If you have a collection of Big 4 paper patterns it might be a good thing to hold on to them.
Some of these patterns were very good. However right now it seems to me that the future of the brands we have all used for so long is wobbly at best.
Now I am a big believer, not much choice, in change being the only constant. But it does make me sad to know that the future of the patterns I have sewed from my whole life appears to be insecure.
Now the Big 4 -Vogue, McCalls, Butterick and Simplicity- (the first three now owned by one outfi)t are no longer stand alone sewing pattern companies. Instead they seem to be the holdings of other entities whose business seems often to be what they used to be called "sundries." We, the sewists, are no longer who they really are about.
Maybe the idea of a big centralized pattern company has had its time. Maybe it's the turn of smaller, more nimble companies (some not so good, some excellent) to take over. Maybe this is all OK and part of the industry's reconfiguring itself naturally.
But I wonder where these companies will be the end of this coming year.
Simplicity/New Look/printed Burda
Now I can only speak to these patterns based on what I can see online. A number of years ago Simplicity and New Look decided not to sell in Canada anymore. For this I won't ever quite forgive them. We are next door and we sew a lot up here.
That said, despite a completely annoying and hard to sort through website, Simplicity and New Look seem to be doing a decent job of keeping up with current tastes in clothes. They don't offer a huge selection but they seem to be fairly competitive design wise to the Indies and I do love their persistent offering of vintage patterns. I can see they are making an effort to be relevant and I appreciate that.
I wonder though how long that will last given the gift store orientation of the other products their parent company owns.
Wow just wow.
It seems to me that corporate has more or less given up on Butterick and McCalls. Both those lines had slim Fall season offerings (10 and 9 new patterns respectively) but neither offered anything at all for Winter or Holiday!
Are you kidding me?
There have always been winter, holiday, early spring by this time in the calendar. Have the staff all been laid off? Things on hold until they figure it out?
And this doesn't even discuss the fact that those fall patterns were about as recycled and ordinary as they could get.
At this rate I wouldn't be surprised if these lines have faded away by summer.
Kwik Sew, once a wonderful flagship brand for those who like to sew knits, seems to be rebranded as a sort of craft pattern company. Fine if you sew clothes for dogs and dolls, not so much if you want to sew for yourself - aprons excepted. There is not one garment pattern in the Spring or Winter/Holiday Kwik Sew catalogue.
Which leaves us with Vogue.
Vogue used to be the home for those marvellous designer patterns we all used. Like it's sister companies Vogue offered little this season - only 12 new patterns in the winter/holiday combo and of course the designer patterns are totally gone.
To give them credit among this slim collection there were some real meaty patterns for real sewists - nice to see after the innumerable easy, similar tee shirts, and pullover dresses in so many Indie lines.
I really hope we can continue to see challenging patterns like these, something for a sewist to think about as well as make, available to us:
So from where I sit we might get to the new year with only Vogue and the Simplicity group producing patterns, with Kwik Sew continuing to go deeper into crafts.
It shouldn't be a surprise. Three pattern companies in one portfolio is a lot unless they are branded to be very different. That didn't happen.
There were some things however that the pattern companies could have done to help themselves.
At the top of my list would have been:
1. Overhauling fit. What's with the completely dissimilar to RTW fit? Personally I have no patience left for making Big 4 patterns that turned out to be humungous and completely unlike the line art on the envelopes.
2. Better instructions. Instructions needed to be updated to contemporary techniques and machines. Why are for knits patterns still being issued without reference to sergers? What's with the double straight stitched seams instead? Enough with the cut and paste guide sheets apparently composed of instructions written originally years, if not decades, ago.
What do you think?
Where do you think the big paper pattern companies are going and what, if anything could they do to turn it around?
And should they?