Tag: style blues

7 Reasons Why the Big 4 Sewing Pattern Companies Don’t Want You to Stop Pattern Hoarding

7 Reasons Why the Big 4 Sewing Pattern Companies Don’t Want You to Stop Pattern Hoarding

In this Episode of the Style Blues Podcast, we are talking about Sewing Pattern Hoarding. Here’s why the Big 4 don’t want you to stop your hoarding habit!

Why they want you to keep hoarding patterns|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com
How big is your sewing pattern stash?

Why the Big 4 Sewing Pattern Companies Don’t Want You to Stop Hoarding

We all love a good sewing pattern sale, I love them as much as anyone else. Here’s why pattern companies don’t want you to stop hoarding their sewing patterns.

 

Welcome back to the podcast! I have been sick for over a week, and I apologize in advance for my gravelly voice. But I am really passionate about today’s topic and I can’t wait to share my observations with you.

The question I want you to answer is “How many of the big 4 pattern company sewing patterns do you own?” Do you have a binder full? A Box full? A Room full? Maybe you don’t even know how many you have. Perhaps you have taken place in the pattern destashing I have been organizing my sewing room this month, and I recently went through all of my patterns. I have about 50 of them, almost all of them were purchased in the last year. I have used many of them, but there are just as many that are unused and I will probably never use.

 

Lately, I have noticed a trend in the sewing groups on Facebook, for pattern sale announcements. One person posts that the fabric store is having a .99 cent sale, and everyone else runs out and purchases a cart load of patterns. The next week it’s the craft store that’s having the sale so everyone does the same thing again. Then we all post pictures of our “pattern haul” online.

 

I came across a posting in Facebook marketplace recently from a lady who was selling a collection of 425 patterns spanning decades of about 30 years. It was a good deal for $75.00 and for a brief moment I actually considered purchasing it. Who in the world has room to store 425 patterns? How could you possibly keep them organized? Wouldn’t they get full of bugs and mildew??

 

Personally, I have purchased too many sewing patterns already and I don’t have that many. The madness has to stop.

 

But I will not do that anymore. This is real life. I have been thinking through why in the world the pattern companies would mark down their product so drastically that we all run out and buy boat loads of patterns we may never use. In this day and age when fewer women sew than ever before, why would they do such a thing? It seems as if we are slaves to the pattern companies in a massive unhealthy manner. Why?

 

Pattern companies don’t want you to stop your hoarding habit

1. They are creating a buying FRENZY by the excitement of the seasonal pattern launch: New patterns are released several times each year. By creating these super sales, manufacturers have us running into the store to buy their new designs. It is a buying FRENZY and they love it!

 

2. They are still making money, even if the patterns only cost $.99. Patterns are after all, just paper. By mass printing more and more the cost of each becomes less and less. By selling them as cheap as possible, they are selling more than ever. Obviously, the pattern company is still making a small profit with this technique or they wouldn’t be doing it.

3. McCalls, Butterick, Simplicity and Vogue Need the Business: The Big 4 pattern companies as they are called, are actually two companies now. They have consolidated because the apparel sewing business isn’t a good as it used to be. I think mainly this is due to the entire sewing industry is shifting as we begin to purchase more and more pdf patterns from independent designers. For the first time they are up  against real competition that they haven’t ever had before. Bloggers with YouTube channels, Indie pattern designers have left the pattern companies scrambling to change with the times.

 

What They Don’t Want You to Know

4.They don’t want you to know that you are buying the same patterns over and over. Having worked in the apparel industry, I can tell you this secret. The patterns that you keep buying are actually the SAME PATTERN. How does this work? When I worked as an assistant designer for a lingerie company in Chicago, it was my job to make the first patterns. The designer would make a sketch of a garment, and it was my job to make the pattern for it so it could be cut out of fabric and sewn into the first sample garment for fitting. In design school they teach you to begin with a pattern sloper, that is a basic style which you then alter and create any additional styles. This is rather time consuming. But large companies don’t have to do that. They already have many years worth of patterns sitting in the back stockroom. So, all I had to do was find the style that was the closest to the one that the designer wanted and change it. I would go find pattern XYZ and copy it. Then I would change the neck or sleeve and we would have our new style, ABC. That’s how it works, you are essentially buying the same pattern with a different sleeve, neck or hem over and over again. The pattern companies don’t want you to know that it would be bad for business.

