Can There Ever Be Too Much Content?

sewing patterns

One Of My All-Time Favourite Patterns

When I was recently interviewed on the Stitcher’s Brew podcast, one detail of sewing that Almond Rock and I touched on was the rise and rise of sewing pattern companies. When Amy and I began sewing about eight years ago, there were The Big Four – Vogue, McCalls, Simplicity and Butterick – and the only indie was Colette Patterns. Burda fitted in there somewhere.

Boy, has that picture changed.

The Foldline’s database of sewing patterns currently runs to nearly 250 pages of content. That’s a lot of patterns to sew. Interestingly, Tasia (who used to run Sewaholic) recently shared on Instagram that her sewing productivity runs to 21 items a year.

I don’t try to keep up with every new pattern release by any stretch of the imagination. I buy what calls to me – when and crucially IF I see it online. I’m not particularly loyal to company or product. I’ll buy PDF or paper. It’s all pretty random. How many of those purchased patterns do I sew? Ouch. I’ll take a random guess at 20 per cent.

tracing sewing patterns

And where does this leave the pattern companies, new, maturing and evergreen? Do they put out more patterns to maintain a profile, or does that weaken their brand? Should they make each carefully spaced pattern release an event we all leap on? How do owners project growth when the market is exploding around them? To be the only indie pattern company in the UK is great. When you’re one of 50, how does that change?

One consistent argument about the challenged UK bookselling scene is that there are just too many darn books being published every year. It’s close to impossible to stand out from the crowd without a publisher investing a huge amount of marketing spend in a few select titles.

I literally have no idea where I’m going with these musings (!), but this topic does interest me. What’s the next chapter in the world of sewing pattern companies and in this brave new world, how do designers stay original and commercial?

indie sewing patterns

This entry was posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Can There Ever Be Too Much Content?

  1. Beth Duffus says:

    My mum taught me to sew using paper patterns from around age eight. It saved me a lot of money during my impoverished student years (before fast fashion). Six years ago, with a busy career behind me, I returned to the sewing machine. I was stunned to discover patterns were anything up to £15 – and they don’t even fit that well, and many are like sacks and ‘easy’ and ‘for beginners’, so I decided to make myself a set of sloper garments and make all my own patterns from scratch. Now, this is a bit of a palaver, and certainly not for beginners, but it has saved me a fortune, I get a good fit every time, and I can make exactly what I want. Any reasonably experienced sewer could do this. I am so overwhelmed by the indy home sewing market that I no longer browse through the patterns. My other trick is to lift the patterns from favourite, shop-bought garments and replicate them.

    • Robin says:

      We have a common sewing history, and I too am overwhelmed by the indie market. I live in the US, it is every bit as challenging here, although big 4 pattern super sales mean I still get a pattern fix and more up-to-date styles without spending a whole lot. I also buy uncut patterns from thrift stores. It helps to restrict myself to the big 4 because there is so much available. They don’t design everything, but then I don’t need everything, I just need to keep myself entertained. I admire you for making your own slopes, and have to say I have no interest in doing that for myself, because I am just too darn lazy.

  2. Interesting. One of my new years resolutions this year was to try as many different companies as possible and the quality does vary – I mean in style and cut rather than the packaging. It has been a fun challenge but I can’t really draw many conclusions other than I take what I fancy! Isn’t that what we would do if we were clothes shopping? Jo xx

  3. Jadestar says:

    Ooh. Fascinating reading. I wonder this myself. When I see three dresses with similar lines I wonder at the difference between them or what separates them. I felt Sewaholic was a good idea. Designing for a body shape often not catered to in patterns. Sadly that is no more.
    I think being innovative, current and well known help. Blogging also seems to build a sense of rapport. Look at Gretchen Hirsch of gertiesnewblogforbettersewing. Making patterns for the big four and now with her own pattern line charmed patterns. And not to forget her sewing books.

