Pattern Envelope Template

pattern envelope template a4

When you operate as a highly frugal seamstress, you naturally begin to develop a variety of tricks and penny-pinching measures for saving money and cutting corners when sewing.

As part of a new series on my blog called Spartan Sewing, I’d like to share some of these tips with you!

Having a lust for 1950’s fashion means that it’s often difficult to stay on-budget. With select vintage sewing patterns reaching $200 in price (value is debatable…), what’s a Spartan Seamstress to do? One way that I cut corners in this area are buying incomplete patterns (missing inane little things like facings or rectangle pattern pieces for skirts that I can easily draft myself, or whatever), patterns with obliterated envelopes, or even patterns with missing envelopes (like most vintage mail-order patterns come nowadays)! But then I have this little misshapen plastic bag in my drawer with random pattern pieces inside and is a complete nuisance to organize.

It hit me like a bazooka: I’m an anal-retentive graphic designer, I really shouldn’t be having these kind of issues!!

I decided to try my hand at creating my own pattern housings from A4 pieces of paper, but I was frustrated and disappointed with the amount of envelope templates from A4 sheets available on the web, which is why I decided to create my own and make them available to you today as a free PSD (Photoshop) download! This is what it looks like:


But wait, there’s more! (I feel like a dodgy salesperson)

I have also included fully scalable vector logos within the file of some of the most popular sewing pattern brands, free for you to resize and position on the pattern however you’d like (whether you want it at the top or running down the side, or on the back too, but smaller, etc etc). The brands are:

  • Simplicity
  • Butterick
  • McCall’s
  • Vogue
  • Advance
  • Marian Martin
  • Anne Adams

All the text is editable, so you can just substitute the numbers to match your pattern, delete and re-position wherever you want. The font I’ve used is Century Gothic which happens to be the best font in the world and if you don’t have it, you ought to get it.

Steps to making your own pattern envelope:

  1. Source high-quality images of your pattern online. Go and Google that shit. Here is the Etsy listing for one I recently used, Advance 7027. Etsy has the ability to save large, high-quality images from sellers so sourcing them from there is a good idea if you can. Just click on the “zoom” link under the bottom right of the images and check how large they are. Smaller than the one I linked? Look elsewhere.
  2. Bring the image of the front cover into Photoshop and cut out the illustrations on the front using the polygon select tool (don’t even think about using the Magic Wand..). To soften the edges to be less angular, go to Select -> Modify -> Feather… (SHIFT+F6) and pick a low number, like 1 or 0.5. Now CTRL+X and CTRL+V onto the front section of your template. You can adjust the curves (CTRL+M) and colours if you need to.
  3. For the pattern details at the back of the envelope, roughly select around just the text area and paste it into the back section your template. Scale to fit (try not to scale up too much or it’ll be blurry). You will want to desaturate this image (since it will undoubtedly be an aged yellow colour) and adjust the curves until the background is pure white. (Tip: On the curves graph, see how there’s a diagonal line? Grab the end at the top right and move it left until the background disappears. If the text is too light, click in the centre of the line and drag down a bit until it’s readable).
  4. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but change the text on the front section to reflect the details of your own pattern.
  5. Print. Absolutely no auto-scaling allowed. The only thing that should be getting cut off by your printer is parts of the cutting guidelines, but it doesn’t take a genius to draw them back on if you really require them.

To download, click on the link below:


Thinking of sharing my file somewhere? Showing off your new covers on your site? Feel free to do so, but please credit! If you’ve found my file useful, please share using the social media icons below, and if you’re so inclined, I’d much appreciate a “Like” on Carbon Chic’s Facebook Page :)

Don’t have Photoshop? Have a pattern with a different logo? Just feel lazy and you don’t want to go to the effort? If high-quality images of the pattern exist out there somewhere (from your own scans or on the web), I will make a neat little envelope for you (that you can print yourself) for $5 (USD), just ask.

