Archive for August 2010

Independent Pattern Company Resources

August 28, 2010

Here’s a way to spend a rainy holiday weekend 😀

If the Butterick/ McCall’s/ Vogue or Simplicity/ New Look and Burda, Kwik Sew, or Neue Mode patterns don’t warm your heart, why not explore smaller pattern design companies.

Most of them focus on a particular style. As a wild overgeneralisation, I look to USA-Canada companies for classic tailoring, comfortable casuals, historic/ vintage reproductions, or art-to-wear, and for specific sports. And to European pattern companies and pattern magazines for more chic or fashion-forward styles. But I can immediately think of companies which don’t fit that, and your preferences are probably different from mine !

I’ve included :
– some links to lists of USA-Canada independent pattern companies. There are so many of these companies, I gladly leave it to others to keep track of them all!
– USA on-line retailers. Again there are many of these, so I’ve tried to limit them to ones which carry pattern lines not in the big lists.
– European on-line retailers of USA-Canada patterns. So we can save ourselves postage and customs. Happily there are more of these than I thought.
– European independent pattern companies. I’ve listed all the ones I can find, as they’re less well known and I’d like to support them.
– a little about European pattern magazines and on-line sources for them.

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Lists of links

Many of the companies sell their own patterns on-line. Sadly there’s no one complete list of links. Here are some good starting points for USA-Canada patterns :

Current styles

Some of these pattern lines have discussion threads at Stitchers Guild, where you can get advice, news, and encouragement !

Historic reproductions
(For 19c fashions see also Frances Grimble’s books.)

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USA on-line retailers of independent patterns

Each retailer has their own selection of companies, and sometimes not the complete issues of a given pattern line. Many of them sell patterns which aren’t in the above lists. These are some places to start from :

Craft Connection

EZ Knit

Haberman Fabrics

Nancy’s Notions

Pattern Review

The Sewing Place

Sew Thankful

Vogue Fabrics

Waechter’s Silk Shop

New Leaf Pattern Distributors
wholesale wearable art patterns, provides more names for you to follow up !

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UK and Europe on-line retailers of independent patterns and pattern magazines

Habithat (UK)
Patterns : Folkwear, Jalie, Laughing Moon, Sense & Sensibility, Timely Tresses.

Sew Box (UK)
Patterns : Colette Patterns, Hot Patterns, Serendipity Studio.

Vena Cava Design (UK)
mainly historic patterns.

There are many UK sources for Amy Butler bag patterns. These are among the ones who sell her clothes patterns as well as her bags :
Gone to Earth
Nerybeth Crafts. See Amy Butler under Categories on left.

Couture Atelier (Switzerland, site in German)
List of pattern companies is under Schnittmuster nach Hersteller. I can’t get Google translate to work with this site reliably.
Patterns : Amy Butler, Favorite Things, Folkwear, Green Pepper, Indygo Junction, Jalie, Jean Hardy, Lingerie Secrets, Marfy, Olympia, Onion, Past Patterns, Pattern Company, Revisions, Schnittquelle, Sewing Workshop, Shapes, Suitability.
(Switzerland is not in the EU, so you may have to pay customs.)

Fjoelner (Denmark)
(click top right if necessary to get English version of site)
Patterns : Multisnit, Onion.

Sewing Patterns
Naaipatronen site in 3 languages, items sent from Netherlands.
Patterns : Burda in 7 western European languages (not English), Amy Butler, Folkwear, Jalie, Jean Hardy, Kayla Kennington, Laughing Moon, MaMu, Marfy, Mediaeval Miscellanea (Period Patterns), Pattern Company, Ragstock, Revisions, Sense & Sensibility, Suitability, Truly Victorian.
also lingerie and childrenswear.
Pattern magazines : single issues of Burda, Burda Easy, Burda Plus (in Dutch), KnipMode (Dutch), Ottobre (Dutch and English).
And here is their Dutch to English sewing dictionary, for us lovers of KnipMode 😀

Dots n’ Stripes (UK) has Ottobre magazine in English. (Germany)
Patterns : Jalie, Jean Hardy, Onion, Simplicity in German.
Pattern magazines : single issues of KnipMode (Dutch), La Mia Boutique (Italian), Ottobre (in English and German), Patrones (Spanish).
Also Sew Stylish and Threads magazines. (Germany) for Burda magazines in German.
Diana Moden (German) 4 issues a year subscription through
Coudre-Broder-Tricoter (France) has Burda, Burda Mode Plus, Burda Couture Facile magazines in French. is a source of Burda (in French) and Diana Couture (Diana Moden in French)
La Mia Boutique (Italian), 12 issues a year, is available from :
UK subscription
Italy subscription for Patrones, and Burda in Spanish.

