Monday, January 04, 2021

The Changeover has happened

Is it just me or does it seem as if more sewists are sewing with Indie Patterns?  Is this another off shoot of 2020 and how it's changed our lifestyles?  I know I've written about this topic before, quite a few times actually, but especially here. And some of the makes I've made recently and like most are made from an Indie Pattern.

Fifteen versions of the Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress

I've noticed that on Instagram there are way more Indie Patterns shared, at least in the sewists I follow, than Big 4. When Indie Patterns first showed up they had a casual lifestyle feel to them that didn't reflect my own life. As I've changed jobs and now due to a pandemic live at home for everything, my own wardrobe needs have changed. Needs that are being met more by the Indie Pattern designers than the Big 4.

Some days I even wonder if the Big 4 are going to survive?  There are now quite a few Indie Patterns for fat girls by fat girl designers AND quite a few of the Indie Pattern designers have sized their patterns up to larger sizes, 30+. Then there was that whole fiasco with the McCalls printing plant being shut down due to hackers which stopped EVERYONE from printing patterns!

Indie Patterns and PDF printing that seemed as if it would never be the mainstream seems to be all anyone talks about and uses now. I've even bought and had some PDF patterns printed and shipped to me.


So this is the first Question of the Day for 2021?  Have you noticed a change in your wardrobe due to the pandemic?  And if so, are you filling the need with items you're sewing from RTW, Big4 or Indie Patterns?

My sewing is changing too. This is what's on my cutting table right now...



Talk back to me!  Let me know how you ended your sewing in 2020 and how you're moving into 2021?

Also, thank you to everyone who responded to my last couple of posts! I know I've been posting erratically and so appreciate that y'all keep showing up!

...as always more later!



57 comments:

  1. Great topic! I think the Big 4 are definitely losing favour, and quickly. They are not keeping up to current trends, any have mistakes in instructions, sizing is unpredictable etc. So pleased you are making Style Arc, which is now my go to company. I have made a toile for the Jules tunic, not sure if I want to keep going so look forward to seeing your make. Mildred jumpsuit is so cute! I just love it, and know you will have fun with it. Those Myosotis dresses are just so beautiful, and individual, and who would believe all from the same pattern. What a clever sewist you are: I love everything you make. Happy New Year Carolyn.

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  2. Talk about so-jo out the win-dow. During the pandemic I fill the gaps in my wardrobe with old clothes. (And I mean OLD. Which has actually spurred me to add some real winners, errr losers, to the "donate" pile.)
    Soooooo, I've been into indy patterns for the last five or so years because of style and fit.
    Recently I've noticed that many of the newer Big 4 patterns seem to be knock-offs of popular indy patterns. I'm wondering if you or your readers have noticed this too?

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  3. I love style arc. I use many more indie over big four, for the better designs in extended sizing. I live in a rural area, and work night shift in scrubs. Very little reason for me to ever dress up (I try and keep an adequate “funeral dress” and shoes in the closet). I’ve pretty much even given up Walmart trips to my younger daughter with the smaller income living with me, mine is the income we can’t afford to lose to Covid. So, I started Covid season with an already limited wardrobe that with wear and tear and weight gain has become even more limited. I need to work on this.

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  4. Hi Carolyn, I love all the different versions of the myosotis dress! My pattern stash is made up of Indie patterns and self-drafted patterns because these are ones that actually fit me without making alterations. When I see patterns people are using from the big 4, they don't appeal to me because they're modelled by thin people! I also need patterns for clothes which can be worn easily in a wheelchair, so this adds another dimension to my needs, so no jumpsuits or dungarees here I'm afraid :(
    Looking forward to keeping up with your creations this year :)

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  5. Well I don't have any indie patterns at all, just big 4. I do like the patterns that you have on cutting table right now. They look cute & comfortable but overalls are back in style again & the th op is your style sort of like the dress you make that are pretty. I think it's ok to feel pretty in comfort & heck I'd were those dresses to work during summer. Why not?. And I am now getting into quilting. First quilt was a rag quilt second was a true quilt I made for my daughter then sent to have quilted which I won't do again because that alone cost for double bed 120.00 so will practice w the second one I did which does need to b sandwiched w bating & backing. Right now working on a log cabin for my dads room & will machine quilt that myself free motion of course on my Janome 1001. How is your new one working out for you? Have you ever done quilting because oh boy it can get very addicting ūü§Į once you get started. Good luck w your new projects cant wait to see coveralls. If they look good on you I actually might have a go at it myself.

