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I am a mother, a 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 book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Monday, January 27, 2020

The changing world of patterns

I am starting this post with a picture from from Vogue's new spring collection.

Now where do we start with this one? 

Anyone have an iron? 

Look at those hems. Look at that unpressed tie. Look at where the shoulders fit, or rather don't, on this poor girl who has every right to be as fed up as she looks.

I mean who in their right mind would wear this get up but more to the point, this was something that was sewn! What would you think if you had made this and this was what you saw in the bathroom mirror when you went to try it on?

It's time we all faced the new reality. 

The pattern companies, the Big Four are just not what they once were. A lot of things aren't anymore of course. I am OK with that, and with change. You can't expect some for profit company, or in this case companies, to just continue to knock themselves out because we find it so reassuring to have access to the resources we are used to.

This month the Big Four, yes that's right all the large pattern companies, were bought by one British outfit that sells wrapping paper and greeting cards. Clearly the pattern companies are loosely related in a retail, they might be sold in similar stores sort of way, but the pattern companies are just another commodity, a line in this context.

Under this new system don't be expecting any revisions of those nutty pattern instructions that tell us still to staystitch knit necklines and sew all T shirt seams twice on a straight stitch. 

Don't be expecting and revisions to the sizing charts that still think some women have 32" hips or that a woman's waist is always 10" smaller than her bust. 

And don't be expecting all four pattern companies (and we should probably also include New Look, Kwik Sew and probably printed Burda into the mix as they would be included in the sale) to be maintained as separate identities, approaches to clothes or levels of complexity. 

And don't be expecting someone with taste to come into work at the pattern department any time soon either.

The way I see it if they have unplugged the irons at Vogue all bets are off. 

Now don't get me wrong. 

Some of my favourite TNTs came from the Big Four. Just not lately. I used to be beside myself with excitement when I got an email that a new season's patterns were out (but the way Butterick hasn't released a new collection since the fall) but now when I get around to having a look, all I can think of is who would wear that?

It's not really that they dropped the ball.

The times just caught up with companies that produced masses of paper patterns and shipped them out to stores who would pull them from the catalogues four times at least a year and dump those "discards" in the garbage, or ship them back to the company. 

It takes a lot of women sewing, and a lot of sewing/fabric brick and mortar stores, and a lot of not having any other options to sustain a system like that.

And that environment just doesn't exist anymore.

I have had some early indicators on this whole situation.

 F+W Media, who owned Burdastyle, Interweave Press, Sew News and a bunch of other well known enterprises, went into bankruptcy this year. I was actually, without knowing it, one of their creditors. I got a letter in the mail every month all last year or so saying that I was on the list to get paid but don't hold my breath. 

I had recorded a series of Burdastyle webinars a couple of years ago and I was supposed to be paid something every time someone took the course. That hadn't happened in so long I sort of forgot about it.

Burdastyle was recently picked up by a holding company of some kind. I noticed as a result that they were remaking the website in a more commercial way - with prominent add to cart icons for example.

I also noticed that for many of the patterns, information that was really useful to me, and was always on the old site, like technical line drawings, yardage requirements etc. was missing.

Now you know with any pattern, but particularly with those weirdly posed Burda fashion shots, if you can't see the line drawing you really don't know anything you need to know about that pattern.

So I wrote them to say, more or less, what's up with that?

This morning, to their credit, I got a nice email back saying they have recently changed hands and it will take a while to get things up and running again, and offering me 10% off a pattern.

I am wondering now if that too is going to be another company that won't be giving me the patterns I want to sew.

Now this is not all a complaint. 

Pattern companies are not sewing. Needs change and really was throwing out all those paper patterns a good idea?

A person has to keep up.

I have a funny story to tell on this. 

When I was in Berkeley my DIL, who I really love, was getting ready in the morning and we realized we were out of coffee. I went into my Nova Scotia MIL routine and said immediately write me a list, I will go to the store for you, and bring back whatever you need. 

"No it's OK," she said." I have an app."

