The Popularity of Patterns, Part 4

I’m constantly fascinated by which patterns become popular. Why are some a hit and some not? I’ve written about it before, twice in 2012 and once in 2014. (The 2012 ones in particular are real a snapshot of what was popular at the time! Remember Hazelmania? But impressive that Scout tees are still popular 3 years later!)

The pattern landscape has really changed since 2012. There are so many start-ups now with just a few patterns that it makes the more established designers like Grainline, Sewaholic, Colette or BHL seem like titans… but clearly in the case of BHL, things still aren’t easy!

In such a competitive market, it’s fun to see what marketing strategies designers are trying. Here are some I’ve noticed lately – I wonder which of these strategies is actually most effective?

Jasper Dress by Paprika Patterns

My Paprika Pattern Jasper dress, sewn with a free-to-me pattern. 

Giving free product for reviews:

Funki Fabrics has been giving away fabric in return for blog posts like there is no tomorrow. I said yes, like most us… but do you think it is actually translating into sales for them? I can’t think of any post where someone *bought* Funki Fabrics, can you? (Maybe it is – only they will know!)

On the other hand, there’s the well-established practice of designers giving free patterns to bloggers to try out. For example, Lisa from Paprika Patterns sent the Jasper dress out to a handful of us, and while we weren’t the coolest of the cool bloggers, a couple of people since then have mentioned that they bought the pattern after seeing it work on different body types. (Who knows how many sales it takes to be “worth it” though…) I know that when a pattern comes out, like the new True Bias dress, I wait a few days to see it pop up on blogs before I decide if I want it or not. Kelli can make anything look great (more on that star-power later), but I rely on other bloggers/testers to convince me that it could look good on me too!


In the past year, several pattern companies have branched out to do other things as well. There’s Colette’s magazine (Does it create profit? How? Seems like so much work – but I guess the subscription fees are good reliable income?) and BHL’s on-demand fabric printing. Sewaholic and Thread Theory both sell some notions along side patterns, and Maria of Denmark is doing online fitting courses. Caroline from Blackbird Fabrics has left Sewaholic and carved out a nice little niche selling dressmaking fabrics online – while at the same time, Sunni from  Fashionable Stitch (not a designer, but interesting nonetheless) tried running a IRL store, but pulled back to only online sales again. I guess the lesson here is that diversification can be a success, but it can also fail. I’m so glad I’m not a designer putting it all on the line!

hemlock Collage

My recent Hemlock, made with a free pattern. 

Free patterns

A couple years ago, free patterns were the big way to get people trying out your patterns. There was Deer and Doe’s Plantain,Grainline’s Hemlock,BHL’s Polly, Cake’s Blank Canvas Tee, Maria of Denmark’s Kimono Tee, and the one that may have started it all, Colette’s Sorbetto. I’ve sewn all but 2 of those patterns, so it certainly worked on me! I love trying out a free pattern to see how user-friendly the PDF is, and how nicely the pattern goes together. The last free pattern I can remember being released was Thread Theory’s men’s undershirt, perhaps a year ago? Since then, I can’t remember any free patterns. Has it fallen out of fashion for a reason, is it just coincidence, or am I missing more recent releases?

Ginger Jeans and Jalie Raglan

One of 6 pairs of Ginger jeans I’ve sewn in the last 4 months! 

Being unique

Some designers have the knack of releasing really distinctive patterns what make all think, “I didn’t know I needed that until I saw it!” Closet Case Files is a great example – body suits and skinny jeans were not on my sewing radar, but they quickly became must-try patterns in the blogosphere. Muse is another good example – the Jenna cardi fills a niche, and the dress designers are all a little different than the other patterns out there.

Heaven knows how to capture this lightening in a bottle though – it can’t be easy! Look at the new cropped sweaters, for example. There is already a very similar pattern from Blue Ginger Doll, but now Colette and Deer & Doe have released their own versions. I’m sure they were all developed separately and not copied, but then end result is that they will all be in competition with each other. Developing a pattern takes months of work and a serious investment of money – it must be so disappointing to realise someone else had a similar idea!

True Bias Hudson Pants - Trial Run

This pair of Hudson pants is now in the trash, thanks to super cheap fabric… 


Sometimes though, it all comes down to star-power. The True Bias Hudson pants are pretty similar to the Papercut Patterns Anima pants, but since Kelli from True Bias is well-known, well-liked, and hella stylish, I think her pattern came out ahead. The Colette knitwear patterns over the last year have been a huge success, getting all kinds of people into sewing knits the same way that Colette cotton dresses got me sewing in the first place. The thing is though, there are some strange things about the knit patterns (the pencil skirt and the Myrtle come out huge, the pdfs are a bear to work with, and the techniques for lining the bodice or gathering the skirt with elastic seem overcomplicated). I think it’s the star-power of Colette patterns and the charisma of Sarai that make those patterns succeed, more than the patterns themselves.

The personality of the designer and their persona online can’t be overestimated. Think of the people like Sarai or Kelli that I’ve already mentioned by name, even though I’ve never met them… then there is Jen, Tasia, Tilly and all the other designers we “know” by name through their blogs, Twitter and IG feeds. If we know them and like them, we are more likely to buy their patterns. I think the “Big 4” companies know they are at a disadvantage when they seem faceless – surely that’s why McCall’s has been working so hard to invite bloggers behind the scenes and be active online. Personality can backfire though – I honestly can’t figure out why, but the few times I’ve been on GOMI they seem to detest certain designers far more than others. You can’t please everyone, and to some degree I get it… there are definitely online personalities that I connect with more or less. I guess as a designer (or blogger) it’s all about being yourself and hoping people respond well to that!


What makes you spend your hard-earned cash on a pattern? Are you more likely to be swayed by fashionable bloggers or a technical line drawing? Do you buy everything that is new and trendy, or only buy patterns that are distinctively unique? Does connecting with designers online make you more likely to buy their patterns? And do any marketing methods really turn you off? I’ve love to know what you think!

(And for the record, I’ve got so much admiration for people who chose to pursue sewing/designing as a career – it’s not an easy road, and it sure wouldn’t be for me!) 

116 thoughts on “The Popularity of Patterns, Part 4

  1. Hi your Jasper made me buy. Something wearable but really different. I have a budget for patterns and/or fabric so I have to really be swayed. As a runner I love Fehr Trade but I only buy what I know I can wear. You are honest and I trust your blogs K xXx


    1. Well thank you! Making someone want to buy a pattern is a lovely compliment!
      Fehr Trade has been doing an amazing job with her patterns! So original. I’m not in the least athletic so I forgot to include her stuff, but if I was sporty I’d be all over it!


  2. Marilla walker recently released a free skirt pattern called the Ilsley Skirt. It has a cute curved up hem at the side seams.


    1. Thank you for reminding me of that! She’s been putting tons of work into her designers and releasing things quickly – I admire her drive and aesthetic!


  3. This is all very elegantly and eloquently stated, Gillian! I have a feeling I would have been way more snarky had I written this post. 🙂 I agree with all your points and don’t have much to add. As a sewist who hardly buys any patterns (maybe 2 per year?), I’m not really the target for all of this pattern marketing, and I find it fascinating how many sewists snap up new patterns like there’s no tomorrow. If I had more money and more sewing time, I might just do the same! For me, I decide what I want to sew first, and then look for a pattern and fabric second. The main thing that sells me on a pattern is the line drawing, because I find that marketing photos can be a bit deceiving, even if unintentionally. Thanks for a great topic – I’ll be curious to read the rest of the comments on this post!


    1. Bahahaha – I did bite back some snark, in truth. But the great thing about sewing is that if an advertising strategy or design is not for me, I can just totally ignore it! 🙂
      Do you really only buy a couple patterns a year? I think of myself as someone who doesn’t buy much, but it’s probably more like 8-10 a year? I do tend to buy quite practical things that I remake, which makes each pattern seem like a good investment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly – I buy a handful of patterns, all basic garments, and sew a whole wardrobe out of them, modifying them for different styles. It takes a lot of work to get a pattern to fit, and I’d like to do that for as few patterns as possible!


  4. Great post, Gillian! It’s really hard me to pinpoint exactly why I buy the patterns I do, because I think a lot of it is subconscious. For example, I immediately snapped up the new True Bias dress, and thought to myself, “On sale for $9! Great deal, and super cute dress!” But when I ask myself if I would have bought it if it was a Big 4 pattern at Joann, I’m not so sure. $9 then seems a little expensive, and I might have thought, “Cute, but simple.” I really think it’s Kelli’s entire presentation–simple but with great details, modern, chic, versatile–that really make me think it’s worth it.
    And then I think about designers I really connect with, either by actually engaging them online (like Heather Lou Closet Case Files) or because I just really love their designs (like Deer & Doe). I would honestly buy pretty much anything from those two because I just feel very loyal to their brand, both for aesthetic reasons and personal reasons. It’s not something I can necessarily pinpoint, I just see their brands and am like YES I LIKE THAT.
    So honestly, I think a large part of why I initially want to buy a pattern is almost aspirational? They sell me on a lifestyle, on the person I’ll be when I wear that pattern. Realizing this had made me much more conscious of thinking about how a garment will fit my life before I make it, because sometimes the things that I think I want for my life aren’t actually what I want for my life. For example, I really love the maxi version of the Southport dress, but I cannot actually imagine myself wearing one at all. I wish I could be as a glamorous as Kelli looks, but when I actually think of myself in that dress, it doesn’t feel like ME.
    I guess my thought process boils down to initially wanting a pattern because I’m sold on the “story” of the garment and who I could be in it, and then the more rational part of my brain evaluates if that story is a match with my lifestyle.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The aspirational nature of sewing patterns is huge! (As is blogger’s ability to make us want a certain pattern.) I”m like you, in that what seems reasonable or cheap for an indie is more than I’d pay for a Big 4 pattern… then again, in Canada the big 4 patterns never seem to be cheap enough for me to take the risk on them. I feel like indies are more reliable for me.
      The southport though – I think the maxi could be so great in summer! I felt self-concious in maxis (too dramaitic, too noticable) until I started sewing and wearing Mission maxis, and then I realised how awesomely practical they are. No chance of flashing anyone when sitting cross-legged or sprawled on the couch? Sign me up! Maybe a southport would surprise you too! 🙂


  5. This is a fascinating topic, Gillian! I’ve often wondered the same. I didn’t get the whole love over the Nettie bodysuit until I came across a vintage wrap skirt and bodysuit pattern. A lightbulb flashed in my head as I realized that the bodysuit let you have a nice sleek line without the discomfort and fiddling provided by tucking. Nettie is now really high on my list of must makes, though I never would have thought so.