5. Pattern companies want you to rely on them. They want you to think that you need more patterns. This is not true. If you have a small amount of basic styles to work with, you can sew just about anything. Look for a basic pattern sloper that you can make to your size. Then, you can change it into whatever style you are looking for. Way back when, women knew how to do this. Women were not pattern hoarders, even though the made all of their own clothes. They learned dress making techniques from their mothers and grandmothers. They didn’t need a lot of sewing patterns because they knew how to make their own.

I am not saying that if you have never sewn before in your life you won’t need a sewing pattern. This is not true. I am saying that if you already own 425 patterns in your stash you should take the time to learn how to alter the pattern to your needs and free yourself from the Pattern Hoarding mentality.

Some great fitting patterns to use are:

M7279 a basic dress pattern with darts

M7352 a basic princess seam dress

M6361 a basic pant and skirt

M2718 a basic dress to be used with gingham or plaids

M5894 Jeans

These are McCalls patterns that I own, each pattern company should have a similar basic fitting pattern. Choose the company that is closest to your body measurements and stick with it. I have some upcoming workshops to help you in this process, if you are interested just send me an email at Jessica@chambrayblues.com with the words “Fitting workshop” in the subject line and I will keep you posted on the upcoming event.

6. Runway looks yield big business with designer patterns. I love watching Vogue patterns on Instagram, they take runway looks created by professional designers and make similar knock off pattern styles that we run out and buy. Last year it was Meegan Markle and the Royal Wedding, we were all chasing after styles worn by the royals to the epic events. The thing is, you can make your own patterns, using what you already own without buying all the new patterns all the time. Depending on where you are with your sewing skill level, you can create these looks easier than you think.  Take the time to learn some basic fitting and pattern making techniques. Read some books, watch some YouTube videos, experiment and practice. I will help you with this journey. It’s not to say that you can’t go out and buy your favorite design inspired pattern once in a while because I do this too. I am just saying that you don’t need to buy every single new pattern that comes out each season. I happen to be partial to the Vogue patterns designed by Badgley Mischka. I have a number of these patterns, there is something different about the way they look and the way they are constructed. He designs things in a way I never would have thought to things. Every time there is a new pattern release of his, I am very tempted to run out and buy it. But, I know that since I don’t hoard patterns at any other time, a little indulgence now and then is okay.

7. Pattern companies want you to think that you need to buy more patterns to become a better sewer. This is a huge misconception. They start you out with easy and basic patterns, they the add the average construction and finally the advance or expert category. The expectation is that you will buy from each category as you become a more experienced sewist.

The Hoarding Solution

Not many of us follow all the rules all of the time. Once we have a taste for basic sewing and what we can accomplish, there should be no stopping us. Expertise comes from practice and patience, not from having dozens of patterns in your stash. You can do more than you think with less mental clutter. You can accomplish more sewing than you imagine but if you never try you will never really know. How many of us have bought a pattern we just love, only to open it up and read the complicated construction directions and then become completely deflated in defeat before we even begin sewing? I have done this myself. I can’t tell you how many times I have noticed mistakes and unnecessary steps in commercial sewing patterns.

When I was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, on my first day of sewing class we were going to make a basic blouse. The pattern was button front with long sleeves, with a two piece collar and button cuffs. I had considerable sewing experience before I was a student, I had never sewn a complex tailored shirt before and I was a bit intimidated by the class on my first day. The first thing our professor asked us to do was to take out the pattern directions, write our name on them and hand them in.

After he collected the papers he announced:

“Now we can finally learn to sew.”

I was devastated. It felt like my security blanket was just ripped away from me. How was I supposed to learn to sew without the directions???? You know what? He was absolutely right. I learned to sew and have never forgotten. I am not confused or swayed by any pattern directions or techniques because I know how to put things together without them. It is LIBERATING. In apparel manufacturing, they don’t have sewing directions in the sweatshops. They pump out hundreds or thousands of garments a day. You can make professional looking garments without any help from the commercial pattern companies.