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  6. Couldn't agree more, Carolyn. Rarely an indie pattern user I now find myself ordering indie PDFs like they are going out of style! I do find the fit better and more consistent for my 4'11" frame than the Big 4 and though I still go to work outside the home I can find designs that work for my lifestyle. Seems Big 4 doesn't care anymore.

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  7. Love your blog. Really miss you when you are not here. I have never sewed an indie pattern but really must start. I am so disgusted with the Big 4. They leave out whole sections of instructions at time and fit is God awful. Love that tunic pattern on your cutting table. Have so much fabric and need to sew it up but nothing seems to fit me and I get so tired of the wasted time making something that doesn't fit. Keep posting. I do so enjoy anything you have to say.

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  8. I have a range of factors at play here. Here in Western Australia, we generally only have Spotlight for paper patterns. They are clearly gradually phasing these out and there are less and less patterns in the self-serve drawers. Even when you see one that might fit well, it is often not available in the size you need. It is easier to shop online for an immediately downloadable pdf, rather than waiting for a paper pattern to ship so Indie patterns are more available to me than the Big 4. That said, I have begun to revisit the Big 4 because they have got cheaper and have had a few shopping sprees when they were on special. The poor fit means that I am leaning towards re-doing my slopers and drafting for myself again, rather than buying any patterns at all.

    As far as the pandemic is concerned, Western Australia has been blessed. I don't know a single person here who has had it whereas there are family and friends overseas who have been greatly affected. Our good fortune and my work in government has meant that my work is not affected at all. I was working reception at the beginning and so went in every day and my wardrobe has remained the same. I bought some RTW dresses years ago with the intention that they would do until I got a new wardrobe sewn. I have only recently got my sewjo back though and haven't made much. I'm glad it has come back as the RTW temp clothes have got quite threadbare!

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  9. Definite change to both my wardrobe and sewing due to the pandemic. Leaning all the way into working from home with comfy and cosy clothes, and sewing the same (indie patterns). I sew more from indie patterns but it's less about the designs (I think most styles are found in both big 4 and indies, and as Lodi says - big 4 designs are now being influenced by indies as much as the other way round). Indie patterns had the more detailed instructions and extra resources like sewalongs that I needed when I was first learning to sew. Big 4 patterns are more expensive here in Ireland than in the States, and a lot of fabric shops don't even stock patterns here. Since finding a local and reasonably priced A0 printing option, I would much rather buy direct from the designer and have the pattern printed and posted to me. Price-wise it works out about the same, and it's more convenient for me. I reuse patterns all the time, for me sewing is about having multiples in different fabrics, rather than having all the different styles.

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  10. I can't wait to see how the Jules tunic turns out! I've been eyeing that one for months. Also, I just want to say what an inspiration you have been for me. I bought a princess-seamed Vogue blouse pattern and spent 8-10 hours testing and remaking muslins and I now have a blouse that fits me PERFECTLY -- from dropped bust, to biceps, to shoulder - everywhere! It is the first blouse I've owned in a LONG time that actually fits under my armpits! So, thank you for sharing all your TNT makes. As for changes in my wardrobe: I'm retired and at home most of the time. I've found I'm choosing to wear my "nice" clothes nearly everyday rather than on days I go out... because, I just don't go out much and want to wear all the stuff I've sewn and knitted.

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  11. I wear casual clothes to work so nothing has changed for me as far as what I sew. Since physical stores have been less accessible it seems like it would make sense that people would turn to indies more often, though I haven’t noticed more evidence for that. Maybe I haven’t been paying much attention though. I haven’t been to Joanns in almost a year and that is where I usually bought my patterns. I haven’t really missed it so it may be that others feel the same and fewer people will be buying big 4. I like having them as an option so I will be disappointed if they aren’t available anymore. Looking forward to seeing your jumpsuit and top. I have the Jules pattern half finished and can’t wait to see your version.

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  12. Carolyn, I've got three indie patterns printed off and on my table for tracing. That said, just as the old year closed out I also bought a boatload of Big 4 skirt patterns for my high school Clothing Bank project and some OOP patterns from the late 80s and 90s. I really like the ability to select a size or sizes from the PDF and only print those selections. Those patternmakers really get the "thumbs up" from me. I have a laser printer and reuse paper as in "if it is blank on one side it's recycled into pattern paper". I use Office Depot folders with prongs and pockets to store my patterns. The prongs hold the instructions while the pockets hold the trimmed pattern sheets. I carefully tape up a pattern piece at a time and then carefully remove the tape after the pattern piece is traced up thus preserving the original. I find taped up patterns impossible to store. Like others, I am so disappointed in the direction McVogerick has veered toward and find that the patterns I use the most are old, like 70s, 80s, early 90s old or current reissues from those eras. Keep up with conversation starters.
    Theresa in Tucson

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  13. Carolyn, thank you for continuing your blog. I know that it is time consuming, but I so look forward to what you have to say both about sewing and politically. You can read, watch the news, etc. but when the opinion is coming from someone that you share a common interest and has let you have a glimpse into their life, it is more impactful.

