’t even consider it as a go-to resource before starting a project. So I’m going to try to “advanced search” method and hopefully get more use out of it.
    I agree with the previous reviewer who said they should have a “3 out of 5 stars” system for pattern ratings, or something like that. And of course a general overhaul to make it a bit easier on the eyes wouldn’t hurt πŸ™‚

  22. Thanks for the reminder. I have come across this site but forget it’s such a great resource for finding out what a finished pattern will look like. I will check this out before starting any projects in future.

  23. I used to love PR, but now I find it very hard to upload photos and I’ve pretty much stopped using it (other than stopping by to get previews of new Burdastyles). I wish PR would go the Ravelry route and find innovate ways to update its format and “get with the times.” It’s like using the internet in 2003!

  24. I love patternreview – and have used it on and off for over 10 years, back when there weren’t blogs like today – actually this was were I met my best friend.
    I know from Patternreview owner that there is a new (and more user friendly) design coming up within the next month or so..

  25. I am a long time PR member, and love the site. Janky, I guess…but it’s familiar to me now and I can use it easily. One tip I offer is that Friends of PR get some goodies not available to others, and these things are worthwhile. I have an online pattern catalog which is linked to reviews and to my wishlist. When I am buying patterns, I can automatically see the reviews. When purchased, I can click on the pattern in my wishlist and it is transferred to my pattern library.

  26. I’m brand new to sewing and found PR by accident while doing an internet search about 2 months ago. I bought my first patterns from there and go there often to read reviews on patterns I am interested in. Good stuff.

  27. I use google to search PR – for example, if I want to find out more about, say, blindhem tension, I type this into the google search box:

    blindhem tension

    Much better results, faster, etc. If you’re looking for a pattern and what to see what people are saying outside of reviews, the google search will also show you forum topics.

  28. I use it like June. I prefer to Google and that will link me with relevant reviews. The PR interface is just too dated. When I consider a pattern the review piece is maybe only 20% of my decision because not every reviewer has your body type or your skill level OR as is often the case on Patternreview knows how to take a decent enough picture. When something is a hobby, don’t be afraid to diverge from the path a little. I’ve learned a lot from just taking a chance on some tricky patterns.PR gives me the heads up on the tricky things. Some of my favorite reviews are ones where a reviewer took on a pattern that many people panned and made it look amazing by choosing better fabric and taking the time to adjust fitting issues.

  29. Is its is quite US focused (I’m in UK) I tend to only use it for the pattern reviews (always handy to check before starting a project) and for the messageboard. I’ve yet to find as comprehensive a sewing forum.
    I’m not interested in any of the other facilities so tend to completely ignore all the other ‘links’ etc. on the page.
    It could do with a bit of streamlining and be made more ‘mobile phone’ friendly but I cope. The search function is the key.

  30. I joined PR back in May on the advice of one of the blogs I read. I even joined as a Friend just because if you are a paying member, you get an additional 10% off at JoAnn’s after all the other discounts. It has already paid for itself. Funny though, despite the title, I didn’t realize they actually REVIEWED patterns! HA! I’ve never used the feature but I will now. I used it primarily at first for reviews on a cover stitch machine I’m still itching to buy.

  31. I use Pattern Review a lot, but mostly for reviews on sewing machines (I’m currently in the market for a new one). I didn’t know that you could search patterns in the message board. Thanks for the tip!

  32. I always use Pattern Review…..and yes it is a bit overwhelming with all it has on it, but it is interesting and useful. The classes are kinda spendy but worth every penny.

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