Friday, January 10, 2014

What Are Your Favorite New Independent Pattern Companies?

When I look at reviews on Pattern Review there are  lots of new, or at least new to me, independent   pattern companies out there.  Years ago my mother in law was a small business counselor for Score.  She said that she got no end of prospective business owners wanting to set up pizza parlors in neighborhoods with established stores.  She would ask them what makes your  product different enough to get  people to change where they are currently buying their pizza?  That's the feeling I get when I look at a lot of these new companies.  There are an awful lot of t shirts out there and I can't help but think  what makes them worthy of my spending my hard earned dollars especially when I can pay $3.99 for Vogue on sale.  I mostly sew with Burda Style Magazine and Vogue. I have bought and sewn Hot Patterns to mixed results, but my tnt pants pattern is based on their Razer pant and my jeans pattern is from them as well. I've found the reviews on Style Arc and some of the designs worthy of paying  not only for  the pattern but the shipping from Australia.  I haven't made any of these patterns yet but they are in my sewing queue.   I've sewn a Pamela's Patterns cardigan, and one of Silhouette's knit tops but her sizing confounds me and prevents me from sewing anything else. That and the styles aren't well, stylish or current for the most part.  Not very stylish is my impression of most of the newer companies.  I don't need another t shirt or knit dress pattern that I've seen a million times.  I may be older but I like fashion and like to sew garments that are current, if not avant garde. Part of the problem for me is that a lot of the patterns are just too young for me.  But, if I was in my twenties I wouldn't be looking to sew them up either. I remember what I sewed in my twenties and thirties and it was a lot more detailed and interesting than what I see out there.  I was sewing a lot of Vogue designer patterns and there were a lot more of them back then too.  Issey Miyake when he was still doing the designs, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Geoffrey Beene.  Those were the days.  

Here's a list of pattern companies that I found on the Threads magazine site.  Wow, I had no idea there were so many!  I eliminated all of the historical and vintage patterns. I didn't eliminate children's patterns because I am not sure what some of these companies design.  I don't sew accessories but some of you probably do.  
Which ones have you used?  Which pattern companies are worth a second look or sew?  Which patterns companies are worth the money?

CONTEMPORARY FASHION, ACESSORY, and OTHER APPAREL PATTERNS (adult and children)
Lauren Marsh Sewing Patterns



ONTEMPORARY FASHION, ACESSORY, and OTHER APPAREL PATTERNS (adult and children)
Lauren Marsh Sewing Patterns

35 comments:

  1. The only ones on this list that I have used are Revisions and Park Bench Designs. We are talking back in the eighties when I did! So that's probably not a good frame of reference. I guess it is more important to know they are no longer in my stash.

    There is a pattern designer not on your list that is quite innovative, highly trained and I think will be a new star in the sewing universe, Stepalica designs. Here is a link: NAYY, http://stepalica.blogspot.com/p/stepalica-patterns.html. I really like what she is doing and just need a reason to make this dress!

    I totally agree that many indie designs are simple tee shirts, pencil skirts, etc. and nothing much is making me want to part with my dollars when I can be really happy with Vogue's designers and at a much lower price. Yes, the indies are too redundant or too young for me as well. I have seen some great pants made up from Style Arc and Hot patterns but I don't want to remake the wheel there either. I'll stick to my sure-fit sloper for any pants needs.

    Great question, Nancy!

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  2. Nancy - in all honesty I don't believe we are the new indies targeted market. I believe they are skewing younger and thinner and by saying that they aren't the big 4. I still sew a lot of Vogue and my TNT patterns because that's what works for me. And I leave most of the indies alone...however, I am grateful that they are encouraging new sewists to sew so that our artform continues into the next generation.

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    1. I'm not so sure about that. I'm not thin and I can fit into most of these. When I said younger, I meant a sweeter, less sophisticated look than I like to wear.. I am always looking for sophisticated casual which is very hard to find.

