PATTERNS: what makes me commit

Why would I pay for a pattern, even an adorable one, if there are so many free patterns and tutorials available online?

This is what I used to think, before I started sewing clothes.  What I know now that I didn’t know then is, those pattern-makers have done so much of the hard work to make it easier on me!  They’ve translated a concept into a reality, and can lead me to that beautiful reality with lots of hand holding: colored photos with little arrows, glossaries of terms, and pattern pieces that will go from being a random jigsaw to a beautiful final piece.  Thanks pattern designers!  You guys rock.

BUT…how do you choose between them?

One incredible thing about being involved in the online sewing community is seeing fresh new patterns popping up regularly from designers that I already know and trust because so many of them are fellow bloggers!  But choosing between the many different designs and deciding where to invest my money and time can be overwhelming.  There are just so many options, how do you choose between them?

Over the past year I have come to recognize the 6 biggest factors that will make me put a pattern right into my cart AND checkout, now.  :)Do you have any patterns that fall into these categories? 

1.) The “Seemingly Endless Possibilities” Pattern

 The first pattern that I ever bought was the Geranium Dress.  I had seen a few of my favorite bloggers making their versions of this dress and I could not deny that it was adorable, but I was trying to resist.  But what tipped me over the edge was when I saw Delia’s 5 Geraniums post.  There was just such a fun range that I couldn’t believe it was all from the same pattern.  I wanted my daughter to have a wardrobe of cute dresses and tunics like that!

I bought the pattern and made 4 Geraniums for my daughter: 2 dresses, 2 tunics, 2 gathered skirts, 2 pleated skirts, a sleeveless, a ruffled sleeve, a cap sleeve and a puff sleeve with Peter Pan collar detail.  I made 2 dresses for baby gifts.  I also have a different option plotted for this year’s spring KCW Geranium.  I can’t get enough.

Geraniums

Popsicle Geranium, Flutter Geranium, Floral Geranium, Peter Pan Geranium

Friends, I was hooked.  The part of me that wanted maximum bang for my buck was just so happy:) A few other “Seemingly  Endless Possibilities” Patterns.  (I dare you to click through and see all that you can do with these patterns!)

Options

Tinny, Natty Janes, Roller Skate Dress 

2.) The “Give You Some Control Over Your Kid’s Unusual Shape” Pattern

If you stand for 10 minutes in a children’s department, you will hear this conversation.  Maybe you are the one saying it.

It’s just so hard to find jeans/shorts/pants that fit.  He has such a little waist and these long legs!  She’s thick around the middle but then the legs of the pants are too wide!

For me it was one day when I was out shopping for my petite 2 year old daughter and couldn’t find a pair of shorts to fit her tiny little booty. The 2 year fell off, the 18-24 months still slipped down, the 12-18 months were baggy and the 9-12 months were too.  The mom guilt was too much for me to handle (it must be my fault that she’s so tiny!) so I left the store with nothing but a lump in my throat.  I came home, purchased and printed the Bubble Pocket Shorts, and sewed them completely while she napped.

When she got up she was no longer my little peanut swimming in too-big shorts, but just my sweet little girl in some sweet shorts.  As she should be.

Shorts 5

  Bubble Pocket Shorts

Bottoms can be tough to fit.  Buying a pattern that helps you take control of the waistband, leg width, and inseam can make such a difference!

 A few other “Give You Some Control” patterns.

Pants

Clean Slate Pants, Skinny Jeans, Kid Shorts

3.) The “This is a Staple” Pattern

The Roly Poly Pinafore sold me immediately.  I saw only a few stops on the tour before I was convinced that this was an essential summer staple, yet could easily be layered in the fall and winter, and the 2-dresses-in-1 tapped right into the part of me that is looking for a deal. Sold.

Roly poly pinafore

Summer/Cloud Roly Poly, Retro Reversible Roly Poly

Our kids need easy to wear, easy to mix items in their wardrobes.  If you find a good pattern in a size range that will carry you through a few years with your child, then you’re golden.

 Other “This is a Staple” patterns.

Staples

Greenpoint Cardigan, Berkshire Blazer, Fancy Pants Leggings

 

4.) The “You’ll Learn a Lot” Pattern

One thing that I kept hearing (reading?) about Oliver + S patterns was the phrase “you’ll learn a lot.”  I bought my first Oliver + S dress during their summer sale and sewed it up during fall KCW.  Guess what?  I learned a lot.  No, seriously.  The instructions are very clear and great lengths are taken to make sure that things are just right.  I love all of the dresses that I’ve made for my daughter, but I think that her Family Reunion Dress looks like it should be on a display.  It’s just SO professional looking.  It was not a quick sew, but a fulfilling sew, worth the effort, and I added several tricks to my sewing arsenol.