    My wardrobe definitely has changed since the pandemic. Sweatshirt fleece and French terry are two fabrics that have been getting a lot of use (we live in cold Minnesota.). I’ve enjoyed making them in a more sophisticated style such as the Jalie Tania that makes a cozy and comfortable piece of clothing.

    Which brings the question Indie or Big Four, I’m Indie. I sewed most of my clothes from when I was 12 to the early 2000’s, then my corporate job got to demanding with frequent travel and I put most of my clothing sewing on hold until I retired. I used to sew a lot of Vogue and needed a lot of adjustments as I’m a less than 5’ tall and no matter what my weight I’m curvy. I gradually found indie patterns, and gave them a try. I love that there are specialty lines like SBCC, that I don’t need to do ANY adjustments to make fit and any line that is going to have a D cup version. Jalie pants fit me with minimal adjustments and that is saying something. As far as the price, I think the Indie prices are mostly fair given all of the work that goes into creating the pattern.

    Thanks for posting, that was an interesting question.

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  14. Glad you're back to posting! I have missed you. I am slowly getting back into sewing and yes, the indies are changing what I want to make. Mostly because of what I see posted on FB with the different groups. Nice to see what it might look like on my body, or one similar to my body. Such beautiful makes - hope to one day achieve your level of sewing!!! Hugs and merry new year! Loffie

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  15. Hi Carolyn, in Canada, it's been years since we've been able to buy simplicity and New Look patterns at any bricks and mortar store, and we've never had the super cheap Big4 pattern deals that US retailers seem to offer. For garment sewing I find I turn again and again to Jalie patterns. I'm never sure how the other indie patterns will fit, but with Jalie, I've found the fit to be consistent across the range, and they often have really cool design features. They don't produce a ton of patterns, but what they do produce are designs which I can wear for years rather than seasons. The instructions are a bit sparse, and having been translated from their native French does some times take me a minute to understand (or maybe just everything seems to take me a minute to understand these days). When I use Big4, it's a pattern I've had and used before. I need to sew down my stash, and I find one of the easiest ways not to acquire more fabric is not to go into a fabric store. It's been years since I've sat down in a store to browse through a catalogue, so I'm just not buying Big4 patterns. Best wishes for 2021. Sandra

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  16. I haven't done any sewing for myself in 2020, and barely any for anyone else, either. Well..masks, because Covid. I switched to Indie patterns a few years ago because, as you say, designed by fat women for fat women, or in the case of Cake patterns, designed by a thin woman with some un-thin friends. They fit like they're actually designed for our bodies rather than just having been graded up from a size 12.
    I believe a copy of the Jules tunic is going to have to come live with me. I can't wait to see what you do with it.

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  17. Having been retired for a number of years, I've been dressing much more casually than ever. I do have to admit, though, that I miss wearing a nice dress or suit once in a while. But where would I wear it? Maybe I'll give a maxi dress or skirt a try for next summer.

    I, too, like the indie designers. Still, sometimes it seems they mostly offer the same things in very similar designs. So I bought a basic few indie patterns, mostly from Cashmerette and Love Notions that'll see me through for quite a while. Then, I'll wait for a truly unusual pattern or two, just to stretch my skills a bit. :-)

    As for the Big 4, I still have a small collection that I'll probably work on at some point, but using FBAs and other techniques to make them fit my generous figure. Might even try my hand at re-drafting some of the components to work with my favorite indie patterns. :-)

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  18. I have stopped buying patterns altogether. I am excited about the existence of the indie pattern designers, but not by their actual patterns. Unless we are still considering StyleArc an indie? I do love some of their designs. I was a lifelong adherent of Vogue and Butterick, going back to my first sewing project in 1969. I don't have to explain to this community why I no longer buy anything from the Big 4 - we all know where they are headed. However, I do have an excellent collection of Vogue designer patterns and Butterick wardrobe patterns from ealier decades, and I expect I'll be satisfied with them for a long time.

