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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Casual classics

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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Soft casuals

Onion (Denmark)
Onion patterns in English

Stoff&Stil (Denmark, ship only to Scandinavia and Germany)
Stoff & Stil site in English.

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.

Farbenmix (Germany) – like Ottobre this is mainly a company for children’s patterns, but there are some for Mum too.
Farbenmix site in English – look under Patterns > Women.

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Soft and chic

Hot Patterns – English designers working in Florida. Issue most enticing videos about their patterns.

Colette Patterns

Both these pattern lines available in UK from Sew Box.

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Brilliant prints

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.

Amy Butler

Anna Maria Horner

Bettsy Kingston

Lila Tueller – list of patterns at bottom of right hand menu

Sew Liberated
Book : “Sew Liberated” by Meg McElwee – ideas for appliqué. Despite the cover this has few clothes.

Serendipity Studio
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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Lively lycra

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.

Many sources in Europe including Habithat (UK), and Sewing Patterns (Netherlands)

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New Cool

Multisnit (Denmark)
Wide range of styles, many current ‘street’ to boho. Traceable pattern sheet and brief sewing instructions in Danish. Buy in English from Fjoelner.

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.

La Mia Boutique, 12 issues a year, is available from :
UK subscription
Italy subscription

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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Luxe Boutique

Au Bonheur des Petites Mains (France)
Au Bonheur site in English

Schnittquelle (Germany)
Schnittquelle site in English

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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.

A book on very simple pattern making is “Design-it-yourself clothes” by Cal Patch. See Amazon reviews for limitations. Preview of some styles here.

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 2010

Explore posts in the same categories: pattern making for clothes, personal style

16 Comments on “Independent pattern designers – a new generation”

  1. Karin Says:

    I’ve tried Onion, Hotpatterns, and Colette. All three are good, though expensive compared to big 4 patterns bought in a 99 cent sale! I always thought of Stoff&Stil as being Danish! Shows what I know! I have considered ordering fabric from them, but never do. It’s still cheaper from the US.

  2. Rose in SV Says:

    Thank you for this compilation! Lovely!

  3. RuthieK Says:

    Agree that the sewing magazines in the UK are very poor on technique. They are appealing I think to a younger audience who want quick (but dirty) projects, and its quite disappointing to me when I see some of the poor qulaity stuff they show in the mags.

  4. Mariadenmark Says:

    Stof&Stil started out in Denmark in 1980 (owners are Marianne and Peter Lerche) and is Danish. They have ekspanded and now have shops in Sweden, Norway and Germany besides those in Denmark.
    The styles vary a lot, but they do seem to have becomed a lot more fashion forward in the recent years.
    Just thought I would let you know.
    Very nice listing. There is a few companies, that I haven’t tried yet -now I have to! 🙂

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Maria for the clarification. I first heard about Stof & Stil as a Norwegian company, then found a Swedish address on their web-site, so it’s good to get the right information !

  5. Leah Taylor Says:

    Thanks for the link. I have just discovered your blog and it’s fantastic – some really interesting articles. Do you have a link to add to my google reader, I couldn’t find one?

    Also, in case you are interested, as of next month I will also be stocking DIY Couture’s books, and ModKid sewing patterns by Patty Young…

    • sewingplums Says:

      Many thanks Leah (SewBox) for your comment. Most of the WordPress facilities don’t work in my elderly browser and I’m afraid I have no idea what a link o a Google reader is 😀 but thanks for asking for one

      • Leah Taylor Says:

        Oh sorry google reader is just a way to be notified of new blog posts, usually blogs have a “Subscribe by RSS” option.. I would love to have a way of being notified when you post new articles! x

      • sewingplums Says:

        Hello Leah. There should be a Subscribe button at the bottom of the right hand menu
        Thanks for your interest !

  6. sewingplums Says:

    Thanks Karin, Rose, Ruth for the comments. I’ve really enjoyed finding all these patterns over the last few months !

  7. ejvc Says:

    Another great post, Lisanne. I’ve heard of or tried most of these, but not all of them, and it’s always interesting to see. I think you might (possibly) include Bernina MyLabel on this list. Although these aren’t the traditional way to present patterns, nonetheless they are a pattern range with instructions etc — just with an emphasis on fit. Just my opinion! I would not include the other patternmaking software as those are more geared towards the user as designer.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Elizabeth – what an interesting idea 😀

      I would say BML patterns are for modern classics.

  8. ejvc Says:

    And – oh yes – I just realised (but perhaps you excluded them) that Oliver + S are doing beautiful children’s patterns. I wouldn’t be suprprised if they branch out.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Elizabeth – good reminder. I chose not to mention children’s patterns – Ottobre and Farbenmix ones just got mentioned in passing.

  9. Saints & Pinners Says:

    Wow, what a comprehensive post! Thanks for mentioning us – but just to clarify that we’re ‘Saints & Pinners’, not ‘Spinners’
    Best wishes

  10. lin3arossa Says:

    There’s also and the Lekala patterns.

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