And she did too, ordered all the groceries with one hand on her phone. Done in 10 minutes. Everything was at the door by lunch, meat in ice packs even which we left outside with the boxes for them to pick up and recycle, being in Berkeley of course. 

Now this got me to thinking, once I had absorbed there was a mother-in-law app, how marvellous this was. I thought of my 92 year old mother in Winnipeg, of my own mother-in-law who needs to wait for someone to take her shopping, of the tired babies I see at the grocery stores at 9:00 on weeknight.

Keeping up is a good thing.

Which made me think that all changes are like coins, you turn them over and there is the opposite on the other side. My DIL is a very child centred person. Her app gives her more family time.

And the fading away of the pattern companies of my sewing life has been balanced by the direct and personal contact with Indie pattern designers. Ironically the end of something big has made room for something, many things, smaller.

And some of those Indies are really great - far more responsive, and dependent on good reviews actually, than the Big Four. Yes we have all sewn some real Indie duds but I notice those operators tend not to be around any more and there are many that are just so good.

 Stylearc, Jalie, Lovenotions, Megan Neilsen (mostly), Liesl and Company, the list keeps growing. Copy shop printing has liberated many of us from pdf taping and it's nice to work with good paper too.

So now, over to you.

What are your feelings about the changes in the pattern industry?


Fashionista said...

Hello Barbara,

It's an age since I've read your blog (totally my lack of time not the quality of your posts!) but this post popped up in my feed.

I have not purchased a pattern, Big 4 or independent, for a very long time. As I have 500+ patterns in my collection, dating from the 1940s to the late 1990s so I can generally find something that matches reasonably closely to the vision in my head. Sometimes without hacking! I do however always look at the new season offerings for the Big 4, it doesn't hurt to keep in touch. I am mostly disappointed at the offerings (a perfect example above, it is awful!) and hope that those who are starting out in their sewing adventure are using independent pattern makers. I also look at the offerings of the independents, in the efforts of objective review.

My observation of independents is that they are heavily inspired by vintage patterns, which is fine, after all there is only so much you can do with a frock pattern. It is possibly because I have such a comprehensive collection that I notice these things, if you are new to sewing you possibly wouldn't be aware of pattern history. But anything that gets people into sewing is a good thing!

Happy stitching!

Kathy said...

Barbara, your thoughts on the Big 4 buyout are the most rational, thoughtful ones I’ve read to date. Some people seem to be panicking. My first thought is: save all your Big 4 patterns and if you find good older ones at thrift stores, snatch them up! If they do go away, I will surely miss the Tilton’s patterns (unless they go “Indie” but I doubt it - like some of us, they will want to retire sooner rather than later.) One other thought - when you name Indie pattern companies, don’t forget The Sewing Workshop and Cutting Line Designs. True, it’s just as you mentioned in your monthly newsletter, they design for a certain body type (probably not your slim, athletic type), but their pants crotch curves fit lots of us mature sewists with average height and fluffier bodies. AND their instructions are great! I loved your recent post with so much family joy shining through. Please keep sharing your insights, flypaper thoughts, and good, sensible sewing advice.

Your friend in sewing, Kathy Zachry

Annette said...

For years I tried to sew from patterns from the only big pattern company present in Sweden (where I grew up) and from Burda magazines. I stopped trying, because clearly, I was a lousy sewist.
Now I sew, and learn, from indie patterns and I love it.

Sarah Wale said...