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  3. I love Style Arc. The prices don't seem too bad here in NZ, despite the shipping, because even on sale Vogue and Burda envelope patterns start at $17.50. I've had success with Burda magazine patterns, Lekala, and have the Jalie jeans pattern but haven't made it up yet. I'd like to sew a couple of the green pepper ones (they're not fashion, but specific outdoor wear). I'm in the process of sewing up Melissa's Fehr Trade XYT top, again activewear rather than fashion. I subscribe to Ottobre Woman but have only made one skirt. They're less fashionable.
    I'm 46 and not terribly fashion conscious but find Style Arc reliably on trend and Burda a good guide to what will be here in 6 months to a year (we're a season behind, of course). My big issue with the big 4 is not being able to rely on the sizing info. Lots of reviews say 'oh, and I always make one or two sizes smaller than the size chart indicates'. What's that about?

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  4. The only I sew from the lists are Jalie, Colette, and Sew & Stretch (honestly, their knit skirts/pants/shirts fit nicely!). I want to pick up a few Sewaholic patterns are one of my daughters is developing into a pear shape and I know that she will love the fit on the them. Otherwise, I sew from the big 4 and some older Burda magazines - and I'm pretty happy with those.

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  5. I have sewn some Jalie and liked them. I have sewn some HotPatterns and found them a lot of work as I have a different bodyshape to their sloper i think. Most of the indies don't much appeal tbh. I have some Silhouettes in the stash, but have not tried them. A saf-t-pockets as I wanted a travel vest (I bought one instead). The only new indie that really appeals to me is Style arc as they look current and also have a soft relaxed vibe. But the cost of the patterns plus postage to the UK is just ridiculous and my pattern stash is huge, so I have not bought any. I sew a mixture of Burda and old Simplicity from stash, including a lot of TNTs I have altered beyond recognition. I am 43 so I suspect older than a lot of the indie demographic.

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  6. Oh,my goodness! Too many for me to even read! I am thinking about the Angela Wolf jeans and maybe a Style Arc pattern in the future but otherwise I am happy with Burda and Vogue.

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  7. I agree that the target audience is younger and thinner. I'm older and plus size so I know I'm not a potential customer. I think it is great that more people are making patterns but it will be interesting to see who has staying power. It is interesting that people jump on these patterns as the latest and greatest when they are repeats of BMV patterns that everybody complains about. I have used a few Lekala patterns and really like them. I like Stylearc but haven't bit yet. The only indy designer that I consistently buy is Louise Cutting. Her patterns are great teaching tools.

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  8. That list is impressive - unfortunately, I haven't even heard of most of them! My forays into the indie world are limited to Cutting Line Designs, Jalie and StyleArc, all of which I love. I've had little success with the few other names I recognized, and am unable to explain why that is. I agree with Bunny - the best fit comes from using the Sure Fit sloper/blueprint!

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  9. At age 65 I can relate to your experiences as I sewed mainly Vogue patterns in my 20's and continue to do so today. I especially like the Tilton sister patterns today and have tried a few Style Arc, Louise Cutting, Diane Ericson ones. So, I too lean towards artsy patterns with interesting details. Everyone needs basics but I prefer to buy tee shirts from Coldwater Creek with their nice fabrics and sew interesting jackets/tops with fabulous fabrics purchased mainly online due to the lack of quality fabric stores in my area. Yes, I agree that most of the indie patterns are for younger, thinner women and if these patterns inspire that generation towards sewing, I'm all in favor of them.

    Kare

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  10. I bought the Jalie men's underwear pattern -- one of the few in-print (if not the only) for knits -- and was happy with it. Can't comment on the others but there certainly are a LOT! Not only do they have to compete with each other, but also with all the OOP patterns available (often for a song) on sites like Etsy and eBay. It can't be easy being an independent.