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    1. My pattern stash is pretty deep - I was a heavy buyer of old patterns in thrift stores and online (I think I had a conveyor belt bwt my mailbox and Lanetz Living). I can either use what I have or trace it and tweak it. My issue with patterns is keeping track of what I have. What a horrible problem to have!

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    2. Oh Lanetz Living... I could probably trace at least half of my collection to that lovely shop. I have the same issue with keeping track, and I knew I had a problem when I kept buying the same pattern twice because I forgot what I had! started keeping an inventory of my patterns on Trello and it works great, but like any inventory system, there is a lot of upfront data entry.

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  19. I love that Indy patterns are becoming so successful and have been boycotting the Big 4 as well as the big box stores. It feels right and is much easier than I thought.

    As for sewing, I live in an area with snow on the ground. So while I don't have a lot of energy for sewing, snow dyeing has met my creative need.

    Thank you for posting as often as you do. Lots of credit to you as I abandoned mine a while ago. You stuck with it and I love it.

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  20. Hmm, interesting topic... I would say that Big4 are definitely losing their breath - helped by their resistance to pdf (instant gratification and immediate start of sewing), their price policy (please do not get me started on their prices in Europe), under-investment in Designer patterns (there are less and less of them and let's be honest, I only paid the European price for Vogue designer patterns) and their late new design is just ugly :)
    That being said, I would also say that Instagram is used only by Indie sewists and you rarely see anything else, like Burda (still big in Europe), Patrones or Knipmode. FibreMood seems to have an aggressive social media policy, though.
    At the same time, A LOT of Indie patterns sewn are from testers or affiliates, so I think that blurs the image as well, as the magzines are not using this promotion at all. I am a big Burda fan, I learned from their magazines and love them even though they simplified greatly the patterns over the last years. It is just that you do not see Burda sewists on Instagram so much, but when you look at their website (as shitty as it might be), there is a big sewing community as well.

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    1. B-rouchka - I think it depends on who you follow on Instagram. I have several sewing friends who LOVE Burda and quite a few of their makes are Burda garments. So agree that the Big4 is losing their breath - love that phrase! The latest buyer of the company is really running them into the ground. Finally I'm not a fan of FibreMood from their aggressive social media campaign to the fact that they have no stances on anything. All of that is important to me!

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  21. Have you looked at Vogue patterns lately? Who would even wear those clothes? I used to sew the Very Easy Very Vogue patterns, not any more. I have purchased some of the new Simplicity basics, and had pretty good luck with them, and now McCall's is doing "named" patterns, still a no go for a person over the age of about 25. Huge puffy sleeves and wide shoulders? Never again! Anyway, I've been using Style Arc and Merchant & Mills over and over again with some success, and my secret plan is to make the same three patterns (top, pants, dress) over and over again so my wardrobe will be endlessly easy. I love your dress photos -- my dream wardrobe!

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    1. jmsx3 - I so agree about the new pattern releases from Vogue but I would go so far as to say they suck. I've only made two Style Arc garments but I have a bunch of patterns from them that I want to use now.

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  22. In the last two years I have transitioned to the Indie patterns. I grew tired of the Big 4 limiting my ability to sew garments because the pattern did not go up to my size! I don't have that problem with Indie patterns. Working from home over the last year has also changed my sewing choices as I no longer need the dressier styles of garments. Plus, the Indie patterns seem to be more fun to sew.

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  23. Interesting question. I never used the big 4 a lot (being from Europe) and still don't like pdf patterns. I do use them occassionally, but I'd rather trace a magazine pattern. Which I use often, mostly Burda magazine.

    Glad you are posting again and are recovered. I've been a bit out of the loop and missed a few things.

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  24. I have wanted more pretty tops. Comfortable, warm bottoms are de rigueur as it is winter here in Canada. I also bought a spare pair of flats to wear in the house as I can't be slippers all day.

    I'm so glad to see you back in business after your recovery. Be kind to yourself!

    In terms of indie patterns, they are all I am buying right now as I ease slowly into more sewing. This is mainly because of sizing issues as I am a bigger woman. I also seek patterns that are easy in terms of techniques because I'm pretty darned rusty and don't have as much time to sew as I would like. It feels good to give my limited budget for these things to smaller designers.

    Now if I could only find a really good mail order fabric place here!

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  25. Have only changed my sewing habits because of a substantial (planned) weight loss. Am using my old (mostly Big 4) patterns, of which I own hundreds. Some of them are even old enough that the styles have cycled around again ... and I pick up lots of printed patterns at thrift stores.

    I, my ownself, trust sizing and instructions for Big 4 patterns far more than I do for indies. That said, I do own a fair selection of Sewing Workshop styles, and many, many of the Folkwear patterns.

