When I come across (mainly) Americans wondering why on earth anyone ‘wants to’ pay $20 for an Indy pattern, or spend time and trouble tracing a pattern from a spaghetti-junction of lines, or tediously match and tape dozens of sheets of paper, it makes me ‘want to’ scream, or rip the pattern catalogues from their ungrateful hands!
Do our American friends really think most of us actually want the extra time, trouble and opportunity for error in taping or tracing? Lots of us don’t want to spend $20 on a pattern, either.
But you know what?
We do it because we have to.
What you in the US refer to as ‘Big 4’ patterns which you can buy for a dollar or two in regular sales or with coupons, are, here in the UK and everywhere else in the world that I know of, expensive, often seriously so, if they are even available for purchase.
As there is so little price differential between Indy patterns and Big 4 patterns, they’re a much more attractive proposition than they would be in the US. When a Simplicity pattern costs more than £8, and a Vogue pattern £15, a $15 (~£10) Indy pattern seems perfectly reasonable!
This high cost of paper sewing patterns in Europe and elsewhere – often, even, their unavailability – also serves to explains the popularity of pattern magazines. These seem to be considered a bit of a mystery or curiosity in the US, and the use of Burda magazine patterns is often looked on with trepidation by even many skilled and experienced sewers.
A pattern magazine costs most people in the world us less than a single paper pattern, and contains anything from half a dozen to a couple of dozen or more different patterns, each covering a range of sizes. Is it any surprise, then, that so many of us ignore Big 4 patterns, even in countries where they are widely available?
Pattern magazines – not just Burda!
Burda (from Germany) is probably the best-known pattern magazine in the world, and seems to be the only one widely known or fairly easily available in the US.
It is distributed worldwide and published in several languages. Burda also publishes ‘specials’, usually once or twice a year – Burda Easy, Burda Plus, Burda Petite and Burda Kids. (Also Burda Quilting, but we’re talking clothing patterns here). Burda was the first glossy Western womens magazine which was legally available behind the Iron Curtain in the days of Soviet Russia; when I went to work in Berlin just a few years after the Wall came down, I remember a colleague of mine, an ‘Ossi’ (former resident of East Germany), telling me about her mother getting the occasional smuggled copy of Burda, and how very precious it was. Marion also told me why bananas were such a scary fruit, but that’s a story for another time.
Burda, though, is far from being the only sewing pattern magazine available.
Where shall I start? I think I’ll go from north to south. Bear in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list!
In Russia, Diana-Moden seems to contain (as far as I have seen) Simplicity or Simplicity-type patterns for tracing off. Another pattern magazine called “ШИК: Шитье и крой” ( CHIC: Sewing and cutting) appears to contain mainly re-issues of La Mia Boutique (Italy) and LOOK! (Argentina) patterns.
Ottobre, from Finland, publishes editions in Finnish, English, Dutch, German and Swedish. It publishes six issues a year – four for children’s wear and two for women.
Back issues, single issues and subscriptions can be purchased from its website. Here in the UK, it’s only occasionally seen ‘in the wild’ at newsagents.
‘Sy’ is a Danish pattern magazine which contains all sorts of sewing projects from dolls clothes to evening gowns and craft items.
Germany is a hotbed of sewing pattern magazines. Näh-Style, Fashion Style, Meine Nähmode, and Sabrina Woman are all pattern magazines from Germany and most of them also publish occasional plus size specials. Fashion Style provides all its patterns in German sizes 34 to 56 inclusive.
From the Netherlands comes Knipmode, Knippie (for children), My Image and B-Inspired.
La Maison Victor is a Belgian magazine which seems to be getting increasingly popular all over Europe for its quality patterns, drafting and styling.
In France, we find Elena Couture and Fait Main – which latter is a direct translation of the previously-mentioned ‘Sy’ magazine from Denmark.
Patrones is published in Spain, as is The Sewing Box Special.
La Mia Boutique, Special La Mia Boutique Taglie Forti (ie plus size), and Modellino are Italian-language pattern magazines.
Staying in the Northern hemisphere, but zooming eastwards, Mrs Stylebook and Lady Boutique are just two of the many Japanese pattern magazines. If you have a Kinokuniya near you in the US, you should be able to find them there. When I lived in Sydney, NSW, I spent half my time and salary in Kinokuniya. Sadly, there’s no Kinokuniya anywhere in Europe. 😦 sad face
South of the equator, Brazil publishes several pattern magazines, naturally enough in Portuguese. Manequim is possibly the best known; two others that I know of are Moda Moldes and Molde e Cia.
Still further south, in Argentina, ‘Look’ is published in Spanish.
The very best styles, though, in my opinion at least, come from the furthest south.
Snappy dressing and style which is suitable for all occasions, which will carry the wearer from a casual fish supper and baby sitting, to an ocean swim or a formal photoshoot with equal aplomb, is the prerogative of the penguin, who needs no outside help in design or colour choice – they always look good!