Modern sewing pattern designers
December 27, 2017 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for sewing patterns. But not the Simplicity or McCall's patterns my mom used...modern ones.

I've been sewing for several years, but in the past six months I've really gotten into garment sewing. I subscribed to Seamwork, I've bought a couple patterns from Colette, and this Christmas I made a bunch of Yo Ho Henleys as gifts for my nephews. I'm not looking to make things that are fancy or involved, just day-to-day clothing for myself and my family.

I'd love recommendations of pattern designers, with these parameters:

1. They have printable PDF patterns available
2. The aesthetic I like is sort of "quirky and bookish," but I'm happy to sew basic pieces that get their personality from the fabric. I don't like anything overly romantic, flowy, or ruffled
3. I'd like to support independent designers as opposed to corporations
4. They should have at least some patterns that are beginner/intermediate friendly
5. I have an awesome sewing machine (vintage Kenmore!), but no serger/coverstitch machine, and no interest in acquiring one

What do you think I would like?
posted by christinetheslp to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe Burdastyle (latest modern minimalist selection), and HotPatterns. Lots of independent creators on etsy, but you'd have to weed out stuff for kids.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:50 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I was just talking about with some other friends, open source patterns and the ability to fork and make your own.
posted by advicepig at 11:01 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you like Colette, Seamwork, and Patterns4Pirates, these companies might also have some good options for you:
- Loved by many, lots of great beginner patterns, meets your style brief: Grainline Studio, Sewaholic, and Muse Patterns, Deer and Doe
- Classic bookish vintage, perhaps slightly more on the intermediate/advanced side, some menswear as well: Jennifer Lauren
- Slightly preppier basics: Itch to Stitch
- Patterns for the whole family: 5 Out of 4, Jalie Patterns, Made for Mermaids (I believe these are the same folks that do Patterns4Pirates)
- If you fall into the size range of US 12-28, you should definitely check out Cashmerette for impeccably drafted patterns with excellent tutorials.
- Even if you are not plus sized, you should check out the list of indie pattern companies at Curvy Sewing Collective for many more options.
posted by ourobouros at 11:01 AM on December 27, 2017 [13 favorites]

Chainstitcher does an Indie Pattern Update every month, here is November.
posted by Duffington at 11:02 AM on December 27, 2017

I made and liked the Lottie dress from Christina Haynes, you might want to check out what else she has available.
posted by Behemoth, in no. 302-bis, with the Browning at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2017

Another good indie knitwear designer is Stitch Upon a Time. Their underpants are GREAT.

Indiesew has some good resources, too!
posted by linettasky at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

You could also check out if you haven't already found it. They have user-reviewed patterns and a pretty good community.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 12:04 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just got lost on PatternReview for a bit.... I found a page with all the different pattern makers listed: Shop.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 12:48 PM on December 27, 2017

You sound like you may be ready for the next step, designing your own custom clothing. Back in the 90s, I bought the BonFit patterner, video and books for this. You can design anything custom for any adult. There's guidance on types of clothing for different types of bodies, as well as many ideas regarding style, fabric and flow. I used it for clothing for myself and costumes for skaters I dressed. I recommend the simple straight skirt with an elastic waist as a starter project.
posted by karen in austin at 12:59 PM on December 27, 2017

Shoutout to some of my favorite pattern companies I didn't see explicitly named above: True Bias, Papercut Patterns, Victory Patterns, Hey June, Sew House Seven, and Named.

Be careful with Colette. The newer patterns have a reputation for being poorly drafted and require extra work for a decent fit. Check and Google specific patterns for more details.
posted by slipthought at 1:27 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

You'll find lots of stuff on Pinterest. A dress I pinned is called 'the liesl + co cinema dress' by simon+s. Also, check out bloglovin for good sites.
Commercially, I love Kwiksew, because the patterns all come in multiple sizes and go together like a very easy jigsaw puzzle. No mucking about, and not too much fabric recommended. Some companies will say 4 yards, when you need maybe 3.
posted by Enid Lareg at 1:28 PM on December 27, 2017

Deer and Doe and Sewholic both strike me as in line with your "quirky and bookish" aesthetic.

Anna Marie Horner patterns are quirky lend themselves to playing with pattern and/or color blocking, but it doesn't look like many of hers come in PDF.

Harts Fabric's
online store is a great place to browse a wide variety of indie patterns. They don't all have PDF versions available through the Harts site, but it's a good starting point to see the selection.
posted by assenav at 2:07 PM on December 27, 2017

In addition to some of the others mentioned I've really liked Deer & Doe and Tilly and the Buttons (and although it's not a printable PDF, I think Tilly's book Love At First Stitch is a great value for the patterns in the back).

Made By Rae has a lot of good kids patterns (adult patterns are fine too, but not quite my style), and I've never made anything from Oliver & S but god damn those are some cute kids' clothes.

You might also just want to poke around the website of a good indie craft/sewing shop like Purl Soho or Gather Here to get an idea of what's out there. There are lot of great bloggers/instagrammers too who I often use for inspiration.
posted by mskyle at 2:07 PM on December 27, 2017

Take a look at StyleArc for patterns for yourself? Independent, pdfs available and very, very well-drafted.
posted by vers at 3:39 PM on December 27, 2017

I've made one tailored blouse from and it went together well -- the instructions are MINIMAL, though -- and the custom fitting worked. Runs to tailored or even bodycon clothes, but they have *lots* of patterns and they're inexpensive.
posted by clew at 7:41 PM on December 27, 2017

As well as Burda Style, Ottobre magazine is worth a look - it's worth looking at the drawings rather than the styling, but even a few issues can be a pretty good collection of basics. I make it a rule never to buy an issue unless I immediately know at least one pattern I'll make from it, and I've been pleased with their drafting.

mskyle mentioned blogs and instagram, and these are huge for seeing what other people are doing - there is a very active and friendly community, and indie patterns tend to have a hashtag so you can see a ton of different fabrics and bodies for a given pattern. I find this really useful as both inspiration and a reality check! Tags like #memademay (for a project to wear some/all me-made clothes for the month of May), #sewcialists (originally from the now-revived Sewcialists but also generally used too), #2018makenine (started by Rochelle New, a yearly here's-nine-things-I'll-make) will all help you stumble across people whose style you like, and that'll lead you to more patterns. And reviews - as mentioned above, some Colette patterns are not so well-drafted (though Moneta is a great exception). I'm not a huge patternreview fan but I have learned a ton through people's blogs and instagram posts.

A few more indie pattern companies you might like:
- Sew Over It (vintage influence, some things I quite like as bookish, London-based)
- Ready to Sew (a French designer who adds really good details - interest but not frill. I really love the Jolene dress I made.)

(Sorry for the very late addition, I missed the original post - hope you're sewing happily by now!)
posted by carbide at 12:22 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

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