The rectangular elastic-waist skirt

Pattern designer – or pattern profiteer?

That is the question. Where does design end and profiteering begin?  There is a recent new release from a popular Indy producer of patterns. It is an elastic-waist straight skirt, and the pattern consists of rectangles.

Renaissance of sewing

There was a crop of babies in the village last year, and now there are several young mums who I’ve taught to sew, or helped and encouraged through the initial stages.

Some of them have come knocking at my door recently with pattern puzzles and ill-fitting garments made from the much-vaunted  trendy Indie pattern sellers.

Although ‘dressmaking’ might seem  intimidating to a generation whose sewing education when younger was usually non-existent, it has recently become a desirable and indeed trendy activity, with London and other metropolitan centres  awash with Sewing Cafes and Studios where ‘sewing experiences’ can be purchased at a suitably high price, sometimes in the company of, or  associated with,  the ‘sewlebrity’ of the moment.

Young women in rural Lancashire are just as susceptible to trends as are their city sisters; I’ve had to rescue quite a few items, made from certain Indy patterns, as best I could. Which didn’t always result in even the same type of garment … disappointing, or what, when someone has put so much effort into, and paid  so much for, a pattern which virtually promises good results.

Are beginners being bamboozled?

I think it’s great that sewing – and especially dressmaking – is enjoying a renaissance, but I believe that in many cases, beginners and others are being bamboozled.

Cynical, moi? Smoke and mirrors!

I am angered  when I see beginners being taken for a ride  by self-proclaimed ‘designers’, scarcely more experienced in sewing and related skills than most of those to whom they are selling – and considerably less experienced and skilled than some! –  but who are superb marketers and effective persuaders.

How many of these new Indie pattern sellers have any industry experience? What professional, academic or vocational  education have they received  in aspects of dressmaking, tailoring, design, drafting, grading 0r fitting?  The acquisition of Adobe Illustrator and the inspiration gleaned from ££ and $$ in front of one’s eyes does not make anyone into a gifted designer or a technically-competent pattern drafter. The quality of the patterns they sell displays that fact very clearly!

There are, thankfully,  a few exceptions to this general dismal situation – people who do have appropriate  experience, or the sense to employ someone who has,  and who have  vision and skill- but these are a tiny minority compared to the mass of Indy pattern producers.

Too many keen would-be dressmakers have been served a bitterly-confusing  Kool-Aid cocktail informing them, on the one hand, that garment sewing is very difficult  and, on the other hand, that if they buy Trendy Wendy’s pattern with its ‘specially simplified’ instructions, they just need to swallow the snake-oil follow the instructions and they will be successful!

If only …

I have no axe to grind  with anyone except where marketing expertise  is used by trendy snake-oil saleswomen to make fools of beginner sewers who know no better and are easily tricked.

Yes, you read that right – tricked.  I could use words I consider more accurately-descriptive, but tricked will do.

I consider selling rectangular sheets of paper for £12.50 and calling it a dressmaking pattern, to be nothing short of trickery.  I consider selling a pattern for a woman’s dress where the front piece is exactly the same as the back, to be nothing less than trickery. I consider selling a bog-standard centuries-old peasant blouse pattern at over-the-odds pricing to be sheer trickery. ‘Boho-inspired’ my left foot!

There are any number of high-quality patterns, tutorials and videos  for peasant tops and dresses,  and elastic-waist skirts, free or much cheaper than the heavily-marketed and publicised ones. You don’t need to pay £12 or even $12 – results are not, and cannot be,  guaranteed, however much you pay! Contemporary dresses for adult women, which use the same piece for front and back, not so many, for fairly obvious reasons …

What do others think?

Beginner sewing resources for elastic-waisted skirt

If you’re a beginner sewer who wants to make a straight, elastic-waisted skirt, I recommend you look at  all or any of the following:

Sew a skirt in one hour; How to make an elastic waistband skirt Part One and Part TwoTotally easy skirt making; super simple skirt in 15 minutes;  Making  elastic-waist skirts;  On this page of Marilla Walker’s website are links to download a cute FREE skirt pattern and instructions.

There are innumerable other helpful free resources – websites, videos, blogs, forums, your local library, a neighbour who sews, a craft group – rather than paying £12.50 for a few rectangles of paper. Spend that money on some fabric instead, or two or three 2nd hand sewing reference books.

Heck, if you’re in or near Lancashire, I’ll happily show you how to make one, and tell you where you can get gorgeous fabrics at far less than trendy Indie designer prices … this is Lancashire; we have fabric – as long as you know where to look!





5 thoughts on “The rectangular elastic-waist skirt

  1. I’m late to this (and haven’t seen your blog before..nice blog) and I agree wholeheartedly. I often get bamboozled that some really prolific sewers actually buy the basic peasant style blouse or same front and back pattern piece patterns and rave about them. Maybe new to sewing people don’t know there is many years of patterns out there. I think I have at least 5 peasant blouse patterns (not including magazines) over at least that many decades too. “More dollars than sense” is what I say. Even some more detailed patterns I have old big 4 patterns that are exactly the same but no name… maybe that’s why the indies call their patterns by a name?


  2. Oh I do agree. I admire you for managing to enjoy your retirement so much. Have you ever read GOMI? I know some people think it is a b***chy site but I am coming to concur with more and more of what they say – and I have posted the odd comment myself – heck I may not even be a “kitten” anymore. Now here’s an admission FL, I enjoy sewing but my “in retirement” paid work is typing same as I did when I worked full-time and if I set a day aside for sewing then there will likely be a typing job I wasn’t expecting – so quite a few of the things I sew are things that will go together quickly. I’ve made a few skirts with an elastic waist (or wrap skirts) when I want something super-quick. I do like to support British companies – and will consider an Indy designer if he/she has done a good job – though having said that the last pattern I bought was a Simplicity (still in my backlog of sewing “to be done” shamefully).


  3. Nothing to add really. I get more miffed by styles with drafting errors in them (bodice same back and front etc) than someone having the gall to sell a rectangle of paper to someone daft enough to buy it. More miffed with exaggerated claims of training and experience. I have zero training or experience in marketing, and obviously certain of the ‘designers’ you refer to have it in spadeloads.


  4. Totally agree. Like a lot of people, I’d like to support indie designers and small companies, but only if they give me my money’s worth. Everybody moans about the Big 4 patterns, but at least you know what you’re getting and that the basics–fabric requirements, pattern pieces fitting together, that sort of thing–will be correct. In my experience, you can’t take that for granted with indie patterns, even with their higher prices.


  5. I couldn’t agree more. I must admit, I laughed out loud when I saw the gathered rectangle skirt first appear. Indie designers are great when their oatterns are well thought out and really address a gap in the market …. Of which there are some great examples. But poorly drafted and thought out patterns that suit no-one will surely out people off.


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