  4. Kim MacLean says:

    Really pleased to see your thoughts are similar to my own. I realised recently that the marketing power of Instagram was making me buy patterns from particular indie pattern companies, not because I loved the style or was something that suited me, but because I had to have the latest thing, particularly if there was a discount code. Over the past 6 months I have bought maybe 2 patterns, as I try to be more thoughtful about the pattern and fabrics I buy. For sure there are so many patterns coming out now, a lot have a very similar style. How many pinafore style dresses does someone in their 30s need?! It will be interesting to see how things develop in the next few years…..

  5. Candie says:

    As I was looking for a dress pattern recently I was wondering the same about the sheer number of patterns, books, fabric lines, threads and accessories out there now. Nobody can possibly ‘make it’ with so much competition unless they have created something so worthy and marketed it so well that everyone must have it but then where does that leave them after the initial hype and big sale is over? It is so overwhelming to walk into my local quilting fabric shops anymore without a list. Most of the time I leave without buying anything; there is just too much to digest. Also, the prices keep going up and up, seems an average of $1 per yard each year. Which leads me to online shopping. OMG! The number of emails on a daily basis has driven me to quit following or blocking many of the companies that I so enjoyed in the past. Do they honestly believe that anyone needs to receive more than one or two emails per week to purchase fabric? Then times that by a dozen shops and suddenly you are now receiving 12 to 36 emails every single day! It is just too much and nobody wins, not the seller or the shopper. So where does it end or how does it improve? Just last night a local quilt shop announced her closing and I was not surprised. She is a more purposeful courier of fabrics in her store so therefore not so overwhelming to spend time in but when I was there last week I was the only person in her shop while another across town was so stuffed with people wandering around blurry eyed that you could not even look so I didn’t even stay, or the next shop where the owner was so desperate for sales she pushed me out the door herself. For me I have had to tell myself that I have enough; I have become a more purposeful shopper but sadly my kind of local shop will be gone by this time next month and I will be forced to spend time in the shop that I can no longer reach the fabric because all they can do is stack it higher because I won’t go back to the pushy sales person either, that is just not fun at all. It is all too much!

    • didyoumakethat says:

      You make a good point re email marketing. I’ve found myself regretfully unsubscribing from quite a few suppliers and I never thought I’d say that when it came to sewing!

  6. Nina Chang says:

    As one of the ever-growing many, I naturally think a lot on this topic – and I don’t have any answers! When I was thinking about setting up Nina Lee I felt a lot of unease about entering an already busy marketplace, but I actually used the publishing analogy to tell myself that no one should give up on writing a novel because we already have more than we could ever read. What strikes me as essential for any pattern company to really succeed now is a combination of quality and personality – the patterns need to be consistently good, and then the designer needs to be a skilled marketer and communicator across social media – something I’m finding particularly difficult. For example I don’t know whether I should write blog posts helping my customers tackle fit or technique challenges when such issues will invariably have been dealt with several times over by other designers on their blogs already… The other thing that I wonder about is how many indie designers are actually making significant profit from their businesses; I still do freelance publishing work on the side to ensure I have a basic life-in-London-supporting income – and that I haven’t put all my eggs in one very busy basket! Nevertheless, I think we would all prefer too much choice to too little, and each new company represents somebody attempting a new endeavour, trying to broaden their career options and in many cases a woman entering the world of business for the first time, all of which are surely positive 🙂

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights! Yes, I’m not sure any of us have the answers!! Interested to hear your thoughts on tutorials. Only this week a couple of blog readers asked me for my tips on inserting a zip. I thought about writing a tutorial but then thought, ‘Jeez, there’s so much already out there. Does the internet need yet another tutorial covering the same ground?’ Yet, those can be evergreen posts that people come back to. I like your idea of still freelancing in publishing – if not just for the finances, but for the spread of self-worth. If you have a bad day with sewing, you know you’re still great at publishing! (That’s what I do.) And YES – there can never be enough empowered, strong and ambitious women or men doing their own thing. More power to your elbow!

