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Has your taste in patterns evolved?

Elaray | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m in the process of spring cleaning, including sewing room clean-up. This endeavor often turns into just looking at my supplies and patterns and not much actual clean-up. While looking through my patterns, I confirmed what I already knew – the great majority of my patterns are Burda (envelope), Burda WOF and Kwik Sew. I have a some Butterick, fewer McCalls and a couple of Indies. If I could replay a sewing room clean-up from ten years ago, almost all of the patterns would have been Butterick, some McCalls and a few Burda (envelope – without seam allowances). I never used Simplicity – just the name offended me! I was a real snob! 😉

My pattern preferences have changed over the years. Maybe it’s because my abilities have changed. It might be the changes in my body. Maybe it’s because I have access to more pattern companies via the internet (How did we survive before the internet?). It could be a natural evolution.

How have your pattern preferences changed over time? Has your current favorite always been your favorite? Have you outgrown certain pattern companies? Do you think it’s pointless to limit yourself to certain pattern companies? I’d like to hear your thoughts.


I sew, therefore I am


  1. Deborah2416 | | #1

    Good morning....and yes my tastes in patterns has changed as I have matured (now 57). I tend to lean toward more "artsy" and different, rather than mainstreams. Allows for creativity as well as I can make items that you won't see in most stores. Do you have a particular designer that you like?

  2. fabricholic | | #2


    I prefer Vogue, only because they add a little something extra that draws me to it. Maybe it's just a little more detail to spice it up a bit. I use McCalls, Butterick, Simplicity and I think I will try Kwik Sew and New Look, but I always like Vogue.


  3. Ralphetta | | #3

    Your comment about Simplicity really hit a nerve.  I quit using Simplicity years ago because they always looked home-made.  When I acquired some skill I realized that Simplicity left out many crucial steps/instructions.  I started using Vogue because, even though the instruction sheets were often intimidatingly long and detailed....it was because they took the time to actually explain everything and didn't omit it so they could claim to be "simple."  I usually buy Vogue, Butterick and Burda.

    1. NovaSkills | | #4

      I agree with yours and previous comments. The other thing I can say about Burda and some others like Neue Mode is that they are based on a more updated female body size/shape standard than our American vendors. The set of the neckline and shoulders is more natural (read that, not so strictly erect) and the standard bustline is closer to a C cup. I don't have to make quite as many mods to them.

      Vogue patterns have always had that extra detail, plus complete instructions, and were more "keepers" than just trendy, if you picked carefully.

      I find that as time passes, I simply draft more of my own patterns.

    2. jane4878 | | #5

      I also agree about Simplicity--"simple" it is NOT!!  I'm a novice and just finished an "easy" Simplicity skirt for my daughter--it was horrible and the sizing is all off.  I finished out of sheer stubborness.  I've had trouble with the instructions in New Look as well, although at the end that blouse looked good.  I tend to pick Burda patterns because I like their designs and they're for a 5'6" woman and I'm 5'8".  I'm starting a Folkwear pattern right now (Armistice Blouse).  So far I'm impressed with the quality of the instructions--it includes tips from previous users.  We'll see if I'm still happy as I proceed to the end!  My sister (who is uber sewer) feels poor instructions are the leading cause of newcomers giving up in frustration!

      1. Ralphetta | | #6

        I agree about instructions, but in the case of Simplicity they leave out important things like interfacing, facings, etc. that make a garment fit to wear.  I've never understood how all of the pattern companies determine what's EASY.  With good instructions, lining something edge-to-edge is very simple and looks good when you are done.  EASY frequently requires yards and yards of bias tape binding and looks tacky even if you are an experienced sewer.  When I used Simplicity patterns I always thought the skirts looked skimpy.  If it was supposed to be an A-line, it just didn't flare enough and they never seemed to fit.  It was just an exercise in sewing...because when you got through it wasn't wearable.  Hm-m-m-m, would you say I'm opinionated about this subject?  I guess it's because I always felt like I'd been tricked and wasted all my time and money.