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  11. Great questions! I haven't heard of several of those listed, but a few that weren't listed are Named (loved the one garment I sewed - well drafted but too $$$ for a download and with awful instructions), Ralph Pink (I have a few that I am going to sew soon), By Hand London, Papercut Patterns, and Deer and Doe (all popular but maybe not for me). I agree with your assessment - even at 38 I find many of the Indies to be too sweet/young for me (princess dresses, boxy basics and peter pan collars galore) and I mostly stick with Vogue designer patterns and BurdaStyle. I think a lot of the popularity does have to do with applying a halo to anything "Indie" and the (very smart) way that Indies have capitalized on the blogosphere by organizing sew alongs and getting very popular bloggers to test (and blog about) their patterns. I hope that the cream will rise to the top in time. Companies competing for our business is good for us!

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  12. I have tried at least 10 from your list (prob more but I counted quickly) and have been mostly pleased. But I actually think most of the adult pattern companies on your list are definitely NOT skewed towards 20-somethings. Quite the opposite ... there are a number of "older" (as in been around longer) indies on this list that don't appeal to me at all because they are too artsy/frumpy ... and I'm 51. Yes, many of the newer indies are styled to be targeted to younger women (and sometimes men), but I'm OK with that (RTW does the same thing!) and I can see why the Big 3/4 don't have much to appeal to them as marketed. I'm not skinny but I could fit into most of the size ranges offered so I don't think "skinny" is a wholly accurate demographic description, and I've seen a number of not-skinny 20-somethings make up quite a few of the newer indies. As to Style Arc, I just don't feel enough love to put out that kind of money on the shipping. Yes, many of indies are basics but it's great to see the creativity shine through when the younger sewers "hack" the basics into other styles. I think that is a great thing they are learning, even if they may not realize it (or maybe they do!). And most of my TNTs are actually indies too, which says something about Big 3/4. I say bring on the indies ... vive la difference! (And let me download them for instant gratification.)

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  13. Wow! there are really a lot! I have used and love Grainline, Style Arc, and Jalie. My style aesthetic is such that all the really arty, dramatic, stuff is just not for me,neither is the really feminine, retro, and sweet. I haven't made anything from the Big 4 in quite awhile now. I have found that I get swept away by the cheap price and then the pattern goes unmade. I hate that. I am 49 and I think that some of the new indies are really doing the sewing community a huge service, sew alongs,flickr groups tutorials, etc, I think it is inspiring and will keep home sewing alive. I do agree that some of the prices do seem to be a bit out there for some things but if I really love the pattern andknow it is well drafted, I will purchase it and in the long run will be much happier than with say a poorly drafted ,ill fitting cheap pattern.

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  14. Nancy, I think you'll like StyleArc. I've made a lot more than I've reviewed (I know, I know), but they're very well drafted and usually consistent with sizing. (I've had two tops turn out too big, and one too small, but most are spot-on.) StyleArc and HotPatterns are most inline with my style tastes--on trend, but not overly trendy. I'm 39 and work in a very casual environment. (I have noticed that HP seems to be targeting some patterns towards a younger demographic recently--it will be interesting to see where they go with that.)

    One that I haven't seen mentioned here yet is SBCC--targeting the niche of petite sewists. (Kind of how Sewaholic targets pear shapes.) Debbie and I both had a lot of success with the free t-shirt pattern (review pending for me) that SBCC has available on their web site. I do like the idea of some pattern companies targeting certain body type niches.

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    1. What's SBCC? Is that the Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick? I've got to say that I'm put off by the name. It's very disturbing to me, an old feminist, to hear women call themselves bitches and chicks. I'll admit it's catchy but ultimately it does women a disservice.

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    2. Yes, SBCC is Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick. The name doesn't bother me (generational thing, I guess), but I don't think it was the wisest marketing strategy. The fit of the t-shirt was good enough to convince me to try some of her other patterns. They mostly skew a bit young, stylewise, but she does have some nice basics that would be in my wheelhouse--it would be nice to be able to not have to make petite alterations on everything.

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    3. I so agree, Nancy. We fought too hard to be called this by ourselves or others. I don't think Betty Friedan would approve and that's good enough for me to stay away!