We would love to know your feedback on this episode! It may ruffle some feathers in the sewing community. Let me know how you are doing with your pattern hoarding or If you are interested in joining my fitting workshop, send me an email to Jessica@chambrayblues.com with FITTING WORKSHOP in the subject line and I will make you get notifications for future events.

As always please leave me a review on Itunes, it helps me get more guest to interview as well as sponsors so I can continue to help you fix your Style Blues!

Until next time!

 

 

 

 

If you like this post try some of these other posts:

Style Blues Podcast

Style Blues: Sewing a Clutch with Your Cricut Maker

Basic Sewing Terminology, What You Need to Know to Start

The History of Sewing, How We Got Where We are Today

The Tale of the Seamstress

How to Have a Sewing Portfolio: Interview with Candice Ayala

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How to Triumph Over Your Unfinished Sewing Projects

How to Triumph Over Your Unfinished Sewing Projects

We all have sewing projects we haven’t finished lurking in our closet. This week on the podcast we talk about how to work through the tough projects and finish them!

Finish Your Sewing Projects|Chambray Blues|chambrayblues.com
We all have unfinished projects, here’s how to finish them!

 

Sewing Unfinished Projects

There are three projects sitting on my sewing table that I have been avoiding. One is frustrating because I don’t have the right equipment to sew it quickly. The second is not fitting properly, the third one I hate the pattern that I am using. What to do? Here are ways you can get through the project when the going gets tough!

  1. Go through your stack and reevaluate why the project is unfinished. Sometimes things sit for so long we forget what the problem was in the first place. Make a note of what needs to be done on a sticky note and store the project in a large size plastic baggie with all of the pattern pieces, notions and supplies. Attach the note to the bag and set it aside. Do this for all your unfinished projects.
  2. Line up your unfinished projects with the easiest one first. Make a commitment to finishing one project per week or month as you can. Try to finish all those projects first before starting new ones.
  3. Evaluate your frustration with the project. Did it not fit well? Perhaps you can read some books on fit, take a class or consult with someone else to figure out how to fix it. Don’t be afraid to post a photo in the Chambray Blues group, we can help evaluate the problem.
  4. If your project stalled because of a sewing machine issue, take your machine in for repairs. A good cleaning can solve a host of problems. Bring a sample of the fabric and stitch you were using to show the repair technician. Often they can help you decide how to correct a wonky seam.
  5. Was the fabric not ideally suited to the project? Sometimes we don’t always get it right on the first try. If it was a large dollar investment, you have to evaluate whether or not it’s worth continuing. Perhaps it would be easier to repurpose the fabric into something else instead of trying to continue with a frustrating project. Repurchase a different fabric and try again.
  6. Was your garment cut off grain? This is a popular problem that even experienced sewers can make. Off grain pattern pieces will never hang straight. Buy more fabric and recut if necessary.
  7. Was the pattern construction hard to follow? Many times I have been stuck on a pattern with poorly written instructions or unclear drawings. You can purchase another pattern with similar design and look at how they wrote the instructions. Sometimes I read directions for patterns in the fabric store that I don’t even buy. A different point of view can make the light bulb go on in evaluating how to fix it. Going to the shopping mall and looking for construction ideas also can be helpful. Find a similar garment in the store and turn it inside out to see how it’s constructed. Most commercially produced garments are far simpler than the ones designed by pattern companies. Take pictures with your cell phone of seams and finishes so you can refer to them later. You can even try the garment on to Compare fit. I keep a tape measure in my purse to measure garments in the store that fit me well. You can change your pattern and sewing directions to work through your frustration.
  8. Do you have too many sewing commitments? Are there a dozen people bugging you to sew for them? Learn to say no to people that want to take advantage of your skills for free. Suggest they learn to sew themselves. Give back the unfinished projects you have already collected, tell the owner you simply don’t have time to finish them.
  9. Make note of how much time you have already invested in your project. Is it worth it to invest more time to finish it? Sometimes it’s freeing to add the whole works to the scrap pile and count it as a learning experience. Feel free to move on to a new project with a clear state of mind if it seems like it’s already been a waste of effort. We all have been there at one point or another, don’t let this keep you from starting something new.

