Tag Archives: indie pattern designers

Should Pattern Designers Know How to Draft and Grade Patterns?

pattern grading

The view on my computer screen has looked a lot like this for the last few days

I got all the graded patterns back for my new book last week and am currently in the process of getting them ready to go to print.

I know how to grade patterns, but I choose not to do it myself because:

  1. I don’t have the right software to do it digitally,
  2. manual grading takes forever,
  3. it can be quite a boring job and I’d rather be doing other more creative tasks!

When patterns come back from the graders I get a full size set on card to use in classes and a digital set that can go to print.

graded patterns

I always find that the digital patterns require a bit of tweaking, just a bit, but some truing up here and there. Because I can draft and grade patterns myself and have been doing it for a long time, I know what to look for. But I started thinking while doing this job today; I wonder if all pattern designers do this, or for that matter, would even know to check their grading?

I know of pattern designers who don’t even draft their own patterns, so presumably they have no idea how to grade a pattern. I also see people who appear to have only just started to sew releasing their own patterns. How are these patterns checked and trued?

Now, I’m not saying I’m a saint and know all there is to know about pattern drafting and grading, in fact I’m happy to always be learning. But, I do know the importance of trued pattern pieces, carefully placed and matched notches, and I’ve gained that knowledge through years of practical experience.

Unlike sewing, pattern cutting is an exact science; it needs to be right. If the pattern’s out, the resulting garment won’t sew together easily and won’t look right.  It’s like baking a cake; you can’t change the quantity of flour without changing the quantity of sugar, eggs and butter (I’m no cook, but I do grasp a few basics!)

But is this ok? We can’t all be brilliant at everything. Why shouldn’t a designer get someone else to draft their patterns and/or do their grading without feeling the need to check any of it? My feeling is that it’s how connected that designer wants to be to their customer. If you want to ask a question about a pattern, think you might even have spotted a mistake in a pattern or want to see a sew-along or pattern hack for a particular pattern, what’s the point in asking a pattern designer who has no idea how it was created in the first place?

What’s your experience? I’d love to know.

Sewing Indie Month 2015 Happenings

Blimey, being involved in a project like Sewing Indie Month is one way to get your September off to a flying start and blow away the summer holiday cobwebs!! There’s been loads going on. Here’s a little round-up of what I’ve been involved with….

** A little heads-up before I start – the PDF pattern bundle sale (which my Walkley vest and dress pattern is included in) has been extended for 2 more days!! You now have until Saturday 12th September to get 10 fabulous indie sewing patterns for just $38 (approx. £25!!!) with 20% of the proceeds going to Women for Women – a charity helping women who are facing violence, marginalisation and poverty because of war and conflict. If that’s not enough, you’ll also get a coupon for 15% off at Grey’s Fabric and Notions!! **

So, back to what’s been happening so far….

My Interview!

interview with wendy ward of MIY collection on SBCC

I was interviewed by Betsy of Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick patterns for her blog. Betsy is a brilliant interviewer and came up with some really thoughtful questions which I enjoyed sitting down to think about. Have a read here.

Blog Reviews of my MIY Walkley Sewing Pattern

There have been some fabulous blogger reviews of my MIY Collection Walkley vest and dress sewing pattern, with some excellent advice on hacks and workarounds for various style and fit requirements:

MIY Walkley review on Cation Designs

First up 2 gorgeous versions from Cation Designs in stripe and plain. Read her review for an excellent lesson in how knit fabrics are not all the same!

MIY Walkley review on Magpie Makery

Next, a cute floral version with a clever workaround for anyone who thinks a boat neck won’t work for them by Magpie Makery.

MIY Walkley review on Paprika Patterns

And another stripey version of the dress by Lisa at Paprika Patterns. Lisa has chosen a different way to finish the neck and used an ingenious method for eliminating excess fabric at the back of the dress for a novel sway back adjustment, which I have to say I love!

