Top 5 Makes Of All Time!

One of the great aspects of having sewn for several years, is that I get a real perspective on which projects have worked beyond my wildest dreams. Sewn items that I return to time and time again, that survive weekly cycles through the washing machine.

So, here are my Top 5 Makes Of All Time!

Laptop Sleeve

laptop case

I made this from fleece cotton and a geometric print back in 2012, using this tutorial. Four years later, both laptop and sleeve are going strong. Whenever I travel, my laptop slips snugly into this case.

Tofino Shorts


Sewn three years ago, yet still being tossed into the laundry basket on a weekly basis. I adapted the Tofino pattern to a shorts length for summer PJs and made these from Japanese double gauze, which I highly recommend for sleepwear. There are some good double gauze options here.

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tanks

Sporty Summer Sewing Tiny Pocket Tank

The Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank isn’t as straightforward as it first appears. A simple tank top in woven fabric (no accommodating stretch) means that good fitting is essential. I’ve done lots of tweaking, including an FBA, but once you get this pattern nailed to your body, it’s a really comfortable make. I have three on heavy rotation. But I can’t see this top for sale on the Grainline website? Any insight, peeps?

The Home


It’s easy to dismiss home sewing, but some of my deepest pleasures have come from the daily sight of items such as these barkcloth cushion covers I made three years ago. Fabric was bought on a trip to my beloved Isle of Wight, and now I have a part of that island beneath my posterior whenever I want! Can’t argue with that.

The Coco Dress

Tilly And The Buttons Coco Dress

I have made this and made this and made this and then I make some more Cocos. Simple patterns aren’t just for beginners; they also give a hit of creative satisfaction to tired multi-taskers. This one has been worn to death, but shows no sign of dying yet. Find a simple pattern that works for you, and you’ll never stop loving it.

Do you have a winning pattern that you can’t stop returning to? And any tips for projects that will give you pleasure in years to come?

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25 Responses to Top 5 Makes Of All Time!

  1. Oh I love these types of posts!
    It’s funny how often the ‘classic’ patterns get such use.
    On the grainline tank, I remember looking for it but not finding it so maybe the did take it down?

  2. Tanya says:

    And you had so many to choose from! I think I read that Jen from Grainline wanted to update the TPT and tweak it as it’d been produced at the beginning of her pattern making journey and now the Willow Tank is taking prominence. Glad I got it when I did!

  3. Hila says:

    I have only been sewing for less than 3 years. But for far I have 5 Sewaholic Granville shirts and I am not done with it. I do need to make home stuff though…your cushions look lush.

  4. Hi Karen! The tiny pocket tank has been retired from Grainline’s lineup because they superceded it with the new tank pattern the Willow tank. The main reasons were because it was based off their old fitting block and they felt it no longer fit into their lineup or some such? There’s a post about it from when they announced the Willow tank. Anywhoo, my TNT is the plantain tee which I’ve made about 7 times and has been hacked every way til Sunday… and yet I have three more, ready to be cut and sewn haha. Such a versatile pattern , I particularly love the fit of the sleeves for some reason!

  5. Sue Bowdler says:

    Glad you included home makes, most of my curtains and cushions which I see on a daily basis would qualify as best makes ever. Favourite pattern (made at least five times, all very different and loved) is the Art Dress from the Ottobre autumn/winter 2014 (still available) magazine. A perishing bore to trace off at first but well worth the cursing and sighing in the end! It adapts to summer and winter and every type of fabric you can imagine and is super comfortable. Strongly recommend!

  6. Trish says:

    I have a very basic Easy Vogue loose sheath dress (if that is possible) dating from the 90s with only bust darts. I have used this for tops, and underskirts, as well as dresses. I also have a basic New Look 6838 shell which I remake every year in different colours. (It runs v large though) It has a nice high boat neck. Useful for those of us who are getting scraggier! 🙂

  7. Julia says:

    I have been sewing for more than 50 years, almost exclusively Vogue patterns which my Mum used too, but they seemed to lose the plot sometime ago. I do still use them as templates as they are a good fit for me, but what a revelation ‘Merchant & Mills’ was.

    I am on my 7th ‘Camber’ dress, which is a fantastic fit and so quick to sew. (I do a front neck facing rather than bias as I think it makes the dress much more versatile and not so casual). I have had so many compliments. I think the ‘Camber’ gets my lifetime award!

    Please carry on the good work. All you young sewers and crafters are absolutely marvellous, and I am full of admiration.

  8. lauriesannie says:

    You left out your gorgeous coat and matching dress. I think of them as the best thing you’ve done!

  9. Carol S says:

    i have an old basic sheath dress, which i had professionally altered so it really fits me, that I’ve made 7 times and am using again in my current project. I’ve made it in a variety of fabrics, cut at the waistline and added pleated or gathered skirts, lined it and underlined it. Not one dress looks the same. In the same pattern, it was one of those wardrobe collections, there was a nice basic slim skirt. A friend help me fit it using a Sarah Verblin tutorial and that has been used a ton. I only made one Coco, but I keep thinking it needs to be remade.

