Can Beginners Sew Vogue Patterns?

Very Easy Vogue 1970s
Very Easy Vogue jacket patterns from the 1970s.

“Someone told me many years ago that the Vogue patterns are difficult and hard to follow. What is the general opinion on that? I’m still at the [beginner] level but I’ve seen some Vogue patterns I’d like to buy.” —P.B. McCall’s Facebook Group member

Does the thought of sewing a Vogue pattern strike fear into your heart? I remember in college being awestruck by a senior named Melody*, who was able to whip up exquisite and complicated Vogue designer patterns in a weekend for sorority formals. Though I was a decent sewer at that age, I was content to stay in my lane with Butterick and McCall’s patterns. Vogue was too hard!, I believed. 

So today when I scroll through McCall’s Facebook Group newsfeed and read comments like the one above, I totally get it. Since the 1940s Vogue Patterns has been the source for designer sewing patterns, which are often more complex than non-designer patterns. It only makes sense there’s a perception that Vogue patterns are more difficult to sew.

Vogue Patterns has been the source for designer sewing patterns since the 1940s. Dior pattern from the 1960s.

But ok, it’s time to get rid of that dated perception. Did you know we have a line of Very Easy Vogue patterns? If you’re already comfortable sewing other pattern brands and you’ve accomplished some basic sewing skills—putting in a zipper, sewing a dart and/or princess seams, attaching facings or a partial lining, for example—then you should be able to confidently sew a Very Easy Vogue pattern.

Very Easy Vogue patterns
Very Easy Vogue patterns: cape, V9288; slip dress, V9278; knit top, V9281

Every Vogue pattern has a difficulty code rating, which you can find on the back of the envelope or on the website product page:

VERY EASY
The easiest and quickest patterns to sew. Great for beginner or the experienced sewer with limited time available. Expect limited construction details, hand sewing and fitting. Easy-to-sew fabrics are recommended.
EASY
Easy-to-sew patterns but with more details than the Very Easy category. Perfect for those with limited sewing knowledge or little time. Expect a wide variety of sewing procedures—there will be more details when the techniques are simple and fewer details when the techniques are more involved. Some fitting knowledge required.
AVERAGE
These patterns are perfect if you have more time to sew, and more experience sewing. Look for challenging designer techniques, tailoring, unique construction details. Expect more fitting and inner construction. Find more variety in fabrics from the stretchiest knits to synthetic leathers and suedes.
ADVANCED
The finest patterns featuring the best of European and American Couture. Perfect for those who like the sewing challenge of professional tailoring and fine couture techniques. Expect intricate fashion shaping, hidden construction details, couture inner construction, fine touches of hand sewing and bias draping.

By definition, Very Easy Vogue patterns cannot be rated more difficult than Very Easy, so beginning sewers should start here. The designs we feature are very on-trend, but they’ve also been chosen because there are fewer pattern pieces. Also, the fabrics we recommend for Very Easy Vogue patterns are easy to work with. You won’t find us recommending a slippery silk, for example.

Some Very Easy Vogues have Custom Fit options, meaning they have separate pieces for A, B, C and D cup sizes. I love Custom Fit patterns because choosing the right cup size helps you streamline the whole fit process.

After you’ve sewn a few Very Easy Vogues, then try a Vogue Easy Options pattern. These are rated Easy—a small but manageable step up in difficulty from Very Easy—and offer a basic design with customizable options like sleeve or skirt style choices.

Vogue Five Easy Pieces and Vogue Easy Options sewing patterns
Vogue Five Easy Pieces and Vogue Easy Options sewing patterns. V9286 and V9267

 

Also in the Easy sewing category are Vogue Five Easy Pieces patterns. Each pattern has five pieces that can be sewn as a complete mini wardrobe or as separates.

When the McCall’s Facebook Group members were talking about the perceived complexity of Vogue Patterns, member Charlotte chimed in with this sound advice: “Remember that any pattern is a compilation of individual steps.”  Instead of ruling out a pattern as beyond your sewing wheelhouse, isolate the part(s) you find daunting.

What I tend to do is first practice on spare fabric the step(s) that intimidate me until I feel comfortable enough to try it on the real thing. And don’t forget there are how-to videos on YouTube, tutorial blog posts, and the incredibly helpful members of the McCall’s Facebook Group who are always there to offer advice and suggestions to fellow members.

“We used Vogue patterns when I was first learning to sew because the style and fit were worth the work. I find them to be thorough…. Just take your time. Your garment will be better-made for your effort.” M.J., McCall’s Facebook Group member

“I find Vogue Patterns easy to use because they have great instructions and detailed drawings. Plus, they do an excellent job of labeling the patterns with their degree of difficulty.” C.H., McCall’s Facebook Group member

“I learned to sew using Vogue patterns. The instructions are so detailed and clear. Start with Very Easy Vogue and work your way up.” N.S., McCall’s Facebook Group member

*Melody went on to helm a Fortune 500 company. Hmm, could sewing Vogue Patterns help develop leadership skills and business acumen?!

We've been sewing since 1863.
24 comments
  1. OMG! I always thought the ” five easy pieces” referred to the number of garments included in the pattern!!! ( like a blouse, pants, skirt etc.) interesting-… I’ve been sewing Vogue patterns for over 50 years too!!

    1. I think that’s what Meg does mean: there are 5 different garments that can be made (A, B, C, D, and E). It’s not five pattern pieces per garment.

    2. Me too. Vogue are the best for clear directions and ease of re-styling.
      PS. I’ve been sewing 2 years more than you (my YOUNGER sister).

  2. I learned to sew with Vogue patterns when I was in high school – I figured if I wanted a garment, then the instructions would guide me through making it. And they did! The wardrobe patterns are fantastic, and so many gems in one pattern make them such a great value.

  3. Vogue patterns are the ones we used when I learned garment sewing! They’re still some of the very best patterns available, IMO.

  4. I started sewing with Vogue patterns before I knew they were supposed to be hard. I remember making something up (a pair of pants, I think) and my mother was surprised and said that Vogue patterns were hard. I always thought that it depended on the style. A formal evening gown with a built in corset would be difficult, but how difficult can a knit top or pair of pants be?

  5. Before trying a Vogue pattern, I’d recommend you learn the basics of altering the pattern to your measurements before you sew. If you do that first, it’s not that much harder and you should be able to handle it.

  6. I started sewing in grade school and then in high school but did not sew much in college. However, I always preferred Vogue pattern. Not even the easy ones. Why? because the pattern guide sheets were much better designed and easier to understand. they guided you through every step you needed to take to make your garment. Also the pattern pieces were cut perfectly. Of course, my body measurements were much more accurate in those days so I did not need to make many adjustments thank goodness because I was not good at alterations, but sometimes Simplicity and McCall patterns just ended up with dresses that looked homemade while Vogues looked stylish, especially the Vogue Designer patterns which I loved to try. The trick was finding the right fabric. I was not at all afraid of them. I learned a lot from them. I use Liesl Gibson patterns for making children’s clothing, Oliver&S. I think those are the closest to Vogue that I have yet to find.

  7. For me, Vogue is the pattern of choice before any of the other brands. I like Vogue because oftentimes the styles are one of a kind and the instructions are for me, very easy to follow. By the time I am finished cutting out the pattern piecrs, I know how to put the garment together. I would recommend Vogue any day, but I would also recommend that one has some sewing experience which I think is of great benefit. For beginners, I think it is important to start with a simple style first.

  8. I learned the basics very young . My school challenges were to master the most difficult ones . I can’t knit complicated patterns but I can sew any pattern. I love reading the instructions although they are simpler than some of the past ones. I won a sewing price at the Royal Melbourne Show with my Coregeous dress and Jacket ( years ago lol) Sadly I threw all my old patterns out !!! but the collection is starting again ! I do buy basic just to adapt a style !! Yes a Vogue lover !

  9. My experience is Simplicity are the most difficult. I love Vogue patterns and the instructions are excellent.

  10. I think most patterns are easy to sew the difficulty comes in the fit and the finish. If I had to just cut size 10 pieces and sew them together I think I could that for 90% of patterns out there. But to achieve a fit that’s right for my body is more difficult. And finishing necklines, cuffs, and facing so the garment looks well made is another challenge. So I think overall, skill level ratings are hugely misleading. And most fall into the “easy” range to encourage us to buy it and make us feel like we can do it 1,2,3….not.

  11. I learned to sew on Vogue Patterns. The instructions were always like a sewing lesson: you learned something new on every project.

  12. My first garment was “Very Easy” V9075. Whilst it was very difficult for me at the time, I found I went through many rites to passage – a lined bodice, pockets, a zip and shorts – which means everything I’ve sewed since has been easy!

  13. I started sewing with Vogue patterns, and always required the least amount of fit alterations for me. Don’t let the labeling of easy, etc intimidate you. I must say I loved the challenge of the advanced and designer patterns, and when I got stumped I always pulled out a copy of the Vogue Sewing Book.

  14. When my Godmother was teaching me to sew, she would only use a Vogue pattern to teach with. She said their instructions included “the little things” others didn’t, those “little things” is the stuff that elivates your sewing craft.