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  15. I've sewn Jalie and recently StyleArc, both with pleasure. Now I see her name on the list I remember sewing a Christine Johnson pattern which didn't work at all for me. I've tried a few patterns from other indies but most of the list are companies I don't know or very expensive (>20$ for a t-shirt without shipping, no way). And those I do know don't reflect my taste. Downloading can be a solution, but I don't particularly like the print at home, taping together and then trace/sew, though I've succumbed a few times (some pdf pattern not made yet either, tending to forget them easier than paper patterns that I spot when browsing through the pattern drawer).
    I've ordered a few more StyleArc patterns recently, despite the high cost of shipping. I buy the occassional Vogue pattern, but no other from the big 4 any more, too inconsistent in sizing. For me it's the magazines (Burda, Knip Mode), StyleArc and Jalie (for some basic tops).

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  17. I don't have lots of experience with independent designers. I have a huge library of old Burda magazines, and can usually find something in them that I can use or adapt when I want to make something.

    I purchased one StyleArc pants pattern - but it didn't work on my body. I also couldn't work out how part of the fly was meant to go together, and couldn't find any resources anywhere that explained it (books, internet, friends who work in the garment industry). Later they added some instructions to their website, but that was too late for me.

    I have made a couple of Tessuti patterns (not on your list, but they are an Australian fabric store that have published some patterns recently), and I'd have to say their drafting and instructions are not great. I like the idea of their patterns but they need some quality control. I've had problems with them that other smaller sewers haven't mentioned (like sleeves not fitting in armholes), so I wonder if they only test the smallest size then hope for the best on the larger gradings.

    The one on your list I do know a lot about is You Sew Girl. Partly that is because I have worked for them, so you might see my comments as biased. I have made several of their patterns (even before I worked for them), and been involved in pattern-testing a few before they were released. In my opinion the instructions are very well written and illustrated (especially in comparison to the previous mentioned ones I've tried), and I know everything is tested by sewers with various levels of ability before the patterns are released, which helps them to be error free and clearly explained. So I think in their case you get what you pay for.

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    1. Vireya, I haven't worked for You Sew Girl, but I DO agree with everything you've written about their patterns. I am not a bag maker, but I found the patterns and the instructions really impressive. I like that Nicole also provides lots of tips for getting a professional result. I haven't sewn all the bag patterns I've purchased from YSG, otherwise I'd be back ordering more.

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  18. Hi Nancy. I too love StyleArc. I find that they don't think larger ladies like myself need to wear tents. They also give away a free pattern per month with your order. I also like Pamela's Patterns.

    I am also put off by the name SBCC - As Michelle and you say - might be generational. I used to teach small business management and would have advised against the name.

    Thanks for this wonderful list - I had no idea there were so many and now you have introduced a whole lot more to me.

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  19. I have used style arc but being Australian the postage is fine. There are other Australian indie pattern companies but they are too little girl or just boring basics for me . I would like to try louise cuttings patterns so might treat myself one day when I get through my current stash of patterns and magazines. Oh I should say I like style arc although the instructions are brief sewists with some experience will have no issues.

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  20. Interesting that the list is so long...that's surely a good thing for the industry (if not necessarily for each individual pattern company). I've tried 7 of them: Hot Patterns, Jalie, Style Arc,The Sewing Workshop, Petite Plus, Jamie Christina and You Sew Girl. I've been impressed with most of the patterns I've sewn from these companies, but I'm pretty reserved when it comes to jumping on an indie trend. I'm an Australian apple-shaped plus-size dressmaker, so a lot of the newer indie designs just don't suit my body shape or willingness to pay huge shipping costs. I'm not into vintage clothing or being one of the 'in crowd' - in fact, all the usual 'rah-rah' surrounding an indie pattern release puts me right off. I get that people new to sewing might need that kind of encouragement and involvement, but it doesn't do it for me. I realise that I'm not in the target market for a lot of the newer pattern companies, and I'm OK with that.