    I try and look at line drawings and size charts. I seem to make only wadders when I get swayed by style and pictures over cold hard data. Up until this point I’ve been only a casual blogger, and I look forward to more closely interacting with designers and it’d be awesome if I start getting something out of it too. 😉


    1. I think you’ve nailed the appeal of bodysuits! Not something I’d wear with pants, but if I went in for big skirts, a body suit would be the perfect fuss-free balance!


  6. You’re so good at these thought-provoking, discussion-generating posts! I think that, for me, there’s multiple factors: a) Do I like the design? b) Do I think it will look good on me? c) Will that garment fit into my life (especially now, when my lifestyle is going through a major transition) and d) Can I afford it?

    Some examples: Blue Ginger Doll patterns are pretty, but I’ve never made one, because it doesn’t look like me. Same with a lot of Colette–the dresses are pretty, but I often feel like they wouldn’t get much play in my wardrobe, since I’d probably just wear them every so often for church and that’s it. But some of their more recent releases, especially the Moneta/the Seamwork patterns seem more wearable to me. That’s also why I love the Cake patterns–they’re more everyday clothes. I often call myself a Sewaholic fangirl, and while I don’t have every pattern she’s made, the Renfrew and Thurlow in particular became absolute wardrobe staples for me, especially the pants, since they were created with a figure similar to mine in mind. I haven’t tried any BHL or Papercut yet, because even though I’ve liked some of their designs, they seem prohibitively expensive for patterns that I’d probably only use once. On the flip side, getting to try out Deer & Doe/Maria Denmark for free makes me more likely to buy their patterns in the future, because both tops surprised me by working on me. And then I have a couple that I’ve bought with intentions to sew/other projects kept getting in the way–the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress and the Grainline Archer shirt–but I’ve finally got the motivation to attack them after the baby comes, because they’ll help fulfill a new need in my wardrobe that I didn’t have before, i.e. more buttoned-front things. Wow, this was a long-winded answer. Sorry.


    1. Ditto with BGD and Colette! Nice, but just not me. I’m excited that more designers (like Sewaholic and Style Arc) are offering pdfs, because I’m cheap enough that saving a bit of money matters to me. I haven’t bought a paper pattern since last winter!
      Post baby you are going to be a pro with button-up clothing! Buttons always intimidate me, but I can see how they are going to be very useful for you! 🙂


      1. I’ve never really felt that intimidated by buttons, tbh. Probably because I was sewing a fair number of my clothes as a teenager, button-down shirts were one of the things I could make that my school’s dress code allowed, and my mom let me use her machine (which is now my machine) with the fancy buttonhole foot that kept them all the same size! So I didn’t know they were supposed to be tricky, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I think that a lot of the marketing/branding is aimed at being ‘that kind of woman’. There’s Gertie’s rockabilly retro, Collette’s teetering on the edge of twee, BHL’s cosmopolitian cutie, etc. And for me, that’s the least effective type of marketing. Show me why your patterns are different from what I can get from the Big 4; give me line drawings and technical details. That’s what I like about Sewaholic and SBCC – even if I’m not the body type they are designing for, I get why they are doing the patterns that they do.

    One of the big factors for me is seeing a pattern on different bloggers. I especially like the follow up posts, when you see if the snazzy new garment gets worn, or if they ever even sew it up again (‘it’s a pretty distinctive piece’ is the kiss of death for me!).


    1. “Teetering on the edge of twee” <– What a great description!
      I agree that it's nice when a pattern maker has a clear niche, either stylistically or body type, because it makes it a lot easier to decide if a pattern with work for me. I"ve never sewn a SBCC pattern, but if they released one I really liked I'd try it for sure because I'm a good match for their demographic! Have you tried any that you really liked?


      1. SBCC has a free t-shirt pattern: the Tonic tee. It’s available as a PDF on her website (the paper version is paid–select the PDF option to get the free version). I’ve made it a bunch of times and love it–no armpit wrinkle!


      2. I’m in the midst of setting up my new sewing space in my new house, so I haven’t actually sewn for quite a while. I’m going to go with the Tonic tee to see if their fit actually works for me. If it does, I can see a few different SBCC tops in my future.

        To my mind, that’s where a free pattern is useful – if it gives me a reference point for how the other patterns from that company fit. So a shapeless sack dress or a super oversized tee isn’t really worth much to me, even if it is a free pattern.


  8. Definitely the line drawings. I am completely influenced if I see it successfully made by the bloggers because as you said it fits on numerous bodies, and it means it was probably well drafted. I don’t mind paying a premium for indie patterns, especially because I definitely get a higher level of customer service and ideas (for example Colette is putting out pattern hacks like no tomorrow). I try to look at a pattern and determine if its something I can get for 99cents from the Big 4, or if its worth it. Its hard to be unique, but I snapped up the Carme Blouse by Pauline Alice because I didn’t see anything else out there like it and she had awesome sew along videos. If its complicated I’m definitely influenced by good directions/sew alongs. Free patterns are a nice way to try out a designer. I am completely put off by By Hand London, 1st because their patterns are prohibitively expensive, 2nd their attitude is not welcoming and customer service oriented, and 3rd they have a stable of party dresses and I like more versatility. I would much prefer to pay for a paper pattern than PDFs, so if that is an option they get bumped up the list (like Sewaholic). I like Silhouette Patterns because they have cup sizing and amazing customer service.


    1. I’ve never sewn a Sihouette pattern – and to be honest, I’m not sure if I would even recognise one! Off to Google I go… 😉 I think that the super cheap pattern sales in the US change the balance of big 4 vs indie… here in Canada, big 4 are never that cheap, so they are much less appealing! Like you, I don’t mind paying a few bucks more (that’s literally all the difference is here) to get indie service.


  9. This is really interesting, Gillian! But I would really, REALLY like to see actual data on this, and I’m sure that is not something we could ever get our hands on because I doubt the designers would be willing to share. You are basing your assumptions on pattern popularity off of what we see in the blogosphere (which is of course the only data we have available to us now), but there is no way that that data can even represent 10% of the sales that indie pattern companies are making or they would all be out of business. I’m very interested in knowing if actual sales numbers reflect what we see in the blogosphere.

    For example, there are 64 pairs of jeans on the CCF ginger jeans pinterest board, and it looks like Heather has made a fairly good effort at including all the versions that have been blogged. Lets say that several of these are one blogger making more than one version, so that represents maybe 50 pattern sales. At $12 USD a pop, that is only 600 dollars in sales, which won’t go far in covering the labor and development that Heather put into the project (not to mention one month’s rent!). Obviously this has been one of the most popular patterns in the last year, as represented by bloggers, but has that actually resulted in more sales to non-bloggers? For every pair blogged, have there been 2 more or 10 more or 100 more unblogged pairs? Additionally, I feel like a pattern that I saw discussed a bunch on instagram and various blogs was the BGD violet dress, but I’ve hardly seen any versions blogged. Are people just not blogging them because its “just another boring knit dress” or maybe they felt like it was too quick of a make to warrant a whole blog post? Or maybe those discussions didn’t actually translate to sales. Its hard to say.

    On the other hand, when i go into my local fabric store, they carry a few indie brands that come in print, specifically the pattern workshop and decades of style patterns. These are two brands that have very little web presence and don’t seem to do much promotion, but have paper copies available at independent fabric stores around the country. I often wonder if this is an easier way to makes sales. Really, only a small percentage of people that sew are bloggers, and a slightly larger percentage read blogs, but that can’t even come close to the amount of people that would pass by a pattern display in an independent fabric shop on any given day. And, of course, we have a few bloggers who are doing both. I know that sewaholic and colette work their butts off doing online marketing, but they also have hard copies of their patterns available at stores to capture those more passive sales.

    I guess what I’m saying is, I always wonder what the actual correlation is between what we see in the blogosphere and what actual sales numbers are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! Actual data would be so fascinating! Even just to know how many people in a region sew themselves at least one garment a year. Come on, census, but sewing on the questionnaire!!!


      1. Hahaha, I could have used that info when I was writing my business plan! I won’t get into numbers, but I can say that Ginger has been popular on blogs and has sold very well this year, more than I expected. I’m still not rolling around in piles of money (or making an equivalent salary to my old 9-5) but I am able to live my life without stressing about paying rent. The nice thing about designing basics is that sales tend to be fairly steady; Nettie still sells every month and I released it over a year ago. I think doing really trendy/of a moment designs is more appropriate for companies like Named who can release a bunch twice a year. Since I put a lot of time and energy into only one pattern at a time, i can only do it 3-4 times a year, and i gotta make sure it has perennial appeal.


        1. Hurray for being able to afford rent! 🙂 Seriously, that’s an accomplishment with only 4 patterns out! (Er, excuse me if I’ve forgotten any in my pattern count…)
          Interesting point about designing basics – that’s not how I immediately think of your patterns, since they aren’t “simple” basics… but definitely the kind of patterns that get resewn, as opposed to party frocks!


        2. Thanks for chiming in. I also really wanted to know the answer to Megan’s questions because I’ve pondered it more than a time or two. But then I shrug and say “well, I just hope they keep the patterns coming”.