If you have favourite European sources I haven’t mentioned, please let me know ! (There’s a little below about US sources of pattern magazines.)

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European womenswear pattern companies, other than Burda and Neue Mode

Au Bonheur des Petites Mains (France)
Au Bonheur site in English
‘Boutique’ styles.

Marfy (Italy)
Marfy patterns are available in the US from Vogue patterns, where you can see the full range of patterns. They’re also available through the Fashion Sewing Group.
Chic elegance. Pattern only, no instructions. Individual sizes.

Multisnit (Denmark)
The Google translation of this site says <<Click on pattern cover to see rock counseling and drug consumption << 😀
Instead look at the Fjoelner site for descriptions in English.
Wardrobe and other multi-style patterns for modern casuals.

Onion (Denmark)
Onion patterns in English
Soft casuals.

Pattern Company (Germany)
Pattern Company site in English
Stylish casuals.

Schnittquelle (Germany)
Schnittquelle site in English
Current styles in individual sizes, mainly for felted and other fabrics with two good sides.

Stoff&Stil (Sweden)
Stoff & Stil site in English.
Relaxed styles in individual sizes.

There are also several pattern companies for lingerie and childrenswear, some at Naaipatronen above.

I keep coming across European pattern companies. If you know of any that are available on-line which I haven’t included, please tell me about them !

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Simply Pretty for Japanese pattern books and magazines.

Pattern Review (members only) 2008 article on international pattern magazines – ‘International Superstars’ by Cidell.
Cidell gives US sources available at the time, but some links are now out-dated. Burda (English) and Modellina (Italian, Spanish, French) subscriptions from OPR in New York City, and Universal News. Burda is on newstands in big towns in the UK. (Burda Easy isn’t published in English.) For KnipMode and Ottobre see Naaipatronen/SewingPatterns or, and for Mrs Stylebook see Simply Pretty. Most of the magazine sources I’ve found are in Europe, and I mentioned them before.

P.S. info about where to get pattern magazines in Australia here.

Independent Pattern Company Alliance

And there are many marvelous resources for vintage patterns, which I’m not going to list here.

What amazing opportunities there are for pattern lovers. Have fun looking at the rich possibilities 😀

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Links and information valid August 2010

Which are your favourite early winter 2010 patterns ?

August 21, 2010

I’m going to take the easiest approach to being current in the coming winter, and just pick the early season BMV patterns I like.

Which of this new season’s patterns (Butterick, McCall’s, Simplicity, Vogue) would make you feel and look happy, comfortable, and at your best ?

If you were allowed to pick only one pattern for a jacket, one for a dress, one for a blouse/ top, etc., from these pattern collections, irrespective of what anyone else might think or say, which would it be ?
If it wouldn’t flatter your body shape or fit into your lifestyle or your sewing skills :
– what would be similar that would be possible ?
– are there some details that you could use ?
– what is it about the style that you especially like ?
Keep your choice a secret if you want to 😀

I’m picking from the early season patterns issued June-July. There has already been an August issue from Butterick, and more patterns are due from McCall’s on Monday !

– – –

My choices include Butterick 5498 for a vest.


I might round off the corners of the front shapes. Lots of potential in this pattern, sleeveless or sleeved, a choice of collars and lapels.

For my one choice for a knit jacket, there’s McCall’s 6168.


Another pattern with several choices. The wrap style suits my need to keep my upper chest warm, better than the V-neck cardigan styles.

And the McCall’s 6167 shirt.


I think the dropped corners would be alright alone or under a classic vest. But to my taste a straight hemmed version would be better under the jacket or this vest.

For a bag, I choose Butterick 5505, which has some backpacks that are more interesting than usual.


When shopping I usually carry a basket. But a backpack is useful when I’m on a bike.

If I was allowed to choose only one pattern, a wardrobe, it would be new Burda 7453 (sorry I can’t get a link to work).


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My choices from the early season BMV patterns don’t make a complete wardrobe, so here are some others to fill the gaps.