  4. SueinNE | | #7

    My tastes have changes in some ways, not others.   used to use Butterick, Simplicity, and McCalls.  After discovering the other sewing patterns( i.e. Burda, Stretch N Sew0 , I use the others whenever possible.  My style always tends toward simple, designs which can be done in different ways is the same but now i go for master-pattern  styles I can alter.  

  5. Cherrypops | | #8

    Thanks for bringing this topic over from pattern review.

    I like mc'calls and butterick patterns. This year I have swung to vogue. I have never sewn a vogue pattern so i take it as a new venture.

    Being a mum at home now, I don't need to wear Business suits all day. I live near the beach in a casual yet stylish area. I lean toward slim fitting jeans and shorts. T-shirts not collared blouses. Cardigans and hoodies. I'm 36yrs old with a slim figure. (My photo is post #70 in my discussion topic General Discussion:5'4" and under please stand up)

    I do have my stash of 'work wear' hidden in the wardrobe, for the occasional night out with my husband's workmates.

    I will give your other questions more thought and get back to you.

    CherryPops (australia)


    1. Sancin | | #9

      My age and body has changed more than my preference in patterns, unfortunately.  I have sewn with Vogue since I was in my teens.  I liked the way they fit and the styles.  They have a better than RTW look about them. However, I don't really care for the few patterns they have in large sizes at the present time.  I do like Butterick and occasionally Simplicity, though they tend to be for younger persons (I am in my mid 60's) which I can understand. I have never, in all my shapes, ever found a McCalls pattern to fit me.  In fact McCalls sent me to a class in making my own patterns which I occasionally do, but most often I adapt patterns. I have started to buy more and more private designer patterns like Lois Erickson in which all sizes are available and are very adaptable and challenging.  I like looser clothes but don't like bags. I am at home retired but I still like to look smart and feel comfortable.  One thing I do mourn in sewing fabrics is the lack of availability of, and need to wear, fine fabrics like different wools and silks. I do like that there are drapey rayon with nice designs are more available.  I threw out or gave away a lot of rather ugly patterned rayon my last clean up simply due to the colour and design of the fabric.

      On a slightly different thread I would like to see Threads do a issue or a few articles for at home, casual wear.  Many such articles are for elegant mothers out and about shopping. Or are for the wash and wear crowd.

      Edited 3/19/2007 1:34 am ET by Sancin

      1. Cherrypops | | #10

        That is a lovely suggestion for stylish mums at home; you should contact the Editor of Threads, Amber Eden.

        Find 'Talk With Us' in the menu and look for Potential Articles for Threads last post was around last December. Reply to the last poster AmberE.

        Thanks for you words.

        CherryPops (australia)

  6. Ckbklady | | #11

    Hi there,

    Yup - I'm a Vogue sewer exclusively. I like their fit and style the best. I did, however, start recently collecting the Threads patterns from Simplicity, so we'll see how they work. I used Simp when I learned to sew, and always found them basic and shapeless. But then I saw some of the Threads patterns made up at the SewExpo in Puyallup in March, though, and that confirmed for me that at least those ones in the Simp line are the kinds I like best - stylish and fitted and a bit more complex.

    :) Mary

    1. PrincessKatja | | #12

      I also prefer Vogue in general - I'm tall (5'10") and reasonably slender, and they seem to fit me with the least amount of alteration.  Or perhaps I've just used them long enough that I'm used to their quirks.

      I also really like Burda.  The pattern pieces generally fit together well (what a concept! There's a reason they tell you to "walk" your pieces although I generally am too lazy or absentminded).

      I also have fun with independents.  I like dramatic lines and luckily can wear them well.  I like the Sewing Workshop patterns by Linda Lee a lot just because they always seem perfect for the more funky fabrics that I'm not sure how to use.   If you get the chance to see them in a style show - do it.  There are many more independents I like - I feel like we need to support our "sisters in creativity" so I'm willing to give most anyone a try.

