A couple of years ago, I ventured away from traditional sewing patterns and began trying some patterns by independent pattern designers. I found that many of them were far superior to traditional patterns. I loved the extra tips and step-by-step photos. I knew that a considerable amount of thought and effort had gone into producing each one.
Now as I have been producing my own patterns, I have come to appreciate (even more) all of the hours and hours of effort that these designers have poured into their work. Putting together a pattern requires a variety of skills and perseverance. Of course, sewing is a big part of the process, but then there are pages of mathematical calculations, making several prototypes (and the failures), converting the pattern from paper to digital form, designing a logo and brand identity, running a website, bookkeeping and marketing, learning product photography, organizing pattern testers…all before the first sale.
Patterns from independent designers cost more than the sewing patterns you find on sale at the chain fabric stores. I’m frugal. I used to find the cost hard to justify, but you are paying for a lot more than just a piece of paper:
1. Originality – You can find sewing patterns from independent designers for any taste and style. There are patterns for vintage style clothes, clothes that are practical for moms on-the-go, play clothes for kids, clothes for men, modern and trendy clothes, clothes for pear-shaped women, maternity clothes, and bags for any purpose. Patterns no longer have a “one-style-fits-all” feel. People are designing patterns that are just right for you and your specific taste.
2. Quality – Independent designers want to sell patterns they can be proud to put their name on. They usually receive feedback from several patterns testers and make necessary changes before offering patterns for sale. Their patterns are tested with a variety of fabrics and sizes in order to ensure the designs meet the high standards the designers place on themselves.
Abby (who designs patterns for stuffed animals) interviewed Sara about her pattern testing process for the bags she designs. You can really get a sense for the care and consideration that goes into each pattern when you understand the details that are part of the design process.
3. Approachability – Independent designers appreciate feedback and questions. Most provide e-mail addresses so that you can ask questions, and they are active on social media. I know the names of the designers whose patterns I buy.
More than once, I have contacted pattern designers and received responses within an hour. Many of them are stay at home moms. In our culture of automated phone services and inaccessible businesses, it is refreshing to communicate with real people again.
4. Sustainability – A large number of independent designers are committed to sustainable practices in their homes and businesses. They are involved in their local communities and support other small businesses. Many are involved in charity work.
When I think of sustainable pattern designers, Betz White comes to mind. She is the author of Sewing Green and incorporates eco-friendly practices into her sewing and crafting projects.
One way you can support indie pattern designers and more…
The pattern photos above are courtesy of Perfect Pattern Parcel—a new project to help support indie pattern designers and give to charity at the same time! Parcel #1, a collection of women’s wear, is available for one more week. You choose the price you pay to help support the designers and an educational charity called Donors Choose. If this collection of patterns isn’t your style, watch for new pattern collections to be released in the coming weeks. Each parcel will be available for only 2 weeks, so check back often!
Update: When Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 in no longer available, you can find the individual patterns below: