Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where are all the good patterns hiding?

So this new book arrived in the mail today. Thank you, Mail Fairy, I'm looking forward to trying it out.

I'm hoping it will help me bridge the gap between the patterns I can buy - the same old vanilla selection offered by Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick and McCalls (I don't really use Burda because I find their instructions inadequate and confounding. But I digress) - and the patterns I actually want to make.

I understand that pattern companies need to appeal to a wide range of clients, and that they are businesses who must turn a profit. Therefore, they design patterns that will appeal, suit and fit the broadest category of people. And you know what that means? That means most - and I say most, not all, because they've certainly lifted their game in recent years, I remember the empty prairies of the 80s pattern books - of their patterns are like the sewing equivalent of Muzak.

You know what I mean. No real highs, no real lows, no really interesting details .... just the basic stuff. No edge. No surprises. Not a whole lot of modern.

Now, I love an A-line dress and a fitted suit and a pair of capri pants as much as the next girl. Actually, that's a lie - I don't love capri pants, they cut me off at the calf and make me look even shorter than I already am, which is certainly some kind of mighty achievement that deserves an award.

But what I'm looking for as my sewing develops, is patterns that can help me learn techniques to express who I am, through the cut of my clothes and not just the fabric I choose to make them in, which is where I find myself at the moment.

Dresses like this here, for example. Why can't I buy patterns for dresses like this? I am in love with it.

It was designed by the lovely person behind the Grosgrain blog, for a competition run by the Shabby Apple (lovely, lovely dresses - do take a look). So a pattern company didn't come up with it, but it doesn't take a huge leap of intellect to make the connection that there is a demand for this kind of gorgeous creation.

If Grosgrain Fabulous can design things like this just off the top of her lovely head, why isn't there a pattern company out there jumping on this niche opportunity?? Gah!

I must make friends with a patternmaker, I think, so they can translate the things in my head into things on the page. Sigh. Anyone know a patternmaker?

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Erm, I'm a patternmaker... The hassle with making a made-to-measure pattern for someone is the necessity of drafting up blocks, making them up in calico then adjusting the fit over and over until you get it right. Then of course once the pattern is made up you have to decide if you'll try it out in calico first to make sure it goes together right, or take a chance and make it up in the real fabric in order to save time (which is the case with the majority of bridesmaids who aren't willing to pay for the time all the steps above require).

And then there's a fact that the pattern you've just made doesn't come with instructions, so you have to know off the top of your head how to put it together or refer to similar patterns for hints.

I'm so glad I'm not trying to make money from dressmaking any more, just thinking about this stuff if stressing me out!

However once you've got the basic block sorted, you can reuse those measurements and make up lots of different variations on dresses, skirts etc knowing they'll fit properly.