How to Triumph Over Your Unfinished Sewing Projects|Chambray Blues|Chambrayblues.com

Like this episode? Don’t forget to Pin it! Check out these other posts:

Meet Mimi Goodwin, Successful Sewing Entrepreneur

001: Interview with Melissa Viscount of Silhouette School Blog

Basic Sewing Terminology, What You Need to Know to Start

The History of Sewing, How We Got Where We are Today

The Tale of the Seamstress

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The History of Sewing, How We Got Where We are Today

The History of Sewing, How We Got Where We are Today


Download this episode here!

In this episode of the Style Blues Podcast, I talk a bit about the history of sewing, the beginning of the big pattern companies and how we got to where we are today. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone sewed. Over the last 30 years things have changed, here’s what happened.

Show Notes:

The History of Sewing

Let’s learn a bit about the history of sewing, how did we get where we are today?

Abbreviated History of Sewing as per Wikipedia:

 

  • The Industrial Revolution shifted the production of textiles from the household to the mills. In the early decades of the Industrial Revolution, the machinery produced whole cloth. The world’s first sewing machine was patented in 1790 by Thomas Saint. By the early 1840s, other early sewing machines began to appear.
  • By the 1850s, Isaac Singer developed the first sewing machines that could operate quickly and accurately and surpass the productivity of a seamstress or tailor sewing by hand.While much clothing was still produced at home by female members of the family, more and more ready-made clothes for the middle classes were being produced with sewing machines. Textile sweatshops full of poorly paid sewing machine operators grew into entire business districts in large cities like London and New York City. To further support the industry, piece work was done for little money by women living in slums. Needlework was one of the few occupations considered acceptable for women, but it did not pay a living wage. Women doing piece work from home often worked 14-hour days to earn enough to support themselves, sometimes by renting sewing machines that they could not afford to buy.
  • Fine quality Tailors became associated with higher-end clothing during this period. In London, this status grew out of the dandy trend of the early 19th century, when new tailor shops were established around Savile Row. These shops acquired a reputation for sewing high-quality handmade clothing tailored to one’s particular fit needs.
  • Sewing underwent further developments during the 20th century. As sewing machines became more affordable to the working class, demand for sewing patterns grew. Women had become accustomed to seeing the latest fashions in periodicals during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, increasing demand for sewing patterns even more. American tailor and manufacturer Ebenezer Butterick met the demand with paper patterns that could be traced and used by home sewers. The patterns, sold in small packets, became wildly popular. Several pattern companies soon established themselves. Women’s magazines also carried sewing patterns, and continued to do so for much of the 20th century. This practice declined during the later decades of the 20th century, when ready-made clothing became a necessity as women joined the paid workforce in larger numbers, leaving them with less time to sew, if indeed they had an interest.

One of my friends who is a bit older than I am was telling me that when she was in high school everyone made their own clothes. This was probably in the 1960’s. When I was in middle school in the 1970’s, I was the only kid who made her own clothes. Many of us learned to sew from our mothers but many of us have not had the opportunity to learn from anyone. You can learn to sew and I can help you succeed!

Growing up, I️ always wondered how home sewing was so different from commercial sewing. You would think they are the same but they aren’t. Mass produced garments are sewn by the thousand and use piece work technology to put them together. Garments are completely sewn in minutes, not hours. Commercial sewing patterns have been the same since the 1950s when clothing was produced on a much smaller scale, but the home sewing industry largely hasn’t changed since then. Today we have downloadable pdf patterns and many independent designers that are changing the home sewing industry.

Sew Along with Me!

Sew Along Masterclass 2018, going on now on the Chambray Blues Facebook page.

12 projects using easy commercial patterns, one each month

Video Tutorials, FB live sessions, plus question and answer

Closed group, only open for a limited time

Access to professional designer

Help choosing fabrics, notions, cutting, altering and sewing

Join the fun!

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