    • Robin says:

      Some research from somewhere (don’t quote me): Having too many choices causes (decision) fatigue with often poor results. Analogy: I grocery shop only at Aldi for @95% of my family food purchases precisely because they carry <3k items, vs. 10-20k in a conventional US grocery store. In other words, enough is enough, and more is too much!

      • Teresa says:

        I totally agree. When my children were younger I used to put about a third of their toys in the loft and then rotate them every month or so. That way they had less choice but made more thoughtful choices and played better.. I apply the same principle to fabric shopping. I have unsubscribed from tons of company emails, Facebook buying groups etc and then when I actually want something I enjoy looking for it…..although my local fabric seller often provides me with what I didn’t know I was looking for!

  7. Errant Pear says:

    Interesting post! I do think there can be too much content in the sense that it makes me feel less inclined to participate in the online, social, sewing community. When the internet sewing community felt new and small, it felt manageable. Now, it feels sprawling. It’s great in a way (yay! there’s so many sewists!), but it’s easier to feel lost in the crowd. I used to read blog posts word-for-word. Now I skim most. I used to post more comments. Now I don’t often bother, especially if I think there will be 50+ other comments and mine won’t really matter. The Sewing Pattern Review forums still somehow feel somewhat small and cozy, however, and I do like to post over there.

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Thanks for leaving a comment when blogging platforms don’t necessarily make it easy to comment! For sure, engagement has shifted significantly over the past couple of years. Blogging is almost unrecognisable from a few years back. The community remains awesome – that is the one constant!

  8. Renita says:

    Here in the USA there have been indie patterns for over 3 decades…off the top of my head I can think if 3: Ctting Lines by Louise Cutting; Folkwear featuring authentic ethnic and period designs, and The Sewing Workshop originally w/ Marcy Tilton (now w/ Vogue) and she sold it to Linda Lee.
    Oh and Decades of Style—period designs, in the same vein Eva Dress. There have been many more that are still around but sadly like fabric stores many are gone….so indies are not new in the US—- just in the UK they are newish maybe. Renita in NC

  9. gilliancrafts says:

    There are still so many unexplored or underserved niches in the sewing market! I mean, Curvy Sewing Collective has 100 000 followers (that number is a year ago, so it’s well over that now.) – that’s a LOT of people who want to be able to buy good stylish patterns who have very limited choices! I have been literally unable to find any pants pattern that fits my 4x husband. Then there’s the SewOver50, community, talking about the type of adjustments they make as their bodies age, and goodness knows thats a market that has time, money and sewing skills! Alternately… how many pattern lines do you know owned by people of colour, men, or people with disabilities, and specifically showing models and testers from those demographics? There are so many markets to tap. I don’t personally think the world needs a million more indie brands targeting the same highly visible demographics in the sewing community, but there is definitely room for growth! 🙂

    • Errant Pear says:

      Yes, niches might be where it’s at. I really like that Lisa and Erin started the Maternity Sewing website as that’s another one that really makes the sewing community more welcoming.

    • KS Sews says:

      A friend and I were recently discussing the lack of black pattern designers—not women of color – but specifically black women. I know of two I believe. I love that Cashmerette has created her niche. There’s room for more plus sized pattern companies!!! Cashmerette is nice basics…what about the rest of the range of patterns? More formal wear, professional workwear, athletic wear, then there’s the trends…I’m sure the same can be said about other demographics.

      There are A LOT of indie pattern companies but so many are doing the same thing back to back to back. Scrolling IG, is it the Jenny, Persephone, Lander?? They all look alike to me.

    • Candie says:

      I agree that specialized patterns are important. Especially in a market flooded with size 0 to 14 sleeveless sundresses. I recently found a Cashmerette dress pattern sized 12 to 28 with three different cup sizes, four different necklines and four different sleeve options. First try following the excellent directions and I have a perfectly fitting wearable muslin. I literally spent days wading thru and researching patterns before I found this one.

    • didyoumakethat says:

      A strong niche is a wonderful thing!