  10. Great questions!!! Personally, I’m trying to be a bit choosier about buying patterns these days because my space is limited and I’m nearly out of room! I’m pretty good about only buying things that are my style, now that I have a better handle on what I’ll actually wear day to day. I do like to support friends that are designers, so I’m sure that affects what I purchase, but I don’t buy anything that I won’t sew or wear (with the exception of a pattern here and there for my mom or sister). I prefer spending money on a new pattern over spending hours trying to alter existing patterns… I absolutely hate doing anything other than basic pattern alterations, so I’d rather spend $10 and let someone else do that work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m running out of room for patterns too! I used to think of myself as someone who only has 20 patterns or less, but uh, that’s not true anymore. I rather like altering patterns a bit, but not in any fancy way… Honestly, I free-hand add width or length to several of my TNTs without ever recording how much! Really really should write that stuff down.


  11. i totally agree with sonja. i am trying to buy fewer patterns and reuse the ones i already have to make better use of my limited sewing time – spending less on muslins and more on actual sewing! when i started sewing i felt like i needed the hand holding of the indie pattern instructions but i guess i don’t need that so much. however big 4 patterns in the UK often cost about the same as indies, so there’s not too much of an incentive to buy big 4. i have fallen hard for vintage patterns tho and i guess a lot of the big 4 patterns i like are very much vintage styled but easier to come by and multi-sized.

    regarding patterns that seem to stand out, i would say they are in 2 camps – either basics with a twist (most cake patterns, ginger jeans, scout, linden, lady skater/ moneta, megan neilsen kelly skirt, hudsons) or else something different to the norm (elisalex and anna, pauline y alice, thread theory)


    1. Less time muslining, more time sewing. A mantra for us all! I think one of the reasons I switched to sewing knits is that it was just so depressing making and adjusting muslins over and over again!
      So which kind of patterns appeal to you most? Basics with a twist, or totally new and different ones?


  12. I rely heavily on opinions of new patterns from bloggers I respect, you included. I held off on the Hudson Pants, too, until I saw Dixie DIY’s black ones and knew that it was worth the investment. I’m so glad I did! It’s the honest feedback about patterns than I need and it’s something I struggle with. I find it hard to find a balance with giving criticism and will often say nothing at all rather than risk sounding snarky and causng hurt feelings.

    Colette, as you know, is a staple for me. I haven’t tried any of their knit patterns yet, but the Sorbetto is a HUGE staple in my wardrobe. Sewaholic’s Renfrew was the first success I had with working with knits and, as such, I am hugely loyal to that pattern. I find I am more inclined to try an indie pattern geared to knits than a Big 4.

    Line drawings are very important to me. I want to see the cleanest rendering possible before I get lost all the possibilities. Burda has been a recent love for me, too. I know you either love or hate them, but with sewing more knits and relaxed garments, they are hugely appealing.

    So far, my personal popular patterns are the Laurel dress, the Perri Pullover, Hudson Pants, and the Sorbetto. I’ve not ventured too far from my comfort zone, but that’s more of a result of sticking to what works rather than being disinclined to experiment.

    This was a great post, Gillian! One of the ones I look forward to each year.


    1. You make me want to take another look at Burda! I’ve never used one, but someday I’ll branch out.
      Giving honest feed back on patterns can be really tough. I cringe when people are too negative online – I mean, we all choose to sew and we choose what we sew, so if we don’t like something, we can just avoid it! But sometimes when I’m really disappointed, I feel like it needs to be said (Colette and BHL pdfs, for example, or Girl Charlee). I’ve never ever thought you were being snarky or rude about a pattern though, so carry on as you are! 😉


  13. Interesting post. I gravitate towards True Bias, Grainline, and Sewaholic because the styles fit my lifestyle and aesthetic. I appreciate designers that offer paper patterns; it tells me they’ve got a solid business model and are likely to be around awhile. Also, I adore the support that some designers offer via their blogs whether it’s a sewalong, fabric sourcing, or round-up of finished makes from around the web. I’m not one to buy a pattern as soon as it comes out. I need to see how it looks on a variety of bodies (and hopefully one that looks like mine) before I’ll commit.

    Sewaholic and Grainline have done a great job marketing themselves. They are both offering Craftsy kits of their big sellers, which I think is a brilliant way to tap into a wider market. I have a lot of respect for Jen and Tasia, they are schooled in fashion design and are making a go of it in their chosen fields. I am more apt to buy from them than I am from someone who’s only been sewing for a couple of years and has little or no education/experience in pattern drafting and design.

    Just like high school, there are the cool designers, the popular ones, the quiet ones in the corner, and those that GOMI loves to hate. It didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now.


    1. I agree that Grainline and Sewaholic have a great professionalism to their patterns! I’ve always been scared to sew any kind of jacket, but I bought the new Grainline blazer because I feel like the drafting, instructions, sewalong and Jen’s help on twitter will get me through!
      Highschool – you are right! I am constantly glad I’m not a kid or teen anymore. So much silly drama!


  14. It’s no secret that I am absolutely fascinated by the “business side” of the online sewing community, so the topic of this post is one that’s close to my heart.

    I will admit that I am sometimes sucked in by a good marketing campaign, get caught up in the hype, and then buy a pattern that I never sew. Interestingly, being more active on my own blog (and writing a lot about different patterns) has helped me bit a bit more discerning in that regard.

    One thing that I refuse to do, however, is to pay more than a couple of bucks (i.e. Big 4 sale prices) for a pattern that I will have to grade up AND do alterations to. So, my size cut-off for pattern purchases is a 44″ bust and a 46″ hip. Those measurements put a pattern into the “reasonable alteration” ballpark for me. Any pattern whose largest size is smaller than that won’t get my money.

    It’s funny, because in the SBC, I feel like we only see a small segment of what actually gets sewn (largely by a fairly narrow demographic). I know that I’m the “HotPatterns fangurl” blogger, but did you know that they have a very active Facebook group where Trudy helps with fitting, fabric advice, etc, and fairly experienced sewists regularly post really great garments that they’ve made? I’m just apparently about the only person who blogs about their patterns.


    1. Interesting that your pattern review posts have helped you hone in on what patterns are actually worth buying for you! I’m usually the largest size in an indie (although with the new wave or larger size patterns, I’m pleased that isn’t always true any more. If I had to grade up, I’d probably be much more picky! As is, Canada doesn’t have big patterns sales, so the cost difference between indie and Big 4 really isn’t very significant. I don’t buy a lot of patterns, so I usually go indie because I wait til I’ve seen lots of versions and I’m confident it will work on my figure. Then again, if I was a PR member i’d probably have an easier time finding reviews of non-indie patterns, and I might choose them more. Like you say, there is a whole world of sewing outside the (cough) 500 blogs I follow. There’s just no way for one person to follow it all! I”m glad we can all pick and choose from the communities that motivate and inspire us!


      1. Great post! I’m still reading through the comments but just wanted to mention that you don’t have to be a paid member of PR to see ALL reviews.

        And Michelle … you’re not the only HP blogger. Pfffft. 🙂


        1. Ooh, and I found a Hot Patterns pattern when I unpacked my sewing bag! Maybe it came from Heather or Leila at some point? It’s a tee with a bow at the neck. I did try sewing it in a stiff interlock which was a mistake, but I’m curious to take another look at what the pattern and instructions are like!


    2. I’ve totally noticed that you are the only person who posts Hot Patterns. Which is why I look forward to your posts, its something new! Yeah, I feel the same way about Silhouette (which gets some love on the pattern review forums), they do all this fitting/fabric advice and do bi monthly webcasts and dvds, there is a whole world of fan girlism that people never see! I think its because a lot of the older sewers favour Silhouette, and the pattern covers are horrible. Like I would never in a million years buy one of their patterns based on the packaging. But when you watch the webcasts and see all the possibilities and fitting advice I was totally sold and have made some lovely garments from their patterns. D cup sizing! So keep posting.


  15. For me I find that I gravitate to patterns (indie or otherwise) that the bloggers I follow like. If the blogger is shaped like me and I like how it looks on her and feel it would be something I would also wear, I’ll usually buy it. If it looks interesting enough on a blogger that’s not shaped like me, I’ll go google images in hopes of finding someone else who posted a photo.

    However, I also find that once I really love a pattern from a particular designer, I’m much more willing to purchase another pattern from them, even before it’s been reviewed, if the marketing photos and line drawings look like something I’d wear. I just feel like I want to support them in their endeavors and so I’m willing to pay more than I would for one of the big 4 patterns.

    But on the other hand, there are definitely some designers that something about their online personality just really rubs me the wrong way and they have to work extra hard to earn my business, even if I did happen to already purchase a pattern from them that I like.

    I also have a long list of patterns that I want to buy but just haven’t yet. Like I do really want the Ginger Jeans and the Nettie and I’m not sure why I haven’t bought them yet.

    Oh, and the Perfect Pattern Parcel really helped me take the plunge on buying indie patterns. I didn’t buy any at all prior to purchasing parcel #1.


    1. Yes! Do you find you have a mental list of bloggers with similar proportions who you watch for inspiration? I’ve got a few who are my shape or size (or both) who I pay close attention to. If it works on them it’s more likely to work on me! (That’s one of the reasons I like the Ginger jeans – Heather Lou has a butt proportioned like mine! Smaller, of course, though!)
      I”m curious to see if the pattern parcel fad continues! I never bought into one because I always already own the one pattern i’d really want, but they seem like a great idea!


  16. I’m just so glad that we have more choices these days! IMO, I’m most attracted to those pattern companies that are releasing sophisticated, trendy designs. I also like a touch of vintage influence that doesn’t go too far and become costume-ish, so Colette, Blue Ginger Doll, and Jennifer Lauren’s releases are usually right up my alley.

    Another benefit to the greater number of companies releasing patterns is that we now have people drafting for curvier figures. It blows my mind that the big 4/big7 still release patterns drafted for B cups all the way up the size range. My two daughters, who are in their twenties and wear small sizes, are already in FBA teritory.

    On the Colette knit patterns…the Myrtle just wasn’t my cup of tea. I keep planning to get around to the Mabel skirt, but I have a sinking feeling I’m going to hate it on myself. The Moneta, however, I have made twice and can see myself making again, because it is such a versatile dress, easy to wear and quick to sew (despite the icky, tricky plastic elastic thing – which I resolved the first time by simply gathering the skirt and sewing (I would not recommend), and the second time by using regular elastic (which was also tricky to sew, but at least felt ok while wearing).