My preferred pants are always the same style – faced waist, back zip, tapered leg. That suits my shape, so I won’t be changing. An absolute basic, like the narrower pants in Vogue 2779.


But there are several current pant styles, which I’m planning a post on.

My outerwear is nearly always a hooded parka, waterproof for summer, padded for winter. Happily parkas are in style this season. However there aren’t many fashion parka patterns available.

Of course it’s easy to find patterns for true protective gear parkas, see Jalie especially 2108, 2008, and the Green Pepper Oregon jacket,

It’s patterns for fashion parkas that are missing at the moment. Probably there are some in preparation. Burda is usually good for them. I have old favourites from Burda magazines (January 2008 and 2009). But even Burda haven’t got parkas currently in their main catalogue.

I like Burda 7750, discontinued but available for download.


I very rarely have reason to wear a skirt or dress, and don’t need to add to my old standbys.

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Add my favourite thick big sweaters when they’re needed for warmth. This is a quiet version of what magazine editors call the ‘country’ or ‘layered’ look for this winter 2010 season.

Not what I would have chosen if I was still working. Not work/ party/ impress people clothes. But these suit me now. I would like wearing them, and they would fit in right well round here.

That’s only 4 out of nearly 70 new patterns, so your choices are probably very different from mine.

Have fun with the possibilities.
Did you get any surprises 😀

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Patterns and links available August 2010

What’s in style for you, if magazine suggestions aren’t ?

August 14, 2010

What to do if top fashion magazine editors don’t narrow down the season’s styles to clothes you want to wear. And they don’t agree on the trends for winter 2010. From looking at designer shows, it’s obvious there’s a huge variety of styles. So how do we find the best choices for ourselves ?

– – –

Know your own style. If you google ‘personal style’, you get nearly 3 million links. The US Elle style quiz is fun. 8 styles, though to my eye they’re all for slim city whizzes. No soft classics. casual classics, gamine, vintage, Western, Lolita, hip-hop, grunge, ethnic, creative ‘boutique’ styles. . .

It’s definitely worth knowing the clothes you feel happiest and most comfortable in. What makes you feel you’re living your clothes life to the full. And what is best for your own lifestyle. These are not always quick and easy discoveries. I find it an ongoing process. I learned a lot from the wardrobe planning thread at Stitchers Guild. Many of my posts are about this, see personal style.

And it is worth trying on some styles which you don’t think are ‘you’. There may be some surprises.

Or at least know what isn’t your style.

I realised knowing my style can be dramatically helpful when I first learned my colours. I now often walk in the door of a shop, glance along the racks at the colours, and walk straight out again. Saves a huge amount of time.

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And why are clothes important to you ? (see Clothing Values post).

Why do you want to be fashionable ? (if you’re not a high fashion sort of person) To avoid being sneered at by the rich or their shop assistants ? – happily I haven’t got that lifestyle. To look current – yes – but there are easier ways of doing that than following the dictates of Vogue. Actually I think someone dressed like a Vogue editorial would look more out of place round here than someone in derelict jeans and sweats. I’m looking forward to seeing what the more stylish locals do choose to wear in the coming winter.

I did a quick calculation from the ‘In Style’ circulation figures, and realised I might be the only person in about 3 streets who looks at it. That means there are not many people I meet who despise me because I’m not wearing a camelhair cape 😀

Sadly disapproval, ridicule, rejection are powerful social forces. Big survival value for keeping a cohesive social group for mutual support. But also very painful. I’m very sensitive to it all.

Everyone from religious fundamentalists through rich kids to Goth and hip-hop may think you have the wrong morals or the wrong personality if you wear the wrong clothes. Clothes can be a great source of pleasures. But fashion can bring out the worst in people. It helps to find people who like the same clothes as you do, or tolerate your choices.

Wearing what you love is surprisingly good armour against being disapproved of or ignored. It’s like most areas of life. If you can laugh kindly about your weaknesses, then criticism doesn’t have so much power.

Knowing your own style also gives you security when fashion experts give conflicting advice. This season one fashion writer says you must wear prints, as white shirts are dated. Oh dear, my closet is full of white shirts. . . Ah well, not to worry, nearly every outfit in the Céline show includes one.

Erdem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Céline.

”erdem” ”

Both shows start with high-necked black, but they’re very different.