Straight Lines

I tried to think of some kind of poem about my new skirt that rhymed with the ever-so-popular song of 2013 Blurred Lines, but then I decided that I was a raging feminist who wasn’t going to support that nonsense thank-you-very-much, so that’s why you’re going to have to settle for a post rife with various different squeals about how much I love my new skirt. If you could imagine the following in different pitches all the way through, that would add to the drama I think, so thanks in advance.

Ta-dah! I was flipping through some dresses that I had pinned to my vintage inspiration board on Pinterest and came across a gorgeous little number by Lana Lobell. The popular candy swirl dresses that people sew for children had always caught my eye every time I saw another one, but I hate how piece-y and home-made most of them look (seriously, those bizarre fabric choices) and I’m not a fan of circle skirts in general, so I had to think of another plan of attack.

This skirt is self-drafted, and it took quite a while to create the pattern myself. So many angles. So much trigonometry. I tell everyone how much I hate math but then when I self-draft my own things, I invariably end up doing a lot of math. However, my pattern didn’t even come to fruition because the fruitcake at the store I bought this fabric from (that was a nice way of putting it, actually, I was rightly bitching about her all day as my photographer will attest) sold me 106cm wide fabric instead of the 110cm she claimed it was. All the spools of fabric were listed in inches and instead of using a calculator like a smart person, I just asked a staff member. Good job, Demi.

Anyways, that threw all my calculations out and I had to slash open the skirt for a zip. This skirt was a nightmare, but so worth it. I wanted to make a dress like this but wasn’t sure how it would work so I’m glad I made this test run. It’s not 100% perfect, because of all the various different techniques I tried to avoid slashing into the skirt (elastic waistbands look terrible on me, I’ve decided), but it’s good enough to wear to the shops, so I’m generally happy with it.

Gotta have that self-covered button.

Anyone interested in the pattern/tutorial for when I make the dress? I’m planning on sewing a full candy striper dress soon using this pattern! (We’ll see how that one goes, and this time I’m not asking the staff at the fabric store anything.)

My First Dress!

I am unbelievably proud of this one! I only started sewing seriously last year and I’ve been putting off dresses for the longest time, worrying that it would be too hard to tackle as a beginner.

Turns out, dresses aren’t as hard as I thought! They’re like a skirt and.. (not being able to compare to a top, because I’ve never made a top before) a skirt joined together! Or something.

I bought this fabric last year at some point, intending to make another gathered skirt from it. (Skirts are easy and don’t lift me out of my comfort zone very far.) Unfortunately, after deliberating on my fabric choice (and you can bet I do a lot of deliberating when I’m starting a project), I decided that the teapots wouldn’t stand out enough in a simple gathered skirt–it just wouldn’t do the print justice! But as it turns out, the pattern is exactly large enough for 6 teapots to fit around my hips. That’s what made me the most excited–the prospect of matching up my patterns on the skirt!

It’s not 100% perfect, but from a distance, the sides are practically seamless and I’m utterly thrilled!

For the dress, I used a vintage reproduction pattern from Butterick–B5747, and went for the pencil skirt instead of the a-line version. The model on the website really doesn’t do the pattern justice; I’ve seen some other bloggers do some fantastic work with this pattern, but I hadn’t seen a pencil skirt version out there, so I’m pretty pleased with how everything turned out.

To review the pattern a little bit, the instructions were pretty straight-forward, although some mention that the part about sewing on the waistband was kind of ambiguous. Truthfully, I skipped their instructions on the waistband and sewed it on the way I knew was easiest for me. Everything inside the dress is finished with bias binding (I can’t get enough of the stuff), and the bottom hemline has been sewn down with clear thread instead of an invisible stitch. Ain’t nobody got time for invisible stitches.

I bought about two metres of the teapot-printed linen for around $20 from the upholstery section at Spotlight (I think it’s fabric meant for tablecloths or curtains or something) and stiff, white bridal satin from a local gem called Trad’s Liquidation Store for a couple of dollars! The button kit is the 27mm variety from Daiso Japan covered with scraps from the bridal satin. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to add teapot patch pockets to the dress lined in the satin, but after several days working on this dress, I think I’m done for the month!

