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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

They sure were hot

Thanks to everyone who responded to my Hot Pattern give-away. Those patterns will be sent off to the first two sewers who sent me their addresses. My apologies go to all those who contacted me little later. I will be posting some more of my independent patterns later in the week.

A few of you wrote to me and said "why are you giving away such great patterns?"

The answer to that is, so they don't clutter my mind.

I think sewing is really one long process of getting to know yourself, and once you know that, to express it. 

As part of that process I have come to terms with the fact that most independent patterns just aren't me. The exception being probably Jalie who are often a little more fashion forward than some of the others, and I am not sure if Jalie is not large enough to not really be quite an indy company anymore. Jalie is good too for family patterns because of the 20 sizes, so I will make an exception for them to my no-time-to-trace rule every now and then.

Now, none of this is to say that indy patterns have any problems, or that the sewers who swear by them are wrong, absolutely not, it is just that the idea of making "classic" styles do not locate me where I most enjoy sewing.

I really find that for myself there is a real thrill in the new designs every season, and close second to that is examining the pattern instructions and seeing if there is, to my own mind at least, a better way to make it. 

I like fashion and I like construction technique. I find it exciting sometimes even to not know how something is going to turn out, or look on me (like the last shirred skirt) and I like, every now and then, finding out that I look OK in something I have not considered before.

This is me. It may not be you.

A couple of years ago I discovered sewing discussion groups, and for a while got caught up in ordering much talked about, sworn by, indy patterns. By definition most of these patterns have to have a longer shelf life than the Big 4 and the styles tend to be those that don't have a real date stamp on them. All good things for most people who want clothes and styles that last.

However, I did find that many of the shapes were looser than I liked, less fitted, and frankly didn't suit my tall frame. I remember trying on a bunch of Sewing Workshop patterns at a show and even the salesperson said to me " no, take it off, this just doesn't work for you."

I honestly think that for me if I had just a handful of patterns in the basics that I wouldn't enjoy my sewing as much. Not unless I were to change them drastically each time, like Carolyn does for example. I am more of an adventure sewer than a production sewer and, well, that's just me. I can hardly force myself to make one more straight skirt, although I need them for work, I have a reliable pattern, and they suit me.

But this kind of sewer may not be who you are. I regret now having turfed so many of these indy patterns. Far more satisfying to send them off to good homes.

After all to each her own.

What kind of patterns best express you as a sewer?


Anonymous said...

A good question, and more interesting than the usual "what's your favorite pattern company?"

I used to be a real pattern-a-holic, but during the last couple of years I've given away 2/3 of my pattern collection, including several indy patterns.

Right now, I'm planning a series of self-drafted skirts, slacks, and t-shirts. I've found that I don't need a commercial pattern for most of my clothes.

These days, I rarely buy patterns; but when I do, it's usually a current or vintage Vogue designer pattern. I also tend to be attracted to Burda magazine patterns, although I've let my subscription lapse.

I have a few Sewing Workshop and Folkwear patterns. But for the most part, I'm unimpressed with indy patterns. The instructions aren't always great, and the fit is unpredictable. People always complain about the fit of the Big 4 patterns-- but at least they're standardized so you know what to alter.

I've been tempted to buy some Hotpatterns for a while, but I'm hesitating, again, because of the unpredictability.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I guess I should explain why Vogue and Burda "express me as a sewer".

I think it's because I prefer a basic but slightly fitted silhouette. I've always felt that Vogue and Burda fit closer and had a bit more shape to them than some of the boxier cuts of other brands. I guess that's the same reason I prefer to draft my own patterns or copy from RTW-- so that I can get the type of fit that I'm after.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

It's funny I wouldn't necessarily have called myself a production sewist more like a lazy sewist! *LOL* I think I hate the fitting process the most, though it doesn't seem that way sometimes!

However, like you I've found that I don't like sewing the indys that much either and have basically stopped collecting them.

a little sewing on the side said...

Fascinating post again, Barbara. I am with you on the Indy patterns. I think those of us with slender shoulders don't look good in those loose styles. And Jalie is one of my favorites, too.

I have TNTs now for each basic pattern (pants, shirt, jacket). These are my treasured blocks that I would rush into a burning building to save. I graft design details on these because fitting a new pattern from scratch is so darn difficult.
So, I rarely buy patterns. I only own a small drawer full of them (including my *one* vintage pattern- a pretty blouse that I got from you). Once I get my dress form, I am itching to learn draping and create my own designs.
In fact, I am *super* excited to learn draping. For me, I guess it's a constant journey into learning more about my own body and new techniques to create my own garments.