      I think a lot of my issue with Simplicity et al is the amount of ease.  I think part of naming something "Easy" is incorporating way more ease than what is either necessary or attractive.  Another reason why they look "homemade".  Granted, a lot of people think that something that hangs on them like an off-grain sack "fits".  But in that case you're better off buying a cheap item rather than sewing it.

    2. bonkers | | #13

      Yes, I have always avoided Simplicity patterns, but I sent for the free one when I subscribed to Sew Stylish. No.4241. I made the bias top and was pleasantly surprised by the great fit and ease of construction. Also made the slacks and found them to also fit pretty well. They only needed the usual tweaking that all my slacks need- long back seam -short front! Haven`t tried the Chanel style jacket or the vest that was included. Maybe the newer Simplicity will be more user friendly. Bonkers

      1. happycatuk | | #14

        I've got patterns from all the major players in the UK - Vogue, Mcalls, some Buttericks (not many), New Look, and a couple of Burda patterns (though I have quite a stack of burda Magazines, the December issues usually have great underwear patterns!).  I've never really been taken with Simplicity patterns, but love their reissue of old patterns, especially the 60s shift 3833, and the 50s retro 4047!  I've purchased quite a few in my store's latest reduction - my pattern collection is getting out of hand! - as they seem to be the only design line that's offering styles current enough to reflect what's going on in British fashion (there are lots of smocks around like the ones featured in 4045 and 3835).

        I'm looking forward to seeing how they sew up in comparision to other patterns I've used.  The most interesting designs I've come across though are originals from the 60s and 70s off Ebay - going by the cover illustrations alone, Style patterns rock!

      2. Teaf5 | | #15

        Yes, my pattern stash has a completely different look every decade or so!I agree with the change in the fit of Simplicity patterns; nowadays, they work for my mature body with relatively few changes, as long as I use a size smaller than expected.McCalls have always been completely oversized, blocky, and without any discernible style on my shape. If I like the design details of a McCalls pattern, I might buy a similar pattern from a different company and modify it.Vogue fit me when I was very young and very thin; I haven't tried one in years. All the comments about Burda, Loese Hinse and other companies on this forum have got me thinking about trying those. Are they worth the cost? (I never have to spend more than $1.99 on a pattern!)

        1. Deborah2416 | | #18

          I've been away from discussions recently so have missed comments on my question. Most of the comments revolve around standard pattern makes such as Butterick. Vocgue etc. My change in pattern selection doesn't reflect my interest in those but have gradually found that I like the "artsy" designers such as Lois and Diane Erikson, Pavelka, etc. they are not for the beginner sewer because of the techniques but they are "funky". If you tend toward making statements, these types of patterns will do that. To answer your queation...yes they are more expensive. Some of them go for $10 and up. For me they challenge and stretch me in my sewing. My biggest challenge these days is finding the time to be at my machine as much as I would like.

      3. PegHead | | #16

        I have always sewn with Simplicity, Butterick, and McCalls.  I have to say that I think Simplicity revamped a couple of years ago.  I love their stuff now.  I also sew costumes for community theater and Simplicity has by far the best costumes. 

        I must admit that I never use the pattern instructions.  I go to the books.  I pin fit patterns from Fit for Real People, I use Claire Schaeffers pocket instructions and facing instructions.  I nearly always use a lapped zipper, it never gets caught in the fabric.  Always, Always measure the width for ease! 

        I've read that the average persons shoulder slopes 1 3/4" in 5" length.  Patterns are usually around 1 1/4- 1 3/8.  It's an easy alteration, but it throws the sleeve cap off.  I cut the sleeves with extra length and just set the cap in deeper as I pin them in.  The armscye is always deep enough to avoid that alteration.