    • What a great perspective on this. Many of us harbour a secret desire to cross the line from consumer to producer and I must admit I was thinking if you weren’t in already surely you’d missed the boat. There are still niches that need to be filled.

  10. rbbrumfield says:

    Karen, great article. I hadn’t given much thought to how many sewing blogs I actually read. Yours is the only one! I watch only 2 sewing vlogs, Sew over it and The Foldline. I too have been unsubscribing to many emails from various vendors. I think many of us are in visual overload. However, I have become addicted to Narrowboat vlogs. Living in the U.S., I love your beautiful countryside and how proud you are of your beauty and your history. A bit off topic but keep up the great blog.

  11. Eliza-sew-little says:

    A very interesting article. When most bloggers have abandoned their post- literally, you keep is on our toes with these thought provoking articles. I too feel overwhelmed with the quantity of new patterns, few offering anything new. In a recent post by Susanyoungsewing she said, of a recent indie release that she had a similar pattern from the big 4 in her stash. So nothing new design wise but are we missing the point? As sewing is predominantly a solitary activity perhaps what some indie pattern companies offer is ‘club membership’ and a sense of togetherness. Having said that it’s a lot of extra money to pay for companionship. To prove the point I challenge anyone to take an indie pattern and find similar features on one of big 4 patterns. ( there are some notable exceptions- Activewear, maternity and Cashmerettes market) so yes I agree there is too much content in patterns but please keep up the content in your blog. It’s much appreciated.

  12. I like to support Indie pattern makers and generally I can achieve a better fit. Not all! I think once you find a pattern company that fits you without too much fiddling, you should stick with it 🙂 It’s true there are so many and that it’s going to get much tougher on the designers to compete in this burgeoning market. I think we’re in the middle of a real explosion unlike anything ever witnessed in the world of home sewing – on machines, fabrics, notions and patterns. It can get pretty overwhelming for sure and I’ve opted out of many email newsletters because of that especially if their emails are heavy in sales only.

  13. Well said. By everyone! I don’t feel lost, I feel empowered. Thank you for this great platform for all of us to jump from and think about what we want our of our sewing experience! I for one appreciate having choices!

  14. Hila says:

    I cant help but look at it from the perspective of my business management/ economics training; as a rule, competition is good in the sense that it ought to drive innovation and bring prices down so that goods/service become cheaper. I have noticed, however, that with indie sewing , this doesnt apply. I feel like the prices are higher than what would be expected in a market that is as saturated as this is. Perhaps the personalities of the designers play a big role in securing buyer loyalty. The personality surrounding indie pattern companies also creates an information asymmetry in the market when it comes to reviews of patterns. I find that reviews for the Big 4 tend to be more helpful as there is no sense of “putting someone down” ; people can be brutal about Big 4 patterns. Contrast with indie patterns, its hard to slate a pattern that has a face and a life. Sometimes there will be whispers when you get together with others but its challenging to be put it out there (plus a fear of fan backlash). I always wonder how this asymmetry will impact the marketplace in the long run. Another thing is that there is not much by way of innovation either – a lot of the patterns are vaguely similar – I chalk that down to perhaps an over reliance on selling to beginners/ new to the sewing community (also true for a lot of books, they always cater to the beginner). There is also the role of technology – McCalls has started to offer some of their patterns as PDFS (combine that with the lower price who knows where that will go). There are internet companies that produce made to measure patterns which are so spot on with the fit that the worry of fit is not an issue. These are growing in places like Eastern Europe that have always had a strong home sewing culture. The ability to buy cheaper easy to print at home patterns opens up whole new markets in developing countries as well as people in developed countries who may not have to budget for higher priced patterns….its all very interesting to watch. Thanks for a great thought provoking post Karen! PS sorry for any typos, am on my phone 🙂

    • didyoumakethat says:

      What a fascinating and insightful response – thank you! And I don’t think I spotted a single typo!! 😉 Just out of curiosity, what is ‘asymmetry in the marketplace’?