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  26. I am sewing mainly from stash, but would be really devastated if Big 4 patterns went away. First (in the U.S.) they're so much cheaper. It's great that others can afford the high cost of indie patterns, which is truly higher because you then have the cost of printing and your time to put it today. And in the rare instance when I buy an indie pattern, it has been nothing but a horror story. Sizing all over the place, and sorry to disagree with one of your readers, but mistakes in instructions as well. With Style Arc and Jalie having such ridiculously minimal directions, you'd think that there couldn't be any mistakes. Well, wrong! They can't even get things right in only a single paragraph of directions. Finally, most indie patterns are simple copies of other designs. Myosotis - found a cheaper Simplicity alternative.

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    1. Mountain Woman - that's the thing about sewing there is something for everyone! Honestly ALL of my indie patterns have been purchased on sale. And the ones I had printed at PDF Printing I had a coupon for 20% off the printing. But I understand your argument because it's the same argument I've had for years. I just feel like the times are changing and there may come a day when there won't be the Big 4 anymore.

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  27. Dear Carolyn,

    thank you for this question.

    I have been working remotely for more than 20 years - lots of phone calls every day and one or two high profile meetings or conferences a week, in a very conservative sector. I always put on "professional" clothes when working from my home office, because clothes influence how one speaks and acts - it can be "heard" if you work in a nice jacket and pants/skirt, good shoes, groomed hair, even though nobody can see you on the phone.

    With the Coronavirus came online-meetings galore and a new dresscode even in my very conservative sector. CEOs, who before wouldn´t be seen without a dark suit by anyone besides their wife, are now sitting in online meetings without a jacket in sight. "Hemds√§rmelig" as we call it in German, without jacket, is now the new normal business attire for online meetings.

    I still work on adjusting to this new norm. I really like jackets, as they frame the face nicely, and give authority, which is still needed for women in business. I´m still experimenting how to handle this.

    One road is a brighter jacket/less formal fabric and t-shirts vs. navy blue worsted and button down shirts (let´s call it Angela Merkel style). The other road is one-layer tailoring (found in Threadsmagazine, Davidow-Method). This one-layer tailoring takes the style of a business jacket and does it less rigid in softer farbic in one layer, thus making it more "relaxed" or "hemds√§rmelig".

    Concerning the patterns I use: I enjoy using Burda-Style-magazine patterns. They are fashion forward, very well designed and constructed, and more refined in style than most indie patterns. I quite enjoy the tracing of the patterns from a multi-pattern sheet: It is my way to come to know the pattern. After I have traced a pattern, I normally know how to sew it just by thinking about how I would join the seamlines while I trace them. And I prefer to add the seam allowances myself, because then I can adjust them to whatever I think is needed. Last, but not least, having Burdastyle with around 20 patterns each month for just 8 EUR at my disposal, I don´t feel the need to pay between 10 to 15 EUR for one pattern, be it indies or an envelope style (these never cost less than 10 EUR in Germany).

    This said, I see a market for very specialised indies. I tried Cashmerette, because I really appreciate their focus on bust size. And I just finished a jeans from Silhouette Pattern - the combination of the pattern and Peggy Sager´s webcasts with fitting tipps and instructions gave me a perfectly fitting jeans after the first try.

    Love to hear from everbody

    Dagmar

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  28. Apart from a few Vogue designer things, nearly all my sewing of the last 20 years or so was Burda. Let's just summarize by saying that I took a class in making a personal block, and it was 14 adjustments for vogue and one for burda, so you know why make life difficult? Plus Burda had better styles. I also did quite a bit of Jalie because their knits were superior in fit and technique, and I needed a good amount of outdoorsy gear.

    But you're right, I have been changing recently. In the last year we have the pandemic-induced casualization, my pjs and joggers production, which is mostly "knit indie". But even before that I switched to a lot of Style Arc. Partly it's a climate thing, my new Southern CA place requires much more summer wear than ever, even if I still need the fog-related layering. But it's also very much a style issue - I love the SA vibe, casual without being sloppy, interesting without being stuffy..

    So I'll probably never buy a big4 again, if only because I now have finally learned enough to be able to self-draft any idea of theirs I can't live without.

