Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Indie Pattern Month!

Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes came up with the brilliant idea of 'Indie Pattern Month', a chance for us sewing bloggers to celebrate the talents of the ever increasing number of independent sewing pattern designers across the globe.



If you read my post last week about my experience sewing up Simplicity 2444 you'll know that making that dress was the very first time I'd used a pattern from the 'Big Four' pattern companies (Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls and Vogue). Considering I started sewing around 18 months ago and also the range and number of patterns available from these companies is probably quite surprising. Though when I think about it, it shouldn't have been to me as I love indie patterns so much! It may be the illustrations or styling on the envelopes of the big 4 patterns but I find it much easier to get excited by the more contemporary indie label designs.

My second Sewaholic Lonsdale

I think I've stuck with using indie patterns for so long because I find their construction instructions and diagrams to be so amazing for a novice seamstress. I'm a completely self taught seamstress; I learnt by reading sewing blogs for tips and tutorials, referring to sewing books but mainly just by being guided by the instructions of the patterns themselves. One of my earliest projects was the Lonsdale Dress from Sewaholic Patterns. Taisa's pattern instructions are fantastic and include tips and tricks which you just wouldn't find in mass produced patterns. Some of the techniques I learnt making this dress (like using stay tape, clipping seams and lining) are now completely natural steps to me that I use on nearly every project.

My La Sylphide Blouse from Papercut and Charlotte Skirt from By Hand London

Indie patterns have a lot going for them, mainly because you can guarantee that so much time, thought and consideration has gone into the creation of each pattern. The packaging is just one example and a particular favourite of mine for this is Papercut Patterns. The patterns arrive in beautiful little boxes with a fold out hanger for storage and and removable postcard image of the design with all the useful 'back of envelope' information on the back; easy to take with you fabric shopping! Then the patterns themselves are printed on lovely robust paper, along with the cutting and construction instructions which you can fold up into a cute little booklet.

My Elisalex Dress from By Hand London

In fact indie designers are great for encouraging beginner sewers, and not just through their instructions but through things such as free pattern downloads, such as the Colette Sorbetto Top, so you can try your hand without spending a fortune. They provide amazing resources on their own blogs like tutorials, sew-a-longs and even often make themselves available to answer questions if you get stuck when with part of their instructions. I followed the By Hand London sew-a-longs for both the Charlotte Skirt and Elisalex Dress and was lucky enough to even get some advice choosing lining from the lovely Elisalex herself at a meet up!

My first Scout Tee from Grainline Studio

I think there's something for everyone offered by indie designers. Maybe you want your patterns NOW so some designers, like Grainline Studio, provide an instant PDF download option for their patterns. Maybe you're after hard to find modern patterns for men, then new company Thread Theory may be just what you are looking for!

Here's a little round up list of the fab indie pattern designers I know of; I love discovering a new one so hopefully some of you might too!


I know I'll be mainly sewing indie labels well into the future, in fact I'm currently working on the Coppelia Cardigan from Papercut, along with a third (yes third!) version of the Lonsdale dress from Sewaholic and I've got my eye on the gorgeous Hawthorne dress which has just been released by Colette! Have you tried sewing with a pattern from an indie label before? If so what are your favourites?

25 comments:

  1. Holy wow, you have made some simply stunning items. That Papercut top and By Hand skirt are just to die for, so beautiful! I have obtained a lot of vintage patterns in my short endeavours into sewing as well as used patterns from books but am very excited to get many more patterns from the indie companies here. I love the personal touches and attention to detail.

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    1. Thanks Catja! I think you've hit the nail on the head with what you say about indie patterns, the attention to detail and originality is just great!

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  2. What a gorgeous lineup of projects-- these indie designs really suit you! I've sewn patterns from nine of the companies you've listed, and I've had great experiences with all of them!

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    1. Wow nine?! That's pretty good going! I've tried out quite a few now and have got some more ready to try!

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  3. I love Deer&Doe (her patterns are now also available in english) and aime comme marie (I don't know if her patterns are available in english though). These experiences with indie patterns really inspire me to try other ones. I want to try sewaholic patterns and probably By hand London too... And then all the other ones too! :-)

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    1. ooo! aime comme marie is a new one to me! How exciting! Just had a quick look and loving the peplum top and mens shirt! I might add them to my list if you don't mind? Spread the word!