I have noticed that good, interesting patterns from the big companies are harder to find and it's interesting to know about the changes in ownership; it explains a lot. I find myself returning time and again to old (ancient!) patterns I have had for donkey's years because they seem to be better proportioned and more successful; I blame the multi-sized trend as it's impossible for one pattern piece to be suitable for both a size 16 and a size 26, for example. I guess they're more cost-effective for the producers/printers and stores which stock them. With my old patterns I find I can mix features - a shawl collar here, raglan sleeve there etc., more readily than with newer patterns, which seem more rigid in design... probably because of the scaling difficulties with multi-sizes? Indie patterns are only just becoming more readily available in rural New Zealand (big shout out to mail order pattern company par excellence) and I will definitely be looking more closely at them now.
As for the hideous Vogue pattern, it reminded me of an experience back in the 1980s when I was privileged to be invited to an exhibition of eye-wateringly expensive wedding and evening gowns made by the designers of Princess Diana's wedding dress (no,sadly hers wasn't included)- or at least in their atelier. I was completely shocked at how badly finished they were and how poorly constructed, with parsimonious seam allowances, awful interfacing, badly applied fastenings and zips and MACHINED hems ... that's machined with a straight stitch, not even invisible machine hemming!!! Pressing appeared to be a foreign concept and all in all, I didn't see one I would have allowed out of my own sewing room, not even if it had been an every-day house dress for myself, forget formal balls and weddings!

Alison G said...

I learned to sew by following pattern instructions, which served me very well. But maybe that's why I don't sew much jersey! Some of the old companies must have been the new indies on the block originally so it looks like a natural cycle. And I have a stash of vintage patterns, a selection that I know work on me, marked with the adjustments I need for a perfect fit. I've learned enough to vary design details and adjust for different weaves. One day I'll get into jersey, and then I'll enjoy discovering Jalie et al!

Anne Frances said...

Very interesting and you are so right about that Vogue photo. but I think it is a little more complicated than you suggest. I think that the big four pattern companies were all acquired in 2016 by CSS industries - a US company that mostly produced wrapping paper, gifts, decorations etc - and that is what has now been acquired by the UK IG Design Group which is in much the same line of business. So the issue isn't new. The Interweave Group ran the Burdastyle English Language website, but the Burda magazine and, I think, the Burda envelope patterns, continue to be produced by Verlag Aenne Burda, which is part of the Burda Create group, itself part of the Hubert Burda Media group. I do agree that the future may lie with the larger and very professional "independents" such as Jalie and Style Arc. And I am a little doubtful about copy shop printing. As far as I can see here in the UK it would add about 50 per cent to the cost of the pattern. I guess that's fine if one factors it in to the overall cost from the start, and no one ever said sewing was an inexpensive hobby. I'll be interested to read your ongoing thoughts on this.

Karen said...

Thanks Barbara for sharing your observations. I can only agree with you. I have stacks of Big 4 patterns, many of them in mint condition ( I do like to 'pat' them occasionally) because I can't be bothered trying to work out the multitude of likely fit issues. When the indie pattern companies such as Style Arc, Jalie and others are on trend, better quality and will actually produce wearable garments they are definitely the future of home sewing. Also it's wonderful to see younger people getting excited about sewing, carrying the traditions on and producing some amazing clothing.

Mary said...

Thanks for your insightful comments. I agree with another commenter that yours are the most logical I've read about this change. I love certain indie patterns - Love Notions, HotPatterns, etc. However, I will miss the designer Vogue patterns from Tom & Linda Platt, and yes, Sandra Betzina too! I so appreciated Simplicity Girls Plus when I was struggling to find dresses for my then 9 year old daughter. Having found those really kick started my return to sewing! They fit like a dream and were a godsend. I truly hope we can all adapt.

Kansas Sky said...

Last year a friend of mine was undergoing mastectomy and I offered her a choice of some Big 4 patterns for a kimono robe. She selected one and I went to work, making sure to do fine work on this meaningful gift. When she tried it on pre-op, I noticed how tight the armhole was and silently realized how difficult it would be to put on when her arm was sore. I was heartsick. The very next week I saw an indie patten of a popular kimono robe making the blog rounds and noticed the large armscye and dropped shoulder . . . . What that Big 4 pattern "designer" had done was to cut/paste a regulation bodice into a looser design and call it good. I'm experienced enough that I should have caught that before I ever cut out that pattern. .... And then at Christmas I used another Big 4 pattern to make my grandson a pajama top and found mid-construction that there was no way to finish a section at then shoulder that the pattern was leaving as a raw edge. It took me a busy day before Christmas to modify that little blooper. ALAS!!!!! I'm tired of finding these careless errors in pattern companies I used to trust. I seldom use one of their patterns anymore. The Sewing Workshop, Jalie, Style Arc, Cashmerette --- these are my go-to designs anymore. THANK YOU FOR AN ELOQUENT ASSESSMENT of this situation. I doff my hat to you!

bbarna said...

Great post! In my teens and early 20s (before the children came along and ruined my perfect size 12 figure, haha) the big four fit like a dream. Ever after I have struggled with fitting them and actually gave up sewing for myself for years. Cue the independents and my discovery of Jalie and all the wonderful women out there making patterns for my size. I am finding the alterations almost nil and the styles are wonderful for me. The big 4 lost my business years ago. I sometimes find an older kwik sew that I like at the thrift store, but the new ones are kind of meh... I also sew for my kids and grandkids and it is great to have the multisize patterns.

paloverdeblooms said...

I have to agree with Anne Frances that Burda is completely separate and not part of the transfer of ownership of the "Big 4" companies. As for the Vogue pattern you have illustrated, it is not to my taste but the designer is Rachel Comey and Vogue did not sew this version of it up. It is the original Rachel Comey. That's how the designer patterns work. I have seen a fair number of comments on social media of people loving this style (not me) so I do have to grant Vogue the ability of choosing something they think will sell. I don't understand the anti-Big 4 sentiment that I see expressed so often. It's not like indy patterns are consistently good. Some lines seem to produce really nice styles that are well drafted. Others...well, not. And as for sizing, I'm a firm believer in measuring, measuring, measuring, and muslining. Once you get to know what changes you generally need to make in a particular brand, it gets easier. This applies to the Big 4 as well as any other pattern company. It will be interesting to see if the UK IG Design Group keeps the patterns companies as part of their acquisition of CSS Industries or if they may expect a further sale. Who knows, they might be sold to someone who sees their potential. We can hope.

Bette Nordberg said...

I have been HORRIBLY disappointed in indie patterns. I cannot for the life of me figure out why they think that some 2-seam item that most of us could draft ourselves is worthy of a 20 dollar investment. That same garment is available in the big four at sale price at JoAnns. Why would we do that? For the most part, the indies (IMHO) lack creativity to separate them from the big four. They are too simple, too unimaginative, and too poorly designed (as yet) to be worth the envelop cost. I agree though about Style Arc. That is, to me, the one exception to this very disappointing, and for me, bewildering uprising of uninspired indie patterns.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara. Thanks so much for posting about this. I have been kind of amazed that there seems to be little reaction to the new development concerning the Big 4 pattern companies.

Like you, I was amazed to see that Vogue pattern, and didn't (don't) quite understand the thinking on that one. Now that I've read your thoughts however. I'm leaning in the direction that maybe the staff at VP are sitting on pins and needles (pun intended) as to whether or not they'll be working there in the next few months, and have kind of given up. Or, as you so succinctly put it, "have unplugged the irons."

At first, I was really taken aback when I read about the sale. It was like when the news was released about VPM being discontinued. I'm a "baby boomer" sewist, had sewing lessons in grade and junior high (that should tag me) school. Sewing garments has been a constant throughout my life.

So, seeing all the familiar "sewing notions" (brick and mortar independent fabric stores, VPM and now this) that make up my sewing life come to an end or are changed in drastic ways is like seeing friends leave. It's jarring. And heartbreaking.

I don't think that all four brands will survive the crossing over the pond. Honestly, I don't understand the thinking behind the sale, but I guess the new company felt it a good investment.

It'll be interesting to see which of the four (or six or seven) do survive. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Vogue will be one, as it's the brand I look to and sew most often. Them not having pdf as McCall and Simplicity does may be telling, though. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

As far as keeping up with technology, I think you have a good point. I'm not really interested in many of the independent pattern companies as I feel that they put out really simple designs that I already own. Having stated that, however, I do understand that the customer they are targeting is pretty new to sewing, and wouldn't necessarily be interested in complicated designs that one might find in Vogue or Burda or Marfy.