    What kind of gets me is not when some of these brands release similar patterns (like the crop sweaters) but when people are releasing really, really basic stuff and acting like its a really big deal. You may have the coolest branding out there, but your success will be limited if there’s nothing unique about what you’re releasing.


    1. I”m glad there are so many choices these days too! Clearly from the comments here, we’ve all got radically different preferences and experiences with patterns, so it’s great that we can all pick our niches. Sure is different than when my mom sewed all her own clothes as a teen!
      The cup sizes though – lordy, I hear you there. I do think it is slowly improving though!


    1. That’s a very good point! And as the number of small start-up designers has increased, i’ve stopped paying attention to each new one, so I bet all kinds of great freebies are passing me by! 🙂


  17. I tend to be really picky about which patterns I buy because I know I could draft my own if I really wanted to and I have so many patterns that I could probably hack something into whatever I’m wanting.

    My motivation for buying can be boiled down to two basic things: 1. Does it already have the EXACT style lines I want? and 2. Is it drafted using a sloper that is really similar to my body type? If I have to do a ton of modifications and alterations to get something to fit well, I’m likely going to lose interest and never get past the mockup stage.

    I actually just bought the Sewaholic Oakridge blouse in pdf today. After cutting it out and measuring the areas where I usually need alterations, I’m seriously considering skipping a mockup! I’m shocked at how much it seems to be drafted to my specs!


    1. I don’t know why, but I’ve never thought of you as a pear-shape! Oakridge is the one with the bow, right? That’ll be really cute on you! I’ve seen a few people mention that the fullness at the hips is too much on the side seams, and not enough at the rear – or is that the other blouse that was released at the same time? I like every Sewaholic pattern I’ve made though – her patterns always seem reliable! Happy sewing!


      1. I don’t look very pear shaped because I’m more oval around, which evens out my silhouette some. But I usually have trouble fitting my waist and hips at the same time with rtw without alterations. Fitting my bust almost always needs work unless I’m dealing with junior sizing (I’ve never quite graduated to the grown-up sizes).

        Oakridge is the one with the bow, yes. I did take a chance with real fabric (I had enough to recut most pieces if necessary). So far it looks like I might have to add back fish-eye darts but that seems to be the only alteration needed at this point. We’ll see how much that changes once I get more of it together. I honestly haven’t read much about either blouse.


  18. I’m such a “non emotional” person and it definitely translated to my sewing and how I buy patterns.

    All the hype about patterns tyoically turn me completely off. And when I see Coco number 3,417 in my feed I just mark those posts “read”.

    I don’t tend to blur the line and think of Indie designers as “friends”. They are business entities and want my hard earned cash just like BMVS does. One post I read today that had me nodding my head and saying YES! Was on GOMI…Why should there be pearl clutching because two designers have similar patterns out? Simplicity won’t go cry in a corner because McCalls released peplum top #413 before they did.

    I don’t need fancy marketing or packing (seriously?) I need patterns that will work for me. And I’m not keen on paying $20 for a PDF. When I sew Big4, I know what adjustments to make. I rarely need to muslin. And I get the patterns for under $5.

    Style Arc did get me to bite when they opened the Etsy shop. Though I hate PDFs, the option to try out their styles and get more than one size sold me. I’m sewing up a pair of Sandra jeans as we speak with plans for a 3rd pair. I LOVE InHouse patterns!!!!! Fantastic! But she isn’t all over the SBC and she isn’t in with the ‘bloggers with a capital B’, so I rarely see any of her patterns reviewed.

    I’ve been asked why I’m anti-Indie; I’m not…I just don’t need to exchange my paycheck for feel-goods.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excuse my iPhone typos please!!

      I should note that I tried and hated (on me):

      I do own and plan to sew the Minoru and the Cascade. Both patterns that have NO Big4 equivalent, IMO and therefor worth trying to fit!


      1. Hehe – for someone who thinks of herself as “non emotional”, I’d say you have strong opinions! 🙂 I think so much depends on personal taste – I far prefer pdfs to printed patterns, and where I live, the difference in cost between indies and big 4 isn’t significant. I don’t buy a ton of patterns though, and what I do buy I sew again and again and again, so I’m not too fussy about what it costs if I really want it. I agree that Style Arc has stellar pant options – though after they released the flat butt pants, I was hoping there’s be a matching big butt pair for me!
        I’ve only got one In House pattern (the kimono tee) and I haven’t made it up yet – should I? Convince me, please!


        1. I bought the kimono tee pattern and sewed three of them! DO IT!! 😉

          Ah yes. I have to always remind myself about the non-US sewers. I have an embarrassing amount of patterns. Maybe 500. And when I try to cull I get rid of 3 or 4.


          Very opinionated! Ask my husband 😉 just not driven by emotions. And heck yes! Where is the “full bottom Flo”?!


    2. You raise a really interesting point about knowing what adjustments to make for the Big 4. By my small sample size of Big 4 patterns that I’ve recently sewn (coincidentally or not, they’ve all been Simplicity patterns), they’ve all run true to size, needed expected adjustments, etc. I didn’t find that to be the case a few years ago–it felt like picking a size was a crapshoot and would often leave me frustrated, which is what initially led me to seek out indies.

      Now, I don’t know if I’ve gotten better at sewing/fitting, or if the Big 4 (or at least Simplicity) have gotten a bit more consistent with their sizing, but I feel like I’m getting better results from them than I did a few years ago. And that will make me more likely to buy their patterns.

      Plus, to be completely honest, McCall’s has more or less been on a roll with releasing patterns that I like for the past few releases, so I’ve been buying a lot more McCall’s patterns than I used to.


      1. Dammit – why do you have to make me want Simplicity when they aren’t sold in Canada? 😛
        The one Big 4 pattern I’ve tried and loved was a McCalls – a drapy cardigan I’ve made at least 5 times!


        1. Send me your list and your mailing info and next time they’re on sale here (every 3 weeks probably), I’ll scoop them up and send your way. dcook100 at gmail dot com



        2. I know – I don’t even bother looking at blog posts of Simplicity patterns anymore, since I can’t get them here (London, Ontario), and they either don’t ship from the US, or are stupidly expensive.

          I do find that when BMV go on deep discount sale, the cost (including US exchange and shipping) isn’t too bad, but you’re right – it’s pretty close to the cost of a less expensive indie pattern.

          I miss the good old days when Fabricland would have pattern sales. I actually emailed them about it, and was basically told (politely) “You’ve got nowhere else to go, so whatcha gonna do about it?”.


  19. Very interesting post. Certainly it’s impossible to think of the patterns (as a product) independently of the person and brand behind them when they’re at this small scale. I think most of those “titans” you mentioned have done an excellent job building their customer base by being transparent, helpful, and communicative (in addition to being good at the technical aspect of their jobs!). We know how hard they work because they tell us, and we know they care about our opinion because they tweeted back at us or responded to our questions with a lengthy email. That makes us feel more inclined to support them in the long run.

    I used to eat up the blog-crazed patterns because I loved participating in sew-alongs and blog hops, etc. I think the inclusiveness of stuff like that is a big draw, or at least used to be. It seems that blog hops, pattern testing, giveaways and free pattern handouts have been getting the side-eye lately, so I’m not sure how long those can last as marketing techniques. Maybe I’ve just become cranky, but I’m almost more inclined to NOT buy a pattern if it’s been getting the run-around in the blogosphere! Unless it’s a Grainline pattern because, total fan girl.


    1. I really enjoy the current trend for indie companies to talk a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes! It certainly makes me appreciate the work that goes into something, and puts the price of indies in a different context. (And hey, if people want to buy 99c Big 4 patterns, they can, and that’s great too!)
      You are right that blog tours/sewalongs etc are getting a bit of a bad rap – as is MMM, which makes me sad! I do appreciate when I see a little blog tour or a concise sewalong, but I agree, it can get to be a turn off! I”m trying to be better at unfollowing people on blogs/twitter/IG if they don’t bring me joy – because they deserve better than for me to roll my eyes, and I deserve better too! 🙂


  20. A few years ago I thought of making patterns. I got as far as testing within a group of friends and then decided nope. Nothing was (or is) wrong with my pattern, I just didn’t ultimately want to go that route. Too many that do release them that have sub par patterns, and really, I don’t want to be lumped in it. I’m quite happy making my own visions and/or patterns up and letting it go there.

    I have a couple free ones on my computer, but I never made them up. I have one that I need for something, so even if the drafting and sizing is a total fail, I can fix that and not be too upset because it was free.

    As to spending my money, I am kind of anti-indies, at least on the very small ones. I have seen several take criticisms way too personally, been told (in blog posts with everyone else) to basically suck it up if you have to alter their patterns because the designer had to for years and just find the blog tours/pattern testing for free (and a few that have bragged about why pay when people line up to do it while bragging about vacations/items that they buy a post later) and the subsequent mean girl/High school drama not what I want to buy. I also really don’t care for all the kickstarting that goes on to make a pattern line, or expand it or whatever. You’re in business and I don’t see where me funding your next step is a good idea (or a good return for my money).

    The big 4 may be faceless, but I don’t have all their issues to go along with it, either.

    And it’s not to say that I don’t own indies, I do (hello, Style Ark and Lekala). But they aren’t giving free patterns for reviews (which how unbiased are they at that point? Is the blogger really being honest or are they trying to keep getting free things? I saw this recently with a glowing review, but there was problems even the blogger stated, and pretty major ones at that).

    Sorry this is cranky, but I don’t like the indie model, and that is one of the largest things that keep me from buying them, aside from the fact a few years ago I was on the bandwagon and had to redraft and fix several patterns and for what I paid, I may as well start off with a pattern that is a lot cheaper.