      • Lucy says:

        I am not Hila, nor am I am economist. But I think the basic principle is that a ‘perfect market’ works because with easy access to new entrants, perfect information, competition etc., the best products will always be the most successful and prices will balance themselves out to the ‘correct’ level.

        However real life markets very rarely resemble that model because there are so many unrealistic assumptions. In this instance, consumers don’t have access to perfect information because one set of pattern reviews (those for the big four) tend to be a lot more balanced and honest than the other (those for indie patterns). Hence the information available is imbalanced, asymmetric. And what that means is that potentially inferior products are still supported at a high price point, artificially so because in a perfect market where sales were based upon survival of the fittest, they would not have been nearly so successful.

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Ah thank you, Lucy – this is fascinating!

  15. Elena says:

    With all these patterns and magazines out there, and I can’t seem to find anything particularly inspiring. I see a lot of repetition – similar shapes and styles resembling something I had already sewn in 1980s or 1990s. Not the same thing, of course, but it feels like a repeat to me. Also, most garments seem to have been designed for the younger woman. This is of course subjective, and I’m not that old yet, but I feel uncomfortable in a short dress, for example. The lack of interesting detail in designs is also underwhelming. Are they meant for beginners, perhaps? It is wonderful to initiate more people into sewing, but what about those of us who actually have the skills? We get bored. On the other end of the spectrum there are really avantguarde designs – great, there’s creativity there! But not suitable for a day at the office, so I pass again. I can also draft my own patterns, and I do it often enough to guarantee the fit. But I am not a designer – I don’t actually get brilliant style ideas all that often. I would like to be able to buy an interesting pattern that is suitable to my lifestyle and my age, that is comfortable as well as attractive. I’ve been looking; but there is so much, and yet there is nothing of note, and I cannot find the gems among the ordinary. But the gems must exist, they always do! It is unfortunate that they are buried too deep though. So to answer the question of whether there can be too much content: yes! And it is not necessarily a good thing.

    • Robin says:

      A suggestion that has worked for me: Try a vintage or retro inspired pattern. They often have very interesting details and different methods for achieving the desired fit/look.

      • Elena says:

        Yes, I’ve been sewing quite a bit from 1940s and 1950s already. 🙂 But I would like to see that kind of interesting detailing also in modern patterns! They just bore me, frankly. And the fit is awful – at least for me.

      • Beth Duffus says:

        I went to a Liberty textile exhibition here in Edinburgh last week which displayed a range of homemade clothes from the 1920s. The delicacy of the pre-war clothes was astonishing, especially the 1930s tea-dresses. Made from crepe or lawn, they were full of beautiful little pintucks, bows, loops and covered buttons as well as tiny collars and handmade belts. It must have been from a time when these women still had domestic servants because you wouldn’t have been able to do anything other than sit and drink tea in them. The dresses certainly wouldn’t have survived picking kids up from school, taking them to football, cooking dinner and walking the dog!

      • Elena says:

        Those dresses indeed sound like they are for the ladies of leisure only. Vintage patterns that I’ve sewn were for active women though. I wear them daily and wash them in the washing machine – they are regular clothes.

      • didyoumakethat says:

        Did you know that the invention of the zip became a great social breakthrough? It meant that for the first time, ordinary women could wear elegant gowns because they didn’t have to rely on servants to button them in! I think zips started hitting evening gowns etc in the late 1930s.

      • Elena says:

        Well, to be fair, you still need help to zip up a gown at the back, from the hips to the neck. However, this is of course quite a simple task that even a hubby can manage. 😉

  16. Nancy says:

    I will not buy patterns from self taught designers. Unless they have a professional pattern making or design school background, hard pass. The design has to be somewhat unique as I already have a ton of patterns. The world does not need another tee shirt or leggings pattern.