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  21. What a great discussion! Like many who've responded, I'm in my 60's and I tend to like to sew garments that are casual-artsy or basics-with-a-twist. Since I have to make so many fit adjustments I don't like to waste my time buying a whole boatload of patterns that need hours of work before I can sew them. To simplify things I now have my own basic slopers and TNTs and then I can add details as I wish. That said though, I've been sewing a lot of Tilton Sisters patterns lately. With so many odd pieces they are quite a challenge!

    Out of your impressive list I've tried The Sewing Workshop, MariaDenmark and Sewaholic. Probably my single most worn garment is my water-resistant Sewaholic Minoru jacket and even though I'm not a pear shape it only needed 2 minor fitting alterations. I call that a success! Also maybe I missed it but you didn't mention Thread Theory. They are a very new and specifically target men's patterns. I made a cardigan jacket for DH that turned out very nice and he even wears it. ;)

    However, most of the indie patterns don't particularly appeal to my taste. Either they are very dated, don't fit my body type or are just not my style. (I swear some of them haven't put out a new pattern since the 1990's!) Even though they are contemporary and attractive, Style Arc is particularly annoying to me because they only come in one size and I need to morph between 3 or even 4 sizes. Add the postage from Australia and it's too much trouble to bother. It's seriously easier to draft a pattern from scratch and with more predictable results. I repeat my favourite saying: "I'm just not their target market."

    Despite complaints, I really give the indies kudos for their efforts. It can only be a good thing to have more choices on the market and also to encourage a new generation of enthusiastic sewers. I mean, is it just my perception or is home garment sewing actually having an influence (or at least encouraging debate) on larger issues such as non-mainstream style choices, "fast" vs "slow" fashion, quality over quantity, sustainable/green/eco clothing, greater options for non-standard body types/ages etc.? I know for myself I don't even shop for clothes in the stores anymore. The only things I bought in a whole year were some socks to wear under my handknit ones. (We won't mention the fabric, notions and yarns that I bought instead, will we? Nope.)

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  22. Holy cow, Nancy! I haven't even heard of the majority of these indies. Thank you for this detailed list. I do like checking out all of the options :-)

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  23. I have used Jalie and Trudy Jansen patterns with great success. I find the Jalie patterns are really well drafted and their styles work really well for my outdoor activities. Trudy Jansen patterns are great for curvy, busty women. It's a bit difficult to order from her but I have found it well worth the effort. I've also tried Silhouettes patterns but I found the sizing didn't work for me at all. Petite Plus also didn't work for me but they were very well drafted.

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    1. Hi Allison, I'm working on Trudy's #319, the 1960 Retro Jacket, and agree re the fit. I'm finding some of the instructions less than clear, have you sewn this one up? The collar is puzzling. I'd like to hear what you (or anyone else who has sewn this up) did re buttons. Haven't been able to find any review on the 'net. Thanks!

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  24. I have sewn with Jalie and Trudy Jansen patterns and found them to be good. Jalie has a very wide size range in one envelope which I find helpful as I can trace across multi sizes. Trudy Jansen patterns go together well and are nicely designed. I find hot patterns impossible to fit but I know many are very happy with them.

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  25. I had no idea there were so many either! I don't use the indie patterns very much, I find that most of them seem to be basic patterns that anyone with a bit of a pattern collection would already have and therefore don't need to pay the extra $$ to get. That said though I think it's good that some pattern companies are targeting certain segments (eg Sewaholic for pear shapes) because that means there's something for everyone and we can all delight in sewing rather than bemoaning a lack of patterns to our liking

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  26. Hi Nancy, great discussion. I love your style and am also generally looking for sophisticated casual, or edgy casual. I'm 42 and neither overweight nor skinny. I think Victory patterns has some good-looking shapes, maybe a little elaborate for me, but interesting ideas to work with.

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  27. Hi Nancy, great discussion. I love your style and am also generally looking for sophisticated casual, or edgy casual. I'm 42 and neither overweight nor skinny. I think Victory patterns has some good-looking shapes, maybe a little elaborate for me, but interesting ideas to work with.

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  29. Custom sized patterns and a huge selection at www.lekala.co - they have free patterns to download and try, too. Haven't sewed out any so can't comment on sizing etc.

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