    1. I”m a Style Arc fan too! My one lekala was not a win though… Have you tried Jalie? They are Canadian like me, so I love them… but also really solid drafting and a huge size range. Maybe they’d be up your alley?
      I obviously sewing almost entirely indies, but I’m glad there are no many other options out there: there’s trendy indies, less flashy ones like Hot Patterns, prolific but less instructive ones like Style Arc or Lekala, and tons of big 4 options too. So nice we can all get what we want, and ignore the rest! 🙂


      1. I have and Jalie isn’t for me. The style isn’t something I like, and I generally have to do a lot of alterations to them.

        Funny about Hot Patterns, I like some of their styles and they fit better then some so I do buy them. I am not against all indies, I just have gotten burned out by them on blogs. Which has also affected my blog reading in a large way…now I tend to read things that pop up from other places or something pointed out to me rather then the 40 or so I used to read a few years ago every few days.

        But I do wonder, how long do you think the indie model as it is now will continue?


  21. I love this post because it’s so frank and open. I always have a higher love for bloggers and designers who can be reached out to and they respond in a casual way like we’re already buddies.


    1. I appreciate that too. I like to think that we’re all equal partners in the community, and everyone should be as respected and approachable as the next, whether we are designers or rookies! That’s one of the reasons I so love blogging and sewing social media!


  22. I’ve brought and made up Sewaholic, Colette and Gertie’s vintage from her first book, and made minor changes to all three, with one particular alteration across the board, but haven’t made up enough of the big 4 to know if I’d have to make more or less alterations. Being plus size I know some indies just don’t go big enough so even if I like a design i wouldn’t buy it a I don’t like grading as well as my standard changes. Cost is my other big issue, as here in the uk prices are comparable and I’ve limited funds so find when I can afford to spend I stick with who I know, on the whole. X


    1. Cost in different locations is something that is coming up a lot in comments on this post! I agree that if the price of Big 4 patterns is higher than indies start being a whole lot more appealing. I don’t find there is a significant difference for me, so I prefer PDFs and indies, who I trust on sizing. I often sew up the largest size on indies, which is silly. I do hope more and more indies release larger sizes, as the seam to be starting to do!


  23. Excellent post! Personally, I’ve become far more picky about what Indie patterns I buy. I need to know that the designer has actual pattern making/industry experience (Sewaholic, Grainline) and not just a quickie workshop on grading (I have made some exceptions to this, but they are rare!). It takes more than slick packaging to win my money these days. I have bought (or plan to buy) all of True Bias’ patterns, as hers fit into my personal style, plus I know she’s taken courses at FIT, so I tend to trust her skills a little more. For a while I had turned my nose up to Big4 patterns because it seemed that the Indies were more reliable on fit (as in, I can go by the sizing chart and *gasp* make the exact size I measure!). However, you get so much more for your money with McCalls/Simplicity. You don’t just get the cute drawstring waist dress, you also get leggings and a jacket, or several dress variations that you don’t have to “hack” yourself. Plus, once you know your sizing and basic alterations, so much of the guesswork is eliminated. For each Indie company, you have to start from scratch.

    I feel like the explosion of Indie pattern companies made me pull back quite a bit and realize that I don’t need to get caught up in all the hype (of course, I bought the Grainline Morris blazer the minute it was released… kind of a fangurl for Jen). But I just can’t believe the number of Indies out there now will be sustained for an extended length of time, and we’ll see a lot of weeding out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you said! I think you and I both started sewing when there were fewer indies, and it was normal to follow the release of each pattern closely – that’s just not possibly any more! I’m curious to see where the industry is in, say, 3 more years? I like the fit on indie patterns too, but I do admire the option of wardrobe patterns from Big 4. Rare that i find one I really want though!


      1. Yes, there was Colette and Sewaholic had just come on the scene. I think if Indies can rule any part of the market, it’s for knit patterns. Big 4 knits can be crazy… it’s like they design and write directions as if they were wovens. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in a few years!


        1. So true! And I think that as more sewists have sergers, sewing knits is becoming more popular. Remember when Renfrew was everyone’s first knit pattern? Ahh, those were the days! 😉


  24. I tend to spend money on what I consider unusual, detailed patterns based on a block I’m familiar with. For me that often means Big 4 patterns, often Vogue but McCall’s as well more recently. But rather than buy a new pattern, I’d prefer tinkering with my sloper and altering other patterns I’ve spent time fitting because the process of tracing a new pattern, making a muslin and sorting out fit issues takes lots of time and some money! I love the challenge, too. I enjoy being a part of the online sewing community, but occasionally I find it frustrating to be treated primarily as a pattern consumer.


    1. “Occasionally I find it frustrating to be treated primarily as a pattern consumer.” <– I've never thought about that, but you phrased it really clearly! Maybe that's one of the reasons I like remaking the same patterns over and over – then it's not about buying a new pattern, it's just about what I want to sew and wear. You've found a great niche for yourself in what you make, so I'm glad you aren't just following pattern trends!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I really enjoy these posts of yours – really what does make a pattern go crazy in the blogosphere?? I try really hard not to get affected by a new pattern and the blog posts that go with it, I have been caught up in the past and ended up with patterns and garments I never wore so I’m a bit more careful now.

    I do tend to buy more indie patterns – I think because I live in Australia and the cost of the Big 4 over here are on a par if not more expensive than an indie, so the cost doesn’t bother me as much as if I could get a big 4 for .99c like they can in the states! Here a Vogue is just under $30 (about $38 US), we are lucky if they come on sale once a year for under $10 each..

    I also tend to think the indies have a better idea of what the average seamstress wants to make and wear, especially as a plus size woman I want something current and with a lot less ease than the big 4 seem to think I want – I want jeans, fitted knit tops and drapey blazers/cardigans I personally don’t want tunics or tent dresses.

    My sewing style and pattern purchasing has changed a lot over the last few years, I had this romantic ideal of my twirling in dresses when I first started sewing before I realised I really do live in pants and knit tops! These days I look at the line drawing and have resigned myself to the fact that I will have to do a lot of fitting and add seams etc to get it to fit! I’m not a designer, I want the basic shape and I want to do as little design changes as possible.

    I do like buying patterns – there’s something about that new patterns and all the ideas that can go with it, especially when I’ve got a burnt out sewing mojo like at the moment, that new pattern can spark me up and get me excited again! Seeing as I’m sewing on a budget now though I prob only buy one a month if that, the joys of being a broke seamstress!


    1. Thanks, Suzy! I’ve been caught up in buying patterns I won’t love wearing too, just because they are the new thing… but like you, I think I’m getting better at that! There’s something to be said for having a bunch of TNTs – it makes is easier to pass on shiny new patterns!


    2. I was stunned to see the Big 4 pricing in Australia that you describe. Query: Do Australian sewists ask their American sewing friends to send them packages of patterns? Are the shipping costs that prohibitive?


  26. As always, this is such a thoughtful post. I buy when I like the line of the garment – as long as I think it will be well-drafted and it doesn’t cost 30 bucks. I tend to buy Vogue, or StyleArc, not because they’re necessarily better (though I do think that StyleArc is generally quite good) but because they design many patterns and I can apply the changes fairly knowably, within a brand, from one pattern to another.


    1. I think whatever genre of patterns we each prefer, it’s nice to stick with the familiar so that fit and sizing will be reliable! I like Style Arc too – I think that in order to crank out so many patterns, they must all be based on identical slopers and therefore be reliable! ANy idea what pattern might be your next project?


  27. Hmmm…do you think what is happening in the blogger world with sewing is representative of the sewing community at large??? Many many people sew that have no time or preference for following blogs.
    I am extremely selective about what patterns I buy and what I sew. I absolutely do not buy a pattern based on a bloggers/designers popularity or how many times I see it on blogs. I buy based on quality of pattern, and if it fits in my lifestyle and wardrobe. Giving someone a free pattern to make and then market it is not going to convince me of the pattern’s worthiness nor is giving out free fabric. also will not buy a pattern just because it is on sale. What will convince me is how it looks on others,quality drafting,does the designer draft for my body type and what is the makers history? If I have made a pattern from them before that was a winner for me than I will likely buy another of their patterns.
    There are so many pattern makers out there that rarely get any mention and conversely the lumping together all indies in a negative tone is beyond wearisome too.


    1. No, I think you are right – the blogging world is definitely a microcosm within the larger sewing world! And an interesting point that lumping together indies (or really, big 4) into one homogenous group is inaccurate. A lot seems to come down to where each of us lives, and how that affects the price differential between different options (big 4 are so cheap in the US, and not elsewhere) and personal preference! The patterns I love are indies, but I’m perfectly willing to try something else if it catches my eye. It’s nice to have so many options!


  28. Wow! What a conversation! I think I read every comment. I love patterns. There, I said it. I have purchased Indies and Vogue. I started sewing (more than a couple of years back) with Burda. So I have a soft spot for Burda. I even sew from their magazine once in a while! Lately I enjoy Vogue. I am starting to purchase the odd McCalls and Butterick. The most recent pattern I used was Cutting Line Designs. IMO the art on the pattern envelopes are not my cup of tea. But I saw the Cutting Line Design fashion show at the International Sewing Expo in February and I was so impressed with the beauty and design. So I bought 3 patterns at the show. I have completed my first Cutting Line pattern and loved, loved the instructions. It is safe to say that the instructions are the best I have ever seen. I am all over the map when it comes to buying patterns. I do get fished into the hype (but truly that is kinda fun going alone for the ride!), and then I try patterns that have been around for years! I have sewn: Simplicity (Lisette), Sewaholic, Vogue, Burda, Colette, Jalie. I would love to sew Thread Theory, Hot Patterns, In House, SBCC, Maria of Denmark, and StyleArc.
    Grainline won’t suit me, even though I like the marketing. Closet Case Files haven’t grabbed me yet. Named and By Hand, I love them but the vibe feels too young for me.(and a bit pricey)
    Yup….I love patterns!