    • Elena says:

      I would be careful with professional ones too – it depends on what they learned. I had a client once who was graduating from a university becoming a fashion designer. Her mother paid me a lot of money to draft patterns and sew the girl’s graduate year collection. That’s because the girl herself couldn’t thread a needle, let alone draft a pattern or sew a garment. Heck, she couldn’t even provide me with technical drawings to scale! I had to fill in most of the detailing, too. If that’s not a cheat! But apparently not, the university didn’t mind at all. “But all the other students already knew how to sew and draft patterns before they started!” – she complained to me! Well dear, they were not born that way, I’m sure! Just goes to show – not every professional designer knows their stuff. 😛

      • Mary in Thailand says:

        That is really shocking!
        Just recently I recommended a book about the fashion industry to a man who works as a Counselor in a high school. Sometimes he has deluded young girls show up, wanting to do “easy” work = fashion design. I told him about Kathleen Fasanella’s book. According to customer reviews, that prepares people better for the real world of work in fashion, than the colleges do.

    • Ros says:

      AGREED! I tend not to buy from indie designers who are a very different size and shape from me, especially those who regularly model their own designs. I don’t trust them to know how to grade patterns properly, unless I see the design made up in a larger size too. With Big Company patterns, I trust the size grading much more.

  17. Jenny says:

    Such a great discussion. So many of the indie pattern releases seem to be ‘me too’ and for some of them they are just a different top on the same skirt. I am amazed that companies charge the same or more for a PDF pattern as you pay for a paper pattern. And yes – I would like more patterns with interesting design details. I don’t need pattern than are quick or easy makes. I want to make a limited number of interesting, well fitting garments with high quality fabrics. Glad that I am not the only one annoyed by the volume of email marketing.

    • Elena says:

      The lack of high quality fabrics that don’t require you to take a loan to buy them, is also a problem. I don’t see that enormous choice of fabric – most of it is such poor quality, so pass. What is left is a lot less choice than even back in 1990s when sewing wasn’t popular!

  18. Lesley says:

    My sewing friends and I have been having this chat for a while. Are there new ideas being produced each year or are they just subtle tweaks to existing patterns? My feel is indie patterns will struggle as sewers get more proficient at sewing and therefore hacking patterns. They either need to produce more complicated, original patterns or continue to try and tempt in beginner sewists (no bad thing).

  19. Olivia says:

    Like Beth above, I came back to sewing after many years and was astonished at the cost of some patterns. And then you’re expected to print it out and stick it together! It would be lovely if indie patterns were all carefully drafted, with detailed instructions – and some are, but others are not. I like classic lines, and I’ve now got a few basic patterns that I feel I can tweak if I want something slightly different. As an older woman, and someone with what used to be condescendingly described as ‘a fuller figure’ I don’t find much in the indie ranges for me. I’m off to inspect Cashmerette and SewOver50, thank you to previous comments for that!
    And thank you, Karen, for inspiring this debate and for presenting more than just another sewing blog.

    • Lucy says:

      Hah, there is one popular indie designer that I will not touch with a bargepole (and I am reluctant to name names for all of the reasons mentioned above but I’m sure that some people will know who I’m talking about). She made her debut into the sewing world via a TV programme – there was a fitting challenge where she was asked to fit a pattern to a model with what I’d consider to be fairly average sized boobs and she just went to pieces because she had no concept of how to do FBAs.

      I accept that at this point she had probably never needed to do one having only fitted to herself, but she launched her patterns business relatively soon afterwards and it did not fill me with confidence in her drafting. (Either for my own curvy figure, or in general.) She’s built a successful brand and I’m sure that’s the result of a lot of hard work, but it doesn’t mean I want to buy into it.

      • Olivia says:

        Yep – I know which one you mean, and that’s what bugs me – more enthusiasm than skill. I don’t mind paying more for quality but I’m not convinced that independent brands do all offer better quality, they’re just packaged a bit more appealingly than ‘Big Four’. It’s been interesting to read the comments above about pattern reviews, and the likelihood of bias when reviewing ones from small producers.

