The world of Indie Sewing Patterns expands by the day, which is good news! Being able to use patterns from independent designers is great, but with so much choice out there, how much do you really know about them?
This is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for months and as it’s now Sew Indie Month and I’m a part of that amazing project, I thought it was the perfect time!
It’s a subject which has been touched on recently by Abby Glassenberg in this post about an accreditation system, with some interesting discussions in the comments. Although it initially sounds like a good idea which does appeal to to me, I personally don’t think any kind of accreditation system could work; it would be too cumbersome and inevitably result in some sort of subscription or membership fee being due which would push up the price of patterns.
Other options are review sites and curated sites. Of the review sites there’s really only one main one; Pattern Review, it’s thorough, it’s well-used (I think, have you ever used it?), but couldn’t it just do with a bit of an image overhaul? In dressmaking we are sadly lacking a Ravelry equivalent. For all you non-knitters, Ravelry is like Facebook for knitters! Of the knitters I know it seems to be well-used and well-loved.
Of the curated sites, there’s Kollabora and Indiesew. Kollabora has a huge choice, but it doesn’t just stop at dressmaking and includes other crafts. Indiesew focusses just on dressmaking, but it doesn’t stock some key designers. My main reservation about sites like these is that well, didn’t we all think that one of the many great reasons for buying from indie designers is that you know exactly where all of your £$ is going?? Indiesew and Kollabora are both predominantly market places and they take their cut.
Then there are organised events and PDF pattern bundle sales like Sew Indie Month and what was Perfect Pattern Parcel, where patterns are bundled together from reputable indie designers with the proceeds going direct to the designers and also a proportion going to charity.
So really, the best way to check out the credentials of an indie pattern designer, or find one that shares your dressmaking vision, is going to be recommendations from stitchy friends and doing your own research.
Start by asking these questions:
- Do they have relevant training?
- Have they worked in the fashion industry with garment-making experience?
- Do they teach? (Teachers understand how to write clear jargon-free instructions and know the problems that learners will encounter.)
- Have they drafted the pattern themselves? If not, why? Is it because they can’t pattern cut? Someone who doesn’t draft their own patterns might not be able to help with any technical questions you might have about using the pattern. It’s one thing to come up with a nice design, quite another to be able to draft a technically correct pattern for it and really understand how it’s put together so that people using the pattern will be able to do the same.
- Do they have a blog/website where you can find additional technical sewing help and advice?
- Can you see versions that real people have made using the pattern as well as just the designer on their website?
Lots of indie designers do everything themselves and don’t have a massive budget to splash out on fancy graphics, brand designers, web designers, etc so don’t rush to judge a book by its cover: beautiful, professionally designed packaging of a pattern doesn’t necessarily tell you the quality of what’s inside.
Here are some excellent blog posts about what’s involved in developing a new pattern. I did consider writing a post like this myself, but as these two designers have explained it so well, why not read theirs. They’ll also shed light on why indie patterns cost more than the big traditional pattern companies:
Happy indie pattern sewing!