I do like a few of the indies. Stylearc patterns are really fashion forward and modern. Chloe Parker is a really talented designer, and I have a few of her things.

There are a couple of other indie designers that I've gotten, and really am pleased to know that the home garment sewing industry is continuing on some level, even if it's not nearly as large as it once was.

I have a pretty large fabric and pattern stash that more and more I cherish. It may be that if Vogue does go under the chopping block, all the old patterns that I was thinking needed to be sorted and perhaps donated, I'll do better by hanging onto.

Things change and we must change with them. There's really nothing to do but accept that the home sewing industry as we know it is different now. We'll just have to keep up.

SuzyQ said...

I have only returned to sewing in the past couple of years, and have been thrilled to find the indie pattern companies. Even in this short time, I've noticed a significant increase in the variety and complexity of the patterns being released, including many more jackets, blazers, and coats. I love the presentation of the patterns on multiple bodies/testers to evaluate better how it might look on me. I'm also curious to see if we might begin seeing some of the more sophisticated indies partnering with "name" designers as Vogue and other "big 4" have done for years. I suspect that many indies that haven't evolved beyond t-shirts, leggings and simple dresses will fade away, or will be regarded as a more "beginner" line. Just as I was too scared to tackle a Vogue pattern until I had more experience. It's just such an exciting time!

Sarah Wale said...

Please forgive me jumping in again but I realise I missed a fairly important observation from my earlier post. I expressed my disbelief that the 'Big 4' patterns could possibly fit a size 16 to 26 from one patter but didn't mention that the indies seem manage the multi-sizing better. The Big 4 tend to just grade the cutting lines a few mm apart but follow more or less the same contour, so if your larger you get an enormous armhole, for example! In my admittedly limited experience, the smaller companies try harder to scale the fit in all areas.

Lizzy said...

The thing about the big 4 is that they never inspired conversations to the same degree as the independents. Maybe it is/was a time and a place, but they are still around and could join in the conversations. Maybe it was us, just taking what we were given and not pushing back? I have learned these so much these past few years about fitting my, not size 12 anymore figure, from blogs and on-line recourses from independent pattern companies and people like you. You introduced me to the smaller armsye full bust fitting marvel of Love Notions and today one of your commenters reminded me of Cutting Line and Seam Works Studios for crotch lines for mature figures. I feel like my 67 year old mind is a sponge soaking up all the inspiring information out there and I can finally fit my now non-standard figure again. Thank you one and all.

patsijean said...

Starting in 1957/58 I began to learn to sew. Vogue Pattern Co. was my sewing teacher. I don't believe there were "Easy" patterns back then and to their credit, Vogue was slow to join that trend. I just jumped right in to the pool, feet first, one big splash. I followed Vogue's detailed instructions and I sewed everything, even a pair of knickers for a boyfriend, velvet knickers. I recently purchased all of the late Paco Peralta's patterns featured in Vogue and two vintage Calvin Kline jeans patterns. I hope that Vogue Patterns do not disappear.

Margbel said...

Hello Barbara
I have been using Wild Ginger programs for about 6 years now, so have developed my own way of constructing a garment. I do this because I am basically a rectangle on sticks and none of the Big 4 really ever fitted well, Burda was better. I just feel that life for the home sexist is getting harder to achieve successful, elegant results, yet there seems to be a renewed interest in sewing world wide.
Here in South Australia finding good fabric, notions and trims, can in itself be a daylong, hunting and gathering session!
Thank you for your post, Margaret

Linda said...

Interesting post and comments. Thanks to all. I did notice the change at the Burda website as I can no longer login and have no access to prior purchases. I have given up on them. I think I am ready for the coming sewing apocalypse as I have stock piles of Burda sewing magazines and probably enough patterns big 4 and independent to see me through. I also hit thrift stores and sales for more patterns ( like l don’t have enough already) even though I am sure I probably have something in my stash that is similar. Often I am interested in a pattern for what it can teach me .

