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Why you shouldn't be scared of foreign language sewing patterns

I made my first pair of jeans using a pattern and instructions completely in Russian. I speak German, English and French and even though I have travelled to Russia I really don’t know anything about the language.


If you have been following me for a while you know that I absolutely love Viki Sews, a Russian sewing pattern brand (as well as many other French, German, Japanese.. sewing pattern brands). I get a lot of questions how I work with sewing patterns and instructions in a foreign language. It can be intimidating at first, especially if you are a beginner, to sew with a foreign pattern. Here I want to show you my tips – it’s definitely so much easier than you think!


1.) Follow the pictures

Especially if you are not a total beginner, most steps can be easily followed just by looking at the pictures (most foreign patterns I use include loads of pictures for every step!)


2.) Use a translator

There are a lot of free online translators available, and even though they may not always provide grammatically correct sentences, they still help a lot when translating pattern instructions – at least you can get a sense of what the author wants you to do. I like to use the Google app mainly because it includes instant camera translation – you just have to point your smartphone camera at the text and it gives you the translation. Super easy.


2.) Use your own experience / sewing knowledge

Even if you don’t understand the pictures or the translation of a step in the process, you can usually figure out how to do it by applying sewing techniques you already know or have used before. I sometimes use a different method to sew necklines, facing etc. than the one in the instruction (if I don’t really understand how it should be done), and I still get a wearable garment in the end :)


Here you can see the jeans I was talking about – they have a perfect fit! The pattern is by Viki Sews and is called Britney pants (бритни). They are banana-shaped pants with an oversized fit. I love them so much, they turned out exactly how I wanted them. I did not have to make a lot of changes to make them fit, but here are some alterations I did:


  • Shortened the legs of the pattern by 3cm before cutting, and another 5cm after cutting the pieces (I accidentally chose a wrong “height” when buying the pattern)

  • Took them in on the sides (at least 5cm), because they were too wide for my liking

  • Took them in on the waist, just a little, to make them fit my waist perfectly


I hope you like my jeans and are inspired to try foreign sewing patterns no matter if they’re written in French, Japanese or Russian, I’m sure you will love them as much as I do!






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