Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Post: Meg the Grand!

I'm probably not eating haggis right now in Scotland, but that doesn't mean things are going to be quiet over here at Cation Designs! I've got some spectacular guest bloggers filling in for me over the next few days. So let's say that after yesterday's post, you're inspired to sew with chiffon...but you need to get a chiffon-appropriate pattern. How should you go about it? Thankfully, Meg the Grand is here to tell us all about smart pattern-buying. And when I say Meg the Grand, I mean it. This lady is everything I would wish to be if I were a Dr. Who fan. Alas, I am not, but I think it's only a matter of time before I go Whovian, what with grand ambassadors like her!

First of all, many thanks to the wonderful Cindy for having me over to play!  I adore Cindy - she is a kindred spirit in so many ways and her blog posts always light up my day.  Have a great vacay, my dear!

Today, I am going to talk about my pattern addiction.  Patterns are like candy to me; I love seeing all the pattern options on a clean envelope, the agony of choosing the perfect fabric, and the moment of reading the directions and thinking, "Why, it all seems so easy!"  All of the fabulous patterns available to us out on the Internet are enough to make my head spin, not to mention all of the options that can be found in craft stores around town.  Lately, I have been on the hunt for patterns for knit fabrics (since I made quite a large purchase of knits as a birthday present to myself), and I thought, "Maybe I could share the method to my pattern finding madness?"

Tips for Pattern Purchasing:

1.  Know what you already have in your stash.

I cannot tell you how many bow blouses I have in my stash (I think three), but I know I definitely have one bow dress pattern that I plan on using this Fall.  I've personally been using Pinterest to categorize my patterns, and I'm pruning my stash to include only the patterns I've made and loved, or the patterns that I've yet to make.  I want to make room for patterns I love, not keep those that didn't work out.  For more tips on tracking your stash, the Sew Weekly has some fantastic tips as well.

2.  Know what styles you are drawn to.
I have tried to wear looser fitting dresses, but I know these don't work for the style I want to rock.  I like clean lines and defined waistlines, so this definitely affects what patterns I purchase.  I know that the Cynthia Rowley patterns will be a long shot for me, but I might be drawn to something in the Project Runway collection.  I like to keep a list in my day planner of patterns that I would like to add to my collection - it's easily accessible whether I'm in a store or in front of a computer.

3.  Subscribe, subscribe, subscribe.
I am part of the BMV club over at the Vogue-McCall's website, so I know that when a pattern sale pops up, I will be paying even less than the already discounted price. I paid $5 to be part of that club last December, and I've gotten that amount back four-fold at this point (UPDATE: Vogue-McCall's is having a huge sale at the moment, with discounts extending to BMV membership).  The e-newsletters are also great ways to find out what new patterns are coming out, so you can budget accordingly. Whenever Sewaholic sends out a new pattern announcement, I immediately set aside the money for that pattern if I love it.  Sometimes the e-newsletters include special discount codes for free shipping or a discount on your final total.  Subscribing to sales ads via snal mail can be a pain, but I am always excited when Joann's has a $1 Simplicity sale.  If I see a sales flyer with discounted patterns on my "wanted list," I'll try to get to the store to pick some up before the weekend is out.

4.  Consider buying from an independent pattern company
While I love getting discounts for Big 4 patterns (especially because the shipping adds up so quickly), I don't hesitate to spend full price on an independent pattern that I love. You can find an enormous list of independent designers here.  Keep in mind that this list is expanding all the time, and new designers are working right this minute to get their patterns out there.  We sewists tend to be in our own special corner of the interwebs, and I am all about supporting those who want to publish their own patterns.  If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the extensive list, I recommend checking out Craftsy and their excellent selection of patterns from independent designers.

5. Consider buying from Etsy and Ebay
Occasionally, I will peruse Etsy and Ebay for good deals on vintage patterns.  Some of the sellers on both of these sights offer very fair prices for vintage patterns.  I prefer buying from Etsy because I cannot be outbid on an item (I still bemoan the loss of that lovely vintage dress pattern on Ebay for $4.50), but I have purchased items from the "Buy Now" list on Ebay.  These are mostly impulse purchases - I'm looking for a good deal and for a vintage pattern in my size.  I keep in mind what I am willing to spend before logging onto these sights - an important thing to do!  On Etsy, the most I will spend for a pattern is $12-15, depending on the pattern, how badly I want it, if the made item will fill a wardrobe gap, and if it is in my size and I do not need to alter the pattern to fit.  On Ebay, the most I will bid for a "lot" of patterns (depending on the patterns) is $30.  Again, the patterns will need to fit the same requirements as an Etsy pattern in order to entice me to buy.

6.  When all else fails, Frankenstein.

I will be the first to admit that I am a lazy sewist.  I want to have instructions laid out for me for the pattern I am working on.  Lately, I've been feeling a bit restless in the creative area and I've started "frankensteining" patterns together to create the item I want.  Frankensteining is the combining of two or more patterns to create the final garment you've envisioned.  I've been having fun switching out sleeve designs for various shirt patterns, and I'm considering altering skirts and sleeves on some of the dress patterns I own.  The options are endless and budget friendly, especially for someone like me who doesn't have a disposable income but loves the idea of new patterns.

Friends, I hope some of these ideas help you in your sewing adventures, and thank you again to Cindy for having me over!!  XOXO, Meg

Thanks for all the tips, Meg! I'm going to really have to keep #1 in mind, seeing as how I keep acquiring more fitted bodice, full-skirted 60s dresses. I am also a big believer in Frankensteining, so if, even after all of Meg's help, you still can't find that pattern you're looking for, give it a try! And when you're done reading this post, be sure to go check out some of her brilliant scrapbusting creations of late!


  1. I do the same thing with the list of patterns I want for when they go on sale at Joann's or Hancock ;) I keep the list on my phone at all times so I always have it with me if I find a sweet sale. Sadly, I now have a ridiculous amount of patterns in my personal collection. I fuel my addiction to vintage patterns (I get them at thrift stores) by selling on Etsy :) I only keep the ones that I truly love or that are in my size and the rest I sell. At least this keeps my husband happy with a justification of why I buy so many :)

  2. I have so many patterns it's not even funny (almost all are from the 99 cent sales)! I tend to look at the line drawings more than anything - it keeps me from getting too many similar items. Eventually, I plan to photograph and categorize everything on my computer so I can file them in number order in my drawers.

    I have noticed that a lot of patterns with ugly fabric choices or strange artwork on the envelopes go out and print and get "reissued" soon after with better cover art.

    I frankenstein all the time too. =)

  3. Ohhh, Frankensteining...I didn't know it was called that! I did a little job on two patterns, one a circle skirt and the other a fitted princess dress come up with a three tiered strawberry short cake dress for my daughter....Cindy can I even say that on this blog, because truly, you and your guest writers are way cooler than strawberry-whats-her-face. Thanks for this tip post!

  4. OMG Cindy! Thank you for having me, you delightful lady you, and I'm so glad you had such a fantastic trip!


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