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly agree with your post. There's very few patterns from the Big 4 that I consider making any more. I most often opt for Indie companies. However, I always check out comments on the Pattern Review website about any pattern I am considering, whether it be from a large or small company. Often astute observations posted by sewists who have actually made a particular pattern deter me from purchasing a pattern altogether or alert me to possible pattern pitfalls. Thanks for your light-hearted but very thoughtful blog. It's a ray of sunshine.

Karen Brown said...

I have used pattern drafting software for at least 20 years, and I can produce a well fitted pattern for whatever I want. That may not be the answer for a new sewist, however. Fit for Art patterns offer extensive fitting instructions, solid customer service, and helpful suggestions for modifying their patterns to produce what you want. I believe this is the potential for independent pattern companies; good customer service, not just selling the paper. I have not bought a "big 4" pattern in many years.

Nethwen said...

About the ironing, I think this might be indicative of a cultural shift in priorities. I iron my button-up shirts, but feel embarrassed to admit that in person because the modern thing to do is put clothes in the dryer to get rid of wrinkles. Ironing makes me seem like someone who cares about the wrong things in this modern world that celebrates those who avoid housekeeping and detailed laundry routines.

Even as someone who irons, I had to examine the Vogue photo to see what the problem might be because I'm accustomed to seeing soft hems and such. Objectively, there's nothing morally wrong about lack of ironing, it's more a cultural perception of what that means that gives a clean press it's value.

I'd also like to mention SBCC Patterns, an indie that specializes in the vertically petite. I have average to plus-sized horizontal measurements and smaller vertical ones and her patterns have so far fit me with minimal adjustment. I will say that the instructions assume some background knowledge, but the styles are good foundation pieces that can easily be altered with changing tastes.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with my mother and grandmother making the majority of clothes from Big 4 and Burda magazines. I spent many hours leafing through pattern catalogues and Burda magazines (with English supplement) choosing patterns for my mother to make. (She was an expert sewist, and as an only daughter was the main beneficiary of her skill, so I didn't have much motivation to learn myself).
When I started to sew for myself in my 40s, I used Big 4 and Burda. Without fail, the Big 4 projects were disappointments in terms of getting the fit right as a beginner with limited sewing knowledge. Luckily, Burda worked for me enough to keep my sewing going, and eventually I found Indies.
I'm guessing I have enough experience with fit now to make Big 4 patterns work, but I haven't gone there, because the offerings just don't tempt me. I sew a lot of Style Arc, Liesl + Co and Tessuti which I can get to fit without much drama. Why would I go back to the world of pain that the Big 4 patterns represent?

Bunny said...

Oh, my, if I had a dollar for every photo I have seen used to market an Indie pattern that was never pressed in construction or upon completion, I could buy one of those five figure top of the line sewing machines! I agree, the suit needs pressing. You are right. But to use this as a Big Four rant when I have seen far worse marketing attempts in independent pattern companies kind of negates any further argument IMO. I am very concerned about the future of the Big Four since the purchase by the "card" company. Will they spin the separate pattern companies off after they recently consolidated them all under one umbrella? Will they go all PDF? How will they negotiate price with the biggies like Hobby Lobby and Joann? So many questions and quite troubling. The sewing world is certainly changing in many positive ways, chief of which is the discovery by a younger generation of what great fun it is and how satisfying it can be to say "I made that." I would hate for some worldwide change to put a dinger in that in any way. Only time will tell.

Su said...

The changes have been really brought to the fore for me when I was looking at my mom's 1970s Vogue designer patterns - very detailed descriptions about the fit and design. Fabric amounts listed for 4 different fabric widths. This is from the decades when the patterns were single size with seam allowances printed on the pattern pieces. Then I was looking at a 1984 Vogue Knitting magazine-at the time VK and Vogue patterns were owned by the same company -what a delight to see those patterns made up again, and in natural fabrics, in the knitting magazine. In the last few years of VPM it was rare to see the garments made in 100% natural fibers.
I wonder how many more years I will be able to get Burda, my favourite pattern line for their consistent good drafting & fit, in an envelope. So far I've managed to avoid pdfs.

