Expanding Your Options: How a New Database Is Improving Garment Pattern Searches

3 April 2024
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Shopping for Sewing Patterns

My mother taught me to sew garments from patterns when I was probably eight or nine. At the time, there was only one way to get a sewing pattern, at least in my young experience: You sidled up to the big beige filing cabinets at Fabricland and flipped through the heavy, glossy catalogues from Vogue, Butterick, McCalls, and Simplicity: the “Big Four.” You picked your pattern number and the paper package with its tissue paper pattern was retrieved from the appropriate filing cabinet. I suspect that there were indie pattern designers at the time, but their wares were not available in my small town or in my mental universe.

My interest in sewing fell away for a couple of decades, and when I began to think about it again I discovered that the world of garment sewing had changed dramatically. With the advent of PDFs and sewing blogs, indie pattern companies had blossomed and you could buy digital patterns direct from the designers. Initially there were only a small number of indie pattern companies that I was aware of—maybe a dozen, maybe two—but since then, more designers have released pattern lines and my awareness has increased, and now, between social media and newsletters, I can’t begin to count how many different pattern companies I follow.

That, of course, brings its own challenges. The Big Four had many hundreds of patterns available when I was a kid, but they were all packaged up into the big catalogues at Fabricland. Now, though? Unless I know which designer’s pattern I want to make, where do I even begin to look?

Screenshots provided by Jennifer Dellow; all other images as noted.

Copyright © Anne Blayney except as indicated.
image description: a white woman stands in front of a hanging display of fabric face masks, joined together to form a loose quilt; she is pointing at one of the masks

About Anne Blayney

Anne Blayney is a conference planner and knitter based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. She is a former contributor and editor at Sewcialists.com.

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