  20. Meh I am so stuck in this. I don’t need patterns because they don’t make for my size and shape so I draft my own, always have, and buy very few. Therefore I don’t join in the frenzy of pattern lurving and so my engagement has always been really low, BUT it’s people like me who REALLY know how to sew and how to do stuff that should be the ones being listened to not some newbie whose techniques are ridiculous and time consuming and inaccurate. I teach in my shop and people go away with REAL skills but that doesn’t translate to online success at all. In a way I don’t care, not for myself, but I really, really care when I read about a pattern with terrible construction instructions and a badly made sample that these lovely sewists are being bamboozled. And the number of conversations I have had in the past six years with sewists who have been sent down the garden path without a paddle trying to get them back on track, dealing with that sense that because they saw it on the internet it must be true.
    I want very much for my students to learn how to think about sewing, not just learn how to sew. Otherwise they have no critical skills to build upon and get up to speed fast. The success stories are a lot fewer, only being able to teach a few at a time but those connections matter too. But when a rockstar of the sewing world comes to tour my country charging huge amounts of money for a weekend course and I know that they really don’t have anything much to offer but a truly impressive grasp of self promotion, and suck great wads of money out of our economy, I do feel a level of Merkle level eyeroll!

    • Elena says:

      Yes!!! I’m so with you on this! The number of times I’ve been hinted at or even told directly that my old-fashioned sewing techniques were obsolete! Because, you know, Miss Such-and-Such did it so much quicker on YouTube! 😛 Fudge and cut corners is the modern way, it seems. 🙁

      • It’s not just or even that Elena, it’s the fir conviction that there is a technique that will work instantly out there, when really any technique requires practice. I don’t think people are lazy, just over promised things at times. And the number of patterns I’ve read reviews of where their fit is lauded when really, given the huge variety of human body proportions and distributions, fit is as much a matter of luck as of good management. Very few patterns are designed to be customised -bless Cashmerette for getting in there and Cake too. But people need to learn how to fit things to themselves.

      • Elena says:

        Yes, you are right! I came across a blog post of a 20 year old telling everyone how sewing cannot be learned in 15 minutes in spite of all the YouTube promises. I think she believed it herself before she actually started. Many newcomers become discouraged when they discover that actually it is a bit more involved.

  21. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Agreeing with so many of the above, and bemoaning the absence of patterns, designs, etc., for the huge, growing and international group of men & women over 50, over 60, over 70, and over 80 who are sewing. Where are we finding inspiration, design ideas & patterns?!

  22. indigorchid says:

    What an interesting discussion – and I agree, it feels like these discussions are happening on blogs much more than on instagram. I am thankful for that, and I enjoy reading blog posts still. 🙂

    I have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed by all the new content being created all the time. I came into the sewing world pre-indie patterns (hello Burda patterns!), and it was fun to watch Colette, Grainline, True Bias, Deer and Doe and all the others offer patterns that felt somehow different to the current offerings. For a while I kept up, then shifted to trying to keep up with all the new pattern companies, but I have long since given up on that. Both because there is just too many and total information overload (for me, personally), but also because things were starting to look similar. I do wonder how many t-shirt patterns and boxy top patterns we need when they come to look very much like each other!

    On the other hand I had an experience this past week where a relatively new sewist had a couple of inspiration pictures for short sleeved shirts. Had it been me, I would have found a shirt pattern that was close, and drafted changes to achieve my two different shirts. But then again, I’ve been sewing for well over 15 years and have a college degree in it. 😀 For her though, being able to recommend two separate and specific patterns that were very similar to her inspiration was probably helpful. The upside to the immense number of patterns available is perhaps greatest for those just starting out and/or for those not wanting to make drafting changes. For me the offering becomes so vast that it induces stress trying to navigate it, leading me to want to opt out.

    There is also a sense of “fast fashion” I feel like I am now seeing in the home sewing pattern world. Mood has started offering a handful of free patterns a month, and Seamwork release two patterns monthly. I have a sense that the fast pace that patterns are coming out is encouraging a consumption mindset in something that just as easily could be the opposite, and perhaps started out as such.