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  4. Wow, you have some beautiful pieces there! I love our Elisalex dress! And thanks for this post - I haven't really tried any indie patterns yet, but I'm going to look through all the companies on your list and I'm sure there'll be a few ill want to try!

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    1. Definitely do! There's a great variety available out there, glad to be able to give you some new patterns to explore!

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  5. All your projects here are so lovely! Post-pregnancy I'm looking forward to trying out the Sewaholic Cambie pattern as I've never used any of Tasia's patterns and have heard, and seen, such good things! Right now though I'm looking forward to the By Hand London Victoria blazer sew-along and carrying on with more Grainline patterns. Thanks for your list!

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    1. I'm desperate to try the cambie too! Have been for ages! I'm sorely tempted just to splash out and treat myself to a few of the Sewaholic patterns but think I've got too many patterns that I haven't tried yet to buy more really! Looking forward to seeing your Victoria blazer

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  6. I think one of the main reasons I never really got the clothes sewing bug until recently was because I found the big pattern companies designs just a bit boring. I love indie patterns and as well as looking great I feel there is just so much more love that has gone into them. Great list, there are a couple on there I've not come across so going to check them out - thanks!

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    1. Thanks Nicki, that's exactly how I feel about them. I never feel particularly inspired or get that 'I have to have that pattern' feeling with the patterns from the big four.

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  7. I forgot to add yesterday http://citronille.fr/produit.php?id_collection=5 has some cute things. Mainly for kids but they do some adult patterns too.

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    1. O fantastic thank you! I'll add them to the list!

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  8. All your projects look soooo gorgeous Fiona! Thanks for the list too :)

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    1. Thanks Ami! I must confess I did pick my favourite pictures to include in this post!

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  9. Hello Fiona - I am new to your blog via Kathryn (of Busy Town), and am just having a wee browse - I'm loving your makes so far!

    I personally couldn't agree more regarding indie pattern designers. I did start with the Big 4, because I sewed before I became aware of the online community and therefore that there were other options (none of my local shops stock indie patterns), and have made a few since. But I always prefer, and return to, indie patterns - for all the reasons you listed above.

    Thanks for this list. I am aware of most companies on here, but not them all, so I'm off to check them out now.

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi Helen!
      I'm glad you agree, it's lovely that so many more independent pattern designers are popping up as it gives us so much more design choice don't you think?!
      I hope you discover a new company you love from the list!

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  10. The indie patterns are so on point. Love your pussy bow blouse. Am obsessed with them but yet to make one. https://www.facebook.com/SassySewingBees

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    1. Thank you! That's exactly the way to put it, they are so much more current and on trend designs than the big four I think, especially in terms of youthful designs and fit

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  11. Just realised Jamie Christina is not there don't know how I forgot, her Mission Maxi was whipped up left right and centre along the sewing blogosphere one year http://jamiechristina.com/

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    1. O good spot! I had completely forgotten her which is silly as now I've tried knits I have been eyeing up the Mission Maxi! I'll add her now

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  12. Does it make a difference if the patterns come from a different country such as America or France? Do you have to change the measurements? I'm new to all of this and it's confusing!

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    1. Hi Gemma! How exciting that you're new to sewing! No you don't need to change the measurements. You need to use the measurement chart on the back of the pattern to choose your size as most pattern companies' sizing doesn't correspond to high street sizing no matter where you are in the world. Some of these charts will be in metric and some in imperial but it should say which so you can pick your size easily. I keep my bust, waist and hip measurements noted down in both inches and centimetres to make this even easier! You might not fall exactly into one size with all three measurements but I normally go with the one that seems to be the best fit (and with full skirts/dresses the hip measurement doesn't matter so much). You can also also choose to use different sizes at different points on the pattern by marking the size you want at the bust and the size you want at the waist then drawing your own line between. That's hard to explain in a sentence but there's lots of tutorials out there to help. Tilly and the Buttons has some great posts for beginner seamstresses. Good Luck!

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  13. Thank you very much for these links! I was disappointed with the generic patterns that you can get at the store, I like these indie brands a lot!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!