My patterns have a skill/difficulty rating based on the four levels below. However, every sewist is different, and you may find yourself at the boundaries between two levels. The pattern description and the features of the garment should also give you a bit of a steer as to whether it might be a good fit for your experience (or alternatively a good ‘stretch assignment’ to help you pick up some new skills).
Patterns rated ‘beginner’ assume only basic sewing skills and minimal experience. You should be able to sew straight seams (keeping a consistent seam allowance), but you will probably not have completed a large number of projects. The garment therefore won’t require fancy seam finishes, close fitting / shaping, or complex techniques. The instructions may be more detailed even on simple steps.
You have completed a number of simpler sewing projects and are reasonably comfortable using sewing patterns. You will probably be familiar with some of the terminology most commonly used in sewing patterns and instructions, and feel ready to try different seam finishes and techniques such as sewing darts and installing zippers, buttons and buttonholes, and collars. You may have done some of these things already, but perhaps not enough to feel fully confident in them.
You are sewing far more confidently, quickly and consistently than when you first started sewing. You’re reasonably happy with darts, buttonholes, zips, and collars and don’t feel apprehensive about taking on more challenging projects. You may be confident at pattern-hacking to turn patterns into your own particular vision for a garment, and you have a good idea of how pattern pieces are likely to work together, even if you sometimes need instruction for detailed steps.
Sewing is probably second nature to you by now, and you’ll have tried many techniques enough times that you wouldn’t need much instruction. You may be well familiar with pattern alteration and feel confident that you could handle trickier projects with more niche techniques, such as tailoring projects.
Your sewing journey
We love this craft of ours, right?
But our sewing journeys are just that – journeys… we can go fast and direct, or we can wander and meander. For most of us the key thing is always to be learning.
So wherever you are on your journey, be kind to yourself. When you feel bold, be bold – tackle that new technique, experiment with that different silhouette – enjoy your craft! If it works out, you’ll be on top of the world! But even if it doesn’t.. you will no doubt still have learned something for next time. Either way you win. But in all things, do be kind to yourself.