I recently had a few promos from the Big 4 pattern companies in my in-box. You probably got them too, if you have ever clicked on to a pattern company’s website. I love looking at patterns online, whether checking out the current crop of vintage on eBay, or the newest additions at the Big 4 or the Independants.
One of the ways pattern companies attempt to differentiate themselves is by the look of the envelope. Fashion drawings, photos, line drawings, stylized drawings, often you can tell at a glance who’s who and what’s what by the look of the envelope.
Here’s a quiz: quick, do you know what a Built-By-Wendy envelope drawing looks like? Simplicity, on their website, shows photos, but click on the item and you are taken to view of the envelope.
How about Loes Hinse and her ubiquitous model? (Is that her daughter?) What about Folkwear? I bet you can recognize that anywhere. And we have all heard the complaints about KwikSew’s uninspiring drawings. Fortunately for us, most companies include a line drawing somewhere on the envelope to help understand the style.
Face it, to make an informed decision about a pattern purchase, we all want the maximum amount of visuals, along with the lowdown on body measurements, fit info, yardage requirements, suggested fabrics. In the day of the $15-20 pattern, a bad pattern choice can be very annoying. The less information available, the less likely I am going to buy that pattern.
With so many choices available now on where to buy patterns, and what pattern to select, how to discern what to buy? There’s a minimum that I expect, but you know what? I bought a Marfy pattern from Italy, paid serious money for it, and not only are there no markings on the pattern tissue, and no seam allowances, there is not even a picture of any description on the envelope. For that I had to download and print out the drawing from the website. I guess in Italy, you would have purchased that season’s catalog. (I’ll post my Marfy pattern sewing experience another day)
Contrast my Marfy experience, where I was well informed what to expect before ordering, with recent experiences, well-documented, with HotPatterns. There was a lot of ranting in on-line forums about inadequate sewing instructions, with no pictures, not to mention issues with fitting that most had with the early releases of that pattern line. Mixed in with those complaints were the comments about the disconnect between the drawings and the final sewn product. Somehow, those fashion illustrations, even though accompanied by a technical drawing of sorts, were not enough of an indication of what the envelope contained.
It seems though, that sewing enthusiasts are being heard. Kayla Kennington recently updated her website with of garments made with her patterns. There are some beautiful examples of the pattern in different fabrics. I like to think of these as ‘serving suggestions’ – sew it up the same way, or get inspired to make it your own way.
Technical drawing? or illustration? photo? or all 3? Which is most important for you in your pattern purchase decision?
Shout out to my Dear Daughter for her fashion illustration. (Mostly she is into Japanese manga and anime, but I got her to help out on a project recently.) Thanks to Irena for her Adobe Illustrator line drawing.