    1. Ooh, I just looked up Cutting Line, and oh boy, those pictures are not selling me! but I trust your word that they are great patterns in person!
      I quite like Maria of Denmark patterns – I find them well-drafted, affordable basics, and I’ve made several of them again and again. Worth a try! 😉


  29. Love this post! Interesting questions. I’m not particularly trendy, and I love vintage/vintage-inspired looks, so I tend to collect way too many dress patterns from several decades and multiple companies. Even if only smallish details make them different from each other, I like to have a variety where I can just take them out and start sewing them up, rather than having to draft new pieces. I really hate having to make a lot of alterations, so I try to stick to patterns where most of my measurements fit into the drafting. This eliminates entire pattern companies from my scope of interest since I am of the plump/petite body type.

    I like seeing patterns on a variety of people, though I usually end up not buying the ones that are making the rounds on structured “blog tours”. Apparently that particular marketing strategy isn’t aimed at me; frankly, it tends to annoy me after about the first 3 people. Once I try a new company, if I enjoy my experience with that first pattern, I’ll be more inclined to collect other patterns from that same company as they are released, even if I haven’t seen any versions other than the designer’s.

    Price-points are not the main issue for me. I live in US, so can get big 4 cheap, but I don’t fit as closely into the out-of the envelope sizing for Simplicity or Butterick as I do Blue Ginger Doll or BHL. I usually end up liking one particular view on a pattern more than any other, so having 6 different options included in one pattern may not be the deal for me that it is for someone else.

    The current trends in RTW seem to be impacting patterns as well, so I’m not as tempted by some of the recent offerings. Fancy sweats aren’t my cup of tea, no matter how many people are looking lovely in theirs. Variety is good though, both in the patterns being offered, and the number of companies offering them.


    1. I”m so fascinated that you like to buy patterns for little details rather than having to draft new pieces yourself – I’m the opposite! I’ll do anything to avoid started fresh with a new pattern. To each their own!
      Fancy sweats… yeah. Other people make them look so good, and I’ve tried them, but do I really want to use really nice fabric to see if they become favourites? Perhaps better that I don’t!


    2. I’ve had the same reaction to current patterns – most of the ones I see coming out (and caveat that they are from indie designers who blog) are in the comfortable basics line, like sweatshirts and leggings. I started sewing because I couldn’t find the clothes I liked in stores, so I’m not generally interested in patterns that mimic RTW, especially not what’s in stores right now. Still, great for the people who like those things!


  30. I prefer to have one pattern for one garment, and make as many copies/variations as needed. It means I only need to do the fitting alterations once! I’m a definite pear shape – 3:4 waist:hip – so pretty much every brand except Sewaholic needs at least grading.

    I like looking at the new releases; I like knowing that there’s such variety out there. I love looking at the line detail on the more complex Big 4 designer stuff, even if I’ll never wear it. (Is it weird that I’ve contemplated buying a couple of the really distinctive designs just for the fun of making them up? Haven’t actually done it yet, but have wondered.)

    The marketing pretty much slides off as I’m so clearly not the target market for most pattern brands. Works for me!


    1. Oh to be immune to the indie marketing! I try not to get sucked in, but I totally do from time to time. If Sewaholic made slightly trendier pieces I’d buy every single one of them. It’s only because I don’t wear business casual that I manage not to want every pattern!
      And YES! You should buy crazy patterns for the fun of sewing them up!


  31. This is a very interesting topic. I guess consumerism can be translated from RTW to patterns. When I started sewing I was dazzled by every pattern that came out, and seeing famous bloggers making them gave me the urge to do the same myself. I think it’s a strategy that works quite well. Now that I have more experience and I know what I want to make and wear I stop myself from purchasing patterns like a madman and just get what I really want. Also, between an indie and a big 4, I always prefer to support the indie.

    You’re also right when you say that similar designs are popping up everywhere, and somehow some seem to be more successful than other for no special reason. It could be the charisma, it could be that seeing it everywhere helps spreading it even more.


    1. I feel like we’re bred to be consumers now… and I find myself thinking I “need” new fabric like I might have previously “needed” new outfits. At least money spent on sewing gives us hours of entertainment and a full closet! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Super interesting post and comments Gillian! It’s always a crapshoot when you release a pattern, and its something I’ve talked to other designers about. Its really hard to anticipate. The pattern I’m working on now is something I love with all my heart but I’m really unsure how it will sell or if anyone else will like it. Which is terrifying, since a lot of my sales are nudged along when things get blogged about frequently. Marketing wise I’ve moved away from high profile testers and would never do a blog tour. I have a diverse group of testers, a handful of whom are bigger names in the blogging world, but they are not part of my marketing strategy anymore since I think people get really annoyed seeing the same make 400 times the week after a pattern launches. They help make the pattern the best it can be, they’re not a tool for self promotion.

    If I have a strategy at all, is just trying to write engaging, interesting content on my own blog. Just do the work well the best I can and hopefully the rest will fall in line.

    As for the pros vs. amateurs argument… You can teach yourself to be a professional through a lot of reading, research and mentorship to more experienced sewists. It’s what I’m doing/have done. A free education but an education nonetheless. I tend to gravitate towards more complicate designs because it forces me to drastically shorten my learning curve in new areas. I think the Pattern Workshop, while probably really helpful understanding the digital nature of the field, isn’t going to teach you how to draft or how to grade. If people take that and think they’re “done”, they probably won’t be releasing a second or third pattern.


    1. Now I’m itching to know what you are working on! Something not everyone would like… drop-crotch pants? Bootie shorts? An off the shoulder ruffly peasant blouse??? 🙂
      I definitely agree that education comes in many forms. It’s surely about attention to detail, noticing when things should be better, and finding out how to improve them! I mean, 8 months in teacher’s college is what makes me legally able to teach, but it’s the constant professional development, experimentation, failures and successes that make me competent! I want patterns I buy to be created by someone who takes them seriously, but I don’t care if they have a day job or not!
      The blogosphere definitely seems to have shifted away from wanting high-profile bloggers showing each new pattern – thinking back, I’m trying to remember if that shift happened slowly or was because of something specific? I always like seeing tester versions, but sometimes if there seem to have been a billion testers then I feel like maybe testing wasn’t actually the primary goal.


  33. OK, I’ve now read it all. Whew! 🙂

    What a great post, Gillian. Very well thought out, intelligent, honest, and fair.

    To answer your specific questions …

    Are you more likely to be swayed by fashionable bloggers or a technical line drawing?

    Line drawing, hands down. I need to see the “bones.” I’ve been sewing long enough that fancy styled photos don’t sell me. I’m also very much UNlike most indie (or even Big 4) body types so I already know I’m not going to look like the model. Give me the lines so I can compare to what I know will work for me.

    Do you buy everything that is new and trendy, or only buy patterns that are distinctively unique?

    Mostly the latter, but sometimes I am easily attracted to (distracted by?) the bright and shiny. Like most of us. Fess up.

    If I’m buying an indie, I would prefer it to be unique and not something I can easily hack from another pattern. It will take me a long, long time (or big sale) to jump on it, if ever, if it’s not unique. I believe there are at least 3 cropped sweater patterns out right now. First, I would look (and feel) horrible in a cropped anything so I’m not that demographic, I get it. But really, how difficult is it to “crop,” say, your Renfrew or your SBCC freebie? It’s really hard for me to understand the blind undying love for those types of releases. Even a newbie stitcher can come up with a cropped sweater hack. Esp. since I’ve seen some pretty fearless, creative, and talented newbies. And I mean nothing bad toward the pattern co’s offering those cropped sweaters … just using a recent example my feeble brain can recall for discussion is all. There have been others that fall into this category for me.

    OTOH, I do understand a newer sewer (those DO NOT rhyme btw) feeling a need to “build a library.” I’m still building mine. hahaha

    I’ve tested for Muse so I’m going to be a little bit biased, but I do really like Kat’s direction for her line of patterns. They *are* unique and have some details that make me want to purchase the pattern (which I’ve done) instead of hack/draft on my own. In that case, time is money.

    Does connecting with designers online make you more likely to buy their patterns?

    I don’t think so. Never say never but it would be rare. However, a good interaction would make me more likely to recommend a pattern to others if the product itself checks out. And the opposite, of course, too.

    Do any marketing methods really turn you off? I’m OK with the blog tours. I recognize them for what they are and it’s easy enough for me to “change the channel” (i.e., just not read it) if I’m tired of a particular release. But honestly, I usually still look at the pics. lol

    BTW – same for MMM … don’t understand why it gets a bad rap … just move on people, and stop yer bitchin’. 🙂 I would participate in MMM if I knew I wouldn’t wuss out on the every day pic thing because I pretty much wear me-made 95% of the time, so that part wouldn’t be a struggle.

    I know I’m in the minority but the marketing methods I’m really turned off by are those used by Collette Patterns’. “Look behind the curtain, people!!”, is what I always want to say on that subject. I do not begrudge CP their success at all. What they have done, they’ve done well and its obviously working. Just not on me. I’m never going to believe they invented the wheel, or even re-invented it.

    OK, I’m done. And Gillian says, OMG it’s about time. 🙂


    1. Longest comment award to Debbie Cook! 🙂 I’ve loved really all the comments on this post though, and I’m especially pleased that everyone is being honest but polite about their opinions.
      Luckily for me, I’ve never had a negative interaction with a pattern designer online… but I have gone back and changed one of my fabric haul video reviews after poor customer service. No need to spend our money with people like that, right?
      MMM is fun even if you don’t do the pictures every day! Or just IG a close-up of the fabric or something. It’s such a fun chance to see which clothes a blogger actually wears – it’s almost never the ones that got the most attention on the blog initially. That’s my sales pitch – now I’ll leave you alone! 😉


  34. It’s almost always someone’s blog post that makes me buy a pattern. Partly because I don’t follow any pattern company blogs anymore – I got overwhelmed! So blogs are how I hear about things. Sometimes I hear about something and I’ll google image search to try to find someone who looks like me wearing it. I am a slow and sporadic sewer, so although I don’t mind taking some risks or trying new things, I do want to spend my time wisely. It also gives me an idea of what adjustments I might need to make, or the body type the pattern is drafted for, if I’m not familiar with the company.