    • Lesley says:

      Agree it’s verging on fast fashion. The memes that some companies use are getting revolting – crowing about having large stashes of fabric and hiding purchases from your husband. The magazines are turning into one big advertisement for fabric and patterns. Its buy buy buy. Bleurgh!

      • Elena says:

        Not to mention that the pressure to make so many garments quickly in order to “keep up”, automatically means that quality and finish will suffer. “Fast” is in this case becoming the enimy of “good” which is the point of making it yourself, I think!

  23. I have bought into the ‘fomo’ pattern hyype and learnt the pattern designers I trust and what suits me. There is lots of choice, lots for newbies – but they are needed and sometimes we all want a super quick pieces. There are some sewers that seem to be sewing to a fast fashion time – their choice and we shouldn’t judge.

  24. Elaine says:

    What a great post, food for thought as usual. Sewing has become so accessible that I’m sure many like me sometimes entertain the dream of making our own patterns. I must admit i had come to the conclusion that the market is pretty saturated.

    This makes me think of other issues too, I’m a sewing returner and have to confess just as I’d managed to tame a RTW over buying habit, I’m in danger of developing a me made habit instead. I don’t know how we are to reach a balance between choice for consumers and opportunities for new pattern designers on the one hand and living sustainably on the other. I often feel that in our community as great as it is, we are just fuelling an over-consumption culture.

  25. Sarah Guthrie says:

    What a great discussion, it’s not often that I read through all of the comments and add my own. I buy far too many patterns probably because I get carried away by social media. A very popular Indie pattern such as the Ogden cami is always going to get more “likes” and comments on instagram than virtually the same cami top designed by Simplicity. I know that this makes me gullible when I already own the Simplicity pattern, but acquiring new patterns is an addiction in the same way that buying clothes, handbags or shoes might be for other people.. This is why I think that the market is no where near saturated and that while sewing continues to be popular there will always be room for more pattern companies as we continue to search for the means to sew the perfect garment. I would also add that most of the Indie designers employ a pattern cutter so it doesn’t really matter if they don’t have the skills, so long as they have the ability to perform well on social media.

  26. Beth Duffus says:

    Great discussion. This is the only blog where I usually read through all of the responses too. If you tune into the sewing community regularly, you might get the impression that every other person in the whole country (world?) is busy at their sewing machine. In fact, I am the ONLY one of my reasonably large circle of friends who makes my own clothes, or even knows how to. And they all think I’m bats. Why on earth would you make my own t-shirts when you can buy one for a fiver at the supermarket, they ask. I make the case for a good fit, quality fabrics and the impact of fast fashion to no avail. But if you have a moment to people-watch, you will see that most folk are out and about wearing clothes that really don’t fit them that well at all – and they don’t even realise.

  27. Ana says:

    Hi Karen!

    First time writing here, very interesting post. Just wanted to give my point of view as a very small indie pattern company. It does concerns me the amount of new indie pattern companies out there and I agree with a lot of what has been said here and I wish I knew where this is going. It is a conversation that I have with other pattern company owners.

    On the contrary, what I don’t agree with, is some of the comments regarding the pricing of indie patterns. I do every single step of what a pattern development entitles myself, from the idea, to drafting the pattern, making samples, testing, writing instructions, recording and editing a video tutorial, taking pics and editing them, technical drawings, newsletters, social media posts ready for launching, everything! and this process takes literally months. Do you really think that paying 10 pounds or less for months of work is asking too much? I don’t think so. I think the work of those who do everything themselves should be more respected and maybe if others stepped into our shoes for just one minute might realized what’s behind a name. In my case is working 24/7.

    No hard feelings of course! Just my point of view as owner and sole worker of an indie pattern company.

    Thanks for your posts Karen, they are really interesting and love how they spark so much conversation 🙂


    • didyoumakethat says:

      Hard-working creatives should always be fairly financially recompensed for their work. No argument from me on that point! Thanks for sharing your insights, it’s great to have input from a pattern company.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.