Buying patterns is always a bit of a gamble – Will it suit you? Is it really all it promises? Will the instructions be any help at all? When the patterns are $20 + shipping, it can be hard to take the leap! (Seriously, I’ve been adding and deleting Style Arc Patterns to a cart for months now, but just can’t bring myself to buy.)
Reading online reviews and looking at other people’s versions can be a big help, but in the end, the pattern needs to fit your style and your body. When you find a company whose designs work for you, then hallelujah! Brand loyalty is born.
Lizzy put it really well in her comment on one of my earlier posts: “I think we find a brand that suits our taste and body shape and become ‘part of a family’.” I love that idea of being part of a family – it really captures the warm, supportive, and reciprocal nature of the sewing community. But which indie designer “family” is a match for you?
(Now, I won’t really deal with body type too much here, because I don’t know enough about each brand. I do have a few personal observations to share though, and I’d love to hear more from you!)
If you like RETRO-inspired classics:
- Victory Patterns: I always think of these are seriously retro-inspired, but now that I look again, they are also pretty modern! I haven’t made any of these patterns, though I’ve heard from one sewist that the pdf patterns didn’t line up very well.
- Colette Patterns: Have you noticed that Colette patterns seem to be veering away from strongly retro designs lately? Early designs like the Ceylon, Oolong, and Sencha really brought the retro flair, but more recent stuff like Ginger, Hazel, or Jasmine have been sort-of modern classics. Sarai’s designs are reportedly for a C-cup, which fits the national average here in Canada/America…
(Tasia in a Sewaholic Renfrew – I’ve lost count of how many I’ve made!)
If you like Ready-To-Wear wardrobe builders:
- Sewaholic: Sure, Tasia designs a fabulous frock, but I think what really sets her apart is her wardrobe basics: t-shirts, pants, blouses and a coat! She’s convinced us to be excited about sewing cake, so to speak. Her designs are made for pear-shaped women, which is why they are so great for me!
- Style Arc: Wow, talk about RTW! Their patterns look just like designs in the shops – which is both a strength and a weakness, for me. I mean, do I need to buy a $12 pattern with $25 shipping, plus the right fabric, when I could buy similar jeans/shirts/dresses on sale for less? Plus, exactly matching mall fashion seems just a little boring to me. On the other hand, wearing me-mades is much more fun, and every review I’ve ever read raves about the fit. I’m starting to think it might be time to give this company a go!
- Grainline: Jenn only has a few patterns so far, but they seem like real wardrobe builders: Shorts, tee, tank, dress. When I wandered into a mall last month, I couldn’t believe how many loose woven t-shirts were for sale! I thought it was a sewing trend, but I guess it’s a real trend! I haven’t tried her patterns, but the price is certainly right!
If you like Modern Minimalist style:
- Pattern Runway: Nothing cutesy here… Almost every pattern is shown sewn up in black or white! They do a lot of loose, drapy clothing… but I’m sad to report that when I bought the Kimono dress pattern, my bottom half was bigger than the largest XL size! I usually sew a 14 in Colette or Sewaholic, so I’m not too impressed that Pattern Runway is excluding anyone larger than that! (Yes, of course I can draft it larger, but should I have to?)
- Salme Sewing Patterns: Look! That Salme dress above is the one that the Sinbad and Sailor Magpie dress reminded me of! The reason I couldn’t place it before? I can’t tell Salme and Pattern Runway apart. The styling and graphic design are so similar, I forgot all abut Salme! Salme has quite a range of patterns, all very minimalist, made lots of silky, fine fabrics. Minimalist AND slithery fabrics? There’s nowhere to hide messy stitching here.
- Wiksten: For a company with only two patterns, Wiksten sure has a lot of buzz! There have been lots of great tanks and Tovas on the blogosphere… but I’m really curious about how they’d look on someone larger than, say, size 10. Can anyone think of any examples online?
Then there are these others I don’t know how to categorize..
- Jamie Christina: The Mission Maxi is a modern tank dress… the Miss Mozelle is definitely retro… then there is a retro wool coat, a frilly apron, and a hooded scarf! Categorize that, I dare you! Some cute stuff though, and I’ve seen the Mission Maxi work really well on a lot of blogger body types!
- Cake Patterns: Ok, so Steph from 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World hasn’t actually launch any official pattern for her new pattern line, Cake, but she has designed a few stand-alone patterns before. There’s her free Blank Canvas tee pattern, and the Downton Abbey-inspired Sisters of Edwardia blouse. Her stated goal for the new line is to make sewing everyday “cake” clothes just as fun as fancy “frosting”. She’s well known for her pants-fitting expertise, so I’m curious to see what she comes up with next!
(Oh yeah, that’s me in my first 4 Sewaholic Pendrells… There are more now!)
Which pattern lines fit your style and body? I’m a Sewaholic/Colette girl myself… Sewaholic fits right out of the package and fills in my wardrobe basics, and Colette (with a few alterations) works well as a blank canvas for cute prints to make fun but work-friendly dresses. My favourite pattern companies all include a wide range of sizes – I spent enough time in Japan being too big for the biggest clothes, and I don’t need to repeat that ego-blow in my sewing! I don’t have a lot of spending money (who does?!), so I prefer to make and modify the same patterns over and over instead of risking new patterns. That said, I’d like to give Style Arc, Victory, or Grainline a go.
How abut you? What pattern lines fit and flatter you? If you could only sew with one designer’s work for a year, who would you choose?