Minty Family Reunion Dress 4

Minty Dress 

Other “You’ll Learn a Lot” Patterns.

O+S

Book Report DressSunday Brunch Jacket, Jump Rope Dress

5.) The “Unisex Love” Pattern

Pattern tours are just such a good idea because seeing so many different takes on a single pattern can give you 150 ideas for pieces that can go directly into your kid’s closet.

But when they give you 150 ideas for both genders?!  That’s a whole new story.  My first experience was with the Recess Raglan.  I’m still experiencing this one.  Such a great pattern, can’t stop sewing it up for both of my children.

Recess Raglan

Red Poppy, Floral, and Boy Blue Raglans, Minty Mod

I did the same with the Bimaa.

Bimaa

Floral & Stripe, Hooded Lightening Bolt, Upcycled Cowl

One pattern for two kids?  Again, you cannot beat the “maximum bang for your buck” factor.

Other “unisex love” patterns.

Unisex

Bimaa Sweater, Harem Pants, Banyan Tee,

 

6.) The “Just Get It Already” Pattern

When I first saw the Knight Hoodie pattern I gasped because it was just so amazing.  Then I tried to talk myself out of it. “Erin, your son has tons of hoodies already, there are no inexpensive places nearby to get sweatshirt fleece, you will not make him multiple varieties of this pattern…”  But even I knew that logic wasn’t going to work.  (How is it that this was going in one ear and out the other when it was all in my head?  Hmmm…)

I have a  5 year old boy.  He will think this is awesome.  We live in London for crying out loud.  Every church nearby looks like a castle, and there are actual castles, so the photo possibilities are endless.  And I really want to make this.

Knight+hoodie

Sometimes there is no reasoning with yourself as to why you shouldn’t get a pattern.  You need to just get it already.  Am I right?

Other “Just Get It Already” patterns.

Just buy it

Ballet Sweater, Marina RomperSwing Coat

Tell me, are any of these your main criteria for purchasing a pattern?  What are the things that you just cannot say no to, and must buy and sew immediately?  I’d love to hear!!

This article has 17 comments

  1. renee

    That little girl of yours in her bubble shorts is just too gorgeous!! Great post Erin – a lot of this resonated with me for sure. Sometimes it’s just seeing an amazing make once that does it for me – like Trine’s (groovybabyandmama) version of the Voila blouse in the Stylo magazine. When I saw that I went and bought the pattern straight away! Other patterns I see lots and lots of versions and it slowly wears me down until I give in and buy it 🙂 

  2. erin

    Renee I completely agree! I can think of two different patterns that I thought weren’t my style at all when they were released by the pattern designer, but then purchased immediately after seeing someone else’ make of the pattern. So much fun inspiration in the online sewing community! 🙂 And yes on Trine’s Voila blouse. Such a great pattern and her sews are all so cool!

    1. erin

      Thanks Elisa! How could I not include the Knight Hoodie? Really, it’s not fair to moms of boys, we have just no choice in the matter! So super adorable and fun. 🙂 I learned to sew the same as you and it’s been amazing!

  3. Cate R

    This is seriously such a great post! I also waited and waited before finally purchasing patterns. While I still love to fool around with my own ideas, it is so nice to be able to know you can rely on a well-drafted pattern when you want to create something lovely and get it done right the first time!  Thank you for this post!

  4. Brooke

    Oh I love all of your reasons! I ESP like number 1. I really like to get the most bang for my buck and have lots of variety in a pattern. There’s also the “all the cool kids are doing it so I need to also” one. 🙂

  5. clothespin

    I like good patterns like these because they usually have all of the sizes.  sometimes I have to get two – one each of each size group… but then I’m set FOREVER.  Between 2 girls, in 7 and 2Ts… I’m going to get a lot of milage out of these!  And well designed patterns make it more fun to sew.

    The only thing that I wish, and this in particular has to do with an Oliver +S pattern I just recently traced off, is that the pieces with the different sizes nested so close together that it’s hard to tell which line goes with what size – annoying.  I wish they’d make two sets, with the sizes of one being 1, 3, 5 and the other 2, 4, 6 so that the lines/sizes are more distinct.  Because I am tracing these off for each size I use.

    Other than that small quible – these types of patterns are just easier to sew and support MOMS not a corporation.  And that’s a fantastic thing!

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