Independent pattern designers – a new generation
I’ve been bewailing the retirement of famous independent pattern designers such as Lois Ericson and Shirley Adams. But actually there’s a strong new generation emerging, providing us with patterns in current silhouettes and modern fabrics.
Interesting how this piece has turned out. I didn’t deliberately put North American designers in some style categories and European ones in others. I only noticed that in a late draft. My own style groups of course – you might not agree ! Not something for everyone, but useful alternatives to the Big 4.
I haven’t seen examples of all of them, but give some comments on quality.
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J. Stern Designs – Jennifer Stern for tees and jeans, with highly recommended instructions.
I haven’t found a source for these in Europe.
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Ottobre magazine (Finland)
Pattern magazine with instructions in English. Dots ‘n Stripes is a UK source, and gives access to full information about the styles in each issue.
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Soft and chic
Hot Patterns – English designers working in Florida. Issue most enticing videos about their patterns.
Both these pattern lines available in UK from Sew Box.
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Patterns mostly from fabric designers who also issue home dec and bag patterns, with a few garment patterns in current casual styles.
Small ranges of clothing patterns, aimed at crafters and sold in quilt shops.
The new way of using many fabrics in one garment is not to use areas of patchwork but to use a different fabric for each pattern piece.
These are the pattern companies I’ve found available on-line in the UK, no doubt there are more.
Lila Tueller – list of patterns at bottom of right hand menu
Book : “Sew Liberated” by Meg McElwee – ideas for appliqué. Despite the cover this has few clothes.
Book : “Sew Serendipity” by Kay Whitt has patterns for basic skirt, peasant top/dress, jacket (both with raglan sleeves), with variations. Here’s a video which shows the character of the book.
These patterns are available on-line in the UK from :
Gone to Earth has patterns by : Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Colette Patterns, Favorite Things, Indygo Junction, Lila Tueller.
Saints and Pinners has patterns by : Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Colette Patterns, Bettsy Kingston, DIY Couture.
Backstitch has patterns by : Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Bettsy Kingston, Colette, Sew Liberated.
Nerybeth Fabric and Crafts has patterns by : Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Lila Tueller.
Sew Box has patterns by : Serendipity Studio, DIY Couture.
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Christine Jonson – pioneer of patterns for lycra fabrics.
I haven’t found a source of her patterns in Europe.
Jalie – Canadian designers of sporty fashions and of patterns for active sports.
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La Mia Boutique (Italy) – Pattern magazine like Burda in approach, mostly patterns up to max bust size 38 – 42 inches, a few for ‘taglie forti’ and children, some crafts, recipes, beauty tips, brief instructions in Italian with no diagrams. Fashion forward, edgy or ‘street’ styles.
Burda Easy magazine (not published in English) also has ‘street’ styles. Some sources of this in my previous post on independent pattern resources.
DIY Couture – (UK) cool and edgy as presented in dark colours. I think these could equally well be made in bright prints/ gentle pastels/ denim and white, for other looks.
Very different. Not a tissue pattern but a 60+ page booklet of photos and diagrams explaining how to cut the fabric and make up, with variations. Obviously a lot of thought and ingenuity has gone into presenting these patterns in a fresh way so they are easy and fun to make, with many variations.
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New generation of instruction books
There’s also a new generation of instruction books, by writers who emphasise how to develop a basic pattern into your own ideas.
I’m happiest with following detailed instructions for techniques, such as in “Sew U” by Wendy Mullen. Her original book is on skirt, shirt, pants. There are now also books on knits, dresses (very mixed reviews), and jackets and coats (patterns tiny). She gives many ideas for variations. Good on techniques for simple pattern changes, sewing instructions not always clear.
It’s this creativity that’s the focus of a flood of books on simple sewing.
There are several books that tell you how to make a skirt in an afternoon from an old curtain, using rough quick techniques. Or cut up something from a charity shop. I know many people enjoy this, but I’m not like that myself so I’m not the right person to give advice.
Here’s a marvelous blog from someone who does just that to get a New Dress a Day !
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And a new generation of sewing magazines
Many European countries have their own version of a magazine like Burda, with the focus on patterns. Or some pattern lines.
In the UK no one publishes a magazine like that, for some reason, or has a big pattern line (that I know of).
Our new sewing magazines are a bit different. They do provide a main pattern with many variants, but also a mixture of smaller projects and ideas for childrens’ clothes, home dec, toys, embellishment, re-purposing and so on. Magazines for the internet generation, many URLs on every page.
Sew provides a tissue paper pattern with each issue, with instructions for several variations. Instructions for sewing main pattern are minimal with no diagrams. Instructions for small projects may be better, but often assume wide crafting and sewing experience.
Sew Hip has a traceable pattern sheet and diagram patterns. Good instructions with diagrams. Their site is for subscribing only, doesn’t give the flavour of the magazine.
Cloth is a magazine in this style that’s just started, and I haven’t seen an issue yet.
I also like “Sew Stylish” from Threads magazine. Articles on basic technique for beginners. Each issue has an associated Simplicity pattern plus many suggestions for making variations. Difficult to get hold of in Europe, and Threads mailing charges are ferocious (and their site crashes my browsers).
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So fashion sewing is still strong, it just may be in a different form than people like me expect (brought up with very strict criteria for quality workmanship). The emphasis now is on creativity and fun rather than invisible hand stitching!
And for people like me, who are not much interested in ‘being creative’ in our sewing, we can still take pleasure in patterns from people who are in touch with modern attitudes and styles.
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Links available October 2010Explore posts in the same categories: pattern making for clothes, personal style