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  29. First is a thank you for your blog. I’ve been reading it for years, and welcome every post.
    I’ve been retired for several years and have a good collection of Big 4 patterns from years ago. They still work. The instructions are sometimes baffling, but I go my own way. I’ve bought maybe a dozen patterns in the past five years, and they have been either Style Arc or Jalie. The new patterns from Vogue and Butterick used to be ever so tempting, but I hardly even look at them now. (Except there was a good jacket pattern from Claire Schaefer just released. Unfortunately I don’t need a jacket.) I did regard the name change as an insult to the whole sewing community—SomethingDelightful. That’s just nauseating.

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  30. After retiring I had to refocus my sewing-jackets, dresses and suits were not necessary. So my sewing has been evolving. I am definitely sewing more indie patterns and have taken advantage of copy printing once and will again. I also changed from the Big 4 when they did away with the BMV club and raised, IMHO, the prices. I will never pay $25-$30 for Vogue Patterns, though I a lot of them and most do not fit into my lifestyle now. I am also turned off by their new marketing name, which does not in anyway to me relate to sewing. I like the prices for most indie patterns and find most very appealing. I just completed another Sinclair pattern and just printed, taped and traced a Love Notions pattern.

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  31. I am still buying Big4 patterns, but the old Vogue wardrobe basic sets and on eBay or similar. It's nice to have a work 'uniform' that I don't have to put a lot of thought into, as Tamotsu has already done it for me.
    Style Arc patterns need altering for me, and god help the beginning seamstress who tries one. I got spoiled on late 70s early 80s Vogue patterns; those really taught me to sew.
    When a greeting card company consolidates all the pattern companies, OF COURSE they had to change the name to Something Ridiculous.

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    1. SJ - I love the something ridiculous comment! LOL! I love the old wardrobe patterns and own quite a few of them. Won't be getting rid of those for any reason. Since every pattern I use needs altering for fit, that's not a huge concern for me and the other two Style Arc patterns I made fit fine and were easy to sew.

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  32. Interesting thoughts, I have TNT’s of the Big 4 and won’t be getting rid of them anytime soon. However most of the new patterns that I have purchased have been Indie patterns, they seem to be more visible to me than the Big 4 and also have designs that I like or for men the Big 4 are very lacking. My latest make was the Bondi Dress by Tessuiti and a completely different style line for me but it is so comfortable to wear in the humidity we are experiencing now.

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  33. I am sewing more indies and yes, what I sew has changed. First, I have not set foot in a Joann's since last February. That was my source for big 4 patterns and I won't shop there any more. I definitely don't like ordering the big 4 online because they are slow to arrive, charge too much for shipping and charge a membership fee to get a good deal. I just sewed a Kwik Sew last week- and it was horrible. I threw it out. I was surprised because they are not as bad as the others. I don't have the need to wear anything stylish right now, so casual it is and I get that from indies. I only wear dresses to weddings and I have enough dress patterns to last me the rest of my life. Right now, I am making hoodies, fleece pullovers and exercise gear, along with some pajamas. All from indies. And I have been making bags too. Big 4 bag patterns are bad. It's indie bags all the way.

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    1. TC - Well the new pattern company got rid of the club membership so no need to worry about that anymore! I really think it's our lifestyles that have changed and the indies have reacted faster to that!

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  34. Well, the pandemic has certainly changed my wardrobe... I wear PJ pants every day. I'm only ever seen shoulders up anymore, and it is hard for me to muster the energy to get fully dressed. The pandemic has also made a large portion of my wardrobe too small, so I'm really in need of replacing a lot of it at this point. My current sewing plans/projects that are partially started include a mix of Burda, Patrones, and Big4, but in terms of the patterns I'm *buying* it has been much more geared towards indies lately.

    It is interesting because I used to be very much Team Big4, but I think I'm right there with you in that I'm finding myself drawn more and more to indie designers. I'm not planning on getting rid of my Big4 stash, but I honestly don't see myself ever buying from them the same way I used to. Frankly, I don't know if they are going to be able to ride out the pandemic. I'm still following European magazine patterns (Burda and Patrones mostly), but I haven't bought any Big4 patterns in about a year. I think there are several reasons for this; before the pandemic hit I feel that their designs had been somewhat stagnant and repetitive. Then, for those of us used to the crazy sales at the craft stores, the cost from online purchases just didn't seem justified, especially for the current designs. I look back at styles I bought just a few years ago and they seem so much more interesting and inventive! Not to mention a lot of the collaborations or licensing that they seem to have lost when the Big4 became the Big1. The Big4 also didn't handle things well during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, and I think that their actions lost them a lot of supporters at the time (I hadn't bought from them for a while, but I decided at that point I needed to take an intentional break from them and Jo-Ann and a few other sewing resources I had been using up to that point). Since then, I don't think they have had many outstanding new releases and certainly not enough of interest to entice me back as a customer (I've looked at the website out of curiosity/research but I haven't bought anything).