My verdict? Definitely a pattern I’ll use again and again. Next time, I plan to turn the neckline into a sailor collar and sew up a flared skirt. I’ve only ever sewn flared skirts from self-drafted patterns, so I want to see what it’s like to follow someone else’s guidelines for a change!

Retro Apple-Printed Play Suit

“Coordinated set” didn’t sound very good, so I decided to call this cheery 50’s ensemble a play suit. Note that I didn’t call it the singular word “playsuit”, similar to how a playsuit is a singular item of clothing. No, this thing is decidedly a two-piece, two-word outfit.

With those semantics out of the way, how freaking cute is this fabric?

I have this chronic problem where I find really cute fabric on special, buy a little bit for a little project that I haven’t yet decided on, and then when the fabric sells out, I decide I want to use it on a project that requires just a little more fabric than I bought. This happens more often than you would think. (Hello, gorgeous mint teapot linen that I had to buy for again a few months ago!)

Needless to say, with each pattern piece needing to fit precisely on my 1.2×1 metre piece of fabric, cutting was a nightmare. I figured the worst I could do was waste $6 worth of fabric, so I laid everything out carefully and gave it my best shot anyway.

This was the project that I had worked on over my little holiday down in Sydney with Annika from The Pineneedle Collective, and I was super exited to get buddied up and do some sewing! I used my retro blue and red apple-printed cotton and she used a cool vintage bed sheet with cars all over it.

I had cleverly left my sewing machine back in the hotel room (doesn’t everyone get the urge to do a bit of midnight sewing in your room on your holiday in a strange city?), but Annika kindly loaned me her’s and we were on our way!

I tell you what, for her first time following directions from a pattern, Annika was doing an amazing job. For our play suits, we used two patterns–The shorts from Style 3251 and the bra tops from Simplicity 1426. Annika was doing view C while I did view A (because of certain fabric restrictions, ha). Seeing how brilliantly her top turned out, however, has made me long for a dress with a similar-shaped bust! But that’s another post for another day.

By the end of the day, Annika had proved herself a glittering seamstress prodigy while I was decidedly more.. frustrated with my progress.

Grumpy Demi

I had to finish this project at home, but I’m so glad I finished it at all! Annika loaned me the use of her horrendously loud overlocker (all three of us practically jumped out of our seats every time it started up), but I only had use of it for the top–The inside of the shorts I finished off with bias tape, which I henceforth decided to use for all projects ever after. (Seriously, they look couture or something from the inside.)

Ta-dah! Even though it was raining at the time, I was desperate for photos so I stepped out into the chilly air and Rob captured a few shots of the final outfit for me.

I made a Pepsi button for fun. It makes me giggle every time I look at it. Ahhh, Pepsi.

And despite Daiso Japan not stocking smaller button kits EVER, I managed to pick up a refill set and hand-punch these babies, using a lot of brute strength and banging with the end of my craft scissors on the floor. I think the results were well-worth the effort, but the dents on the floor probably disagree with me.

What do you think? This is more of a beachy outfit for myself, as bare midriffs are not really something that I sport on a daily basis, but it was still a highly enjoyable project nonetheless. Or at least the results are enjoyable. (The actual project was an ill-measured pain in the petunia.)

DIY Knife-Pleated Skirt

DIY Knife-Pleated Schoolgirl Skirt Tutorial

Hey guys, what up? We’re back with another little “skirts for dummies” tutorial! Hope you’re not sick of them yet. This time around, we’re looking at a slightly different technique to achieve that “schoolgirl chic” look with a knife-pleated (or side-pleated) skirt. I’m using a woven tartan here, but you can use whatever material you prefer for yours, so long as the fabric is thick and sturdy enough to be pressed (so obviously no chiffon, satin, or velvet–you know what I mean).

You will need:

  • Sewing Machine
  • General Sewing Kit–Scissors, needle, seam ripper, tape measure, regular pins and safety pins
  • Something to draw on your fabric with (chalk, pencil, pen, etc)
  • Fabric (we’ll get to how much in a bit)
  • Matching Thread
  • Regular zip (At least 15cm long)