MIY Walkley by scruffy badger time

And I love this striped version by Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time. Read her thoughts on deliberate stripe matching and mis-matching, quick sews and making a super versatile top.

So, that’s it for now lovely readers, there will be more goings on here and on all the other participating designers’ blogs over the month of September, but in the meantime – get your bundle of 10 amazing PDF patterns now before it’s too late!

Who Drafted Your Sewing Pattern? (or How to Choose a Sewing Pattern)


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!

It’s Sewing Indie Month!


It’s here, a whole month of blogging and sewing and tutorials and competitions with amazing prizes from all your favourite and best known independent sewing pattern designers. And I’m part of it – WOW!! It’s going to be a great month.

So, what exactly is Sewing Indie Month? 

Sewing Indie Month (SIM) is a month-long celebration of indie sewing patterns and the people who sew them. The month is packed full of fun interviews and informative tutorials. It also includes a sewalong contest with exciting prizes and has grown to include bundle sales, where you can get select patterns at outrageously low prices. The project is organised by Mari Miller of Seamster Patterns and the project (and pattern bundle sales) live at the Sew Independent website. You can follow it on social media by using the hashtags #SIM2015 and #sewingindiemonth

Which indie designers are involved?

Seamster Sewing Patterns  |  Waffle Patterns  |  Kate & Rose  |  Dixie DIY Patterns  |  Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Patterns  |  Fehr Trade  |  Lolita Patterns  |  SomaPatterns  |  True Bias  |  Maison Fleur  |  Paprika Patterns  |  Closet Case Files  |  MIY Collection  |  imagine gnats  |  Sew House Seven  |  Muse Patterns  |  Blueprints For Sewing  |  Sew Over It  |  SeamstressErin Designs  |  Sew Liberated  |  Jennifer Lauren Vintage Patterns

You can find out more about all the designers involved here.

Now, I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see MIY Collection in that impressive line-up!!

How do I buy the PDF pattern bundles?

OK, so just one of the many brilliant things about Sewing Indie Month is that most of the designers involved have contributed one of their PDF patterns for inclusion in 2 bundle sales. The first one, which ran in August, was a great success, the second (which I’m part of), starts today! But it only runs until 10th September, so don’t spend too long thinking about it.

Here is the bundle in it’s entirety of 10 patterns:

sewing indie month pattern bundle

Pretty impressive huh?!

The way the bundle works is in essence you pay what you want for the bundle. The more you pay, the more patterns you’ll receive:

  • pay $25 or more for the first tier of the bundle (5 patterns)
  • pay $32 or more for the 2nd tier (the original 5 patterns + 2 more)
  • pay $38 or more for the entire bundle of 10 patterns – which works out at just $3.80 (approx. £2.47 per pattern!)

Even better, 20% of all bundle proceeds will be donated to Women for Women, which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict.

Here’s a full list of the patterns included:

Yes, that is the Walkley Vest & Dress of mine in there!!

And during the pattern sale some of the world’s best loved sewing bloggers will be busy stitching up their own versions of the patterns to inspire you. Here they are:

Remember, this is a once in a lifetime chance to get all of these patterns at such a low price and make a contribution to a very timely charity at the same time. Get yours now!

Tell me more about the competitions and how I can get involved?

There are three prize categories open to anyone sewing any pattern by any of the participating designers. Now I know loads of my MIY Workshop students that could enter any of these….!

Here are the categories:

SIM2015banner_dress_720 SIM2015banner_everydaycasual_720 SIM2015banner_patternhack_720

There are some amazing prizes up for grabs. Here are the full details on the competition rules and prizes.

Where will I find all the guest tutorials and interviews?

Keep track of all the SIM2015 goings-on with this calendar. Remember you can also follow us on social media with the hashtags #SIM2015 and #sewingindiemonth

Highlights for me and MIY Collection will be:

Busy month then!  Happy Sew Indie Month.