  15. I found this very interesting because I am one of those people who has so far shunned all Vogue patterns due to believing them to be difficult to sew. I may have to try one of your featured patterns as well since knit top, V9281 looks just my kind of top. Thanks for writing about this because it has inspired me to try Vogue now because have sewn all the other major brands and a few indies as well and although I do not consider myself able yet to sew the advanced patterns I could probably do an easy or very easy. Its a mental block really because I am scared to do Vogue because of the old idea, as you say, that Vogue is seen to be difficult and I hate to waste fabric and not finish.

  16. Once I learned that so-called ‘easy’ and ‘make in 2 hours’ patterns led to shapeless, boxy, unflattering clothes, I started using vogue patterns and even the Very Easy Vogue turns out stylish, well-fitting garments. The instruction sheets are excellent and guide you through every step. I started sewing in the days before YouTube, and the Vogue Sewing book was very helpful. I was sorry to see Donna Karan and DKNY go, I loved those patterns! I’d love to see patterns from designers like Rick Owens – interesting asymmetric dresses etc, any chance of a collaboration?

  17. When I first started sewing oh so many years ago, I started with Simplicity/McCalls/Butterick because that was all that was available in my small town. And as a young teen, few alterations were needed.
    Fast forward a few decades, when I tried to use those patterns, they just weren’t a fit anymore – neither in fit nor in style. So I jumped over to the “SCARY” Vogue patterns. I found my new home.
    Research on the internet and in books helped me find my correct pattern size and how to do the further needed alterations. Pretty soon, Vogue patterns became my normal choice for patterns.
    Now, Vogue is for items that will stay in my closet for years; the other three are for my version of “fast fashion”.

  18. One of my very first adult sewing projects was an “average” difficulty American designer (Calvin Klein) vogue pattern for a bias cut dress with unusual seam placement. I followed the instructions exactly and the results were great! I actually think the designer patterns are the best because the instructions are the most detailed and specific. I find the “very easy” and “easy options” instructions to be a little too vague to recommend to a true beginner. Sometimes a crucial piece of information is not written, such as pressing direction, and the diagrams are the only clue. If the “very easy vogue” patterns were a bit more explicit they would be better suited for a new sewist.

  19. When I was learning to sew (a long time ago when all patterns came one size to an envelope), my mother told me Vogue patterns were more difficult and I should pick simpler patterns from other companies. At the time, this may have been good advice for a young beginner, especially since Vogue patterns were a lot more expensive than others to buy. But, of course, as my skills, taste, and curiosity grew, it was obvious the Vogue patterns offered more interesting, refined, and sometimes exotic options not available through other readily available pattern lines. There weren’t the vast number of pattern companies making and selling patterns that exist now and the internet didn’t exist, yet, so choices were limited to what was available at the local store (in that town, the local 5&10).

    My curiosity and eagerness to learn more sewing techniques and my desire to have more interesting clothes led me to try those Vogue patterns, which didn’t have difficulty ratings at that time, either. Using those patterns taught me new techniques, well beyond what my mother and my Home Economics teachers could. The detailed Vogue pattern instructions and having to work through both successes and failures to find workable solutions were some of the best exercises available to a pre-teen, teen, and young adult seamstress. Later, I learned more tailoring techniques from a Vogue Men designer pattern, when I wanted to surprise my husband with a camel-hair overcoat. The detailed instructions were like a textbook.

    Both then and now, I find Vogue patterns, in general, to be more accurately sized to the measurements given, and more carefully drafted for accuracy in details than the other commercial patterns (including the rest of what is now the McCall’s stable). Their instructions are usually more thorough, although not always the most efficient or time-saving, and are more likely to include expert tips.

    To some degree, the adventure and challenge of tackling those so-called “difficult” patterns is one of several experiences that helped me to be the advanced sewing craftsperson and designer I developed into. It led to steady work and helped support me through school and for many years.

    My best advice is to start simply and then keep challenging yourself, as you gain a bit of confidence. Use the ratings as a very relative guide, but don’t be afraid of a challenge or making mistakes (otherwise known as learning opportunities). You will be happier with your work and results.

  20. When I was in my teens I thought that sewing with Vogue patterns gave me a certain “cache” so I went for it. I learned to appreciate the extra detail, challenge and complexity of the designer garments at a young age. Today I really enjoy the simplicity of the Very Easy patterns. They have great style and with a fabulous fabric can make your garment look very high end. Great post, Meg.

  21. I started sewing with Vogue patterns as a teen when I was a newbie. My favorite are the designer Vogues.

  22. In my experience, Burda patterns are the most difficult to sew and fit properly. I only just recently tried to sew a Burda coat pattern (I haven’t finished it yet) after nearly a decade of avoiding them. I have had mostly positive experiences sewing Vogue patterns despite being warned that they are difficult. My mother was a professional seamstress, so I had her to coach me along, so my experience may be better than others.

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