  10. elliemae28 says:

    Never got the tiny pocket tee from Grainline. Love all of their patterns, so should look into the Willow, it’s replacement. Thanks for your blog, love reading it and following you on Instagram where I can see the lovely pictures and the equally lovely Ella.

  11. theresa says:

    There’s a McCall’s Palmer and Pletsch blouse pattern purchased in a thrift store for fifty cents that’s been used a dozen times, a Simplicity nightshirt that been used a half dozen times and a Bootstrap jeans pattern used four times. The Butterick “Lisette” pajamas will be next. The fourth go-round on the PJ shorts produced a viable TNT and the first pajama set rolled off the machine last week and is in the closet waiting on winter. The shorts are already in heavy rotation, even two of the “amost there” muslins. Nobody sees them but me and the hubs and maybe the neighbors when I step out to grab the paper so I consider them successes.
    Theresa in Tucson

  12. It’s Pattern Fantasique’s Aeolian Tee/Dress. I’ve sewn it in jersey, linen, double gauze, french terry & cotton voile. It’s the pattern that just keeps on giving… Top, tunic, knee length dress. Grainline’s Linden is up there too!

  13. susew says:

    A favourite dress is the Lisette Diplomat. Also a circa 1980s Vogue PJ pattern, used 5 times and will continue to use it.

  14. LinB says:

    Plaza Pant, by The Sewing Workshop. It’s not too wide in the leg, the front waist-to-hem tucks are slimming, flat front and elastic back waistband mean that I can take up or let out the waist to accommodate fluctuations in my weight … and the Plaza Jacket is ideal for showing off fancy fabric. It has subtle shaping in the neck and shoulders that make it more than just a shawl.

  15. Robin says:

    I have been having trouble finding RTW pants that fit and aren’t the usual sheeting, stretch denim, etc. so I have a few, and am on the hunt for more, go-to patterns for casual pants. Burda has been the most reliable. I quickly made 3 versions of 7837, and next I have to make the effort to draft pockets for it (can’t live as well without pockets!). They have a fitted and hip hugging waist band. I had a favorite elastic waist pant pattern from one of the big four, but decided I really don’t like the baloon-y look created by elastic, although it does make for excellent (i.e., comfortable!) PJs.

  16. Kathy Lynch says:

    I’d say the top of Simplicity 1366 is my most used pattern to date – discovered here as a matter of fact. (Thanks Karen!) I’ve made it with & without sleeves, lengthened it to become a cute “sacky” Summer dress, chopped it off to empire line & added a slightly gathered skirt (copied from Bellbird blog) for another “sacky” style & also added a flounce for a much used tunic over leggings. I just have to remember to avert my eyes from that skirt on the packet cover – good grief!!! LOL

  17. Eliza - sew- little says:

    Capri pants and sleeveless tee from Thrifty Stichers book Fashion with Fabric from the last GBSB series. The Morris blazer from Grainline is another of my ‘multiples’ .
    I love the idea of double gauze PJs. I might copy that if I may?

  18. Ann T. says:

    My top 5 patterns are: 1. Sinbad & Sailor Dove Fitted Tee, 2. Tessuti Alice Top, 3. Pauline Alice Carme Blouse, 4. Simplicity 2584 Cynthia Rowley Tunic, and 5. Vogue 1247 Rebecca Comey Skirt and Top. I have made each of these more than once, but I have made the Dove Fitted Tee at least 10 times. My favorite way is to deconstruct a men’s shirt, putting the button up front in the back, and cutting a new front out of the back.

  19. margobergman says:

    great post 🙂 It makes me think about my favorites… Simplicity 2444 has been a long time fav that I consciously decided to retire for a bit but am considering pulling it out again. I also love my McCalls 6706 pleated skirts…Quick and easy and works with so many fabrics to make stand out skirts.

  20. Lynn says:

    Oh yes! For me it’s Kwik Sew 2671. I’m not sure how many times I’ve made it. A dozen maybe? I always make some small modification so they’re all different but it’s a really simple pattern, no darts, no zipper. It’s meant to be a jumper but I small up the armholes a bit so I can wear it without a shirt underneath and it makes a wonderful, comfortable summer dress.

    I love all your makes. So colorful and practical.

  21. Claire says:

    Great post! The pattern I’ve used most is Grainline Archer shirt. I’ve made it three times and have plans in my ‘mental to do’ list for more.

  22. Kristie says:

    My “Go To” pattern is Tilly’s Bettine Dress.I have made 4 and a 5th one is in the works. Each Bettine is made with a different fabric (chambray, knit, linen, peachskin, & charmeuse) . I feel so confident and comfortable when wearing this dress; and I always “get a hit of creative satisfaction” from making this dress.
    Great Post!

  23. Wow, some fab suggestions here. I think that my most used sew is a patchwork quilt that I made about 20 years ago. I know that a lot of people do diss it but I love home sewing. I have made a load of cushion covers in the last few years and they always get compliments. Your cushions are gorgeous. Lovely fabric. Xx

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