If you’re tempted to take fashion too seriously, watch the film about Vogue magazine, ‘The September Issue’. Do you want to be told what to wear by these people ? Look at what the assistants are wearing and their body language. In films about designers Lagerfeld and Mizrahi, the assistants may be equally drably dressed but they are devoted. Or read ‘Fashion Babylon’ by Imogen Edwards-Jones or ‘Bringing home the Birkin : my life in hot pursuit of the world’s most coveted handbag’ by Michael Tonello.

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Then what are the easiest ways you can cut down on all the current alternatives, so you only look at possibilities which are good for your style ?

Try different magazines – find which ones you feel most comfortable with.

Pick a designer with the same style as you. Copy these outfits without worrying about anything else.

And there’s no need to be concerned if the big name designers are too extreme for you. There’s a great deal going on in fashion which doesn’t appear in a RTW show. Most people round here wear knit tops, but there are few of them in the famous RTW collections. Find a store, local or online, which you like. In my town there’s only one big department store. Happily, there’s a store-in-store by a designer I like. The clothes wouldn’t fit and aren’t in the right colours, but they’re a good source of ideas and inspiration. That designer doesn’t have a RTW show. Nor do many popular and stylish high street chains.

Which mail-order catalogues make you shudder, and which make you want to spend millions ?

Find a style blog that you like. Lots of places to try with links to other blogs. For blogs focussed on style, start from somewhere such as YouLookFab’s suggestions. If you prefer a sewing starting point, try Debbie Cook’s list. Once you start explorng you’ll find some you enjoy and feel at home with and remember to go back to.

Here are YouLookFab Angie’s own comments on the autumn 2010 trends, with many show photos. Or for fun see the celebrity must-haves at

Which styles make you instantly relax and feel at home ?
Every time you find something you dislike, think of what you would prefer.

The only problem with all this is you have to do the trudging around (real or virtual) for yourself, to find current styles which are right for you. It helps to be secure about what you like, so you’re not distracted by all the possibilities that aren’t. So the initial stages of this process can take time.

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Then the ‘only’ ’small’ problem is finding the patterns which mimic those designs. It’s easiest if you can analyse a style : its overall silhouette, main seam lines, and style elements such as length, collar/ neckline, sleeves. But you haven’t got to do that. Save pictures of clothes that you like from the internet. Print them out and keep them to hand while you’re looking through the pattern collections.

Chromatophore has some posts on patterns for various winter 2010 looks.

Easiest of all if you can, find a pattern designer who has patterns you like. If the big pattern catalogues don’t make you feel at home, try independent pattern designers. I don’t think there’s any complete list of independent pattern companies, but here is a starting point. I’m planning a post with more resources for this.

For the least effort, you only need the look of this decade, not this season. Anything in the recent patterns, Big 4 or Burda, is going to be in current style, even if not high fashion. It’s going to have current proportions and silhouette.

I’ve been enjoying looking at Kate Mathews’ books, which are full of ideas. But their styling is dramatically out of date, all those huge shoulder pads and very loose fit. The current look is usually more fitted. Current shoulders are usually fitted or raglan rather than dropped. Knits are used now for fashion clothes, not just for sports. So there are new styles that rarely appear in pattern making books of the 80s – twist front tops, wrap tops, cascade jackets, leggings. And so on. All this is naturally taken into account without you having to think about or even be aware of it, if you wear recent styles from the pattern books.

Okay, I find many of the recent patterns dull, and some of them too extreme. The pattern companies try to provide for all styles, and many people like the patterns I dislike. My dislikes are clues to my own style. But I don’t think you’ll find any recent pattern with the huge american-football-player shoulders that were fashionable in the 80s 😀

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There’s a great deal more in the designer collections and the stylish stores than the 6 In Style suggestions for the coming winter, or the 10 Vogue items for next summer. So if we don’t like those ideas, that doesn’t mean we have to muddle along with no hope of being current or stylish. But we do have to do our own legwork.

If this lack of fashion clarity makes you uncomfortable, here’s a discussion started by Male Pattern Boldness.

I get a great deal of pleasure and fun out of looking at what’s happening in fashion. But magazines are best taken for inspiration and entertainment, not for strict rules dictation !

My next post is my own pick of the new season’s patterns – very different from what the In Style list says I should be wearing. Nothing like the photos from the collections in my Trends post either 😀

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Links available August 2010
Photos from