    In that vein, as I said I no longer directly follow anyone who releases patterns. I found it overwhelming because of all the spruiking, frankly. I’m not offended by it – it’s what they do, after all! – I just don’t like reading repeat content. But I DO feel like I have a relationship with each company I buy from, whether that’s a good, bad or indifferent relationship. Some i feel like I’m in safe hands, some I come to more skeptically. Mostly that’s based on my experience with their other patterns. Oh AND partly on whether they cater to plus sizes. I must say I feel a bit on the fence about Colette, for this reason. I know they’ve expanded sizes now but for ages I’ve been at the tippy top of their range, and I’m only an in betweenie! While they have excellent tutes for adjustments that I’ve found handy, they also have had a couple blog posts very defensively explaining why it’s just to haaaarrrrrrd to cater to larger body sizes. It was very offputting, which is a shame. Also, I find the high aesthetic of many companies quite offputting, Colette comes to mind again (I do really like their patterns, I don’t mean to bag them specifically! I uppose that’s the downside of being big and on people’s minds) as well as lines like Victory or Papercut patterns, or By Hand London… my life doesn’t look like that. I don’t want to feel pressure to live up to what I’m sewing, or like I am letting down the company with my non-skinny body, and non-hipster lifestyle! That said, I do own some of those kinds of patterns! I just have to be really sure I like it.

    I think free patterns can be useful to get customers to experience your brand, get a feel for your instructions and style, and get awareness. In that case, more than one free pattern is probably not useful for a pattern line.

    I absolutely would rather have the line drawing. Often I don’t look at ALL like the models, and it can be hard to see style lines, or to know how tailored an item was for the photoshoot. But line drawings give a very good idea of what you’re getting into.

    As I said, I’m a sporadic sewer. So I try not to impulse buy patterns unless I’m sure I want to sew them soon, since my tastes do change. I’ve bought some indie patterns and then thought ‘yeah… I’m not going to wear that’ but at least I feel good about supporting smaller pattern companies. If it’s something I’m pretty sure is a classic shape for me, or will be handy in my library, I will buy it, though.But since I’m in Australia, postage can be a burden. And I don’t mind taping but I don’t need a million PDFs stored, or I’ll forget about them!


  35. This is such a great post and I’ve really enjoyed the viewpoints throughout the comments. I actually read this post yesterday and went through all the comments and let everything percolate through my own thoughts before commenting. I’ve been sewing for a bit over 36 years, so I can easily say that the bulk of my pattern purchasing is Big 4. Plus, I live in the US, where I can wait for a good sale and pick up a handful of those patterns. Only in the last six months have I picked up any patterns from the independents.

    So what makes me spend my pennies on patterns? Let’s start with the fact that my pattern budget is very limited.I typically only spent around $15 for patterns every three months. With that sort of cash, I can get anywhere from three to ten patterns from the Big 4 if I wait for a sale. On the indie front, I can get 1. So as an indie company, you are really going to have to sell me on your pattern to get me to buy it.

    Aside from cost, the second contributing factor is fabric. Minus fabric I pick up for the major gift giving holidays, I am sewing primarily out of my stash. Because of this, my sewing style has changed this year. I am sewing on the SWAP method, or Sew With A Plan. I plan my sewing based on my fabric, time and wardrobe needs. When I look at a pattern, my first consideration is fabric. Do I have fabric in my bins of that type that is suited for the pattern, has the right drape for the design and is there enough yardage?

    Visual appeal is the first lure. However, I can quickly disregard any pattern that doesn’t suit my design aesthetic, lifestyle or figure. The last one can be difficult and that’s where I refer to the line drawing. I appreciate a good photo, but we all know that some places are frankly terrible at pattern photos. BurdaStyle is the worst. Half the time I can’t sort out how the item is supposed to hang because of the way the model is posed. If the photos are good, then the fabric choices (Vogue) make it impossible to see the pattern lines, or occasionally make a good pattern look terrible. Plus, models don’t really cover the range of body styles. I know I don’t see them in my type!

    Are you more likely to be swayed by fashionable bloggers?

    No. Fashionable bloggers might make me take a second look at a pattern I previously disregarded, like Mary of Idle Fancy and her love affair with the McCall’s shirt dress, but in the end if the pattern doesn’t suit me and my lifestyle, I’m not going to buy it. That shirt dress is a prime example. I want to sew a shirt dress. It would easily fit my lifestyle, figure and design aesthetic. I even have two lengths of fabric that I’m saving with the intent of making shirt dresses out of them. That pattern, however, is still hanging out on the maybe list. I have seen it sewn in a myriad of fabrics and worn by a range of body types, but there are specific things about the pattern that I don’t like and I know I would have to alter. The gathering in the back is a huge factor. I don’t need that much fabric on my back and it would bug me. I know I could make the bodice more fitted and more suited to me, but at this point, the effort needed to make those alterations means it isn’t worth it to me to purchase the pattern, even when I can get it super cheap on sale.

    Does connecting with designers online make you more likely to buy their patterns?

    Again, no. I love Sewaholic patterns and the personal relationship Tasia has with her customers through her blog and the same goes for Tilly and the Buttons. I own exactly one pattern from each company. There are others I like, such as the Hollyburn and the new Arielle skirts, and while skirts are my thing so I own tons of skirt patterns, the pattern budget, fabric and sewing plans haven’t intersected just yet for me to buy those patterns. What their blogging and connection does is keep me reading and following their company.

    And do any marketing methods really turn you off?

    In my not so distant past, I did internet marketing. Honestly, for all the options available to internet companies these days, I find that most independent pattern companies have passed on the more annoying practices. Blog hops and sending out patterns to fashionable bloggers are things that allow me to choose whether I read or not. Ten of the blogs I read this week are all about this new pattern from indie designer X. Maybe I read only one or two of them and maybe I read all ten. Do I care that they got it for free? No. In fact, good for them for being considered. We can all use a little free now and again. Would I take a free pattern in exchange for a review? Depends on the pattern. If it didn’t suit me or my lifestyle, why would I bother making it up, even if it was free? Occasionally, I will read a blog reviewing a pattern and wonder if the person will ever wear the garment again, because based on their blog and design choices, the pattern they are reviewing isn’t something I would typically see them wear. Those are the posts where I question if the blogger is being truely unbiased.

    All that being said…if you know of a good pattern for four yards of medium weight hounds tooth boucle, I’d love to hear about it. Sometimes, my adoration for a fabric outweighs my good sense. 😀


  36. I’ve not been sewing or blogging for very long but I am so intrigued by the indie rise and the grumbles that were rearing a little while back, to me it seems people some people are genuinely angry about how the indie marketing strategies are being done. Feeling that the chosen testers are just the popular sewing blogs and with the friendship between testers and creators real reviews aren’t real anymore and faults are being ignored and the review is just biased.

    I am a BHL fangirl, I definitely found them through blogs and I have most of there patterns 🙂 they have a special place in my sewists heart because they were the first company I found that really inspired me to start sewing and hacking and just not being afraid to sew what I love and wear it. I have to admit the Anna dress is so not my style and I’m giving it away because I was so caught up in my BHL fever!!! After going crazy and buying so many patterns, mostly from charity shops, I’ve finally calmed down and can actually focus on what I need!!! Indie patterns aren’t cheap and in the UK neither are the big 4!! Will power and a budget is definitely the only defence against more emotional pattern buying.

    The Rigel bomber was heavily advertised at the beginning of the year with a sew along and so many blogs making it up but I would never buy that pattern because I know bomber jackets look horrible on me. I really don’t want to substitute buying sewing pattern for buying clothes. I think of patterns used just the same as clothes gone unworn. H&M is trying to sell a dream and so are sewing patterns.

    Marketing is always going to have an effect, it calls some primal part me! Seeing a pattern made beautifully so many times the more you think….mmmmh maybe I can look as good as this too. Plus, the bond you form with bloggers is dangerous for a girls purse.

    OK..enough of my long and serious reply, thanks for the thought provoking post, I’m really interested to see how the future of sewing companies, the big four and indies alike. Maccalls are bringing out some vintage stunners that I am desperate to buy. Plus, Simplicity has really reached out to bloggers and is offering a free pattern with a blogger challenge…


  37. I enjoyed reading this, Gillian. And all the comments. I tend to sew a lot of big four patterns over indies. It’s a price thing for me. I can buy them cheap and like Lisa g. says above, you get a lot for your money. I haven’t had any terrible experiences with ease or anything like I read about a lot, but I do measure the pattern flat first most of the time. I have noticed that I tend to make multiples once I know I like a pattern. I just made three of the same tee shirt in a row. And I am really starting to develop a passionate dislike for taping together pdf’s. Ha!

    However, I have been feeling overwhelmed lately by what I would like to make versus what I actually have time to make. It’s hard to narrow it all down. I have always enjoyed burda magazine patterns but let my subscription lapse. I’ve thought about renewing my subscription and just focusing on burda patterns for a while and ignoring all the rest. I’m sure that won’t actually happen but it does sound nice to have a plan for not being distracted!


  38. I’m a sporadic sewer and don’t buy many patterns, although I did buy Grainline’s Scout when it came out in paper. Great post and interesting follow-up comments/discussion – I’ve discovered lots of new pattern makers and blogs.


  39. Great post Gillian! First, as a consumer and sewist, I buy only patterns that have something unique. It’s a question whether printing and taping (I buy mostly PDF) is faster than drafting it myself. But the price has to be right, too. No way I’d spend $14 on a simple T shirt, or even $20 on an interesting pattern.

    This has led me to buy the Camas blouse, the Ginger jeans, Archer shirt, Turia Dungarees, etc – not really basics but interesting patterns. I have no access to Big4 patterns but I do buy the occasional Burda Magazine.

    Whether I like it or not, I am influenced by other bloggers and what they make. I have become more critical than before though now that I know my own style better.

    Now as a designer, I sometimes also buy patterns as market research, just to see how others are doing it.