    Added to this, my sister started sewing as a quarantine hobby and is now dead set on sewing her own clothes. She is very unlike me in that she is pretty reasonable about what she wants to tackle to get new skills (she decided to start with an apron and is now looking to make a woven tank top), but I also know that she can be the kind of person who gets discouraged easily so I've been trying to guide her strategically while still allowing her creative freedom. If we were living where we could interact it would be a lot easier, but we are on different sides of the country and not able to see each other because of the pandemic. So I've been trying to advise/teach her remotely, which is interesting. When I started sewing I went straight to the Big4 for patterns, however, when it came time to look for a pattern for her to use, I directed her to Cashmerette because I wasn't sure if doing an FBA on her first clothing pattern would be too much math and scare her away after her second project. Having the option for a pattern in larger sizes with different cup sizing was really helpful for simplifying remote sewing instruction. She really liked a lot of the Cashmerette patterns too; the simple but classic lines really appealed to her as something that would work in the pandemic and when she had to go back to working in an office. Ironically, I ended up buying a bunch of Cashmerette patterns for myself as well because I'm also finding myself drawn to more practical and less fantastic styles lately.

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  35. (pt 2 because my comment was too long...)

    Related to the indie pattern idea, I've also fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole of "CosTube" - YouTube videos by historical and cosplay costumers. I'm so tempted to try historical costuming at this point because the historical sewing techniques look like they would be a great bit of skill to add to what I've learned about modern sewing, and I would probably also be using an indie pattern company or a historical sewing pattern book if I decide to try this. The Big4 have costume patterns, but they are not the same level of historical accuracy as the indie brands that are dedicated to such things, so that's another point in favor of the indie brands for me at this point.

    Anyway, this was a long ramble just to say, yes, I think I'm finding myself more interested in indie sewing patterns at this point. Ultimately I think the reasons all go back to the pandemic as the root cause, but there are a lot of other reasons I think the community is drifting away from the Big4. This year should be really interesting in terms of seeing what happens with the Big4 brands and with indie pattern companies.

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    1. Thank you for that. I really enjoyed reading your opinion. And yes, to so much of this. I too wonder how the Big4 are going to fare this year. I KNOW the pandemic has affected my sewing along with all of my life changes...I'm just trying to recalibrate.

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  36. Really interesting post. The same thought often crosses my mind but then I wonder if it is just the corner of the internet I am seeing! I hardly ever sew big 4 now, indies just feel much more easily accessible and I like trying out lots of different companies and styles.
    Also, love the look of the Mildred jumpsuit, that is going to look great on you!

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    1. Fiona - I think that sometimes too but a lot of indies are on the shelves in fabric stores, as well as JoAnn's here in the states. So the exposure is wider than has been previously.

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  37. Love me my Indie patterns. At first yes just casual wear but now I am seeing more designer look to them. I also appreciate that the creators write as if they are teaching. Unlike Big 4 Sew shoulder seams then sleeves.... Many of the designers are self or minimally taught using RTW as th jumping off place
    Along with many freebies offered along with hacks, the industry (Read 4) will have their work cut out for them if and when they can start printing again.
    I am also a fan of download and print because I see something I like and know I have the fabric to make. Do not want to jump in the car and drive over 1 hour to nearest fabric store.
    The Indies have my business and even as their prices have risen over the last year, They all frequently have sales making them a win win in my studio.
    Size wise they truly are winning me over as well.
    Okay so I have pontificated long enough. I am so happy to see you are up to sewing and blogging again with regularity.
    Maybe someday we can meet up in New York to do some quality fabric spending. I also am envious of your Sew retreats and the related stories. Will you do again?
    Pegeth from the depths of another bleak January day in Central Massachusetts. Shalom

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    1. Peg - I don't know about sewing retreats this year. Covid is still raging but I could be saying something different by summer. Also, while I'm not a huge PDF fan getting a PDF printed wasn't that hard or took that long so I'm starting to understand the appeal.