JustGail said...

I'm not going to comment on the lack of pressing in the photo, as a few others pointed out - far more issues have been presented by indie companies as something to aspire to. More worrying is the fangirls stomping anyone who points out the issues, whether construction, poor drafting, bad instructions, or overly simple designs for big $$.

As to the Big 4, I'll never forgive McCall for trashing Kwik Sew patterns, turning it from usually good garments & instructions to mostly tacky craft crap. The 2 reasons I have so many Big 4 patterns is (1) the chain store pattern sales, and (2) I've been hesitant to pay indie prices based on so many poor results. However, doing the math, I'd have spent FAR less buying a few great indie patterns and using them repeatedly, than what I spent on so many Big 4 patterns (even on sale) and never used. Even the Big 4 designer patterns haven't had much interest for me lately. I don't do dresses, and retirement has reduced my need for "fit for public view" garments even more. No - I don't mean I wear ratty tatty stained garments now, just that I live in tee-shirts, sweat pants and sweat shirts at home.

Thanks to your commenters for their recommendations on good indie pattern companies - I see a few repeat recommendations that I've been pondering trying out.

JustGail said...

I forgot to say - for years, I've had several of those "miracle" draft your own pattern systems - FIT by Dusan, BonFit, Lutterloh intending for years to learn to use them. Maybe it's past time to put my time & energy into learning at least one of those. I have a bit more time now, and heavens knows I have enough fabric that I can't bear to send to thrift!

Bunny said...

I just had to say that I was approached by Burda as well to do some webinars. There was just something about their approach that didn't pass the smell test with me. I gave it a lot of thought. They continued the conversation. I finally declined and in the end it seems it was a wise decision. I heard things and saw some chatter about some of the webinars, never yours, Barb, and was really glad I didn't take the plunge. I am really sorry they stung you like that. It is just not right. Ugh.....Only time will tell how this all plays out. We no sooner have a healthy shake out of indie designers with the better surviving and now it's projectors that have arrived on the scene! I just can't. All I can think of is Mrs. Townsend adjusting those corners so we wouldn't have some dystyopian version of the map of South American.

Sarah said...

I always enjoy hearing you on the podcast, and I wanted to read the article too. Thank you for expressing your thoughts so well. One nit: The pattern companies should address the fact that the average woman is not a size 32 hip, but there are in fact some women who do have those measurements and I just want to be careful to make sure that our message is inclusion and not that there is something wrong or unwomanly about a hip measurement that size. Thanks again for the fun and educational posts.

Rena P said...

I listened to this on ClothMakingMavens and was shaking my head in agreement. I think ultimately the big 4 patterns companies are large enough they cannot pivot quickly. They have gone the way of Blockbuster. If you cannot adapt to changing times and technologies, you get left in the dust. I remember when one of the Big 4 tried to do print at home. It was an epic failure that required a degree in computer science to make it work. And when you could get it to print it was laid out in such a way as to use as many sheets of paper as possible for one pattern. Ultimately what killed them is lack of finesse in pattern drafting. A boned strapless bodice does not require 3 inches of ease in the bust and waist. A bathing suit or leotard should not have 5/8” seam allowances.

There are some Indie designers I love. I agree there are a few too many t-shirt pattern companies but I guess they have their following. Itch to Stitch, Jalie, Greenstyle Creations (only because of the Power sports bra), Closet Case, Deer & Doe, are a few of my favorites. I think finding a designer that sews styles and fits you like is the key to finding which one works for you. There are a lot that don’t work for my small frame but I like the ability to choose different designers based on their aesthetic and how it works with my personal style and fit. It’s not a one size fits all style like mass produced patterns. It will be interesting to see what the coming years bring to the sewing world. It’s exciting to see what is going on with sustainability, online learning, fabric stores, and globalization.

A.M said...


A.M said...


Janet Cobb said...

I'm wondering where the sewing patterns and instructions are being manufactured now? A lot of instructions have fewer detail. I theorize this is due to "lost in translation" issues.