        McCalls has way too much ease!  and Vogue doesn't have enough.  I sew 1 size smaller in McCalls and 1 larger in Vogue.   I'm flat chested, so Burda doesn't do it for me.  I've always liked Butterick.

        For the woman sewing with Period Patterns.  One word of caution.  Walk those seams!  You might want to add extra seam allowances also.  I don't think those patterns are "trued"  they're more like a shape reference.  I've read that company was started for theater costumes, and we cheat at everything!  Also, go to the library and check out Patterns for Theatrical Costumes, Garments Trims and Accessories from ancient Egypt to 1915.  Literally 100's patterns in one volume free for the taking-or, eh copying! 

        1. happycatuk | | #17

          Hello PegHead,

          I'm intrigued by your comment,

          "I've read that the average persons shoulder slopes 1 3/4" in 5" length.  Patterns are usually around 1 1/4- 1 3/8.  It's an easy alteration, but it throws the sleeve cap off.  I cut the sleeves with extra length and just set the cap in deeper as I pin them in.  The armscye is always deep enough to avoid that alteration."

          I have to increase the shoulder slope on my patterns as I need a little extra length in the back due to prominent shoulder blades, so will check the difference later today!  Do you mean that, rather than alter the slope, you move the sleeve 'up', hence increasing the length to compensate?  Does that throw off the balance points?

          Sorry, being abit dense this morning, I think I can visualise what you're doing in my head, just want alittle clarification so I can try it later!

        2. Gloriasews | | #22

          I'm with you, Peg, in that I don't read the instructions, either, so I finish the garments as they should be, if done properly.  You're right, as is Ralphetta, that Simplicity patterns always looked homemade - the finishing leaves LOTS to be desired!  But the styles are better now, I think. 

          I otherwise use Vogue once in awhile when they are on sale, as their patterns are more expensive, as are the private designers' patterns.  I try to copy other styles from existing patterns that I have.  McCalls & Butterick patterns have never fitted me well when I was younger, so haven't tried them recently, now that I'm more mature (meaning older & larger)!

      4. Ckbklady | | #24

        Yes, one can only hope that the new Simplicity patterns are better. The first thing I ever sewed was a shift dress from a Simp pattern - it looked like a sack. What a waste of that lovely red wool crepe.

        I'm pleased to hear that the bias top worked well. Do let us all know if you make the Chanel-style jacket.

        I am thrilled that Threads is influencing Simplicity - maybe it will up the caliber of the rest of their patterns. I love love love Vogue, but it would be nice to have more options.

        :) Mary

  7. dressed2atee | | #19

    Wow, this really made me think.  I don't own too many Burda's, although I do like that they have seam allowance.  My favorite pattern is the Vogue.  It's usually true to measurement and looks good.  I hate Simplicity.  I usually only go there for kids clothing.  Butterick would be my second favorite.

    I have patterns that I bought in the 70s.  Just can't part with them.

    I bought Celebrations and hope to be making my own patterns. 

    1. Gloriasews | | #21

      You're smart in keeping your old patterns - I wish I had.  Now I have to buy a couple of favourites again (for $10 or more) that are again/still in style, when I only paid $1.50 or so in the '60s. 

      By the way, your spring coat sounds like it's maybe a raincoat if it has the flannel lining?  Nice, cheerful coat!  Happy sewing!

      1. dressed2atee | | #23

        Yes, you're right.  I wore it the other day  and it held up great in the rain!

  8. sewingkmulkey | | #20

    Vogue patterns are my favorite, especially the designer ones, but I'm willing to try any pattern company (including independents).  I haven't sewn a Simplicity pattern in years but sent off for the free one through Sew Stylish #4241. The jacket sewed up nicely but I did make up a muslim first to check the fit after making my usual adjustments.  Since the pattern was so simple I'll probably use it again but making my own artistic changes like an uneven hem or change the neckline.  The pants did not fit so I was glad that I also first made a muslim.  As other posters have said Burda makes the best fitting pants patterns.



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