    Regarding your question about free patterns: if you can come up with a pattern that is basic and appealing to many it would be great as a free pattern. But there are a few famous ones already, so you don’t have all the options. The fact that there are already a few free T-shirts cancels that option for me, for instance.

    We’ve talked before about the ‘free pattern for a review’ strategy: it’s tricky. If you’re just starting out, you need to get word out about your pattern. It would not be very effective to email bloggers with ‘hey, I just released this pattern, please buy it’. On the other hand, how can anyone not be biased when they receive something for free? I encourage reviewers to speak their mind when reviewing my patterns, but I understand why people are hesitant to be critical. We’re looking for other ways, but that needs some creative thinking.

    The main source for sewing inspiration is still sewing bloggers, so it is hard to get noticed at all when you avoid that channel of PR. Also, giving away patterns is immediately worth it when someone reviews it. We don’t relate it to how many sales come of it, exposure has a value in itself.

    Other than that my strategy is the same as Heather and many others – be accessible and present on our blog and SM, and just hope people like what you’re doing 🙂


  40. Really great post and conversation Gillian. I’m not sure I can remember all your questions, but I am definitely swayed by line drawings and design far more than how a pattern is styled by others, whether it’s the designer or bloggers.

    I also make clothes that I want or need to wear on a daily basis, and so for that reason I’m drawn to simple, well drafted garments that I can make again and again, perfect the fit and add variations and minor details. I firmly believe that it’s very hard to make the first version perfect and my most worn garments are very much in the repeat makes camp – style arc Elle’s, tessuti mandies, Maria denmark kimono tees, Renfrews, colette beignets, a new look top….

    I admit to yawning when yet another fit and flare party dress or full skirted something something gets released, but you know if we all wanted to make the same thing it’d be a very boring blogosphere. I still like to read about other sewists garments that I’d never wear because it’s a bit like reading a fashion mag – and often you pick up a tip or a new pattern company that might have another pattern that’s worth a squizz.

    I’m really surprised by the lack of popularity of Salme patterns. I love her simple, stylish aesthetic, but I think that there’s just so much competiton out there – her lack of online presence I think has to be the reason.

    Ultimately I’m a total pattern tramp. I’m loyal to no one brand – I’m loyal to skilful drafting and great styling.


  41. Oh my god. So many comments. My brain!

    As an aside to begin with, you can totally get a BMV online membership in Canada and take advantage of their online sales. I do this a few times a year and it works out to $4-$5/pattern for me, shipping included. Not as cheap as in the US but way cheaper than indies.

    What makes me spend my hard-earned cash on a pattern–

    1. It’s something I don’t already have an equivalent for
    2. I can picture myself wearing it
    3. It’s not outrageously expensive
    4. Preferably, it’s been sewn up and there are reviews online. I don’t necessarily believe everything that people say in their reviews but I scrutinize the photos pretty closely and compare them to the line art.
    5. I’m not worried about it going out of style between the time I buy the pattern and when I’ll have time to make it up
    6. I can see where it fits in my wardrobe; i.e. it doesn’t necessitate sewing up a whole bunch of other things in order to be able to wear it.

    I have about 50 patterns, altogether, including ones for my daughter. I’m not a big pattern buyer.

    Not swayed at all by the Fashionable Bloggers. Popularity is its own weird machine, running on its own logic, and rarely has anything to do with the quality of the pattern. Also, you know, I’m a cranky old lady and what works on a 20-something single or childless lady is not necessarily going to be part of my lifestyle.

    I don’t really connect with any designers online. I hate that blurring between friendship/social exchanges and business/market exchanges that happens when businesses make “friends” with people. I’m not saying people can’t or don’t genuinely connect with designers, but it seems to me that those relationships often muddy the waters considerably. There are different rules for social and business engagement and they should be kept separate, IMO, with the designer as a person being considered a wholly separate entity from their company.


  42. I buy mostly from indie designers these days, and yes, it probably is because I follow their blogs. And I’m much more likely to buy something when it’s released individually than as part of a whole group of patterns (like with the Big 4). I also rarely buy any pattern before waiting to see photos of makes by random people (either through blogs or through Pattern Review) – I want to see what it looks like without photo shoot styling. And if I’ve loved a pattern from a company, I’m more likely to buy other things by them.

    It’s not that hard to resist all the new patterns coming out these days, because most of them are just not my style. I’m the person who actually wears fit and flare dresses on a daily basis, and t-shirts, sweatpants, that sort of thing are never going to draw me in, no matter how many Lindens I see around the blog world. Different strokes!


  43. Gillian – what an excellent post, and how fun it is with all the comments! It´s like the blogs were in the good ´ol days. 😉

    I have plently of opinions on this matter.;-) I actually have a follow up blog post written in my head, but knowing my limited time these days, it might be a while before it gets published. But I do want to answer your excellent questions!

    I will buy a new pattern based on its uniqueness. That, really, is the biggest thing. Mainly because I have a back catalogue of BurdaStyle magazines from 2005…So there aren´t many styles I can´t already find in my stash.

    Are you more likely to be swayed by fashionable bloggers or a technical line drawing? Easy. Tech drawings. Frankly, it puts me off if a pattern company try to make their tech drawings look artsy. It doesn´t make any sense to me at all. Do you want me to form an opinion based on that sketch, or an accurate technical drawing that shows the basics shapes, forms and design elements of your pattern? Just saying…

    Do you buy everything that is new and trendy, or only buy patterns that are distinctively unique? Uniqueness. I own exactly zero (except for the ones in my burdas) shapeless shift dresses with a sixties flair, because it doesn´t suit me.

    Does connecting with designers online make you more likely to buy their patterns? Only if their patterns are any good, and they suit my style. I have little issue with blurred lines between friendships and business owners, I work in a freelance market myself, and my network and connections are my main source of income. Everyone knows that this is how it works, and if you know the rules, it´s rarely a cause for trouble. Just don´t mix being personal with being private. And don´t mix liking a person and liking their occupation. And all the popularity nonsense? In my mind that is just silly boys and girls being silly.

    And do any marketing methods really turn you off? Not really – people gots to make moneys.;) I think what is important, as in all other parts of life, is for us to be smart consumers. Think before you buy, and all will go well. 🙂

    I buy and love patterns from both big and small, as long as they are well constructed. In my time I have encountered really badly designed patterns both from indie´s and big 4, so there is never a guarantee.


  44. This is a great post Gillian, and I’ve now read all the comments. I think you’ve created a great discussion as usual.
    I’m not even sure what I want to say about it, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve read this and it’s really got me thinking.


  45. What makes me spend my spare cash on a pattern? Nothing! It’s not easy to *make* me do something against my better judgement.

    However “popular” a blogger may be, I am not the least bit interested in a pattern produced by some amateur self-taught self-promoting ‘wunderkind’ unless it is (a) technically well-drafted (b) suited to my body type and lifestyle (c) drafted to measurements appropriate for me. so that fitting alterations are easy/minimal (d) more original and interesting than anything I already have from mainstream pattern-makers, especially years of Burda magazine (e) something I both want, and have reason, to wear – and finally (f) something that I consider will be interesting or entertaining to make.
    As you can imagine, there are few, if any, blogger-patternistas who can fulfil that list of requirements, especially when I add that I’m barely 5ft tall!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. I have so many patterns I can usually find something that might be similar to some new popular PDF that’s out. I really hate printing out and taping and am super cheap so I like to sew with Big 4 patterns I buy on sale. Or I draft my own sometimes. I do sew with PDF’S when I get them as freebies for pattern tours and enjoy the kids ones. But I have only spent my own money a couple brands Burdastyle & Lekala.


  47. (I just wrote a big comment and got a WordPress error – it’s gone) *sniff*

    OK, I’m logged in now, and pretty much:

    I look for line drawings, and prefer to see someone the similar shape to me wearing the pattern if I ever do buy them. But they’re all kinda expensive, even for pdfs.

    My choices to buy is not going to be from a fashionable blogger, I refreshed my reader and am trying to fill it up with new (to me) bloggers who have their own style, fit, choices… and are independent. I do follow my familiar faces (I have been blogging since 2007 after all, and you can’t get me to ever unfollow Oona, Meg Nielson, or my darling Adey) of course and thoroughly appreaciate when people disclose their free stuff. I would prefer a lot more constructive feedback on blogs, there’s a LOT of gush & positivity, but I guess MMM can reflect what really does get worn…

    But, hasn’t the sewing & blogging community CHANGED in a short space of time? After 2012, I didn’t really get around reading blogs, let alone blogging, let alone sewing… so returning to it all now, I’m like… there’s so much choice, but it might be a little oversaturated. I prefer designers who have experience, however I have only tried Colette & By Hand London so far (there’s a LOT to catch up on)…

    Love your post and love your comments everyone, I’ve clicked through all those Indie names I don’t recognise to check them out… and a few of you bloggers!



    1. It must be interesting to get back into blogging after being away from the community for a time. I followed your blog back when you did the Sew Weekly, and that was definitely a different era in sewing and the online community! I think pattern makers had a much simpler market to compete in back then, and even for bloggers it was easier to build community. My first year of MMM there were maybe 150 participants, so after a month we were all following each other blogs. Now there are so many that i can’t keep up, and I have to really like a bloggers style/personality to add them to my blog roll.
      As for newer indie brands… you should check out Muse pattern – I think they might be up your alley! Or if you want something more modern, Grainline is the gold standard of good drafting and modern classics!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean… I’ve followed so many blogs again, and thanks to instagram have added a lot more! No one was really using instagram either and now it looks like everyone is! I used mine for work before 2012… so have started it again for my sewing. And yes, the community was smaller then… and there wasn’t enough modern patterns out there. Now there’s heaps!

        Thanks for the tips, I’ve really admired Jen/Grainline’s work – I sew-ed her Burda dress from the Burda Book in Sew Weekly 2011… and really like her technical drawings… sometimes I don’t know how curvy& petite works with her stuff though… the shirt & skirt aren’t really my shapes… maybe the tshirt. Definitely the Morris Jacket… I’ll have to get into that next cold season…


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