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  38. I no longer buy RTW so that part of your question is easy to answer. Probably 95% of my 100+ patterns are McVogueRick, KwikSew, Burda Style and New Look (all envelopes). Many are out of print, plus a few that would be considered vintage. The handful of indies I have were gifted to me, or copied from library books, etc. I have bought the grand total of 1 Indy pattern ever in 50 years, the Iris short from Colette. And I only bought that because I used to be an avid reader of the Colette blog. Why so few? Likely because I don’t participate in social media, and therefor have no peer standard, influence, no eyeballs on other options. I am very happy with that situation. I don’t wear dresses, and generally nothing loose or shapeless, and for years, that is primarily where the Indies focused their efforts. I know many of them now draft pants, and offer more tailored garments, but frankly, I don’t want to spend much at all for a pattern, not if the big commercial offerings have enough of what I am looking for, either thrifted uncut OOPs, or new and on sale. People just getting into garment sewing, now I can see the appeal of indies. It just never will be for me. Covid has not changed how I dress, because I wear a uniform for work, and dress “up” when I want to. My clothes are maybe dressy, more fitted, etc. but they are very comfortable. I have a list of Indy patterns I would like to have, but don’t need. I might buy them if I won the lottery!

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  39. I should have connected those dots - depends on where you’re looking. Indies make their businesses thrive through social media. If you look at social media a lot, what you are going to see are...indies. The commercial companies are not that deeply embedded in social media. They have only started to “name” (which I detest, but totally understand) their patterns, have hashtags for them, etc. and offer PDFs (something else I detest). I am sure many new sewists may not even know these companies that we experienced sewists grew up with. And that’s okay. It’s just not for me. I am glad to not be learning to sew now - too much information.

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    1. R - I have to disagree with you about only indies on social media. I believe the Big4 had developed quite a following on social media prior to the murder of George Floyd. After that their influence has diminished some for various reasons. Personally, I'd stop purchasing a lot of patterns from them because they no longer reflect my lifestyle OR I own so many patterns now that can be adapted.

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  40. I haven't sewn basically at all since September. 3 separate trips to see the new baby twins, plus all of the reality that happens in life. There was a 2 day stretch in the first week of December when I sewed a skirt and 2 tops, then life crashed in on me again. I do have some indie patterns, but I've been working from home since 1989, and I wear dresses and skirts all the time. I need to feel serious when I'm working, and I just prefer dresses. I also don't like shapeless garments. So while I've bought some downloads (including the Madison cardigan, because I admired yours), mostly I just use what I have. And I'm with the person 2 posts up who said they don't want to spend too much for a pattern, especially since they mostly are tiny variations on something I already have.

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  41. I should also say that my son's girlfriend wanted to make Santa hats for everyone for Christmas, so I took her to Joann's. First time I've been there in forever. Anyway, this girl is Russian, has been here about 6 years, and her mother used to sew and take her to the stores over there. She was astonished at the size of the store and selections, and took pictures to send her mother. I didn't take her to the pattern area: we downloaded a Santa hat pattern, and I made a "dog" coat for her cat (and a matching one for Thatcher) from a pattern I already have.

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  42. Now that I use a projector to cast my patterns onto my fabric, I've almost completely abandoned the big 4. Their pdf patterns are terrible; no layers or A0 files.

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  43. The pandemic has definitely changed my sewing. I have sewn nothing but casual clothing since lockdown began. I've worked 2 months since March. I've needed no clothing for weddings, evenings out, travel or any other sorts of events. I would love to sew event clothing but worry that what I could sew now may not ever get worn or I will tire of it before ever even needing to wear it and want something more current. This may not end for a long time, after all. As far as how I am sewing, I've ordered some fabrics on line, some from my LQS who is starting to carry great garment fabric and of course our local JA. Mostly I have been sewing from already existing resources. I really don't want to go out in crowds. For patterns I am using a lot of OOP Big 4 that I am getting off of Etsy or Ebay. I have ordered two indies and one I was very disappointed in, particularly because of much positive hype. Maybe I have different standards. I hesitate to even make this 23 dollar pattern based on what I see. My other indie pattern was great. I am getting inspired by garments made by others and for whatever reason they always seem to be made out of the Big Four. Again and again, I just keep seeing rectangles and wraps with most indies.

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  44. I LOVE the Mildred jumpsuit-- going to have to buy even though I promised myself I'd sew thru everything I added last year and DIDNT TOUCH!! I'm patiently waiting for my sewing mojo to come back. Been using my sewing room as my office since March and just seems to kill all my good intentions. I printed out Jules a while back and think I'll start there- I only bought two Big 4 patterns in 2020, the rest are Indies.

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  45. I made my first inde pattern in August 2020 after a lifetime of sewing the Big 4- a Style Arc dress which I love and I have made a lot of Style Arc since, not least because the bloc they use fits me - I can cut a size 20 and know it will fit pretty much out of the envelope. The Big 4 feel quite stodgy and staid to me I am just not wearing the more formal clothes.

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